Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Window Regulator (Power Windows)

Our driver side cab window regulator failed on the trip we just returned from, and despite a kind offer to help with repair from Mr. Wade, I decided with time constraints I would give it a go myself in his absence. The mechanism gave a pop sound when raising the window, which then slowly descended into the door. This regulator has a vertical track that the window carrier slides on, with a cable drive whose ends attach to the carrier from top and bottom plastic glides. The cable is wound on a drum, driven by the window motor, under spring tension. In our case, the upper cable end released from the carrier, allowing the window to drop.

Once the inner door panel and water shield are removed, you can access the regulator and motor assembly attachments. The bottom edge of the window is affixed to a metal bracket with some sealant/glue. The bracket is attached to the regulator carrier with two 1/4" pop rivets, and more of these attach the bottom of the track to the door, and three more attach the motor assembly to the door. The top of the track has two studs attached with nuts.

I removed the pop rivets by using a spring-loaded punch to pop out the nail in the middle, then a 1/4" drill to separate the rivets. It takes a bit of fiddling with the window glass to be able to access those rivets. I blocked the window fully up to wrestle the old mechanism out and the new one in and used 1/4-20 bolts and nylon locknuts in place of the rivets for re-installation. I used duct tape pieces to hold the nuts/bolts on the tools I used to install some of the marginally accessible ones.

Note: I believe a worn plastic attachment point for the cable on the window carrier allowed the cable to release. I disassembled the old regulator cable drum and found that attempting to operate the motor after that had destroyed the cable inside the drum - not repairable. The part I ordered was a regulator with motor complete for about $60 from RockAuto, but replacing the unit without motor would have been successful as well.


When I replace our LD's window regulator, every pop-rivets' pin was bent and they would not pop out, no matter what tool I used on them. The pins were too hard to drill out, so they had to be cut off using a pneumatic angle grinder.

I was able to find a Motorcraft regulator from Rock Auto but I see they are no longer available.

I used pop-rivets to reattach the new regulator but would have used 1/4" bolts and lock-nuts if I didn't already have the tool.

Amazing how cheap the replacement parts are. Even more amazing is how much it cost to have one installed.

There is only a $20 difference between just the regulator, the part that breaks, and the whole assembly. You can swap the motor but, being many years old,  it's a better choice to replace it too.

If the rivet's center pins pop out easily, as they did Steve's LD, it isn't an exceptionally complicated job. He used a spring-loaded center punch to break to break the pins loose.

TEKTON 6580 Automatic Center Punch - - Amazon.com There is a bolt or two, used in installing the new regulator, that is a challenge to get to.

I was able to install new, 1/4" pop rivets, to hold the new regulator in, already owning a big pop-rivet tool.

Amazon.com: Astro 1426 1/4-Inch Heavy-Duty Hand Riveter: Home Improvement It isn't something you will probably ever use again so don't bother buying one, use bolts and lock-nuts instead. 1/4" pop-rivets are often used in kayak construction to attach accessories and deck gear.

FYI, Steve's new regulator came with the needed nuts and bolts. The Motorcraft replacement I used didn't.