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Window regulator, 1996 Grand Caravan

My driver side power window regulator has self destructed in a way that leaves me puzzled. This is my first contact with a cable type regulator, so it’s all new. I took the door panel off, then watched a youtube video on regulator replacement for a manual window, so I understand the basics well enough to forge ahead, (learning as I go). However the glass seems trapped in the bottom of the door and I don’t know if unbolting the rails is exactly what I need to do to free the glass….or if that would complicate the job. I don’t know what to expect since I don’t yet understand the mechanism.

It’s obvious that the first thing is get the glass up and out of the way. The glass feels free to move at the rearward end, but the forward end seems held by something. I just can’t make enough sense of what I can see to guess how to move the glass up.

Can anyone advise me on getting the glass free so I can get it taped to the top of the door? I think I can handle it from there.

Second question: It was late when I started calling for parts, Autozone was just closing and had a replacement which includes the motor. Too late to call anywhere else so I don’t know yet what else is available. It would help if I could get this done tomorrow, Thursday. Is it possible to buy just the regulator, and does that make any sense? I presume the motor could fail sometime, but for now it sounds fine. I wouldn’t mind saving some money, but don’t know anything about the longevity of the motors.

I’ll greatly appreciate any advice and suggestions, thanks all!

–Roadtripper

The cable usually gets bound up on the spool so cut the cable and lift the glass half way by hand to remove the clips and disconnect the glass from the lift plates.

I think you’ll find the glass will be in the way when you try to raise the regulator rails out of the slots, I always remove the glass. At about 2/3 of the way up rotate the front of the glass down and the rear up, the glass can now be lifted out.

If you buy a window regulator without a motor you may find it frustrating trying to install the motor to the spool, the cable is wound with tension around the spool and it can get away from you like a can of snakes.

BTW - the front edge of the glass does seem to be in its guide track. Also, the back part of the glass (which moves) does come up a few inches into the window opening, but the front of the glass won’t come up into the opening.

@Nevada_545
Thanks for this. You’re right about the cable and spool, that’s at least part of the problem that I was able to see. Are you saying that the cable is holding the glass down?

So you remove the glass entirely and set it aside? The video showed taping the glass to the top of the door, but frankly, the guy in the video seemed a bit, uh, inexperienced.

I’ll heed your advice on buying the whole thing as a unit. What you describe reminds me of other times trying to fix various spring loaded devices…frustrating and time consuming. Thanks!

There is a cable behind both regulator rails holding the glass at that height. Remove the motor and the spool should fall off releasing the cables. If it is still stuck cut the cables. The motor bolts are screwed into rubber mounts that will spin in the door sheet metal, hold them with a pliers.

OK, will do. Actually, the spool and cable is a tangled mess…this may be a bit more like a demolition than neatly removing anything, but whatever it takes. Thanks Nevada, I’m grateful for your instructions.

It probably wouldn’t hurt to review the free online repair guide that AutoZone offers. I took a look at it and I think it will help you. To get a better idea of what’s available regarding replacement parts check various online auto parts suppliers like Autozone, O’Reilleys, Rockauto, etc.

In a BMW, the glass has one Torx screw holding the glass to the regulator "lever"
You also need to remove the window trim to get the window free and clear to lift out.

@AlanY - thanks for the reminder about the Autozone repair guide. That helped me better visualize the lift plate and clips, which I can’t see well enough. I think something is out of position in my door, but I’m not yet sure what that might have been…haven’t worked on it since my original posting when I decided to look for more info before proceeding.

@UsedEcono–I hadn’t thought about the window trim, thanks.

@Nevada_545: thanks again for the spot on advice…made all the difference (cutting the cable, removing the glass, holding the rubber nut mounts with pliers). Extricating the regulator was more or less easy with the cable cut - found the lift plate broken. Installing the replacement, a close match to the OEM, was a learning experience but not hard, except that I found a defect with the rubber mounts which required getting another regulator from Napa. That one was entirely different design, unlike the OEM and the first replacement. The second replacement had, among other things, a far superior mounting strategy (bolts and nuts- no rubber). Also, the spool is held by a steel plate rather than a plastic housing (see photo). All that was the good part-I was especially glad to have better mounting hardware.

The bad part, or at least questionable, is the fact that the spool is not enclosed as it is in the OEM design. That made me wonder if I should be concerned about the possibility of the spool contacting the fibrous / spongy sound insulation on the door panel, shredding it because the spool is turning, thus impairing cable motion. It seems to me that this motion would spread insulation particles all over the cable and into the cable housings. As a serious bicyclist, I understand the importance of clean and well lubed cables, so this open spool seems a dubious design.

If it is, I may try to improvise some kind of shield on the insulation in the vicinity of the spool, for example a piece of thin but stiff plastic glued to the insulation, or even light sheet metal, maybe attached with contact cement.

So, my question is this: Is this open spool design a genuine problem, or simply a non-issue, and not worth solving? Any opinions? Thanks!

Sorry, uploaded a duplicate photo…here’s a different view:

Isn’t there a vapor barrier bonded to the door behind the door card? There is on my Buick Regal. It is held in place by a tar-like adhesive. I just peel it back so that I can work inside the door then pull it back up and bond it to the door with the old adhesive. This plastic layer would prevent contact with the back of the door card.

@jtsanders
Yup, there is. Or was. It was disintegrating when I found it, came off in little pieces. I somehow overlooked this stuff or didn’t recognize its function as I focused on the regulator. My mistake! Feel a little foolish now for so completely overlooking this obvious answer to my question about protecting the spool and cable. Thanks for the reminder! I’ll have to find some source for similar material.
–Roadtripper

@WesternRoadtripper
Plastic is cheap. Buy some and fit it onto the opening, then cut off the excess. Note that you will either have to remove the switches from the door so that you can snake them through a slit you make, or cut the plastic film to get the wires to the proper level to mate with the switches. I bet that you can get heavy gauge plastic from a home supply store like Lowes or Home Depot.

Yeah, that’s the conclusion I had come to. No problem getting common roll polyethelene, but wondered about something much thicker, closer to the original stuff. I do have enough some assorted things lying around which might work well. I know I have some 6 mil poly, but need to poke around in the dusty corners of my workshop for other choices which might be better. And there’s a good home center in shouting distance from here. Thank you again jt for turning on the light so I could see the obvious answer…;=). Duhhh.