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So Your Car Window Is Stuck: Keep Calm and Don’t Panic!

Car window switches

When your car window is stuck, you’re in one of two situations: frustrated, but not panicking because it’s stuck closed, or about to blow your top because it’s jammed open. The latter is obviously more urgent — especially if you’re trying to lock up for the night, or a rain storm is coming in fast — but any time your car window is stuck up or down you’re going to want to know how to fix the problem as quickly as possible. Here’s a few things to check when your car window refuses to do what it is told.

Check the Fuse

If your car window opens and closes with a switch, the first thing you should do is check the fuse box. Use the manual to find out which fuse corresponds to your window switch, and see if it needs to be replaced. Don’t just rely on looking at the fuse, as a break in the conductor may be faint or hidden. Use a multimeter and check for continuity. You can also temporarily swap the power window fuse with another fuse of the same amperage and see if things come back to life. If it seems to be OK, then you should consult your manual further to see if there is a reset procedure that needs to be performed. This is a fairly common problem with modern coupes, where the windows automatically open and close an inch or so each time you open the door.

Pull It Up
Wet Car Window

If the fuse looks OK — or if you have a manual crank window that won’t go up — and you need to get the window closed, most of the time you can pull a power window up with your hands. The best way to do this is to press your palms firmly on either side of the glass and slide it up along the frame. Doing this will most likely separate it from the electric motor and frame support, which means you’ll need to use a small piece of rubber or wood to wedge it in place until the door can be taken apart to diagnose the problem. You can also use a piece of tape across the top of the window gripping both sides of the glass to keep it up, but it may affect how well the door seal keeps out the rain.

Occasionally the issue is a worn or damaged gear that won’t engage properly. Try pushing the “UP” button for the power window while lifting up on the glass at the same time. This may get the gear mesh past the damage area and make the glass to move easier, but remember to hold it up with tape as the same worn/damage gear may let the window fall back down.

If you need to get the window down, your options are more limited. If you try to wiggle the glass out of the window frame to slide it down, you risk dropping it to the bottom of the door and damaging it. You may also damage the hardware that holds the window regulator, which is especially problematic if the vehicle is an older model that uses plastic brackets or clips.  It’s best to just leave it up until the issue inside the door can be resolved.

Cranks and Motors

Most of the time, when a manual window won’t go up, it’s because the handle has either come off the crank or the glass has loosened from the frame. You can generally replace the clip for the crank without having to remove the door panel — it slides between the panel and the handle. If the handle is stripped and no longer able to turn the crank, you can use a pair of pliers in a pinch. Luckily replacement handles are easy to find at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

To check the window frame and regulator you will have to disassemble the interior of the door.  When trying to diagnose whether the electric motor is still working, must access the wiring connected to the motor to test if it is still receiving power or if there is a short somewhere. Never operate the power window assembly if your hands are inside the door panel, as the powerful motor can cause serious harm. If the motor turns but the window doesn’t move, the issue is likely with the window regulator which may use gears or cables to move the window.

If the glass has dropped down into the door and is no longer attached to the regulator your options are limited. If you need to get the window closed quickly, then opening up the interior panel, raising the glass and wedging it tight is your only real “quick fix” option. Make sure whatever method you use to hold the window up is secure as the glass may shatter if allowed to drop suddenly into the door.

Back to School

If you have automatic power windows that are misbehaving after a repair, you may need to perform a relearn procedure. This is how the vehicle learns the limits of the up and down window  movement. The process is fairly simple, this video walks you through the how to do it:

It’s important to remember that glass is one of the most fragile materials in your vehicle. Whatever technique you attempt when trying to fix a jammed window, always be sure to treat the glass gently and with care, to avoid having to deal with a full replacement instead of a simple repair.

Check out all the window parts available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on handling when your car window is stuck, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

Photo courtesy of Freeimages.


Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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