'02 Impala 3.4L, 211.6k : Annoying Window Motor Assembly Problem

'02 Impala 3.4L, 211.6k : Annoying Window Motor Assembly Problem

The vehicle was bought brand new in June 2002. Original driver’s side window motor assembly lasted to 184k miles. Three years ago (but only 26,000 miles ago), that part failed when the plastic pulley(s) cracked and the metal cable ended up jammed between the broken pulley(s) and metal framing. So I bought an inexpensive replacement assembly on Ebay for only $35.

It looked identical to the OEM unit: motor, with metal stranded cables running either way over pulleys and meeting on either side of this metal bracket that slides up and down on a vertical (~20") piece of metal.

The problem with the design of this assembly is it has embedded plastic parts, and one of these parts is a receptacle to attach the metal balls at the end of the stranded cables. So the motor turns, pulls the stranded cable over a pulley, and lifts the window UP in its fixed track inside the door. There’s constant tension on this cable when the window is UP, and so eventually the plastic pieces fail. This time, instead of the pulley cracking, the metal ball got pulled clear through the plastic receptacle!

My question is:

The HUGE disparity in lifespan between the two units leads me to believe the problem here could be the fixed tracks inside the door. Maybe the window pane is getting cocked as it’s being lifted, causing undue stress on the cables, and eventually failure of the plastic parts? If this is the case, do the tracks just need to be lubricated, or are they lined with some kind of material that has disintegrated after 16 years time, leaving more wiggle room for the pane to move?

Window should stay solid in its track. The window track retainers are probably worned causing the window to wiggle.

Two part answer to your question. One, Yes, the tracks wear and yes they should be lubed. Usually white lithium lube is the grease of choice and comes in a spray can with a little tube to direct it.

The second part, Yes, the part you bought is likley a cheap Chinese (or Taiwanese or other) knockoff that LOOKS like factory but is inferior to the original. Parts like this get installed on cars immediately headed to sale or the junkyard in a couple of years.

Well, I think it’s more likely the tracks than the unit. I think the tracks killed the OEM unit (breaking the plastic pulleys), and now they’ve killed the plastic pieces on the Ebay unit. But I’m not sure what to do. Can barely see these tracks because the access hole is small and at the bottom. It’s not like I can just open the inner metal door skin and inspect it up and down. When I installed the Ebay unit, I did spray lithium grease as best I could, but it’s difficult

Also, when I push the glass pane up by hand, it tends to cock and jam in the tracks. Now that might be because I’m not hoisting it with the same balance as the motor assembly, but I need to verify those tracks before I buy any new unit (OEM or not).

Just looked on Rock Auto and I see the $81 ACDelco replacement. That’s what I’ll probably end up buying, but one brand “World Power Systems” claims their unit is “upgraded” with improved nylon window regulator slider (and motor design). But it appears to have the same cables “fastened” to embedded plastic pieces.

What I’d LIKE to see is NO PLASTIC PIECES on these damn regulators - especially where the ends of the stranded cables fasten! I know some of this design is for sound transmission, but C’mon - anchoring metal hoisting cables in plastic receptacles and then pulling heavy panes of glass in a potentially sticky track?? That’s just piss poor design. By contrast, my Ford Taurus has a motor that plugs into a metal "scissor’-style lifter. No tiny plastic pieces, plastic pulleys, or chintzy cables that can fail.

You’re 30+ years too late on the ‘no plastic’ request. I’d do both - lube the tracks and buy a higher quality part from Rockauto.

Last year I replaced the passenger regulator in my Trailblazer with a Dorman unit claiming to be updated design. Upon disassembly I found the tracks were BONE DRY. This is what lead to the eventual demise of the original regulator. I re-greased the tracks by placing dabs of lithium grease on my fingers and feeling up inside the door openings. The slides will eventually distribute it as the window works up and down but I wanted to get it evenly applied as possible. The Dorman unit was indeed better. You could see the physical improvements and it actually was quieter and noticeably faster with the larger motor.

About 6 months later, I opened the driver’s door to inspect the tracks. That motor was beginning to struggle when cold out. Sure enough, all the grease was gone and they were essentially bone dry. I re-greased those tracks and it was as good as new. Been working fine ever since. No doubt that one would have failed if I didn’t re-grease it.

I ordered the ACDelco assembly ($84 delivered). It’s probably no better than any other unit, but I’ll do like TwinTurbo did and painstakingly hand-grease the tracks with the lithium until my hands bleed. Then AGAIN later before putting the door panel back on!

These guys make quality parts 1AAuto.com.

Noticed he doesn’t mention anything about greasing the window tracks inside the door.

And speaking of that - had to laugh because I think I have that same-sized opening on the left (where those metal rods cross over). That should give me enough room to at least grease one of the tracks well enough.

Installed the ACDelco part from RockAuto. Looks the same, maybe the plastic pulleys were bigger (?), but felt and sounded like a better unit (although it was made in Taiwan). I used some high temp bearing grease from a tub I had sitting around to grease the two fixed tracks inside the door cavity… With consistency like Petroleum Jelly, I thought this would linger longer than the white lithium grease out of the can that I’ve used before but doesn’t seem to have much “body” to it.

So the window is going up and down OK, and I still have the door panel off, but when the window reaches the top it makes a metallic-like clunk noise that I haven’t pinpointed yet. My Taurus used to catch the rubber seal at the top on one of its windows, bend it, causing a “Thump” noise as the seal snapped away from the glass. This noise is different. It doesn’t sound very good. Also, while putting the grease in the vertical tracks, I noticed they each have a velour or felt-like liner that appeared to be intact from top to bottom. My narrow index finger fit tightly, so it didn’t seem like these tracks were worn out. However, the window seems to have more “play” in it as it travels upward (than, say, the passenger-front window).