Window Crank: Quick Guide and Frequently Asked Questions
- As you rotate the window crank handle, the manual window regulator will turn as well, causing the spur gears and the worm gears to spin. This prompts the plates inside to move, rolling the window up or down in the process.
- When manual car windows fail, the source of this problem can be traced to either the crank or the regulator.
- You can tell if the crank is faulty or worn out by how it feels as you turn it—if it is free-wheeling or something is grinding.
- The key benefit to scouring through aftermarket car part replacements is that you get more options from different suppliers and get to choose from a wider range of prices.
- Window crank replacements cost anywhere between $4 and $50, depending on the material and design as well as the vehicle’s specifications.
On older vehicle models, you have to rotate a car hand crank in order to raise or lower the window through manual regulators. This was later on replaced by an automated window regulator system, where all you have to do is toggle the switch or push a button on the door panel to roll the window up or down.
Power windows started as a feature for luxury models and high-level trims for various makes and models. They were so popular in the 1960s that they eventually became a standard feature in all vehicles by the end of 1970s. But even if manual windows had been replaced by newer, automated systems, window cranks on older vehicles with manual window systems can still be repaired and replaced, thanks to widely available window crank replacements and window crank parts such as knobs and handles.
How do manual car windows work?
Window systems of older vehicles use manual regulators. As you rotate the window crank handle, the manual window regulator will turn as well, causing the spur gears and the worm gears to spin. This prompts the plates inside to move, rolling the window up or down in the process.
What causes manual windows to fail?
When manual car windows fail—such as when the glass inside the door will not roll up or down—the source of this problem can be traced to either the crank or the regulator since there are no electronics involved in the system.
The regulator may no longer be working properly due to lack of proper lubrication. The regulator can be stuck if the lubricating grease is already low or dried out. The unit may also be bound on something. The regulator may bend or crack due to an impact from a collision or as it deteriorates from old age.
Other things to check are the gears in the crank and the regulator. Over time, these gears may get stripped. If the window is stuck or simply does not work, check the crank and regulator. For this, you will have to remove the door panel to see which parts are already broken or if the regulator needs to be unstuck or lubricated. In some cases, the window may simply be misplaced out of the channel and may be popped back in for the window to roll up.
How can you tell if the car window crank is no longer in good condition?
You can tell if the crank is broken or worn out by how the window crank feels as you turn it. A free-wheeling window crank indicates wear or damage. If you turn the crank and it seems like something is grinding, it is highly likely that the teeth inside the crank are already stripped or frayed. To check, you will have to remove the door panel and take a closer look at the crank for any sign of damage. If the crank seems fine, check the regulator and other connections to the window.
How can you keep the window crank from breaking?
When turning the window crank, do not use excessive force. Over time, this will put the window crank under a lot of strain. Cleaning the vehicle regularly also helps in maintaining the good condition of its parts. A car vacuum can pick up fine dirt and dust that can weaken the material and structure of the part in the long run. From time to time, you will also need to apply new grease on the manual window regulator to prevent friction from causing wear and tear and making it hard for other window parts to work smoothly.
If the car window becomes hard to roll up or down, be careful not to break the glass or the regulator by pulling the window up or pushing it down with too much force. Inspect the window parts right away to identify the real source of the problem.
Is it easy to install a window crank?
Since there are no electronics involved or complicated systems to deal with, installing a window crank is fairly easy even for a beginner or a novice DIYer (do-it-yourselfer). You just need needle nose pliers or a basic set of tools. More importantly, you need a crank that fits your vehicle’s window system design. With the right replacement, you can slap it on or clip it into place easily. All you need is the right set of instructions or a video to walk you through the steps.
What do you have to look for in a window crank replacement?
You have to be sure that the replacement will be a perfect fit to your vehicle. For that, you have to indicate the exact specifications of your vehicle (year, make, and model). You may find universal-fit window cranks—these can be fitted to a wider range of makes and models. If you consider buying one, check if it matches your vehicle’s window system requirements.
Another choice you have to make is whether you will buy a single unit replacement or opt for a set or a complete kit. You can save money buying it per piece, but if you want to upgrade the look of your vehicle interior or make sure that the other cranks will not be failing soon after you have replaced one, you can just get a complete set.
Window crank replacements also come in more options, such as plastic and aluminum, and in different styles. You can stick to replacements that match the ones that you have on your vehicle or check out cranks that are built in aluminum alloy or shiny metal pieces. They come in blue, red, black, silver, and even purple colors and are made to be more durable than plastics. These may be used as accents to vehicle interiors and to complement other modifications and restorations done on the old vehicle.
Is it safe to buy aftermarket window crank replacements?
The key benefit to scouring through aftermarket car part replacements is that you get more options from different suppliers. You also get to choose from a wider range of prices. But as with any purchase, it is highly advised that you shop around and compare to find top-rated manufacturers and determine the quality of the product and its advantages and downsides. This is the only way you can get the best deal out of your purchase.
How much is a new window crank?
Window crank replacements cost anywhere between $4 and $50, depending on the material and design as well as the vehicle’s specifications. Individual pieces are sold from $4 to $30. They are also available in sets of two that may cost as much as $50.
Shopping for the Right Window Crank
Before power windows were all the rage, vehicle windows needed to be manually rolled down via the use of a window crank. People who opt for manual windows in some newer cars or who drive in older vehicles will know what we're talking about. Picking out a window crank that suits your ride is a simple enough a fair-but there are still a few talking points worth sorting through.
A point on attachment
Fit is not so much a problem per se when it comes to window cranks-they are pretty much the same sizes overall. They only really differ in the way they are attached to the door itself. This is very important to note as these spell the difference between a crank that fits and a crank that you'll have to return at great hassle and expense to yourself.
- The Slap-On: This type of crank is attached to the door of the car via a notched protrusion. We've called it a slap-on because installation is as simple as a few hammer taps. This surprisingly secure as it is anchored by the bulk and mass of the door itself. You'll know that this is the type that you will need because your handle itself will have no screw attachment points.
- The Screw-In: This is a much older kind of crank that relies on an old-fashioned method of attachment, the humble screw. Apart from the fact that it uses a much larger and longer screw, the principle is pretty much the same. Some might say this is more secure that a slap-on, but the truth is that they basically work in the same way!
Whether slapped-on or screwed-in, there is standardization within each category-such that you can afford to be a little more creative in choosing the design of the window crank. Tired of just the plastic look, why not go for a metallic one? Just remember that the only limit is how it is attached to your car's door. Everything else is up to you!
How to Keep Your Window Crank in Good Condition
There's nothing more frustrating than a window that just won't open. It makes ordering take away, chit chatting with a friend you bump-hopefully, figuratively-into, and enjoying the breeze on the open road, impossible tasks. Your dog probably won't enjoy being unable to stick his head in the path of the on-rushing wind neither. So if your crank is stuck and no amount of jostling gets the darned thing open, this is the perfect guide for you-simple, straightforward, and step-by-step. In 15 to 20 minutes, you should be able to finish the installation.
Difficulty level: Easy
Stuff you'll need:
- Replacement window crank
- Philips screwdriver
- Flathead screwdriver
- 3-in-1 oil
- Chamois or, at least, a clean cloth
Step 1: Inspect the crank installed on your car door-some cranks have a retaining screw bolting it down, others are attached in a nut-and-bolt kind of thing.
*NOTE* Also take note of the position of the door handle when it is rolled up all the way up in a closed position.
Step 2: Remove the crank from the door. Depending on the way it is attached, this can mean either unscrewing the retainer or gently prying the handle off by leveraging off a flathead screwdriver at the base.
Step 3: Apply several drops of 3-in-1 oil onto the point where the crank connects to the door-make sure you wipe off any excess that spills onto the door itself.
Step 4:Apply just a drop or two into the connecting area of the new crank. This will help with both adhesion and lubrication.
Step 5: Install the crank onto the door, taking great care to ensure that it ends up roughly in the same position as the old one was at fully closed position.
Step 6: Secure the handle in place by tightening the retaining screw or gently tapping the center of the connector with the heavy end of the screwdriver.
Step 7: Test out the installation by opening and closing the window-slowly at first but gradually increasing in speed to fully test the stability of the installation.
- It's always better to install a new crank with the window closed as the entire internal assembly of the window is taut and more apt to hold in proper place.
- It might seem like a simple task but it still merits the use of standard safety gear: goggles for the eyes, gloves for the hands, and closed-toed shoes for the feet.