Replacing an electric window motor in your vehicle might sound intimidating, but this repair can be easily accomplished with a few basic tools. It is a simple task of removing items in an orderly fashion, pulling out the bad motor, and replacing it with a new one. Follow these 6 simple steps for how to replace a window motor to get your window working smoothly again.
Electric windows have been standard equipment on many cars for years. They generally work flawlessly, but if you hear strange grinding noises when opening or closing the window or the window starts to go up and down slower than normal, that’s generally a sign of impending issues with the power window motor. And once the window fails to move at all, you have some work to do to replace a window motor.
2 Things to Check Before Replacing a Window Motor
Before you decide to replace a window motor, here are two things to check first. First, it might be that you blew a fuse, and the motor is still good. Check the fuse in the fuse box. Most power windows are all on the same circuit so if the other windows still move up and down, it is likely not a blown fuse. Second, check to see if another switch can still operate the window. If you can still operate the window from another switch, the window switch itself might be the item in need of repair/replacement.
Prepare to Replace a Window Motor
The basic steps to replace a window motor are a matter of accessing and disconnecting basic electrical connections. You might feel safer disconnecting the car battery during this process. I kept the battery intact. The new motor will usually come with a new set of regulators which are the metal pieces that raise and lower the window. Once you have the new motor, you’ll want a few basic tools on hand to make the job easier.
- Basic socket set or wrenches
- Plastic panel removal pry tools
- Tape/grease marker
- Rubber mallet
6 Steps to Replace a Window Motor
1. Remove The Door Panel
The first step is getting access to the motor by removing the door panel. In classic cars, that involves removing the door handle using a tool that releases the “C” clip that is holding the handle in place. Then you can unscrew the screws securing the door panel. Note that the screws might be hidden behind decorative fabric buttons.
For a modern car, the process is similar but usually more involved as the manufacturer usually hides the retaining pieces behind decorative trim. Frankly, this can be the hardest part of the entire process. You can check out YouTube or another site-specific car forum for more information on how your specific car’s door panel is secured. A factory manual will also be of assistance with the procedure. A set of plastic pry tools will help you remove the trim without damaging it.
Outlined below is the process for removing the door panel for a 2003 C5 Corvette to give you an idea of how to proceed.
1. Remove two bolts from behind the door handle.
2. Pop off a bezel around the door handle using a plastic pry tool.
3. Next, lift out the window switch panel.
4. After that, remove two bolts hidden behind two plastic plugs.
5. Finally, pry out the door panel from the plastic pins that are holding it along the right, left, and bottom sides. For this step, you can use a plastic panel removal tool or you can use a flathead screwdriver covered in tape. Once the first trim pin is removed, the others follow easily. The panel should now lift right off if you lift it up and out from the door. This process is involved, but take your time and it should go smoothly. If you feel something holding the panel in place when you try to lift it off the door, you probably missed a bolt or screw.
2. Gain Access To The Window Motor
Once the door panel is removed, you should be able to gain access to the motor and regulator. Peel off any plastic black film that might be in the way of the motor parts and set it aside. This black film is the weatherproofing from the manufacturer and will need to be replaced prior to putting the door panel back on.
Remove the radio speaker, if necessary, to get easier access to the motor.
You will also want to remove the glass before working on the motor. The window glass is clamped between a set of metal pieces held tight with a couple of bolts. Take note of where the glass sits by using a grease marker or a piece of tape to mark the glass placement before you remove the glass. Loosen the bolts slightly and gently lift out the glass and set it aside in a safe place.
3. Remove The Window Motor
Disconnect the motor’s wiring connections. Remove the bolts that hold the motor in place. Gently wiggle the regulator and motor out of the door panel.
4. Install The New Motor
Snake the new motor and regulator back inside the door panel, and reattach the motor and regulator to the mounts. Once all the connections and pieces are in place, snug them down tightly. Connect all the electrical connectors.
Once the motor and cable are in place and firmly bolted back in, return the glass window into position. Use your marked past location as a guide and tighten the bolts to hold the glass in place.
5. Test The Motor
At this point, it’s important to test the motor’s operation. Also, make sure the window fits in the frame and correctly closes on the weather stripping. If gaps exist, loosen the bolts and shift the window gently until it seals tight.
6. Cover Everything Back Up
The last step is to replace the plastic film and speakers, making sure everything you removed is back in place. Return the interior door panel, push the retaining pins back in using a rubber mallet or the heel of your hand, replace the bolts, and return all the trim pieces to secure the door panel.
Check the window operation one more time and pat yourself on the back for a successful repair. By taking your time and remembering that what you remove goes back in the same place after the repair, you’ll find that you can replace a window motor with ease in the comfort of your own garage.