Electric car windows sliding down on their own when driving is a nightmare. It always seems to be raining when this sort of thing happens.
The good news is this article covers six common causes of this fault and how to quickly secure the window into position, which can usually be done with a piece of cardboard.
6 Reasons why your car window keeps sliding down
Even though there are six reasons the window keeps dropping below, the most common is a faulty window regulator. However, it is worth knowing the other reasons as they can happen anytime.
1. Faulty window regulator
A window regulator is a mechanical device that controls the movement of the window glass. It allows the window to be lowered or raised and then holds the window firmly shut. The regulator typically consists of cables, gears, and a motor that work together. Although the regulator and window motor are two different parts, they’re rarely supplied individually.
When the regulator becomes faulty, it may lose its ability to hold the window securely in the desired position. This can result in the window gradually creeping or suddenly sliding down on its own.
Common reasons for regulator failure include worn-out gears in the motor, plastic mounting clips, and broken or stretched cables. With a failed window regulator, you may also experience other issues, such as the window failing to shut all the way (leaving a gap at the top) and the electric window working in one direction, i.e., only going down.
2. Electrical wiring issues
As with anything electrically controlled in a vehicle, wires lead to each component. Any damage to wiring or terminations will stop the window from working correctly; this might mean that the window is stuck in a lowered position. What can also happen is there might be enough power passing through the damaged wires to control the motor; however, the wiring can overheat, and the window may drop because of it.
3. Loose or broken window track
The window track consists of guide rails or channels that help support and guide the window glass as it moves up and down.
When the track is loose or damaged, it compromises the alignment of the window when raising or lowering, causing it to move off the track. As a result, the window may fall or drop within the door frame instead of smoothly sliding up or down along the track. You may also experience the window twisting on the track, which means you get a gap at the sides of the windows because the window isn’t raising straight.
Most commonly, a window track fails because the clips that hold it in place fail, so it becomes loose and damaged when you raise or lower the window.
4. Debris obstructing the window’s path
Most car windows have anti-pinch or auto-reverse features to prevent injuries or damage. When debris, such as a small object or even a hand, obstructs the window while it’s rising, the sensor detects resistance. The window’s motor stops and reverses the direction of the window to prevent anything from being crushed in the window.
In some cases, if the obstruction is debris or a build-up of dirt, it will cause the window to keep dropping when you try to close it. This can also damage the window’s mechanism and lead to the window becoming stuck or unable to move altogether.
5. Aftermarket modifications
Aftermarket modifications to a car, such as installing wind deflectors and even window tinting, can cause the windows to drop.
Tinting and window deflectors can cause the window to sit wrong in the guides and cause problems for anti-pinch sensors. However, this problem usually only happens with cheap universal aftermarket parts (you know the ones I’m talking about) and not premium, well-designed, car-specific versions.
6. Failed window switch
When you press the window switch to roll it up or down, it sends an electrical signal to the window motor responsible for moving the window. If the switch malfunctions or fails, it can get stuck in the down position, continuously sending a signal to the window motor to lower the window. Just as the switch can get stuck in the down position, it can also get stuck in the up position, meaning a failed window switch can also cause a window that won’t roll down.
Sometimes, a failed window switch can also result in erratic behavior, such as the window raising and dropping for no reason.
Is it safe to have a window that keeps sliding down?
The problem with a window that keeps sliding down is the vehicle’s security and the damage terrible weather can do to the interior. If the window stays partially open in the summer, the weather is not so much of a problem; the interior should stay pretty dry. However, if the interior gets damp, i.e., in winter, it could become a breeding ground for mold. Mold will consume a car interior quickly and is very difficult to eradicate from a car.
On the security side, if the window keeps dropping and it drops while the car is locked, anybody could get there arm in disable the alarm and remove items from the car or take it altogether. There is no saying when the window will slide down either; it could randomly happen in the middle of the night when the cars locked, so it is best to address this type of issue quickly.
How to stop a car window from sliding down
Stopping a window from sliding down is relatively straightforward. The window needs to be raised; if the switch is still working, then great; otherwise, read below first. You need a door wedge, a wooden stick, or a folded piece of thick card. As you raise the widow, you need to slide the wedge or card up the side of the window between the rubber surround and the window. This will jam the window in place, meaning you can’t lower the window; however, at least the window won’t keep dropping.
This is only a temporary fix and doesn’t always work. So repairing the fault is the only sure measure for fixing it.
An alternative way of keeping the window shut, although it takes a lot more work, is to remove the door trim to access the window. Make sure the window is fully closed. You’ll need a piece of wood or something similar to wedge between the bottom of the door and window to stop it from sliding down.
How do you raise a window that is stuck?
There are a couple of ways to raise a stuck car window. The first is if the window switch still works or if you can at least hear the motor trying to do something even if it is not moving the window. You will need an extra pair of hands to pull on the switch to raise the window. While you have the door open and one hand on either side of the window, firmly press palm to palm against it and pull it upwards. This can sometimes be enough to take the pressure off a weak motor so you can push the window closed.
If that doesn’t work, you may need to take the door apart to get to the regulator, where you will need to apply +12 volts to the motor to get it raised. However, before you do that, it’s worth finding the fuse box and checking the fuse to the electric windows hasn’t blown.
Alternatively, release the window from the electric window assembly. Note it will drop, and they are much heavier than you think. You can then force the window up and jam it in place as described above by putting something in between the bottom of the window and the bottom of the door (a cut piece of wood).
If your car window keeps sliding down, you can often find the window regulator is the cause. However, there are other issues to be aware which all have unique, different fail modes. For example, the window often twists with damaged window guides so it doesn’t go up or straight. If you can still get the car window to go up all the way, you can wedge a piece of card between the window and the rubber securing strip to hold the window in place.
It’s essential to fix this sort of thing ASAP; who knows when the window might drop again, which could be a security concern for your car. They aren’t cheap to replace, so why risk the vehicle getting stolen for something as simple as a car window dropping randomly?