Unless your car is old, chances are it contains power windows that open and close with a touch. Power windows utilize electric motors to raise and lower the glass, but like anything mechanical or electrical, a power window can fail. Causal forces for failure include excessive use, abuse, and neglect.

A broken power window can leave you in a bind, so it's helpful to know the signs of a failing electric window and regulator as well as to know what to do to prolong your window's life.

How a Power Window Functions
It is helpful to understand how a power window and regulator operates so you can comprehend what might lead to a malfunctioning system. Breakdowns can be prevented in many instances by practicing good maintenance.

Power windows contain two major components: an electric motor and a regulator. The regulator is a device that attaches to the window glass itself by means of a cable or scissor lift. When the window motor is activated by a power switch, the motor turns and engages with the regulator, which in turn raises or lowers the window.

How to Recognize a Possible Power Window Failure

There are several signs that a power window may be failing, including the following:

  • Window moves at slow speed. A car power window that rolls up or down at slow speed may have a failing electric motor.
  • Window binds or catches while rolling up or down. If a window catches or binds when operating, there may be a problem with the regulator.
  • Multiple presses a required to roll window up or down. If it takes multiple presses to raise or lower a power window, there may be a problem with the power switch or the motor itself.
  • Excessive noise when rolling window up or down. A particularly noisy power window is a sign of possible problems with the motor or regulator.

Keep in mind that continuing to operate your power window in the presence of these signs could cause damage to the window itself, so avoid using it until after you have the problem repaired.

How to Maintain Your Power Windows
In order to avoid problems with the power windows on your vehicle, there are several easy things you can do. Below are a few simple practices that will help prevent premature failure of the window motor and regulator.

Regularly Clean Your Window Glass
One of the most important things you can do to maintain your power windows is keep the glass clean. Dirty glass can increase friction between the windows and seals, thus increasing stress on the motors and regulators.

In particular, it is important to quickly remove thick, messy substances from the glass. Things like soda, mud, and bird droppings can interfere with the smooth operation of the window.

Clear Ice and Snow Away Before Operation
Another simple maintenance step that will help increase the life span of your power windows is to clear ice and snow away from the glass. Should the glass be frozen to the window enclosure, the motor and regulator will have to work harder to break the glass free from the icy grip. Use an ice scraper or heater to remove the ice and snow prior to operating the windows.

Avoid Unnecessary Operation of the Windows
To enhance the life span of power windows and related components, it is helpful to minimize unnecessary operation of the windows. In particular, avoid sudden, multiple presses that cause the window to start and stop. In addition, don't hold down window buttons beyond the length of time necessary to operate the windows.

If you are experiencing problems with your car's windows, then you will need to contact a qualified repair professional. They can diagnose any specific issues and restore the operation of your power windows.