Power windows

Capt. Mike

The following is transferred in from the old Archives. Sorry, they are not in any particular order and it was not practical to include the authors or posting dates.

Electric Window Buttons Sticking

On my 91 Multivan, when the weather gets warmer the electric window buttons get stuck when you open or close the windows. You don't really notice it visually because the button is barely depressed, but you can barely hear the electric motor clicking, trying to keep opening or closing the window. Has anyone else run into this? Since it happens to both buttons, I figure it's the plastic bezel that surrounds those two buttons catching on them somehow, but I really don't want to rip into this thing until I'm sure it's something that simple. Any experience out there?

Answer: First, the swtich is not openable. It's heat sealed.
Usually, sticking rocker switches are due to oxidation inside of the contacts. There are a number of aerosol electrical cleaners on the market. My favorite for this very problem is made by Lubri-Molly (L-M) and called Auto Electric Care, P/N 2010. It's foamy, electrically inert, and won't harm plastic so can be lathered on liberally so it eventually penetrates down into the case from the seams. It may take several applications to finally get enough inside. You can pull the switches clear of the door panel by using a thin paddle or upholstery tool, to depress the retainers on top & bottom.

Electric Window Buttons Sticking

My window is also sticking. It will only go down a half inch. I can hear the motor. I thought it might be something wrong with the mechanism which pulls the window down and up. Maybe it is caught on something. Could it be the connection too? Thanks Capt. Mike

Answer: That it starts and operates in the upper range, the switch is probably good; sounds like your problem is either in the motor, or it's reaching a point of damaged gear or jumping out of gear. Sorry, requires major disassembly to inspect and repair.

Power window failure

'89 syncro with 130,000 miles -- both power windows failed. Replaced driver's side switch, and windows started working again, only to once again fail. Now, switches work intermittently, indicating a short. Noticed that switches' green backlighting goes off and on, too, and work or don't work accordingly. Can detect no shorts; checked fuses and relays. Any ideas?

Answer: Power into the driver door switch comes through the harness tube in the door jamb. There is a plug connection where it comes up from the door, just above the fuse box and another one in the door. Try bypassing the harness between connections with jumpers, one wire at a time. I traced down a broken wire within that harness tube that way. Although the wire was broken, that the still touched gave me the same intermittent sympton on the power mirrors.
Changing a wire thjrough that tube is fun. You have to try to route new wire through that tube. I used a coathanger with a tiny loop and taped wire end, lots of patience and more than a few words not for repeating.

[ 07-15-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

mrdama2 Member posted May 27, 2003 10:05 AM

On my 90 Westy, the passenger side power window was moving up and down very slowly, so I removed the window regulator from the vehicle for cleaning and lubrication.

Upon the reinstall of the regulator and reattachment to the window bracket, I noticed that the window no longer goes down all the way. Instead of being flush with the inner and outer window scrapers, about 1/2 inch of glass remains exposed when the motor stops on the window's way down. It goes up all the way into the window channel, but not down all the way.

After trying several adjustments of the window to the regulator assembly, I can't for the life of me figure out why the window no longer recedes all the way into the door. Any suggestions?

- Kevin

Capt. Mike

The inevitable happened last week. One of my power windows went "pop". The motor made a few more sounds but the window was no longer 'attached'. Fortunately, without dropping the glass and breaking it.

First, the instructions in the Bentley for removing the regulators where dead on. Didn't find any short cuts but the assembly came out clean.

My failure turned out to be a fairlead on the bottom of the lift rail. The design of the electric windows is a motor runs a continuous loop of wire -- it's pulled in at the bottom as it feeds out the top (in lowering) and vice-versa. The motor is located in the lower kick-panel area, while the lift rail is dead-center under the window.

Outside the vehicle, I discovered the fairlead at the bottom had broken free. The fairlead hold the end of the cable housing and as the inner cable feeds, it also leads it around 90°. They are secured to the top & bottom of the lift rail with a special rivet. The rivet has a large head, thick enough to act as a retainer for the wire fairlead - to block it from poping out of the channel.

My lower rivet was long gone, but using the upper as a guide, I noted the thickness of the rivet head was 5mm and diamter about 8. Happened to have a piece of nylon spacer that size (available at larger hardware stores) that I could cut down to thickness and drill to 3/16". This was my head.

A regular, 3/16" diameter pop-rivet with a .250-.375 reach reattached the lower fairlead. Space on the back is at a premium -- the pop-rivet has to be the correct length.

This is not to say it was all easy. I discovered the motor has to be in the "up" position to get the necessary slack. Even then, it was so tight that both springs that provide cable tension at the motor had to be fully compressed. Do be very careful. You don't want to kink a cable or housing at this stage.

After reassembly, I lubed everything -- a flowable liquid down the cable covers as best possible and polyethylene on all the contact and slide points.

The instructions in the Bentley remind you to remove the plastic moisture shield very carefully. If you do, it can probably be reused. Otherwise, you'll have to cut a fresh one from sheet plastic or a garbage can liner. Save the old one to determine the various pockets, holes and through-wiring. Double-sided tape should suffice if you are attaching a new one.

The alternative is a whole new assembly, motor & all. Parts are not sold individually. Pricey, and probably a dealer-only item.
Last edited:

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

artdeco Junior Member posted September 11, 2003 05:46 PM

Hi, anyone have experience of fitting electric windows to a Vanagon. Years ago I was driving on a sunny day, windows open, and my (then) wife went aft and fell asleep. Then it started to rain. I had to stop to close the passenger side window. --- Derek

Capt. Mike

The factory electric windows can be retrofitted into any Vanagon; try the salvage yards since piecemeal through a dealer will be expensive. Some aftermarket accessory catalogs carry generic models that mount on the original window crank shafts but I've not seen any specifically for Vanagons. They usually have a 'pod' that sticks out on the door panel.


New member
I purchased a Florida 91 vanagon with over 200k on it and both power windows were in a "nonfunctional" mode. I decided that given the cost to repair or purchase replacement parts I would attempt to replace it. In following the Bentley, as another writer noted, the instructions were clear and easily followed once you identified all of the parts. Pictures rather than drawings might have made it even clearer. Since the motor drive was not working it was not possible to lower the window electrically to access the bolts on the lift channel but this could be done easily manually. I extracted both units and disassembled them on the work bench with a portable 12v source. The reason I mention Florida is when I disassembled the cable housing I found an unbelievable amount of sand in various places. The sand, lack of grease, and presence of other crud had combined to jam both motors. With power on and the motors jammed it appeared that the armature had scored. Without removing the cable drum I cleaned and greased the entire unit as thoroughly as possible. WD40 first to try and free up the crud and then white lithium grease. I unbolted the motor from each cable housing and pried, carefully, the motor from the housing. This was easy for one where the plastic cap that interlocks with the rubberfitting on the drivescrew came off with the motor but a little harder when it did not on the other. Prying, again carefully, finally separated the two. Next I removed the wire tie, and unbolted the motor housing. With a screw driver you then must pry the armature and cap housing up and out of the motor casing with its two magnets. Prying with a screwdriver and carefully avoiding the internal resistors etc on the top of the armature. Note that this will break the waterproofing on the case. The whole armature will come out with the cap housing. The armature had "burn" markings which I cleaned up with WD40, a clean cloth, and an emory board. I cleaned the magnets, housing and armature and put some lubricant at the pivot point for the armature. Reassemble in reverse and test with 12v power bench source. The armature must go in with its axis in the pivot point. The pivot point can be moved with a screwdriver to get the right alignment. You may have to fuss with the alignment and the housing fitting so that the armature is not bound. You can tell my turning the motor by hand. If it is bound there will be too much resistance and you should back off the bolts and try again until you get it to freely spin. Assembly of the motor halves should include a waterproof sealing gasket to replace the original paper gasket and water proofing. I used blue engine gasket cement and it seems to have worked well. Be sure to keep the cement out of the inside of the motor assembly. Assembly for the motor to the cable housing is the reverse. Be sure to test the motor on the bench and grease the entire cable and unit. Install per Bentley and test. Total cost of repairs a couple of hours, 0 materials cost vs at least 100-150$/motor for new motors. It did seem like the driver side unit came out easier than the passenger side due to the way the unit must be pulled from the door. This would be to the rear of the car on the driver side and therefore more room. Passenger side is to the front of the car and awkward.

Capt. Mike

Excellent post! Thank you.

The only thing I might suggest is I'd prefer to use Polyethylene grease (that semi-clear amber stuff you find on some factory contact areas like door strikers & seat rails) instead of lithium. It's more moisture resistant and doesn't seem to attract debris as quickly. There is now a silicone paste from 3M, too. To protect any disturbed or scratched areas in the door and unprotected metal in the lift assembly, try LPS-3. [Not easys to find -- try the industrial supply places or internet as you won't find this at the discount auto parts places.] Pricey compared to WD-40 but vastly superior with at least a year protection exposed, far more inside that door.
Great message. I just followed your instructions and used the Bentley and it took about 2 hours to fully remove, clean and replace the motor. One instruction was a bit unclear so I will elaborate here.

I was a bit lost here when it mentioned "Next I removed the wire tie, and unbolted the motor housing. With a screw driver you then must pry the armature and cap housing up and out of the motor casing with its two magnets"

More detail might help the uninitiated -here goes - there are two nylon cable ties. Remove both of them. Unbolt the top of the motor housing using the star shaped driver. You now have to push up and out of the casing all the wire harness, it's plastic mounting hardware and the internal plastic bushing structure. I started by lightly tapping the wire harness to loosen it's varnish adhesion to the motor casing. Then I pryed with a small screwdriver at the plastic bushing structure. When it comes out you have the metal top motor housing, the plastic bushing stucture under it and the armature (shaft, wrappings, etc) all in your hand. I discoverd bits of rust and the copper of the armature where the bushing contact was black. I used a bit of emory cloth to clean it off. Thanks again for the help. Your instructions got me through nicely.

Gilwell II

New member
Window switch

My pwr window switches will not stay in place. They have been modified with great globs of glue and small nails sticking up at the top. Does anyone have any other ideas? Switches are working but they keep falling out of the slots.

Moderator Note: 1987 Model Vanagon Camper
Last edited by a moderator:


New member
Vanagon power window problem

I have a 1991 Westie that the driver's window goes down okay, but will not go up. It just makes a clicking sound.

I pulled out the motor and regulator. Motor is good and the regulator is good. The problem is the interface between these. When separating the motor from the regulator (and removing the cover on the regulator), there is a rubber interface bushing that has a plastic piece on the motor side and a plastic piece on the regulator side. The rubber piece is "slipping" with the plastic piece on the regulator side.

Does anyone know of a substitute for the rubber interface bushing piece? I have two other options, try a heavy duty weather strip adheasive, or buy a new regulator assembly. I hate doing the last because my regulator is in excellent condition (except for the rubber bushing). Anyone have any other ideas???

Last edited by a moderator:


New member
broken rubber coupling for windor motor/regulator

i have a 91 westy, and i recently tried replacing my passenger side power window motor. while trying to remove the motor from the regulator, the rubber connecting coupling sheared into two peices. has this happened to anyone before? it would seem like a common peice to break while replacing the motor, as mine was siezed into place and the rubber seems like it was brittle. does anyone know where to pick up a new rubber piece? Does anyone have any successful repair methods that they have used?

Last edited by a moderator:


New member
Wire/cable length for power window regulator?

Hi! Just bought a beautiful Vanagon, and the driver's side power regulator had frayed/split cables. I'm trying to replace the 1/16" wire rope cables and get the tension right, but I don't know what length the cables are supposed to be. I've done a lot of trial and error, clipping and splicing wires, buying lots of stops and ferrules. An exact measurement of the upper and lower cable length would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Meanwhile; I'll keep the window propped up with a stick like everyone else :)