Power windows are definitely convenient, particularly with the auto up and down functionality that’s now present in many newer cars. It sure beats having to manually roll the window up or down when you need to get some fresh air.
The power window switch in your car controls the up and down function of the window motor and works with the regulator inside the door panel. Depending on the switch in question, it may control only one window, or it could be a combination switch that allows you to control multiple windows (only on the driver side, generally).
Your power window switch is only used when you actually open or close the window. Unless you’re operating the switch, it’s not in use. That means wear and tear isn’t as big a deal here as it is with other components, but window switches can and do fail. There’s really no specified lifespan for a power window switch, and your usage habits will definitely have a greater impact on longevity than the age of the vehicle or mileage. Someone who rarely opens their windows will get a longer life out of their switch than someone who regularly opens and closes theirs.
The most common problem for power window switches is wear to the contacts. Generally, most drivers will find that their switch stops working only partially – the window will roll down, but not up, for instance. You might also notice that the switch works fine, but only if you press or pull very hard on it (forcing the contact to close).
While having a failed power window switch will not prevent you from driving, it can be an annoyance. If it fails while the window is down during the winter, it can also be a safety hazard. Knowing a few symptoms of window switch wear will help you avoid this problem. They include:
- Window will not roll up or down
- Window will only operate in one direction
- Window switch works only sometimes
If you’re experiencing any problems with your power window switch, a certified mechanic can help inspect the switch, motor and regulator. The mechanic can replace the power window switch if needed.