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Window regulator replacement

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by Dr_Z, April 28, 2009.

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  1. Dr_Z

    Dr_Z New Member

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    Well, it finally happened to me. The front passenger side window failed. I wasn't sure what had happened, but the window was down and wouldn't come up. There was no sound of the regulator motor either. I had read where the replacement cost is in the hundreds if you get it done at a dealership or other service company. I really don't like to pay for something I can do myself, and with resources pretty tight, I ended up buying a new regulator and doing it myself.

    There are tons of threads discussing how to do this, but not a lot of pictures. I wasted a bunch of time learning how, so I thought I'd document how I did it in hopes it might help someone else down the line. This should help show what you can expect.

    This project took me about two full hours on a sunny, Sunday afternoon not including time to go get the new regulator from the car parts place. Approximately 4 beers were consumed.

    Follow along as I make the switch... Also, shoot me any comments for improvement or questions if I was unclear, and I'll try to clarify.

    Gaining Access

    First, the door panel needs to be removed. Ford did a pretty good job of hiding all the fasteners, so this was a challenge. I finally figured out that the panel comes off in pieces.

    Figures 1 & 2)
    1) The first piece is the one surrounding the door opening lever (#1). Gently pry this off with something slim like a wide blade screwdriver. 2) Then remove the panel piece that holds the switches (#2). The wire connectors will separate after depressing the "button" on each one (#5, #6). Set these two smaller panel pieces aside for re-installation later. 3) Finally, the two screws at the bottom of the panel can be removed (#3). At this time, remove the screw that holds the panel at the main handle too (#4). This screw takes the brunt of the force required to pull the door shut.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 1.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 2.

    At this point, the entire door panel can be removed as one unit. Keep in mind that the general direction for removing the panel is UP, not out. Start at the bottom and pry the lower part of the panel away from the door about two inches or so. Now lift the panel straight up using the bottom and the handle. It should come up and away as a unit. You can see the inverted L-shaped hooks that hold it to the door in Figure 3. Also, the entire upper portion of the panel sits in the window slot and holds the panel from the top. It's a pretty good design IMO.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 3.


    You will now see the watershield which covers most of the door. (Figure 4) This picture also shows the holes where the panel hooks fit, wiring, and access holes. I've got an Eddie Bauer edition, so if you don't, your setup may be somewhat different depending on accessories.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 4.

    This watershield should be removed carefully so it's not torn, since you will want to replace it exactly where it was. I started in the upper right corner and slowly pulled it back off the adhesive to expose the window mechanism. (Figure 5).

    [​IMG]
    Figure 5.


    Removing the Regulator

    At this point, you will probably see cables or parts in the door.

    To actually remove the regulator, there are six or so bolts that hold the motor and the two window lift guides (as I call them - not really sure what their real names are.) These bolts are clearly visible once the moisture barrier has been removed. You can see at least three of them in Figure 5 - they are cadmium plated (gold color).

    Note: on one of the upper bolts holding a guide bar, the nut would not come off because the stud started rotating in place. I was able to remove the upper U-shaped window weather stripping channel and reach in with a pliers to hold the stud from the backside while I removed the nut.

    If you need to gain acccess from the front side of the door to push out the front window guide, you will have to remove the speaker. It is held in by several small hex head screws. I was impressed by the quality and size of the speaker assembly (at least for a stock radio.)

    How to remove the regulator from the window?

    If your window is down, you'll need to move it about half way up. The window should slide pretty easily in its channels. At this point, you can see that the window glass is attached to the regulator with clamps on the bottom on each side. The clamps are held in place by RTV silicone. On some cars, these clamps are bolted to the regulator which would make maintenance easy. BUT NOOOOO....on mine, they were riveted.(Figure 6) However, I devised a clever (if I do say so myself) way of overcoming this problem.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 6.


    The clamps that hold the window to the regulator have arms that slide into the regulator mechanism. Figure 6 shows a closeup of one of these with the window removed so you can see the detail. I took a long nosed pliers and straightened the middle tang (finger) on the arm. This allows the arm to slide out of the regulator assembly glide by pushing the glide arm toward the center of the door. Both sides are removed this way. Figure 7 shows the clamp and glide assembly installed. Figure 8 shows the glide bar pushed to the left, and the arm on the clamp almost out of the assembly.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 7.


    [​IMG]
    Figure 8.



    Be careful. After the arms are out of their assemblies, the window glass will want to slide down. I raised the glass to the fully closed position and taped it in place (blue tape in Figure 1).

    The regulator assembly may be in pieces or still one unit, but either way, it will need to come out the large hole at the rear (right in these pictures). Don't forget to unplug the regulator motor from its cable at the plug.

    What was the Problem?

    Once the regulator was out, I found my problem. One of the small plastic cable guides was missing from the window lift guide cables. I'm guessing it broke somewhere along the way. This probably allowed the cable to fall out of position. Once the cable was out of position, it fell out of its track on the drum at the motor assembly. (Figures 9, 10 and 11) The cable had also frayed, which made it about impossible to rewind and re-use. I decided against trying to re-use the cables since, if I tried to re-use the cable and it fell off again, I'd hate to repeat all this!!

    How the cable plastic thingy should look:
    [​IMG]
    Figure 9.



    How the cable actually looked (plastic thingy missing):
    [​IMG]
    Figure 10.


    Close up of the mangled cable drum assembly.
    [​IMG]
    Figure 11.

    The new regulator had the arms already installed and ready to bolt in. The old slide mechanisms were constructed exactly like the new ones, so I removed the sliding arm pieces from the new unit and slid on the old mechanism. This allows the use of the arms on the window clamp. (Again, you would not have to take this step if your arms bolt on - mine were riveted and drilling them out, finding reliable bolts, etc., was more than needed to be done.) Figure 12 shows the slide mechanisms side-by-side on the regulator track. You can see how similar they are. To swap the sliders, the cable tension needs to be released. This is done by removing the cable from one of the pulleys on the tracks.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 12.

    The ends of the cable are loose enough to remove, and the old slider can be put in place. It's easy to replace the cable on the pulleys. Start the cable on the smaller, inner pulley. (Figure 13) Then use your long nose pliers to rotate the pulley and pull the cable to the large pulley. Walla! All back together. Make sure there is a ton of grease over all the sliding parts, cables and pulleys. You don't want this to jamb up once it's together again.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 13.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 14.


    To Reassemble the Regulator:

    Reassembly is much easier. Jamb all the stuff back into the door through the large hole and position the sliders vertically.

    Put the top bolt only through the upper hole on and put a nut loosely on each one. The allows each window clamp arm to be inserted into the regulator slider assembly. Get the arm started, then slowly push the bottom of the arm outward to force the arm into the slider. (Figure 8 then 7 in reverse) Put the lower stud through the lower hole and replace the nut when done.

    Once both arms have been inserted into the sliders, tighten up all the nuts. Plug the regulator motor back in to its connector. Remove the tape from the window glass.

    At this point, I tested the window by rolling it up and down several times to make sure there was nothing binding and that there were no strange noises coming from the mechanism. (Figure 15) You can do this by temporarily plugging the switch panel piece back in to its connector.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 15.

    If all is well, tighten up all the nuts, put the speaker back in, replace the watershield, plug all the cables and switches back in and push the little panel pieces back in. You're done!!

    Time for refreshments!

    [​IMG]
    Figure 16.
     
    Last edited: June 16, 2009
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  3. rrgone

    rrgone Active Member

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    Excellent! Thank you. :thumbsup:
     
  4. Limited02

    Limited02 Well-Known Member

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    Good job!!!
     
  5. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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  6. EasyRhino

    EasyRhino Well-Known Member

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    Figure 16 (required tools) is a favorite tip. :thumbsup:
     
  7. jrford

    jrford Well-Known Member

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    This should be a sticky, good tips on getting the door panel off.
     
  8. Dr_Z

    Dr_Z New Member

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    "Required tools" ... I like that! :chug:
     
  9. gmanpaint

    gmanpaint It's Always Something! Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    I am going to attempt this in the morning on a friends '03. I hope I am not in over my head here...LOL

    Just when I got the 1st & 2nd gen windows figured out and behind me, a 3rd gen sneaks up on me and demands my attention.

    This will be very valuable info on helping me through this, thanks for the write up.
     
  10. Dre

    Dre Elite Explorer

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    I'm about to embark on a mission... this will help for sure.
     
  11. gmanpaint

    gmanpaint It's Always Something! Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    I found out you do not have to remove this stud and bolt.

    You turn the nut as you are removing it. The stud turns and un-threads itself from the regulator motor plastic.

    After you have everything back in place, you turn it to tighten, and it pulls the motor back in tight.

    Everything else mentioned was great, I was able to knock this out in 30 mins.
     
  12. ThePhoenix

    ThePhoenix Guest

    my passenger window just went down and then nothing. I tried both switches, checked the fuses...nothing. not even a click

    I removed (mostly) the door panel and half the water shield to try to get window up at least, since it looks like rain. I couldnt get it to budge.

    I would assume at this point its the motor. hopefully its just a jumped cable so I can re-tread it and be on my way

    I am now trying to get the sport decent to trade it in. I am so done with it. frustrated
     
  13. BigRondo

    BigRondo USMC 1371 Elite Explorer Moderator Emeritus

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    Dr_Z, awesome write up. My passenger rear window has crapped out and I must investigate. I will go into it with confidence since I have your write up. Thanks man!
     
  14. JarvisB

    JarvisB Active Member

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    hello,

    My mom's rear windows regulator or motor are shot. I am going have to replace the regulator assembly but apparently I can only find front window regulator assemblies from autozone but not the rear windows.. any idea where I can find one? ACtually I am going to take the panels apart tomorrow morning so I can see what exactly do I need, I am hoping that maybe I only need to replace the motor.

    BTW is it the same in the rear door panels compared with the front window just like your write up? This thread is helpful and I hope that the rear windows works just like the front so that way I could refer to this thread..
     
  15. Limited02

    Limited02 Well-Known Member

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    JarvisB- The rear windows are cakewalk. I bet I could change them out in maybe, 30 min? I bought my window regulator from the dealership and paid $186. If you have any questions, let me know.
     
  16. JarvisB

    JarvisB Active Member

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    awesome man, you got a PM.
     
  17. edspafford

    edspafford New Member

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    This is a great post and after reading this I had no problem pulling everything apart and finding out what was wrong. The problem came trying to find a regulator for the rear window. Any sugestions
     
  18. tool0loot

    tool0loot New Member

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    This looks great but I have a 2003 and behind the watershield cover is a full metal plate covering everything I need to get to. This sounds like it's going to help some, but not as easy as I had hoped. I read a guy got this done in 30 minutes. Does he mind helping? ; )
     
  19. tool0loot

    tool0loot New Member

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    I have my door panel off, weather guard off, everything loose/untightened but can't seem to figure out how to get the motor out. Any advice?
     
  20. jath2o

    jath2o New Member

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    Thanks Dr Z

    WOW!!! I got it done and didn't break anything else in the process. Post was EXTREMELY HELPFULL. I was able to lower the window to a point and drill out the rivet. I had to because the replacement I got from Ford there was no tab to bend over and slide into the new one. Mine was all one piece. The post with pictures helped me understand how it all worked without trying to figure it out on my own (and breaking something along the way). Only thing left to do is clean all of the goo left from the duct tape that has been on the window for several weeks, then reach for that final tool...

    Thanks again Dr Z, :thumbsup:
     
  21. CryWright

    CryWright New Member

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    I can't get past the metal plate in my '02 either. Did you ever get it figured out?
     

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