Easy Power Window Repair

Repair the window yourself and save hundreds on labor

A broken power window can be an expensive repair, but if you have basic auto repair tools and access to an online service manual you can fix it yourself and save big bucks.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Replacing a regulator assembly

So one of your power windows doesn’t work. Check the fuse first. If that’s good, the problem is either a bad switch or motor or a broken regulator (the device that actually lifts and lowers the glass). A shop will charge you at least a few hundred dollars to replace the motor/regulator, but you can do the job yourself in about four hours. Regulators are available online or at auto parts stores.

You need a basic set of metric sockets, screwdrivers, a drill and most important, a subscription to an online service manual. That way, you can download instructions and diagrams that are specific to your car. Use our instructions as a rough guide, and refer to your manual for specifics.

Start the repair by removing all the trim panel fasteners to access the switch for testing. Remove the trim panel and peel off the vapor barrier. A trim panel removal tool is inexpensive and saves you a lot of time.

Reach into the door panel and disconnect the power connector to the window motor (wear leather gloves to protect against cuts). Connect the leads of your voltmeter to the two terminals on the connector. Turn the key to the “on” position and toggle the window switch up and down. If the switch is good, you’ll see the voltage reading change from plus-12 volts to minus-12 volts. That means the problem is the motor/regulator. If your meter doesn’t display those readings, you’ve got a bad switch or a broken power or ground wire. Download an electrical diagram and check the power and ground wires leading to the switch to isolate the problem.

Replace the entire regulator assembly, not just the motor. Start by removing the window-to-regulator bolts (have someone hold the glass while you do this).

Then remove the glass by tilting it away from the door and lifting it out. Next, remove the regulator bolts or rivets (drill them out and snake the old regulator out through one of the door panel openings. Reverse the procedure to install the new regulator. Bolt the regulator in place and then reinstall the motor and window switch electrical connectors and the window glass. Test the window for proper operation. If the glass binds, you may have to loosen the bolts and make minor adjustments to the regulator. Then tighten everything and replace the vapor barrier and trim panel.

Regulator

This cutaway view shows the location of the regulator assembly inside the door panel.

Regulator
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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Cordless drill
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • Voltage tester

You'll also need a trim panel removal tool, leather gloves, and a subscription to an online service manual for your car.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Regulator assembly