Window Regulator FAQs in 2020

The automotive window regulator is a common device, and an important one for that matter. You need it to open and close your car windows, which makes it an essential component. But that also means the necessity to understand how it works and why you need it in your vehicle. The following questions will familiarize you with the car window regulator mechanism.

Q1. What is a window regulator and what does it do?

In the automotive world, a window regulator is the component that allows vehicle windows to open and close. It consists of a lifting mechanism. The lifting mechanism is normally either a set of arms and gears, or cables and pulleys. Car window regulator devices are also either manual or electric. Manual window regulators use a hand crank to operate, while electric mechanisms depend on a DC motor to work. Most window regulators today are electric.

Q2. Is a window regulator the same as a window motor?

It isn’t. A window regulator is the car window opening and closing mechanism. The regulator can be manual or electric and come in different designs. The window regulator motor, on the other hand, is the electric motor that operates an electric window mechanism or regulator. It’s only found in electric windows and often called power window motor.

Q3. Can I upgrade from a manual car window mechanism to electric?

You can. A mechanic can change your car’s window regulator from manual to electric and vice versa. Manual mechanisms are inexpensive, simple to operate, and easy to maintain. However, they lack the level of comfort offered by power windows. With electric window regulator types, you can open and close all windows from the driver’s seat. Other advantages of power windows include the safety lock system, which prevents children from opening a closed window.

Q4. How long does a window regulator last?

Window regulators last different times depending on many factors such as usage, type, quality, and level of maintenance. A driver side window regulator, for example, usually breaks down earlier than the passenger window regulator. Others, such as the rear window regulator, may be the last to go bad owing to their limited use. That said, most window mechanisms last for between 2 and 4 years.

To prolong the lifespan, it’s recommended to ensure the following: that you lubricate mechanism at least once every year, routinely remove debris routinely to prevent the window from jamming, avoid using the window in freezing weather or if the mechanism is jammed, and fix problems as soon as you spot them.

Q5. What causes a window regulator to break down?

Reasons for window regulator issues or broken window regulator are many and varied. It can be a weak power window motor, wear caused by dried up grease, debris causing moving parts to seize, operating a jammed window and causing the motor to wear or burn out, or forcing a jammed window (whether manual or electric) to open or close and breaking delicate parts.

Window regulators also fail from using them for a long time and leading to broken parts such as arms, gears, or cables. Also, as a result of a bad power wiring system and other parts such as fuse, relay, and connectors or even the switch. You can easy tell a failing window mechanism, but only if you know the signs.

Q6. How do I know if my window regulator is bad?

Bad window regulator symptoms show in different ways. If can be the widow regulator not working at all, working at times, or slowing down. The most common signs are:

  • Power window not working even with power reaching the motor
  • Window opening and closing crooked
  • Window won’t roll up but motor is running
  • Power window grinding noise
  • Manual or power window sticking going up or down
  • Power window regulator motor gets hot
  • Window opening and closing slowly than usual
  • Window falling into the door

Q7. Is it possible to repair a broken window regulator?

It is. However, many motorists choose to replace window regulator mechanisms than fix them. Replacing window regulator mechanisms is often more economical than repair. However, that also depends on the nature of the damage. In some situations, you have no option except to install a new regulator. These include cases where many parts are worn, and fixing them seems impractical. Consider window mechanism repair in any of the following scenarios.

  • When you have a weak power window motor but the window regulator and motor are separate parts
  • If it’s only a part that’s faulty. You can easily and cheaply replace a broken window regulator cable, crank, gear, switch, relay, fuse, and connector.
  • When the problem is debris and the window mechanism only needs cleaning
  • Where the window is jammed as a result of ice freezing the window regulator mechanism and tracks

Q8.How much is it to fix a window regulator?

Car window regulator repair cost varies across different car makes and models. It also depends on the type of regulator, whether manual or electric, and the type of mechanism. If you have a high-end car, expect to pay more. Electric mechanisms are also more costly to replace. At a typical window regulator repair shop, the amount ranges from $50 to $150 depending on the type and level of damage. If you choose to fix the problem yourself, only will need to purchase a window regulator repair kit, which often goes for less than $50.

Q9. When should I replace a window regulator?

Sometimes, replacing a window mechanism is your only choice. Window regulator replacement may also be more cost effective than repair, especially when multiple parts are damaged. If your car window starts to show any of these signs, consider replacing the mechanism or motor (and both if the motor is built to it).

  • Power window regulator not working due to a burnt out motor
  • Window mechanism not working as a result of excessive wear of the moving parts
  • Window not opening or closing because there are broken or corroded parts

Q10. How much does a window regulator cost to replace?

The cost to replace a window regulator varies between $100 and $500 for most cars. Window regulator replacement cost also depends on the type of mechanism. Manual regulators are generally cheaper than the electric types. Unlike repair, window regulator replacement is a straightforward process that you can do yourself. You will only spend around $50-$100, which is the window regulator price for most car models.

Q11. Does it matter the position when installing a window regulator?

It does. Car window regulators are specified based on the door they are mounted in or the window that they operate. The different types are: front window regulator, rear window regulator, driver side window regulator, and passenger window regulator. Front regulators are usually studier to support the larger glass mass. Manufacturers usually indicate the intended window regulator position.


As you have just learned, window regulators serve a big role in your car. They help you secure the car interior, shut out adverse weather conditions such as rain or dust, and more. Ensuring their operation is, therefore, paramount. The answers to popular window regulator questions should have provided you with useful insights regarding the component.

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