Whether you’re trying to keep the rain or snow out—or keep the air conditioning in—a car window that won’t go up is inconvenient and unpleasant. Worse, you won’t be able to secure the vehicle, and the interior could be exposed to inclement weather (and just think what moisture can do to all those electronics).
With this in mind, we’ll review what typically goes wrong when a car window won’t roll up and some easy fixes for these situations.
There are many reasons why a car window won’t roll up or down. Let’s check out some possible causes and solutions.
The first thing to check is the ignition switch if a window won’t go down. Most cars are wired so that windows and other accessories (like the radio) won’t work unless the vehicle is running or the ignition is turned to the accessory position. So, assuming the car isn’t running, just check the ignition’s setting. If this doesn’t help, keep reading.
Check the child safety switch when your car’s window doesn’t go up (or down). This device (when engaged) prevents a passenger of any age (and pets, too) from accidentally raising or lowering a window. Look for this lockout switch as part of the driver’s window control panel; the button is usually marked with a crossed-out window icon. It’s easily engaged, so hopefully, this makes for a quick fix.
If you’re still having window troubles, then we’ll move on to more complex diagnoses. This begins by looking for a blown fuse that prevents electricity from reaching a power window mechanism. Check if all or a pair of windows aren’t working. If this is the case, it’s probably a problem fuse.
Replacing a blown fuse is usually a DIY job, but contact a mechanic if you don’t feel comfortable with this approach or are uncertain about anything.
To begin with, locate the fuse box; it might be under the hood or beneath the dashboard. Some vehicles can have more than one fuse box. The owner’s manual will have location details if needed. Or contact a dealer for help.
The fuse box door or lid will have a diagram that specifies each fuse’s function. Identify the one that handles the window circuit. If you can’t, look at the owner’s manual or seek help from a dealer or the manufacturer.
With the window fuse identified, use long-nose pliers (or a fuse puller) to remove it from the box. A blown fuse can usually be identified by its brown or black discoloration. Importantly, replace the defective fuse with one of identical amperage (or amps). IMPORTANTLY, never replace a bad fuse with a higher amperage one as this can create a fire hazard.
If the window (or windows) is back to normal, then you’re all set. If the situation repeats itself, something is going on with the electrical system. In this case, have your car checked out by a mechanic or automotive electrician.
Think about how many times a power window switch gets used during a car’s life. So, it’s no surprise if a switch goes wrong at some point. One tell-tale sign of this problem is a window that will go down but not up.
Another way to check is to turn on the headlights or cabin lights and engage the window switch. If the lights don’t dim, then a bad switch is the probable cause. If your car is so equipped, a voltmeter that doesn’t fluctuate (when using the switch) means the same thing. Replacing a window switch requires some technical skill, so a repair may be best handled at the service center.
A bad window motor could also be causing trouble. Try to identify the problem by turning on the headlights or cabin lights (yes, the same steps as #4). Engage the window. Do the lights dim, but nothing happens with the window? If so, then power is reaching a window motor that is likely defective.
Replacing a window motor involves opening up the door and having experience working on a car’s electrical system. So, this task is best handled by a professional mechanic.
Yes. You’ll want to try to raise the vehicle’s window manually. This is possible if at least some of the glass is visible. Begin by putting the ignition into the accessory setting. Open the door and put a hand on each side of the glass to make a sandwich. Each hand should be as flat as possible against the glass. At the same time, have someone else engage the “up” side of the window switch. As best as you can, move the glass up. Use caution to prevent fingers and hands from getting pinched at the top of the window.
A basic rubber or plastic wedge can hold you over until there’s time to visit the repair shop. You can pick up a wedge online or at a local auto supply store. With the window completely closed, insert the wedge between the door ledge and the glass. Be cautious not to damage the molding.
If a frame surrounds the car window, you can also try duct tape to keep the window in place. Just run the tape (when the window is closed) along with the frame and adjacent glass. Use as little tape as possible to avoid an obstructed view.
When all else fails, visit a nearby auto parts retailer and pick up a temporary window kit. Cut the plastic sheet to fit the window opening and apply the custom tape to secure things. Other kits may require a hairdryer to shrink the plastic for a snug fit. There may be other temporary window options available online.
Expect to pay as little as $20 if you’re just replacing a blown fuse. Swapping out a window switch will usually run $150-$250. Replacing a window motor will likely cost $300-$400. Keep in mind that these numbers will rise for upscale vehicles.
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