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Door Window Regulator Failure

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European Cars like VW, Audi, and BMW operate with the modern window regulator, known as the power window. However, the deterioration and malfunction of power windows over time can be disappointing and highly inconvenient. Problems with the window regulator may include communication errors between the windows motor and button, wiring issues, malfunctioning switches, and overheated motors.

In this article, we will be discussing door window regulator failure. We have put together a guide on causes, symptoms, remedies and helpful tips.

What is a Window Regulator?

A window regulator is a mechanical component within the door panel that controls the movement of a vehicle’s windows upwards and downwards. Modern-day window regulators are mainly operated electronically, while a hand-driven crank controls manual windows.

In addition, the regulator gear may break or the cable responsible for pulling the window may snap causing the carriage to fail. In most cases, a total replacement of the window regulator is the only option.

Causes of Window Regulator Failure in Your Car:

Many reasons can explain failures or malfunctions in window regulators. Some are due to wear and tear, which is imminent over time, while some are avoidable. Here are some of the causes of failures in window regulators, whether manual or power windows.

1. Broken window regulator components.

Broken components are one of the most common problems for a window regulator. It could be that a regulator gear or clip breaks, roller breaks, slide or strip cracks. 

2. Rusted Parts

Rust is very detrimental to and can cause a malfunction in a window regulator. The rust slowly eats away at your regulator, distorting the setting and can make the window come off its track. Rust can result in the breakage of wires and jams while operating your car window.

3. Blown fuse or relay.

Here is a common culprit for a faulty window regulator. A blown fuse and a faulty relay often present the same symptom. Where you have a damaged fuse, pushing the window button would not produce window movement. A bad fuse or faulty relay is a likely suspect where all the windows in the vehicle stop working. 

4. Damaged regulator.

Where you can hear an electrical motor running, but your window refuses to move, a damaged regulator might be the problem. It means the regulator or clutch of the power window system is likely faulty and may require replacement. 

5. Stuck debris in the regulator mechanism.

Dirt, dust, or debris stuck in the regulator assembly can cause a window to malfunction. Dirt may build up and get lodged around the window switches and regulator mechanisms, causing it to stick. 

Symptoms of a Door Window Regulator Failure:

It is unlikely that a window regulator works in perpetuity. Over time the device would begin to show signs of wear and tear depending on some of the reasons earlier discussed. Some of these symptoms include the following:

  • Grinding noise from the window regulator.
  • Irregular window speed.
  • The window falls inside the door.
  • Stuck window.
  • Manual or power window sticking.

Remedies of a Door Window Regulator:

A faulty regulator can be bothersome and requires immediate examination. The following are a few solutions to a door window regulator failure.

  • Depending on the cause, the grinding noise from car windows can be corrected by cleaning and lubricating the necessary parts. There can be a replacement of worn-out or broken parts and sometimes the installation of a new window regulator.
  • Varying window speed can be fixed by cleaning and lubricating the regulator system. Faulty ECU parts can be repaired or replaced, while irreparable damage may warrant the installation of a new window regulator.
  • If a window falls to the car door, seek professional help to remove the fallen window. In most cases, a total replacement of the regulator is the only remedy when damages are severe.
  • For a stuck or sticky window, clean the whole assemblage to eliminate dust, dirt, or debris. Judicious lubrication of the mechanism can also fix the problem. You can get a replacement where there is a broken or worn part.

Helpful Maintenance Tips for Your Door Window Regulator:

Your window regulator will wear out with time; however, you can control the degradation rate. The following simple and regular practices can help you achieve this increased lifespan.

Defrost the window before use

Ensure you defrost your window when in freezing conditions to avoid unnecessary strain and breakage.

Grease the window regulator regularly

Regularly renew the grease on your regulator to prolong the lifespan and maintain appropriate friction in the mechanism.

Clear stuck debris from the window regulator track

Consistent cleaning makes window movement easier and prevents particles from penetrating the window regulator assemblage.

Fix regulator problems immediately.

Acting fast would prevent further damage, save on repair cost, and prolong the mechanism’s lifespan.


1. What causes power windows to stop working?

The most common reason your power window may stop working is if the window lock is on. Other issues are bad window regulators, fuse and switch, bad window motor, wiring, and damaged doors.

2. Why is my VW’s window making a clicking noise?

A clicking sound can suggest an issue with the motor when you press the power window button. These noises, likely caused by stuck dirt or debris on the assemblage, should be corrected immediately.

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

Window regulators and motors are two different parts and perform different functions. A window regulator sits behind a car door, allowing the window to move up and down. A window motor is a component responsible for supplying power to the necessary gears for easy window movement.

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Window regulator replacement is unavoidable. Sooner or later, your window regulator is bound to break down. Following some tips and information above, you can easily spot the signs and causes of the window regulator failure and fix it before further damage.

At European Motors in Silver Lake, our European car specialists are equipped with the most advanced tools required for many cars, such as Audi, BMW, VW, Mini, Mercedes, Jaguar, Fiat, Land Rover, Porsche, and Volvo. Our shop has been located on Ivanhoe Hill since 1975, across the street from Whole Foods Market. We have been proud to be a neighborhood favorite auto repair shop for over 40 years. If you need help carrying out window service, give European Motors a call.