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Power Windows Repair Cost – Will It Wind Down Your Wallet?

by Jordan Harris
Power Windows Repair Cost

Of all the things that you had long feared about your car that could fail, you may never have had any suspicions about those slabs of glass flanking your left and right. Indeed, the modern-day electrically (or sometimes hydraulically) actuated and powered windows can break. Even as they silently work in the backdrop, never to ask much of you. Yet, when they do cease, you scramble in a dash to try and find out all about the power windows repair cost. So, is it really that expensive to repair?

The cost of repairing power windows, as well as replacing the necessary bits and pieces that make it all work, can be quite costly. It might surprise you how complicated the many componentry is underneath it all. Plus, how tedious it is to get them fixed up or replaced altogether.

It’s one of the harsh trade-offs that we get in return for panes of glass that wind up and down seamlessly with a button press away. So, let’s talk more about that power windows repair cost, shall we?

But first, we should dive deep into what power windows are. This may give us some context as to why power windows repair cost is shockingly pricey at the higher end of the spectrum.

Power windows are the replacement for the traditional means of winding your windows up or down, which is actuated by a manual crank handle. Now, we use electric actuators to move the glass, rather than core strength. Although some cars have hydraulically-actuated power windows, these are rare.

Power Window

Power windows have been around since the 1940s, and over the years, they still generally work the same way. Deep inside, there are two important components that you need to know that form a core part of the electric power windows – the motor, and the regulator.

  • Motor – The motor is what produces power to wind your powered windows up or down. The motor is attached to a worm gear, as well as several spur gears to create a large gear reduction. In all, they create torque to lift the windows. One unique feature about power windows is that they can’t be forced open, as a safety and security measure. This is thanks to the gear worm and its self-locking mechanism.
  • Regulator – While the motor is the “engine” of the power window system, the regulator forms the rest of the assembly that connects it all together. It starts with the buttons that you interact with on the armrest, which then send the signals to the motor. On the other end, the regulator is what holds and carries the glass in place. The motor sends torque across to the regulator assembly, which duly lifts the window up or down along the track.

So then, we’re more well acquainted with the two key parts that are hard at work to keep the power windows working. It’s no wonder then that the motor and regulator are the units that often wear out and break down first.

Thanks to them, and the many other wiring looms and relays that go in between, you can enjoy the convenience and effortless operation of your windows. Aside from ease, there are a few other distinct features that have been enabled thanks to its creation.

Power Windows Repair Cost: Power Window Functions

Power Windows Repair Cost

  • Automatic Up/Down – It’s a very common feature in many cars. Usually, you’d have to hold down the switch to fully wind the windows to their bottom-most position. With the ‘automatic down’ function, you can instead press and hold it down for just a few seconds, and then lift your finger away from the switch. The system will then automatically wind the windows down as far as they can go. On the flip side, the ‘automatic up’ function for power windows works the other way, winding it up.
  • Automatic Stop – This is a safety feature built into some cars. It works by sensing if there’s an obstacle in the way as the windows – with automatic up/down capabilities – are being lifted upwards. If there is something to get in the way, such as one’s neck peering out the window, the risk of injury is very high. Hence why ‘automatic stop’ function has been included in certain cars. They monitor the speed of the windows as it’s being wound up. It can then slow it down and stop it when it senses an obstacle in the way.
  • Courtesy Power On – One integral security aspect of power windows is that they can’t be wound down when the ignition is turned off. However, some cars do include ‘courtesy power-on’, which uses some of the backup power to do this. Let’s say you forgot to roll up your windows as you’re parking your car. Instead of having to go back in, turn the ignition on, and then wind the windows back up, this system does it for you automatically.

Power Windows Repair Cost: Convert A Car’s Windows To Be Powered

This an odd question to ask, but we’ve uncovered quite a few while writing up this power windows repair cost guide. Could you feasibly convert your car’s manual, hand-cranked windows to be electric power operated?

Indeed, the answer is ‘YES’… Although it does take a bit of work. You’ll need to add some new wiring to the already existing in-door mechanisms such as the door locks and hinges. You thus require a lot of fresh parts fitted in to make the conversion happen.

In manually operated cars, they too have a regulator assembly. But rather than take in power from an electric motor, it instead takes in torque from the rotational motion of a crank. This will have to be replaced when converting them to be power operated.

Nonetheless, it’s not cheap to add a brand new electric motor and regulator assembly, foreshadowing the repair bills later. With all the parts combined, a power window conversion unit will average around $850, not yet counting labor.

Symptoms Of Bad Power Windows

We’ve understood what goes on inside your doors to silently and smoothly bring the power windows up and down. Now, we’ll need to look at how you can tell that something’s amiss.

What are the various tell-tale signs of problems arising that have you worrying about the power windows repair cost? Well, there are a few symptoms to look into here that would tell you if your power windows need a check-up. Maybe this could help us narrow down and pinpoint the problem more precisely…

1. Pressing The Switch Doesn’t Work Or It Only Works Sometimes

Let’s say you press the power window switch, and one of these three things happens… 1) all of the power windows stop working entirely; 2) the windows do wind up or down, but only when pressed from the master switch; or 3) the windows wind up and down, but it sometimes doesn’t work, or it might not close properly at times.

If you suffer from these symptoms, the underlying cause might not lie too far down. It’s possible that only the electrical system up top has some faults. A blown fuse or a bad relay can cause the power windows to not work at all.

Meanwhile, the power window switch itself can break, needing you to press the master switch to activate it. It may even function still, but not properly.

2. Needing To Press The Switch Numerous Times To Make It Wind Up Or Down

In this scenario, the window switch works. However, you now realize that you need to give it several presses for it to actually wind the windows up or down. This may be a continuation of the window switch problem from earlier.

It can get stuck due to debris, or break over time. Still, it’s also a good sign that the power window motor or regulator has failed, or is on its way out.

3. Window Wind Up/Down Speed Is Faster Or Slower Than Usual

Power Windows Repair Cost

Your power windows should always wind up or down at a steady pace. Although, you may be able to notice that it’s winding up or down much faster, or slower than it usually does.

This points us to the fact that the motor needs replacing. When the motor begins to fail, it might not regulate the speed that it operates sufficiently, leading to it providing far too much (or too little) torque.

4. Clicking Sounds When The Windows Are Rolling Up/Down

Have you ever heard a clicking sound after pressing the power window switch? The windows may still roll up and down without any trouble. However, there’s that clicking noise of something going on inside the power window assembly.

In this case, you may have some debris trapped likely between the slab of the glass itself, and the power window regulator assembly or motor. There are a few consequences to this. It starts with your power window motor and regulator needing to work harder than it needs to. This leads to premature wear and damage.

Moreover, the debris – depending on how large or abrasive it is – could jam the window along the rails. This may end up with the glass being dislodged and falling out of the assembly, or shattering completely from the stress.

5. Window Is Crooked Or Stuck

The windows should always lock into a set position once its wound up and are then held in place by the regulator. If there’s something wrong with your power window system, then the glass might sit in a crooked position.

It may seem like it’s leaning to one side. Alternatively, your window could get stuck in place or encounter some friction while it’s rolling up or down.

6. Odd Squeaking, Grinding, Or Clunking Noises

We noted that you should be wary of clicking sounds when the windows are rolled up and down. But this time, you’ll need to listen for any peculiar squeaking, grinding, or clunking noises when you’re using the power windows.

This is a sign that a component within the mechanism is broken. You can easily point your finger at two components – a failing regulator, or a faulty motor.

7. Window Drops Back Into The Door

This is a rare case, but it can still happen. Often, this symptom is exhibited when your car has just been in an accident, leading to damage within the power window mechanism.

Thus, a faulty motor or regulator assembly might see the glass slab fall out from its rails. The window will then fall all the way down into the doors, which could cause the window to shatter or crack from the impact.

Power Window Not Working

To better get to grips with what we’ll need to tabulate for a complete power windows repair cost, we should of course try to pin down the reason why all these problems are happening in the first place.

Once again, the cause of the issues will likely be the power window regulator and motor. Both are frequently used during the operation of rolling up or down the windows at your behest. Hence, it makes sense that they undergo the most amount of strain, as well as wear and tear.

Apart from this, there are a couple of other components within the entire power window system that can break and fail. The power window switch that you toggle each time to wind the windows up or down, as we spoke of before, can have its faults.

Debris can get lodged in there. Or, the electrics that connect its inputs back to the motor or regulator, such as a fuse or relay, can fail. Then, we can move on to the cables inside of the power window mechanism, which transmits the motor’s torque.

This torque moves a sliding bar up and down, which it’s connected to a bracket that holds the glass in place. Therefore, the cable is crucial in actually carrying the motor’s power to be translated into actual force to move the windows.

If the cable were to break, it can cause the glass slab to fall out of the assembly. If the cable guides are frayed or worn out, you can also hear some abnormal sounds. The window may also fail to roll up or down accordingly. That said, these faults are rare.

Power Windows Repair Cost

Finally, we can move on to discussing the power windows repair cost that you need to think about. So, how much does replacing or repairing a power window regulator or motor (or both) cost? As we hinted at before, it’s not cheap.

In fact, power window faults are one of the more costly fixes that you can have done on your car. In short, replacing both the regulator and motor together can leave you lighter by between $150 to $1,100 on average, accounting for both labor and materials.

Naturally, that’s a very wide margin, and it will vary significantly depending on what needs to be done. How severe are your power window problems? The make and model of your car will have a difference.

Some luxury cars, for example, have double-pane windows to block out outside noise. Since these are heavier, they need much torque to roll up or down, thus requiring more beefy motors and regulators to prop them up. Plus, we also have to look at where you’re sending your car.

Are you having your car checked up at a local workshop or specialist, or dealership? The latter, while they may be able to provide you with original factory OEM parts, will most likely cost more.

On top of all this, we need to account for labor costs. If you’re technically minded, you can save a lot by buying up only the raw materials, and spending a few hours to have it installed by your lonesome. So, let’s try to break the power windows repair cost down, bit by bit…

Power Windows Repair Cost, Breakdown #1: Opening Up Door Panels And Diagnosis ($50-$200)

You should more realistically expect a price of around $100 for this, but that might change. This cost involves having the mechanic or technician remove the entire door panel apart to pry into the power window system and see what’s wrong.

The price, of course, can increase as more work may need to be done. For instance, you might want to ask them to clean out any dust or debris in there. They may have been clogging up the windows the entire time, and a quick (and relatively cheap) fix should solve it.

From here, the diagnostic fee itself is about $50 (it can rise up to $100) on average, tacked on top for poking around to see what’s broken with your power windows. This is just the starting price, assuming that you don’t know the cause, or fault within your power windows.

Power Windows Repair Cost, Breakdown #2: Replacing Power Window Regulator ($125-$600)

Between them, the regulator is usually the cheaper of the two to have replaced. There are two types of power window regulator designs – a scissor, or cable. A ‘scissor’ type regulator works sort of like a scissor lift.

Mechanically, it’s simpler in form, and thus has fewer parts that could break. Although, there are those wheels to lift the mechanism up and down, which can wear out over time. Meanwhile, ‘cable’ type regulators take up far less space as it uses cables to move and roll the windows up or down.

However, it does have more moving parts that could fail. In any case, a typical window regulator costs anywhere from just $40, all the way up to $300 just for the parts. Rather than go for original OEM parts, compatible aftermarket solutions are generally cheaper.

If you plan on having someone else do this for you, you’ll need to account for 1.5 to 3 hours of labor in total. This includes removing the door panels, detaching the glass, taking apart the old regulator, and then fitting in the new one.

On average, labor costs are around $50 to $120 an hour. In total, replacing your power window regulator can cost you $125 to $600 for both the parts and labor.

Power Windows Repair Cost, Breakdown #3: Replacing Power Window Motor ($150-$900)

The motor can commonly be found – just the part itself – for around $60 to $550. As with before, you could find compatible third-party aftermarket options for the motor instead of going for OEM, as the latter will cost you more.

You could stop the bills there if you’re planning to replace the motor yourself. But if you’re sending it for a professional to do it, the process takes just as long. That said, we’re looking at another 1.5 to 3 hours to remove the door panels, separate the glass, take out the old motor, and then replace it with the new unit.

We’re estimating this using the same $50 to $120 average labor cost as before. Overall, the total cost of a replacement of your power window motor, taking into account both labor and material, is around $150 to $900.

One surprise here is the “core charge”. Most states mandate this, and it may cost you another $20 to $60 out of pocket for replacing the motor. So, what is it? Well, the ‘core charge’ is basically a recycling fee, as the motor has plenty of reusable materials inside of it.

Interestingly, it neither has to be paid nor refunded, if the old motor is exchanged for a brand new one, thus avoiding waste.

Power Windows Repair Cost, Breakdown #4: Replacing Motor And Regulator ($175-$1,100+)

Sometimes, it may be wise of you to consider replacing both the motor and regulator, even if only one of them is broken. This is recommended as a preventive measure, as a fault with one could put stress on the other.

It could lead to that other part wearing out and then breaking again. If you have plans on replacing both of them, the combined cost of raw materials is around $100 to $850.

Once adding in 1.5 to 3 hours of labor, the total power windows repair cost of having the motor and regulator replaced will land you around $175 to a whopping $1,100 (or more!).

But some have wondered why the bottom end of the estimations could be that cheap, relatively speaking. For that, we should look at the fact that the labor cost is the biggest contributor to the price of any repair.

In this case, the cost of replacing both items is still the same 1.5 to 3 hours. This process requires removing the motor and regulator. As a result, it doesn’t cost much or any extra in labor fees, since the time and effort it takes compared to replacing only one component is similar.

Also, the motor and regulator can sometimes be acquired in bundles, saving you more when buying up the parts.

Power Windows Repair Cost

Power Windows Repair Cost: In Conclusion…

In all, we’ve learned here that power windows, as little as we think about them, are a surprisingly expensive fix. You can certainly do this yourself at home if you’re confident enough.

But for such a delicate task, it may be helpful to have an experienced mechanic do this for you. Besides, the price of a slab of shattered or cracked glass isn’t cheap to replace. In all, just be prepared the moment you’re handed the repair bills for a power windows repair cost.

FAQs On Power Windows Repair Cost

If you’re still curious to learn more about a power window repair cost, our FAQs here might help…

How To Manually Roll Up A Power Window

There may be times when your power windows refuse to wind up the windows after a certain point. This is most likely due to a weakened power window motor, or if the windows are out of alignment with the regulator. But, you can still force your power window to continue to roll up manually, should you need to. First off, secure the car doors so that they won’t move. Then, hold the window between both of your palms, one on the inside and the other on the outside. With you sandwiching the glass between your hands, gently push it upward and do so slowly until the window reaches the top. It would also help to have someone else press down the power window switch (upward) while you do this.

How Do You Pull Up A Stuck Power Window

One simple trick to get a stuck power window rolling up and down again is slamming the door shut. Just get out of your car, and give the doors a hard slam. Sometimes, this can be enough to force a window that’s dislodged itself from the power window regulator to get back on track once again. If not, slamming the doors may also jolt your power window motor back to life. While you’re doing this, it would help to have someone else press the power window switch up or down. That can help both the regulator and the motor to re-align with the piece of glass, and be able to properly wind up or down. Another technique would be striking the middle of the door with your palm to give it more force.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Car Windows

If your car’s windows have shattered or are cracked badly enough that you need a replacement, the costs may vary. On average, a car’s windows may cost you anywhere from $100 to upward of $500 or more. This broad range applies to the windshield, side windows, as well as rear windscreen. If we’re being a bit more specific, your passenger-side front windows tend to cost more than the driver’s side. That’s between $100 to $350, and $200 to $450, respectively. Meanwhile, the rear-passenger side windows would cost you around the same. Between all that glass, the windshield is often the most expensive. This is due to its large footprint, as well as the lamination process that it goes through.

How To Fix A Car Window That Won’t Roll Up

If your car’s windows won’t roll up, it might be due to a select few points of failure that you’ll need to repair. This includes the safety lock-out switch, which you might’ve bumped into by accident sometimes. Or, it could be due to blown power window fuses, which should be pretty easy to diagnose and cheap to replace. Other than that, you may need to contemplate replacing a worn-out power window motor. Alternatively, the power window regulator might be stuck, forcing your windows to stay in place. Elsewhere, the wiring which supplies power to the windows might have a short or ground in the system. Or, quite simply, it might be that the window switches themselves are faulty.

Why Won’t My Window Roll Up

Should your car’s power windows fail to roll up, this could be due to numerous reasons. Sometimes, it won’t roll up and down because you’ve accidentally bumped into the child safety locks. Otherwise, there may be genuine issues that you’ll have to check out and fix. The simplest reason why your windows are failing to roll up and down is due to the power window fuses blowing. This is relatively easy to solve. If not, you’ll then have to diagnose the power window motor, regulator, as well as switches themselves. If a power window is failing, those 3 are the most common suspect. You should then move on to checking to make sure that the window slot hasn’t clogged up entirely.

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