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Power window repair: do i replace the motors, or the motors & regulators?

Our '98 Sienna now has trouble getting both windows to return up to the closed position. I see online that I can get either a replacement window motor OR the motor/regulator assembly. But how do i know if i need to get the regulator as well?

Symptoms: Both windows will go down with little trouble, but when going up they move up a few inches and stop. At that point, they cannot go up or down at all. But after a few minutes, they can go up a little further and stop again (doing this a few times inches them closed over time). If i hold the glass by hand and lift, that usually helps the motor to close all the way. I have tried the suggestion of applying silicon lube to the window seals (assuming it’s a friction issue) but that had no affect.

Any thoughts? I’d like to do both windows before winter sets in. :wink:


in most cases you need to remove the regulator to replace the motor. If you are doing it yourself, the entire assembly is not much more. It would be a bummer if you just replaced one to have the other go out two years from now. During the replacement remove the window all the way to prevent it from falling and breaking. While it is out inspect all the glass runs and lubricate them directly. You may want an assistant to help hold the window at times.

Here’s both for $52.79 at Rockauto,carcode,1317543,parttype,15596

Once you disconnect the glass from the metal parts, you could leave the glass all the way up in the track. Use duct tape to secure it in place while you replace the regulator and motor.

For $53, I’d go ahead and replace both. You might get by with just a motor but you won’t know until you take apart the door, motor, regulator, etc.

If you use duct tape to hold the window, cover the door frame to protect the paint

Some regulators can be cheaply repaired, they have plastic rods or balls in a spider type drive gear (this allows theregulator to slip when at upper and lower level if you hold the button to long) these plastic deteriorate over time and lets the drive slip. See if you can disasemble the regulator, you can buy nylon/plastic rod at hardware and cut to size. I’ve fixed many on our Fords - it’s a common problem.Very seldom is the motor bad(weak) they either turn or not. good luck , Andy

It may be the window mechanics have a binding situation. Take off the door panel and see if you can lube the tracks and look to see why it is binding.

Great, thanks! RockAuto is where i was shopping as well; the price difference isn’t that big but i’m saving up to do the timing belt (shudder). So i’ll try inspecting to see if i can get by with lubricating the assembly, and if that isn’t sufficient then i’ll look into the motor/regulator assembly. If necessary, i’ll use the tape trick to hold the window in place.

But i have to say, i’m blown away by the amount of advice. I’ve posted this question in a couple of places, but this is the first real feedback i’ve received. Thanks a lot, everyone!

Lube the tracks too.

Be patient. And if you choose to tape the window plan ahead. Often the window must be at the halfway down position to separate the glass from the regulator… Size things up and take your time. On some models it is quite easy to pull the glass out and re-install it, but some models are very difficult. Whatever you do, roll up an old towel and place it in the bottom of the door cavity to catch the glass if it drops for any reason.

First, before you spend any money, I would remove one of the door panels and see what is going on…

This is a good little 2 person job. 1 person holds the window while you disconnect it from the regulator. Then you slide the window up and down manually and see how much resistance there is. Then one person can hold the window in place while the other tapes it in the up position.

I’ll toss my small voice in there with Caddyman - so far all you know is that you have sluggish windows. This doesn’t mean that you need to replace anything. At the very least clean up the electrical connectors for switch & motor & provide a couple of well-placed shots of a spray lithium to various regulator parts. You might just find that you can fix it all for about $1

Hey everybody, i know i tried to post my project follow-up but i guess it never took (we did have some internet issues during that timeframe). Anyhow, i tried the lubrication techniques and it never helped much. I finally bit the bullet and bought a pair from RockAuto, and they work just fine. Your tips helped make it a quick job, and gave me a plausible excuse to bring my daughters out to help (not that they like to work on cars, but i like the idea of helping them feeling confident with tools and seeing how things fit together.)

So another problem solved, thanks to CarTalk forums! Cheers!