How to Replace Your Window Motor

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How to Replace Your Window Motor

Power windows in automobiles have been used since the 1940s, with Packard using a hydro-electric system in 1940, followed by their being used by Ford and Cadillac in the same decade. The use of electrically operated windows came into being in the 1950s, and the 1960s saw the introduction of elaborate power window controls. Electrically operated power windows have used motors since they came into being, and it is only natural that these motors malfunction from time to time, sometimes, requiring replacement.

If you are looking for a new window motor, while you have the option to look for the same in regular brick-and-mortar shops that deal in automotive spare parts, looking online through platforms like eBay is also an option. In any case, before you start your hunt for a new window motor, it is ideal that you learn how power windows work, what may have caused damage to your motor, establish if it needs replacement, and finally, know how to go about replacing it.

How Power Windows Work

Although modern day power windows rely on different kinds of switches, they all employ the use of motors, and their basic assembly remains the same as previously commonly used "hand cranked" windows. The lift in power windows is created through torque generated by a motor, connected to a worm gear, which, in turn, is connected to other spur gears; and the angle at which the worm is connected to the gear prohibits the gear and the worm from moving in the reverse direction. The angle at which the gear and the worm are linked can create a self-locking feature, as can be seen in a number of power windows now; and the worm gear that is part of the unit's drive mechanism ensures that modern day power windows cannot be opened forcefully.

The windows are held in place through the use of supporting bars, and these bars are connected to arms. These arms, in turn, are connected to the gears mentioned above, and it is these arms that work in moving the windows upwards and downwards.

What Can Cause Damage to Your Window's Motor?

Motors used in automotive windows are not meant to last a lifetime, and as a result, they may require your attention every now and again. Window motors can be damaged or caused to malfunction because of different reasons, which include wear and tear of components, disproportionate stress, as well as faults with ground wiring. Other factors that can lead to the malfunctioning of a window motor include weak balance springs, misplaced window stops, misaligned windows, damaged weather-stripping, as well as obstructions that cause windows to jam.

Does Your Window's Motor Need Replacement?

The window's motor plays an important role in its functioning, and is generally referred to as an electric window motor or a window lift motor. The motors, typically located behind door panels, are activated when the window switch is pushed, and the motor then powers the linkage system that moves the windows up and down. Given the frequent use of windows, it is natural that their motors are subjected to high levels of wear and tear, which can lead to malfunctioning windows or windows that simply cease to work. However, there are other factors that can lead to a power window not working as it should, and before looking for a new motor, it is important that you establish if it actually needs to be replaced. After all, instances of people buying new motors only to find out later that the problem lies elsewhere are not uncommon.

Checking Existing Motors

Since different factors can lead to a power window not working as it should, you should ideally start by establishing if the fuse responsible for operating the window's motor is functional, because a blown fuse can well be the cause. Before checking the motor, checking the power window's switch is also suggested. When it comes to checking a window's motor, the door panel should be removed, and if the unit that houses the motor comes with a protective liner, the same should be removed as well. A simple visual check should tell you if all of the cables and other components are connected in the right manner, and if the visual check passes your scrutiny, it's time that you use a voltmeter. With the two ends of the voltmeter connected to the two wires that run out of the window's motor, you should check the voltmeter readings when the window switch is used to control the window. If the reading at the motor stands at 12 volts, it indicates that there may be a problem with the motor or regulator, and if this reading falls under 11 volts, in could indicate a problem with the unit's wiring or switches.

A similar test, using a voltmeter, can also be carried out at the points that connect to the window switch, wherein low voltage can be indicative of switch or motor problems. Also, if you are not sure of how to go about doing this, it is best that you let a professional perform the job.

How to Replace Your Window Motor

Replacing a window's motor is not very complicated, and can be carried out by most do-it-yourself aficionados. However, if, at any point, you feel that you are not up to the task, it is best to seek professional assistance. If you decide to proceed with carrying out this task on your own, you need access to some basic tools and supplies that include the user manual for your vehicle's power windows, one or more replacement motors, a voltmeter or multimeter, a trim stick, a screwdriver, a hex wrench, and some rags.

The Nitty-Gritty

Getting to your window's motor requires that you remove the door's panel and follow instructions in the given user manual to a tee. When replacing your window's motor, it is important that you understand how the window aligns, because if the window is not aligned in the right manner, it can have an adverse affect on the motor's life.

When it comes to replacing a window's motor, disconnecting the vehicle's battery supply is suggested, and this is followed by removing the affected window's door panel. With the door's panel out of the way, the next step is to tape the window to the door's frame using some kind of an adhesive tape, as this helps to ensure that the window stays in place for as long as required. The wiring harness connecting to the motor can be removed by hand, and the bolts that hold the motor in place can be undone using a simple hex wrench. The new motor then needs to be bolted in place, and the wires need to be connected as before. The rest of the procedure needs to be followed in reverse, and once the door panels are in place, you can check to see if the new motor works.

When undertaking a power window motor replacement job, you should know that this is not something that can be accomplished in a hurry, and may well require that you spend the better part of a day performing the task. Also, before you put the door back together completely, run a few tests to see if the new motor is working as it should, because finding problems later may require you to go through the entire procedure again.

How to Buy Replacement Window Motor Parts on eBay

If your window's motor needs to be replaced, turning to eBay can help in more ways than one. For starters, in addition to the wide variety of window motors on offer, you can also expect to find just about every tool and supply that you need to complete the task, which includes screwdrivers, hex wrenches, voltmeters, and trim sticks. Besides, in addition to window motors, buyers can expect to find just about every kind of part associated with power windows when shopping on eBay, which includes parts for makers of all kinds of vehicles ranging from Alfa Romeo to Honda to Volvo.

Given that eBay sellers do not rely on any particular format when it comes to charging postage and packaging costs, this aspect requires your attention. Know that while some sellers may charge seemingly high postage and packaging costs, some others may offer free shipping. Also, since not all sellers are known to price their products similarly, you can expect to find seemingly similar window motors at considerably different prices.


When it comes to power windows, vehicles in today's world rely on three basic types: push-pull, toggle, and rocker; and while all of these use motors to move windows up and down, they vary in the types of switches they use. Rocker and toggle switch styles of power windows have received consumer complaints in the past, owing to which, more and more manufacturers are now turning to the pull-push switch. Irrespective of the type of power windows your car uses, you can be sure that motors are used, and require periodical attention in some form or the other.

Learning just how your window is designed and how it works is important, because while most of these windows follow the same basic pattern, certain changes are worth noting. For example, some vehicles come with power windows that house the motor and regulator in a single unit, and in such instances, replacing a motor requires that the regulator be replaced as well. Lastly, while buying used motors is an option, just how well they perform and how long they last can be anybody's guess.

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