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Summary
  • The most common symptom of an off-track window is the window glass turning sideways as it goes up.
  • Usually, grinding noises don’t indicate an off-track window.
  • Depending on the problem, professionals will repair or replace the off-track window.
  • Reasons for off-track windows include insufficient lubricants, faulty power window motors, and damaged regulators.
  • It costs between $100 and $200 to fix an off-track window.
  • It’s best to have a professional fix an off-track window to avoid damaging it.

Off-track windows are annoying to deal with. Something as simple as rolling your windows up can turn into a chore. And if it’s not resolved immediately, there’s a good chance you might damage the glass or the tracks.

Before attempting any fixes, it’s important to know the root causes of this issue.

How to Tell If Your Window Is Off-Track

The biggest sign that the window is off-track is if it turns sideways in the door on its way up. Off-track windows also move slowly, even for a power window. Lastly, they may also make grinding noises.

Some off-track windows also don’t move at all. However, other related issues may cause the glass to get stuck.

Do Grinding Noises Always Indicate Off-track Windows?

A grinding noise alone doesn’t necessarily mean the window is off track. Most of the time, it means the window just needs a new regulator installed.

professional technician installing a new window regulator
Professional technician installing a new window regulator | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

The cable-and-pulley style regulators that have been common since the 1990s is almost always the reason windows make noises but don’t work. If the window simply doesn’t respond to the switch, carefully watch the dome light while operating the switch and see if it dims a bit when you try to operate the window.

The cable-and-pulley style regulators that have been common since the 1990s is almost always the reason windows make noises but don’t work.

– Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

If it does, the motor is drawing current and something is jammed. If the dome light doesn’t dim when the switch is operated, there could be an issue with the switch or the wiring but this requires special troubleshooting skills.

See also  Recognizing the Symptoms of a Bad Window Regulator

How to Fix an Off-Track Window

Fixing an off-track window is a meticulous process and is best left to professionals. You can expect them to perform the following steps:

  • Step 1: Remove the car door panel in case the car window fell into the panel.
  • Step 2: Remove the hand crank (depending on the car model) and related components to make it easier to remove the door.
  • Step 3: Remove the door and take out the covering to detach the cables. Afterward, detach the rest of the attached wirings.
  • Step 4: Check the window track for damage. If there is, apply a white lithium lubricant on the window track in case of rust.

 If the damage is beyond repair, the technician will likely suggest replacing the window as a whole.

  • Step 5: Check the window motor for any mechanical damage. Attach a voltmeter to get a better read of what’s causing the difficulty.
  • Step 6: Similar to a faulty window motor, damaged cables may also be the cause of the issue. Check all attached cables and wiring for damage.
  • Step 7: Align the glass pane to the bottom of the window frame to realign it with the lines on the car door interior.
  • Step 8: Gently push the window glass until it’s aligned with the track. Check for spots where it’s bent, squeezed, or plugged, and adjust appropriately.
  • Step 9: Clean the rollers and tracks before lubricating them for better traction.
  • Step 10: Lastly, reattach all the wiring, cables, and components before reconnecting the door and testing the window.
See also  DIY Diaries: How to Fix a Sagging Car Door

Common Reasons Why Windows Get Off-Track

A good way to prevent your windows from malfunctioning is to know what causes them to go off-track in the first place. Here are a few things to watch out for:

Insufficient Lubrication

There is no schedule published anywhere for power window lubrication, but many shops use silicone spray on the “flocked runs.” These are tracks on the front and rear of the window opening where the glass slides.

Pro Tip: Lack of lubrication isn’t generally the reason power windows fail but it can be the reason why they’re slow.

Faulty Motor

Power windows have motors that provide power to a series of gears that ultimately controls the windows. Once any of these motors start to fail, the windows will need to work harder to compensate for the lack of power. Note, however, that while a faulty motor will keep the window from operating properly, it won’t necessarily cause a window to get off track.

Damaged Regulator

The regulator is responsible for moving the windows up and down when power is supplied by the motor. A bad regulator is the most common failure on today’s power windows.

A damaged regulator will have difficulties moving the windows even if it’s supplied with the necessary power.

failed power window regulator assembly on a dodge caravan
This photo shows a failed power window regulator assembly on a Dodge Caravan. Note the exposed cable and broken sheath on the left. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Damaged Wires

The wires inside the doors and windows are connected and act as an avenue for the power and information needed to control the window. Damage to these connections often results in malfunctioning power windows.

The malfunction may then lead to all sorts of physical damage due to the lack of power. Some of the common ones include cracks and off-tracking.

See also  How to Replace a Window Regulator

Loose or Damaged Tracks

Window tracks are the raceways where the car windows move up and down. They’re often lubricated to make the movement smoother, which prevents damage. Ford calls these tracks “flocked runs.”

As such, loose, damaged, or unlubricated tracks present resistance to the window’s movements, which could accumulate enough to cause significant issues. Any physically-damaged window is more susceptible to off-tracking.

Can I Fix an Off-Track Window Myself?

It’s not recommended to fix an off-track window yourself, as you may damage both the window and the door. It’s best to leave window fixing to professionals instead.

Getting Replacement Window Parts for Your Vehicle

Imagine driving around with windows stuck open during a cold, rainy evening or a blistering hot summer day. This is a very possible outcome if you ignore your off-track windows instead of addressing the problem head-on. Luckily, with CarParts.com, you can get replacement parts for your off-track window from the comfort of your own home.

CarParts.com promises a hassle-free shopping experience, so you can get your new window motor, window regulator, or other window parts with just a few clicks. We also offer fast shipping, thanks to our strategically located warehouses around the US. Order your new part by 12 PM ET, and you can expect it to arrive in as fast as two business days.

Don’t wait until your off-track windows break before replacing them. Check out our selection of window motors, window regulators, and other window parts at CarParts.com, and get one for your vehicle today!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Car Body , DIY Tagged With : , ,
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