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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix an Off-Track Window?
It costs somewhere between $100 and $200 to fix an off-track window. The price varies depending on the replacement piece and the labor fee.
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.
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.