Electric car window won't stay up, how to fix?
April 18, 2008 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Permanent, elegant solution for keeping an electric car window up?

The cost to fix this at the dealer is prohibitive.

The car is a 2003 Buick Century. One of the back windows has stopped working, meaning we can no longer raise or lower the window via the switch. Worse yet, the glass pane of the window isn't stuck in up position, so it just keeps coming down.

I pulled the door cover off, to see if there was some was of propping the glass pane up, but it appears to be encase in the door frame itself, requiring heavy duty and expensive tools to get at.

We could stick plastic over it or do something similar but that is ugly and unsafe. Is there some way or method to simply pull the glass pane up manually and glue/seal it shut?
posted by jmitchell to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't answer the window question directly, but remember that there is a third option between the dealer and DIY-ing it. A small, independent shop will (almost always) have lower prices than the dealer, and be more willing to find a creative solution like a DIY-er is looking for. The last time I had a window problem, my mechanic figured out a solution involving two zip-ties and some baling wire, so I only had to pay him for half an hour of work -- much less than even used parts, much less new parts from the dealer.
posted by Forktine at 7:40 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

If it was me, I'd go to the hardware store and get a couple of square dowels and jam them between the bottom of the window and the bottom of the inside of the door. If it is successful, a dab of silicone glue on either end to keep them in place.
posted by gjc at 7:41 AM on April 18, 2008

You write that the switch doesn't make it go up or down, which sounds like an electrical problem. But then you write that the window keeps coming down, which sounds like the glass is off the track.

I have had the glass come off the track and been able to lift it:
Open the door and straddle it; put your hands on both sides of the glass and lift up.
(if it moves freely- if not, it sounds like a motor/wire/switch problem)
In my case, the window popped back into its holder and then everything worked fine again.
(of course you may not be so lucky)
posted by MtDewd at 7:41 AM on April 18, 2008

Response by poster: Don't think it's glass off the tracks. The glass pane can easily be lifted up by hand and will even stay up for a bit, but any hard bump will cause it to slowly slide down.

Also, when pressing the window switch, either on the door or the driver's master panel, there's no sound of a motor turning on.
posted by jmitchell at 8:04 AM on April 18, 2008

If you can lift it by hand easily, I think something is disconnected or off the tracks inside -- you normally can't lift electric windows by hand (at least not on my car -- you can easily compare to the window on the other side of the car). My money is on a pretty easy fix, rather than a totally broken window that needs to be glued shut. Bring it by an auto glass place, an independent auto-body shop, or a small mechanic who does a bit of everything, and see what they say.
posted by Forktine at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2008

I had the exact problem with a 1998 Buick Regal. I took it to an auto glass place where they took the door apart and put a wood block inside the door to prop open the window ... about an hour of work. Total cost -- $65.
posted by netbros at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2008

Oops. Make that prop closed the window.
posted by netbros at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2008

I did something very similar to what netbros' shop did with a toyota corolla. Once the interior door panel is off, there should be holes in the metal doorframe where you could conceivably reach in to lodge some wood or other prop.

Perhaps you could also wedge something down between the window and the interior weatherstrip. Something black and made out of rubber might meet your requirements for elegance.

Or you could just put a bead of Liquid Nails along the top of the window and then shove it up to the top of the frame, as you have been doing, and tape or otherwise clamp it there until the glue dries.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:00 AM on April 18, 2008

Had this problem in my jeep. They said it was $300-$400 to fix, and when I asked they said they could get it stuck in the "up" position for $50. Might be worth looking into in your situation.
posted by PFL at 12:35 PM on April 18, 2008

I have a 99 Pontiac Grand Prix and a year or so ago, all the windows started failing like this. So far we've fixed all of them except the driver's window. Anyway, We got two of them fixed by going to a junkyard and buying the part there. Some sort of failure of the lifting mechanism; I don't know the details, because another member of my family was driving the car at that point. Evidently the guys at the scrapyard installed it too; a lot cheaper than the dealer/auto shop, and they've worked fine since then.

If you just want to get it stuck up, I'd suggest looking around online for any kind of schematic or manual dealing with your specific car's window mechanism. When the third window failed, it was going to be more expensive than the others for whatever reason, so a friend of mine volunteered to open up the door and fix the window mechanism in the up position using (IIRC) some wire he had around his garage. You could easily do the same yourself, probably, with some research beforehand.
posted by MadamM at 3:11 PM on April 18, 2008

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