Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Power window regulator

Broken power window regulators are a big problem

Starting in the early 2000’s car makers switched from a heavy duty scissors style window regulator to a much lighter and less costly cable driven style window regulator. Where the older window regulatorscissors style window regulator would normally last the life of the vehicle, cable driven window regulators failed within just a few years after rolling off the showroom floor. Worse yet, the replacement window regulators were no better, causing your to replace the regulator again in another few years.

What causes a cable window regulator to fail?

First, cable window regulators aren’t heavy duty, so any restriction in window movement can cause the winding spool, plastic gears, or idler rollers to break and cause a complete failure. If your windows ice up in winter and you try to operate them, the regulator can break. Also, if the window tracks aren’t lubricated, the glass can bind on the way up or down and that restriction can stress the cable and cause the unit to break.

One way to reduce the likelihood of breakage is to treat the window channels (the rubber or felt tracks that guide the front and rear portions of the window glass) with a spray lubricant like dry Teflon lube or spray silicone. Click on this video to see how it’s done.

window regulator video

Window moves up or down but not both ways

When a power window operates in one direction, the cause is most often a faulty or corroded electrical switch. The master switch on the driver’s side is almost always the culprit because it’s the most used and exposed to rain and snow when the window is open. Some master switches can be cleaned, lubricated and reassembled, but most must be replaced.

These images show a master switch where the individual switches are replaceable and the corroded circuit board of a master switch.The window regulator is seldom the cause of a power window that opens fully but won’t close, or vice versa.

power window switchbad master window switch

How much is window regulator repair?

Most window regulators can be replaced in about an hour. Depending on  the labor power window regulatorrates in your area, that can run between $80 and $125. If you replace the window regulator with an (OEM) version, the part cost runs between $400 and $600, bringing the total cost to around $725. However, your shop can install an aftermarket parts window regulator for much less. There are some decent aftermarket brands and others that are cheap, but poor quality. Talk to your shop about which aftermarket brands have worked well for them.

©, 2016 Rick Muscoplat


Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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