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Power car windows, doors best left to a professional

Angieslist.comMay 25, 2013 

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Angie Hicks

HANDOUT — MCT

Power windows and doors on your car are generally taken for granted — until they stop working, that is.

It can be frustrating when that happens, especially if you can't get out of the door, roll the window down at the drive through, or roll it up in the rain.

The problem usually occurs because of overuse of the components or the motor. Having issues fixed with your doors and windows as soon as possible is important, not only for your convenience, but for your safety as well.

"It'll lower your trade-in value," said Keith Stockberger, owner of Miller Auto Care in Indianapolis. "They'll probably knock off way more money than they should and tag you as a guy that didn't take care of the car. From a safety standpoint, sometimes you just need to be able to get your window or doors open."

In most cases, if one of the doors or windows quits working, it likely won't affect any of the other ones, Stockberger explained, because each door and window uses a separate motor, which is located inside an actuator. Power doors also stop working because of issues with the actuator.

"You might hear a humming noise," said Steve Johnson, operations manager at Roy's Auto Repair and Tire in Manchester, Mo. "That's a sign that it is not working properly."

Power doors also can cease to work because of simple corrosion in the system or on the cable that is attached to the manual lock button on the door.

Issues with windows can be caused by the power window switch, the motor or by the window regulator. The window regulator is responsible for bringing the window up and can sometimes break. One or all three of the parts need fixing in these cases.

"Just overuse," Johnson said. "Bringing them up and down, up and down. Combining electrical and mechanical parts can sometimes cause the problem."

The average price of a repair can vary greatly. The cheapest fix for a window or door can be $250, but can go all the way up to $700, depending on the size and make of the car.

Fixing a power door or window is a job that is best left to the professionals.

"First of all, every car door handle is different," Stockberger said. "Sometimes you're only working through three- to four-inch holes. It can be dangerous. You can shift a window and cause it to break or come down and cut your fingers off. We've done it enough, we know windows can break."

By trying to do it yourself, Johnson said many times you may end up with the wrong parts at first and end up spending several hundred dollars more.

Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at askangie@angieslist.com.

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