Power Window Problems? 10 Common Issues + Fixes

Power windows have been around for over 80 years with designs including hydraulics and electrical motors. They were first seen as luxurious for drivers and passengers, but most new cars and trucks have power windows installed at the factory. There are 10 issues that most car owners with power windows can face.

We’ve gathered information on each, and how to fix them if your vehicle has one or more of them.

Crank windows aren’t offered in most vehicles anymore unless it’s a specialized model with a very low production volume. We also have an article with a list of cars with crank windows.

#1 – The Window Lock Button Is On

There is a ‘Lock’ button on the driver’s switch panel that will disable all switches in the vehicle except the switches for the driver. It can be frustrating to other passengers, but it does come in handy when you have pets in the car or need to make sure the windows won’t go down accidentally.

How to Fix It

This is the simplest fix of all the issues, and it just needs the Lock button pressed to unlock the window controls for the other switch panels. If the windows stop working except for the driver’s door, first check the lock button isn’t engaged.

#2 – You Have A Bad Fuse

There may come a point when all windows don’t work.

Replacing a car fuse and relay

They don’t go up. They don’t go down. They’re just stuck in their current positions, and it doesn’t matter which switch panel you use to try and make the windows move.

They’ve completely lost power. At this point, assume you blew a fuse that sends power to the power window system.

How to Fix It

A blown fuse isn’t hard to replace, but it may be hard to find. Most vehicles have a fuse block attached to the dashboard inside the cabin of the vehicle. It may be on the ends of the dash, under the dash, or near the footwell on either side of the cabin. There may also be one or more fuse blocks in the engine bay that could control the power windows or a system related to the power windows.

Your owner’s manual should help identify where the fuse block is and which fuse in the fuse block controls the power to the windows.

If you replace the fuse for the windows, and it immediately blows again, there is another problem to fix. Something is causing a large surge of power (or amperage) through the system that is causing the fuse to blow repeatedly.

#3 – You Have A Faulty Window Switch

One window in your vehicle may stop working when you use the switch control on that specific door. The window may go up and down from the master driver’s door control panel though. It means the switch on that specific door has become faulty.

It happens over time, and thankfully they are easy to repair or replace depending on the issue with the switch.

How to Fix It

If one specific switch panel in your vehicle stops working, it may be repaired or replaced. Some older vehicles are known to have solder joints inside the switch that wear out or lose contact.

The switchboard can be removed, and the solder joints re-melted with a soldering iron to reconnect the circuits.

Other times something inside the switch is broken and it can’t be repaired. It’s time to find a replacement switch. Older vehicles may only have the option for a good used switch that can be sourced through a local auto recycling company or an internet site that buys and sells used parts.

Newer vehicles may have the option to buy new old stock (N.O.S.) parts that are still available or reproduction parts that match the original switches.

#4- You Have a Bad Window Motor

Window motors are electro-mechanical, meaning they have electronic parts that use power to move mechanical pieces.

Any of the parts, both electrical and mechanical, can wear out over time. It could take months due to a poor design or years if they aren’t used frequently. This motor is typically powered by the alternator.

How to Fix It

Before you assume the motor is bad, you should verify the switch still works correctly and the fuses are good. If the motor has power to it, then it may be time to replace it.

You can brace the window so it will not fall when the motor is removed and replace the motor with a good used part or a new part. It’s a simple process that just requires a few basic tools to complete.

#5 – Your Window Regulator Has A Problem

The motor in your power window system turns a gear in the window regulator that controls the window going up and down. The gear may mesh with a crank that moves the window or it can utilize a pulley system to move the window.

The regulator has moving parts that can wear out and fail, which stops the window from moving up and down.

How to Fix It

The motor in your power window system will try to move the window up or down when you press the switch. If the regulator has a problem, the window will bind and not move, regardless of the motor trying to move it. You can brace the window from falling when the regulator is removed, or you can remove the window from the door completely.

The regulator can be replaced with a used part or a new part. Btw. this is one of the most common problems in cars.

#6 – You Have Wiring Issues Preventing Power To Reach The Window

Power is sent from the fuse box to the switch and then to the power window motor. A break in the wiring due to damage will prevent power from being transmitted.

Wiring can fatigue due to constant flexing, or it can corrode to the point of not transmitting power.

How to Fix It

Wiring can be repaired or replaced, but it may be hard to find the spot that is preventing power from being transmitted. Most wiring will be in harnesses routed through the vehicle.

These harnesses can be routed behind carpeting, behind interior panels, or through covers from inside the vehicle into the doors. The fix may be easy but finding the exact problem could take hours of tracing harnesses and individual wires.

Once you find the problem, the wiring can be spliced to remove a damaged section, or the complete harness may need to be replaced.

#7 – The Window Seals Are Loose, Dirty, Or Damaged

The windows move up and down inside or against a seal that prevents water and dirt from entering the vehicle.

These seals, also called Run Rubbers or Window Channel Gaskets, can:

  • collect dirt,
  • become loose,
  • or become damaged.

In any of these situations, the window can bind and not move up or down.

How to Fix It

Window seals should be flexible and form-fitting against your window glass. If they are dirty, you can clean them with water and a mild detergent. If they are loose, they should be able to fit back to the door and seal against the window. If they are damaged, they can be replaced.

Most vehicles have replacements available for purchase. If there isn’t a seal available, sometimes a universal seal kit will work.

#8 – Your Window Tracks Are Dirty

Your window regulator has metal tracks that keep the window aligned as it goes up and down. If these tracks get dirty, the window can bind and refuse to move. They show signs of needing attention as the window will start to have trouble moving smoothly.

The window will be slow or sporadically move rather than have smooth movement.

How to Fix It

The tracks often just need to be cleaned with water and a mild detergent to remove the dirt. Once cleaned, they can be lightly coated with a silicone lubricant that will protect the surface and keep the window moving up and down smoothly.

#9 – Your Door Has Significant Damage

Most vehicles get a door ding occasionally, but these small dings are just an annoyance. They shouldn’t impact the use of your windows.

When the door metal has significant damage, it can cause the window regulator tracks to be out of alignment.

How to Fix it

A damaged door may be able to be repaired to keep the windows functional. If not, the door should be replaced. The interior trim panels, the window components, and the handles should all transfer to a new door and work correctly.

#10 – Snow And Ice Prevent The Window From Moving

We learn early on that water expands as it turns to ice. When water collects on your windows, it can freeze and bind the windows in place.

Most of the time it means the windows are frozen in the up position and we must wait until they thaw enough to move.

How to Fix It

Frozen windows must be thawed enough for the windows to move.

You can do that with cool water, in a critical situation. Don’t use hot water as the shocking temperature change can damage the window glass.

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