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Window Regulators

Window Regulator repair/replace
From: Jim Felder
Model/Type:  Vanagon w/ Power Windows
Symptom(s):  making noise, Window does not raise or lower

ED NOTE: If your power windows do not raise/lower, make sure the motor is getting power. You can try holding the switch while swinging the door in and out. If the window moves you probably have a broken wire in the harness that goes into the door from the body at the front edge of the door. Or use a volt meter at the motor...

If you have a burned-out motor, you'll need a new
motor. If you have anything wrong with the cable and lifter mechanism
other than a broken fastener at the bottom, you'll need a new one of
those. So the triage is now complete except for the actual
replacement, the explicit directions for which follow.

The first time I did it, it took over a frustrating hour or even
more. If you don't know where every screw is, if you don't already
have wooden wedges cut for the window to jam it where you need it, if
you try to remove the glass at the wrong point in the procedure,
things won't go so well for you. That's why I put in the part about
"knowing what you're doing." : )

> I did the R&R several times in a few days last year trying to get both
> of these fixed on my Syncro. I was successful but the passenger side
> took a few R&R's because the cable was binding inside the mechanism.

A good point: to every Vanagon owner, to save yourself a lot of
misery and maybe a lot of money, if your window starts giving you
trouble, stop and fix it IMMEDIATELY. don't try more than one attempt
to roll it up or down. Just bear with it, and it will be easier to
repair. If you get caught on the road and it's raining or cold and
you need the window up, do the following. Print the following out and
keep it in the van:

Reach into your tool kit for the two small wooden wedges you will
ALWAYS carry for working on the window. They weigh nothing, they cost
nothing and they take up almost no room. What are you waiting for?
It's gonna happen so make two.

You only need a combination screwdriver, the wedges, and a 10mm
socket, ratchet wrench and three inch extension and a sharpie to get
the window out. Nothing more except maybe clippers or pocketknife to
undo a cable tie or two.

Use a flat screwdriver to pop out the plastic cover from the center
of the door latch. Lift the handle to see the slot. Lay the insert
behind the seat. Use a phillips head to remove the screw in the
center. Remove the surround and lay it behind the seat. One minute
has elapsed.

Now use the flat screwdriver to pry the end covers out of the grab
bar. Use a phillips head to remove the four screws affixing it to the
door. Two more minutes.

Remove two phillips head screw from the face of the air vent on the
rear lower corner of the door panel. Another minute or less.

Take a minute or two to peel the plastic away from the upper door
access hole and the one by the speaker. Don't tear it, you'll wish
you hadn't come winter time. If you do, Patch with packing tape on

Where you removed the vent, grab the door panel. Make sure you grab
as close to a fastener as you can. Pull away firmly and sharply.
Start here and work your way, fastener by fastener, around the van.
You don't need a tape-covered screwdriver, just your bare hands. Two
more minutes.

After you've pulled off the panel, keep it held to the door to keep
it from falling with your knee. Get the window near the top of the
track by hand or by motor and look just under the glass for a metal
bracket with two 10mm screws. Remove the rear one that you can get to
easily. Adjust the window up or down with the switch (this is why you
haven't disconnected the wiring yet) and by hand, if necessary, until
the front bolt is accessible through the hole made for its access.
This is where they wedges come in to hold the window in place.
Otherwise it will fall to the bottom of the door and you can't get
the motor and rails out out. Set the bolts aside and mark the four
connector halves to the switches with the sharpie--one, two three and
four sets of marks for all the mirror adjuster (for those who have
them) and motor wires and you don't have to think about it and no
trial and error going back together. Remove the speaker connections,
then the power connections, and set the panel aside.

If you are doing an on-the road emergency repair to keep the window
glass vertical, stop here until you get home and can continue. The
wedges between the rubber and the glass should keep the window up
while you drive. In case they don't, don't put the panel back in yet.
You can drive the car and open the door with the panel out. If you
want, you can remove the switch from the door and put it back to
operate the other window.

If you're continuing the repair, skip the step above and read on.

Now locate the vertical rail behind the bracket you just dealt with.
It's galvanized, obvious. Remove the bolt above it and then look
under the door for the one at the bottom. Set them aside. You've got
a minute or two left if you want to get this done in ten minutes or

Locate the three nuts near the speaker well. Remove them. Reach into
the upper access hole (the big one over the top of the door) and
lever the bottom of the rail towards the front of the door a few
inches. This will give you the slack you need to push the motor
assembly back to clear the studs from their holes, then bring it
forward through the hole. It's a tight fit, keep the vertical bar
coming forward foot first, and make sure the the motor studs don't
hang on the sheet metal of the door and the slider bar doesn't hang
on several door internals as the whole unit comes forward out the
lower hole. Twist the motor once it clears and the guide track and
flexible cables will follow out as the motor moves into the floor.
You will work more or less with one hand on the motor assembly and
the other hand on the guide rail to guide it around obstacles and out
the front hole, taking time to look down the big hole to ensure
you're not snagging anything.

It will probably take you a few minutes to wrestle the assembly out
the first and second times you try this before you figure out that
the only thing you are doing wrong is to allow parts of the assembly
to catch on various pieces of the door.

Once you've made your repairs or replacements, twist the assembly and
guide it back in. Stand up the vertical guide, position the motor so
the studs stick out through the holes in the door. Ensure that the
vertical guide top and bottom holes will align with the respective
holes in the door metal. Reverse the process.

Remember that if you buy a new motor, you will need to unsolder your
wiring pigtail and solder it to the new motor. Get each on the
correct terminal or the window will work backwards.


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