Car Window Regulator Track Fix

A quick summary of some of the things i've fixed on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP in the past couple years:

One day while driving home from work I rolled down all the windows in the car to get some fresh air.   After the inside of the car cooled down a bit I pushed the switches to rol lup the windows and heard a terrible grinding noise from the rear passenger door.   I knew something was wrong, there was a definite metal grinding noise and the window was jamming.   When I got home I left the car running and went to check the window.   Everything seemed fine but when I pushed the switch to roll it back down there was another grinding noise and the window didn't seem to be sliding very well.  I pushed the switch to slide it back up and there was more grinding coming from inside the door.   Even using my hands to help raise the window didn't work, it was stuck in place.  I thought that I had broken the window motor.  I knew it wasn't the broken switch, fuse, or electrical problem because it was obviously trying to work.

So I went inside and started doing some research on Youtube, as always.  It wasn't very clear as to what could be the problem, it didn't sound like a very common thing to happen on cars.  Some people complained about loose wires or faulty motor.  But I was pretty certain that I wasn't having the same problem they were describing with my window, motor or track.  So to fully understand what was going on I had to remove the inner door panel, so that i could get a look at the inner workings.

Here's the full video of what i did, over a couple of days, in an effort to fix my electric window.  I eventually got it fixed, but it wasn't easy and it wasn't cheap.

Fix Car Window Regulator Track - GM


I've removed the inner door panel of my car before.   A year ago I replaced the side mirror on Karrie's car.   She also has a Pontiac Grand Prix and to fix the mirror i had to remove the front drivers side door panel.   It's like everything when it comes to working on cars, the first time you try to fix something takes 5 times longer than the 2nd or 3rd time.  

For the Grand Prix's you have to pop off a plastic cover plate, remove 2 bolts, then use a thin plastic tool to work your way around the outside of the panel, wedging and popping the metal clips.  There's about 8 or 10 butterfly wedges which snap into the metal door.  Popping off those wedges is the hardest part.   You know you have to pop them off, but don't want to break the plastic panel.  You just have to work your way around the door, pushing and wedging plastic tool in, until you hear a pop sound and the door panel is loosened. Here's what it looked like after the door panel is removed and the plastic dust cover is peeled down.

Just a note, if you're doing this on a hot day, that black tar sealant is really sticky and you wouldn't want to get it on anything. It's best to just completely remove the cover and get it out your way.
how to fix a broken car window, won't work, motor, regulator

There wasn't a lot of space to see what was the problem.  But I eventually noticed that the wire connection which lifted the window had broken from its plastic mount. You can see that this white plastic piece in the back should be attached at the top of the metal frame, instead it was all the way down in the center of the frame.
car electric window won't work, roll up or down

I wasn't 100% sure that it was the only thing broken so I checked the other rear door.   I took off that door panel and plastic cover.  That's when I was sure that the only broken part was the white plastic piece and wire which was attached.

Here's another view of what it looks like.  The white plastic pies wasn't really attached to anything here.  It should be securely attached to the top of the metal frame.  You can see the residue where the plastic piece used to be attached at the end.
broken window track, regulator, wire, plastic, gm, pontiac

I decided that there was no way to fix it while it was in place.   I could barley see the broken part, let alone fix it inside the door.  So I had to remove the door track and motor from the inside of the door panel.  The first step was to loosen the bolts and padding which attached the track system to the glass window.  The window track system is technically called the window regulator.  Once those bolts were loosened the window was able to slide up and down freely.  But you want to make sure not to drop it or the window will slide down and break inside the door frame.   So I used masking tape to hold the window in the fully up position, out of the way.

Next I removed all the bolts which held the window regulator in place and was able to remove it from the door frame.  You don't want to leave just the masking tape holding your window up for 2 reasons.  First is that the tape could tear and the window could fall and break.  The second is that people will know that there's a problem with the window and could just break right into your car.  So I used a piece of 2x4 to wedge the window up in place inside of the door panel.  And a couple pieces of duct tape were used to hold the 2x4 in place.
how to remove car door panel, clip, plastic, window, motor, switch

At the center of the regulator was the electric motor which attaches to a plastic housing.  Inside that round plastic housing is a spool in which the two wires coil around.   As the switch is pressed for the window to go up or down, the motor turns and the wires are spooled in opposite directions.  Those wires pull the metal track up or down and the window, which is attached, is raised or lowered.

The problem I had is that the plastic piece which attaches to the wire at one end had broken.  It's amazing how much of this window track system is made of plastic.  With all the torque being put on the window, the motor, and the wires, it seemed like this little plastic piece was a weak point.  I thought I would be able to repair it but had problems fixing to the wire spool.  I had to go in the basement and completely disassemble the plastic spool and the motor.  Inside the wires were all tangled up.  So i had to completely undo the wires just to have enough slack on the wire that needed to be fixed.  Only then was I finally able to latch the broken plastic piece and glue it in place.  I wasn't sure how well the the glue would hold the plastic to metal.  Here's what my quick fix looked like.
fix broken window regulator, wire, plastic, motor

Before putting it back into the door frame I decided to give it a try to see if it worked.  I wasn't sure if I reassembled the motor spool and wires correctly and I wanted to make sure that everything traveled freely before I went to all the hassle of bolting it back in place.  This is the point at which I made a really dumb mistake.  

I had the car ignition turned on and the window regulator plugged in, but when I flipped the switch nothing happened. I didn't realize that I had the child security window lock switched to the 'ON' position and there was no way to operate the window with the rear door switch.  At the time I just figured that I screwed up when I reassembled the electric motor.  So I was settled with the fact that I needed to buy a whole new window regulator system, $70 later I ended up with this.
gm window regulator, pontiac, rear, drivers side

The new window regulator is on the left and the old one is on the right.  Again before bolting in the new window track system I wanted to check to see that it would travel up and down correctly.  I plugged it in, pressed the switch and again, nothing happened.  The only thing I could think of was that I blew a fuse or damaged something else more seriously than I thought.  This is when I need to remember that the simplest answer is always the right answer.   I only realized what was wrong when I walked to the drivers side door and saw that the child window switch was locked on.  After switching it off the window motor worked and the track moved up and down.

I felt like a bit of an idiot spending $70 on a new regulator which didn't need to be replaced.  I knew that I would eventually be installing the new track system, but I wanted to see if my fix would have actually worked.   So I reconnected the electrical cable to the original regulator system that I glued back together.  When I pressed the switch the track did move down, however when I tried to raise the track, the wires in the plastic spool became all tangled.  A few more attempts to raise and lower the window and the regulator was completely seized again.  I felt a little better knowing that I would have had to buy a new window track system anyways.

I unplugged the old broken window regulator and began installing the new one into the car door frame.  It only needs 3 bolts to attach the regulator to the frame.  Then 2 tensioning bolts at the bottom, which attached the regulator to the window.  With everything in place I replaced the plastic cover and inner door panel.  

Now it all works perfectly, just like it did before.   Sometimes when working on cars you can replace a single part, but in this case it's an entire "sealed" unit that you have to replace.

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