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Building and Carpentry

Window Regulator Replacement Explained?

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January 13, 2016 7:28AM

After seeing this question asked a dozen times, and halfway answered a few times, I decided to put together a comprehensive 'how-to' for this common defect.

I have replaced every window regulator in my 1996 grand marquis at least once, the driver door 3 times. I can do it in the dark. Don't do any of this until you are sure you need a new regulator assembly. If you can slide the glass up and down a good bit by hand, you probably need this. If the window works OK but gets jammed or cock-eyed during up/down motion, you have a different problem. If the window motor doesn't do anything at all, check that first.

New replacement regulators can be found for about $30 delivered on eBay, they are superior to the OEM part.

First you need to understand that it could be either the regulator OR the motor causing your problem ...even if you hear the motor turning and trying to raise the glass it could still be a bad motor (actually bad nylon gears within the motor assembly.)

Step one is to remove the door panel and speaker:

-Pry out the 'cup' behind your door opening handle.

-Gently remove the window switch panel. It should pop up and out, then disconnect all those wires.

-Remove the screw you just revealed that goes into the door frame.

-Remove screws on both ends of the pull handle (behind molded rubber plugs)

-Remove the screw hidden in a tunnel at the bottom of the door.

-Lift the door panel straight up (slide it up along the door.) It should pop up about an inch or so without much effort, if not look for hidden screws.

-Pivot the bottom of the door panel out a few inches, then lift up a little more to remove it. Disconnect any remaining wire harnesses.

-Carefully set door panel aside.

-Door speaker is mounted to a molded plastic housing, like a spacer. There should be three screws securing the housing to the door, remove these screws and remove the speaker (don't forget to disconnect it.)

-Carefully (and I mean carefully) start at the bottom and peel back the plastic sheet covering the door. You'll glue or tape this back into place so don't tear it up. Don't completely remove it, leave the top glued to the door, you'll thank me later. I just roll it up and tape it back.

After you get the door panel and speaker mounting off take a good look at what's going on in there. The regulator is basically a metal track that runs from top to bottom with a cross plate that slides up and down on cables and holds the glass. The motor itself is remotely mounted and connected by cables.

The motor is attached to the regulator by nothing more than cables. The motor is mounted to the inner door skin (three Torx screws that go through the door skin, through the motor assembly, and thread into the nylon cable housing.) These screws not only hold the motor assembly to the door, they also hold the motor assembly to the regulator. Don't grind off the rivets in that vicinity, you don't need to. Just pull the three Torx screws and have a hand ready to catch the motor assembly inside the door. Carefully slide the motor assembly from the regulator housing and take it out. Before going any further, test your motor. If you can twist it by hand, it's bad. Reconnect it's wires and press the window button. If it seems to work and sound good then you can reuse the motor. If you question it at all, replace it. The $ spent is worth avoiding this hassle a second time.

There are two rivets (yes, rivets) that secure the glass to the regulator, perhaps the most idiotic thing Ford has ever done. There is only a very small window of opportunity to get access to these, the window has to be in just the right place to line both of these rivets up with their access holes (for removal AND installation.) You may have to manually pull the window to the right position. If the regulator is adequately screwed up, the cables could be bound and make moving the window impossible. May have to cut the cables. Whatever you have to do, get the holes lined up for access. Pop the heads off these rivets without breaking the glass, this is a trick. I use a large high-speed metal drill bit to get the head off, just drill dead center until it comes off. If the drill even kisses the glass, it shatters. Good luck with that. Once the glass is detached from the regulator, lift it out by pivoting it forward, then sliding it out from outside the door. I don't know how better to describe that, just figure it out. Set it safely aside.

The regulator assembly is held on by two rivets at the bottom and two nuts at the top. At the top of the door is a metal bar, like a grab handle but sharp and ugly. Behind it are two holes and in each hole is a nut that holds the top of the regulator in place. Remove those two nuts and set them aside. Remove the two rivets holding the bottom of the regulator in place, then you should be able to wiggle the regulator assembly out through the large access hole.

Installation is pretty much the reverse of removal.

-*Advised* lubricate the window channels while the glass is out. WD-40 doesn't work, grease doesn't either. I found that stuff like Pledge or Orange Oil works good if you can get enough in the channel.

-Remove all debris (rivet pieces and whatever) from the door cavity or rattles will drive you nuts later.

-Put the regulator in, loosely attach top nuts.

-Pop new rivets into lower mounting points, use bolt/nut if you don't have a rivet gun (about $9 you tightwad.)

-Install motor assembly (those three torx screws) and connect it's power source. Make sure it goes up/down as expected by plugging the switch panel back in and testing. Run the regulator to it's lowest position for installing the glass.

-Carefully slide glass back into door frame. Make sure glass is in track both front and rear. Notice the angle cut in the glass at the back bottom? That's to help pivot it into place... Slide glass to fully raised position and tape it in place or have someone strong enough hold it up. Then carefully move regulator into proper position that gives you access to mount the window.

-Reattach glass to regulator (I always use bolts with nylock nuts and thick nylon washers instead of more rivets.)

-Tighten top two nuts, make sure regulator assembly is very secure.

-Run window up and down, make sure it moves freely ...adjust if not.

-Reattach the plastic sheet that was rolled up earlier, use spray adhesive or duct tape. Looks don't matter, you won't see it but you WILL feel the hot/cold air if you don't get this plastic sheet back on good.

-Replace the speaker housing, reconnect wires.

-When putting the door panel back on the tricky part is the lock that sticks up and out the top. It's tough to line up. I found it easiest to unscrew the pretty chrome cap and shove a length of small I.D. scrap hose over the threaded stud. Then I can use the hose to pull the lock up through the hole as I set the door panel on.

-Start with the top of the door panel, make sure it is in it's groove at the top and the lock is through it's hole, then let it pivot down against the door. Once this looks good, gently lift up on the bottom of the door (sliding it up against the door) until you can engage the other 'hooks' and settle the door panel back to the right place. Make sure it all looks right, may have a hook not engaged.

-Reconnect wiring, test again. If you connected the wrong connectors together, some things won't work. Color coordinated?

-Replace removed screws & trim panels

...now go spend that $150 you just saved on something more fun.