Troubling with Car Windows Stuck? Here's How to Fix Them

Updated Aug 16, 2022 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

Understanding how car windows work and find out the process of fixing car windows that are stuck or won't roll up or down.

You’re on just another glorious driving day, going around and getting things done. Suddenly, you find your car windows won’t roll up or roll down. It looks like it might be a little stuck, but this can be more than a slight inconvenience on your part.

A stuck window means you won’t be able to enjoy the perks getting your favorite drive-through fastfood or coffee. Highway drives would be even more problematic, since it will be harder to transact at the toll gates. Worst of all is a sudden thunderstorm if the window doesn’t roll up, getting you drenched right on the driver’s seat. 

Whether your windows are manually engaged or powered, having them malfunctioning at crucial moments is the last thing you want. This article will walk you through what to do in such a situation.

1. Understanding how car windows work

Car windows are easy to take for granted; after all, we literally see through them every time we’re in the car. However, there is a more complicated process that goes on than pressing a button and watching the window slide up and down along the door frame. Car windows generally utilize a component called the regulator, a mechanical assembly that facilitates the vertical movement of the window glass.

In a car with manual windows, the regulators are linked to the hand cranks or risers. Turning the riser allows the windows to be raised or lowered. For power-operated windows, the regulator is directly linked to the electric motors inside the door frame.

power window buttons

Electric windows use an electric motor that is reversible, attached to a regulator to raise and lower the window glass

The motors used on power windows are reversible, and repeated operation over time can cause the motor to burn out. The switches might also fail from the constant handling, or the regulator cable might break. Even if just one of these factors occurs, the window will stop working.

With manual car windows, there are no electronic components involved, but physical damage to the door (such as in a collision) might render the regulator inoperable. Since there are no electric motors to control the cranking force exerted by the user, the regulator's gear can be stripped and the actual regulator deformed if too much pressure is used. Another reason for regulators to get stuck is friction from inadequate lubrication.

>>> Read more: Easy steps to repair broken electric car window.

2. Troubleshooting a stuck car window

A little attention to detail can prove beneficial in pinpointing the root cause of the issue. Some of the things we might overlook include:

The safety lockout switch – in cars equipped with power windows, this switch prevents accidental operation of all passenger windows, controllable from the driver’s seat. Ironically, the switch itself can be pressed accidentally, so if any of the passenger windows are not responding, make sure that the safety lockout switch isn’t engaged.

Power windows buttons

Make sure that the safety lockout switch is disabled

Fuse check – if the windows are not responding, a faulty fuse is another possibility; a new fuse should solve the problem. However, if the windows stop working again even after the fuse has been replaced, then a short circuit is a possible culprit.

Car fuses

If all your windows are not rolling up or down then it is most likely the fuses

>>> Also check: Car power window: All about its advantages & disadvantages.

Listen to the window switch – when the power window switch is engaged, a whirring sound coming from the inside of your car door tells you that the switch is working. This helps you further narrow down the cause of the problem between the window motor and the regulator.

Check the instrument panel –  if your car has dedicated voltmeter or indicator, check for the slightest movement of the needle or display whenever you push the switch, which could signify a faulty motor. 

Dashboard gauges

The slightest movement on the voltmeter might indicate a faulty motor

Ground – if you feel a jolt of electricity or ground whenever you activate the switch, your might be dealing with a wiring issue.

3. How to move the glass

Figuring out what particular element stopped working can be a challenge, but for power windows where the switch is working but with a bad motor, you can use this method as a temporary solution:

Step 1. Turn the ignition key to the ACC position; it’s usually indicated on the ignition keyhole.  Another way to tell is when the radio turns on without the engine starting up.

Step 2. Press and hold the car window switch in the up or closed position. Be sure to do this on the particular door with the faulty window.

Step 3. With the car window button still pressed, open then slam the door; you might need to do this several times. If it works, then the window should be sliding with your hand still on the switch. In case you get it to move, have it slide all the way up (better to have a faulty window closed than open).

car window

With the car window button still pressed, open and slam the door

>>> Worth reading: Causes of a stuck car door & how to deal with it.

Step 4. If it doesn’t work, close the door and locate the part inside where the door panel connects with the sheet metal. Try to hit this area with a few knocks and see if the windows will work.

Step 5. In case you hear a grinding noise when you try to roll the window up, you may need to help it along by pushing the glass up with your palms while pressing the window switch.

Fixing a manual window is more straightforward since there are no electronics involved; either the gears in the crank have been stripped, or there is a problem with the regulator.

car window

For manual windows, the DIY ways to fix the stuck window is more straightforward

Either way, you need to get inside the mechanism to get a better look, by removing the door panel taking a look if anything’s amiss.

If trying all of the above doesn’t work, then it might be time to bring your car to a mechanic or an auto electrician for repairs.

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna Sanchez


Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.

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