Power windows have been a luxury for car owners since they debuted in the mid 1970s. Back in the "old days" windows were cranked up manually, and more often than not, the handles would break, leading to driving to the dealer and having them replaced. Today, nearly 95 percent of cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in the United States are equipped with power windows, making them normal as opposed to luxury upgrades. Just like any other mechanical or electrical part, sometimes they can wear or break entirely. One of the most common components of the power window assembly that breaks is the window motor/regulator assembly.
The window regulator assembly or motor is responsible for lowering and raising windows when the power window button is engaged. Many of today's popular cars, trucks, and SUVs have a combined motor and regulator assembly that needs to be replaced together if one of the components is not functioning correctly.
However, there are a few warning signs that the components inside the window motor/regulator assembly are beginning to wear out. Noted below are a few of these common symptoms that you should be aware of so you can contact a mechanic and have the window motor/regulator assembly replaced before it causes additional damage.
1. It takes multiple presses to roll the window up or down
Under normal operation, the window is supposed to roll up or down when you press the button. Some vehicles have an automatic rolling function when the button is depressed or pulled up that will automatically activate the window motor/regulator assembly. However, if it takes a few presses of the window button in order to activate the window motor, it's a good indication that there is a problem with the motor assembly. It also might be an issue with the switch itself, which is why you should contact an experienced and local ASE certified mechanic to inspect this problem before you assume it's the window motor/regulator assembly that needs to be replaced.
In some cases it could simply be debris that is trapped under the switch that is causing the problem.
2. Window speed is slower or faster than usual
If you press the window button and notice that the window is rolling up slower or faster than usual, it could also be an indication that a problem with the widow motor exists. Power window systems are fine-tuned for a precise speed, not only for convenience, but to ensure the window does not break as it's rolled up or down. When the motor begins to fail, or if there is an electrical problem with the regulator assembly, it can cause the window to roll up slower or faster than it should.
When you notice this warning sign, contact a mechanic so they can diagnose the precise problem with the power windows. It might be as simple as a shorted out wire or a fuse that is not supplying the correct power to the window motor.
3. Clicking from the door when the window rolls up or down
Another common symptom of a failing window motor is if you hear a clicking sound when you depress the power window button. In some cases this is caused by debris that is trapped in between the window and the motor assembly. This can cause the window motor/regulator assembly to work harder than it should, which can also cause the window to fall off the rails. If this problem is not fixed soon, the window can bind up and shatter if it's stuck and the window motor still engages.
4. Power window won't stay up or is crooked
When a power window assembly is working properly, the windows will lock into position and are held there thanks to the power window regulator assembly. If the window is rolled up but then falls down by itself, this is an indication of a broken regulator assembly. This also tends to happen when the window is crooked, and one side of the window falls down as it's rolled up or down. When this occurs, you'll have to replace the window motor/regulator assembly on most new cars, as they are contained together.
Power windows are a great convenience, but when something goes wrong with the components that operate them, it should be replaced by a professional mechanic as soon as possible to avoid additional damage or create a potentially unsafe driving situation.