What is in a Power Window System?

Any way you shake it, each power window will have a power window switch, a power window motor and a power window regulator. We know that it seems logical to some people that they would all run on one system and they’re shocked when one doesn’t work and the other’s do, but they each have they’re own system and they can go out whenever they get good and ready. In fact, each part can and will fail at different times sometimes wreaking havoc on an average family auto repair budget. The window regulator continues to be the leading cause of power window failure, with motors coming in not far behind.

Besides the door harness, which carries various wires from the door frame through the doors, you have 3 power window parts in each door: A power window switch, a power window motor and a power window regulator.

In most vehicles you will find the master switch pack on the driver door, which will control 2 or more windows in a vehicle. This switch may also contain connections for window lock out, power door locks, mirrors, etc. There will also be a single switch on the passenger side door(s) in most cases. On rare occasions, switches are found in the center consoles or in the center of the dash.

Each button has 2 connections – an up switch and a down switch. This means that there are 2 different connections that can go bad. When failing, it may go up from one switch, but must be lowered by another, etc. It’s more difficult to diagnosis a switch problem on a driver door so be ready for a question and answer session.

The power window switch sends electrical power to the power window or window lift motor, which is powered forward and backward at the switches request. Just because a front left motor is on the left side does not necessarily mean that it will fit in the rear position. While some parts are interchangeable, most motors are specific to the regulator that they will be attached to, whether that be a scissor or cable action regulator.

The power window regulator is the one NON-power part of the power window system. It’s a pulley or lift system and it’s only use is to hold the glass in place, so that the power window motor can have something to push up the glass in a stable manner. The motor will either attach with a metal gear on a scissor action regulator or with a cable spool wheel on a cable action regulator. As the motor is turned, that pulley or lift system is activated raising the glass up or down as requested.