After owning a car for long enough, you’re sure to run into different issues. One of the smallest but most annoying problems is a car window that keeps sliding down. You might have tried a few small fixes, but nothing seems to be working.
You can implement some short-term fixes to keep your car window from sliding down. These options include using duct tape to keep it up, wedging something in the base of the window to prevent it from falling or sealing the open window with clear plastic. In terms of permanent solutions, the best option is to take apart your door frame, troubleshoot, and correct the issue causing your window to slide down (I have an in-depth guide later in this article for this option).
If you want to know how to keep a car window from sliding down, keep reading. I put together a step-by-step DIY guide that will completely fix your problem for you for less than 20 bucks. I’ll also talk about your car windows a lot so you can better understand and troubleshoot what’s causing the problem.
How a Car Window Works
A lot of people can’t appreciate the beauty of a functioning car window until theirs breaks. All the mechanisms are hidden within the door, but it’s a pretty interesting setup.
With a modern window, there’s a simple pulley system controlling everything. A motor will wind or unwind a spool of cable that will, in turn, drive your window up or down.
This motion is actuated with the button you press to raise or lower your windows.
Old school cars use manually operated windows. This is the tried-and-true hand-crank system that kids these days can’t relate to. In this system, a set of arms will move the window down or up as you physically crank an arm clockwise or counterclockwise, respectively.
Regardless of how your window is driven, the theory is the same: A track will guide your window up and down. There is a sealing aspect below your window that will prevent it from falling back down after it’s raised.
Why Your Window Is Sliding Down
When there’s a problem within your window assembly, you’ll notice that your window will randomly slide down.
For some people, the window will completely slide down. Others will notice a slight sag at the top of their window that lowers it less than an inch.
The most common problem is a window that falls down a few inches over time while you drive.
Why is it sliding down? It all has to do with the window assembly. There’s a track at the bottom of the pane of glass. The track is a long piece of metal with a slot cut out of the middle along the length.
In a perfect assembly, your window will sit in this slot with some sort of adhesive, sealing your window to the track firmly.
As the track is raised and lowered, your window is moved as well. Since your window isn’t properly seated in this track, then it will simply sag and lower over time.
There are a few other culprits for why your window is sliding down (which I’ll cover later), but this is the biggest and most common.
The Importance of Keeping Your Window Up
It might not be super obvious why your window sliding down is a bad thing. Well, there are a few negatives associated with windows that slide down:
- Poor aesthetics. Maybe it’s not a big deal to some people, but a sagging window will hurt the aesthetics of your car. For one, passengers will see your window dropping more as you keep driving. In addition, some of the temporary fixes are real eyesores.
- Vehicle safety issue. A sagging window looks like a neon “Open” sign to a criminal. They can easily break into your car and rob you. If your vehicle is older, they can also hotwire it and steal your car.
- Rain can come in. Rain entering your car is more than just a nuisance. It will damage your interior and can dramatically decrease the value of your car.
- Pests can come in. Having mice in your car is never a fun experience. They can chew at wiring, make your car stink, and destroy your engine. An open window is a very inviting thing for pests of all sizes.
Do You Want a Temporary or Permanent Solution?
Before continuing, we have to determine what kind of solution you’re looking for. Do you just want some temporary fixes that will keep your window up for a little bit?
I’d suggest this for anyone who is planning on doing a repair or taking it to a mechanic in the future, they just need a little time, first.
The big downside is that most of the temporary solutions look really bad. On top of that, you won’t be able to use your windows until you truly repair them.
The other option is a permanent solution. This will mechanically fix your window, so it operates like normal moving forward. If you have a spare weekend, I would highly suggest opting for repairing the window on your own as a cheap, permanent solution instead of sticking with a temporary one. I’ll show you exactly how to do this later.
Temporary Solutions to Keep Your Window Up
If you just want a quick Band-Aid for your window problem before you have the time to fix your window, this section is for you.
Realistically, some of these solutions can be used forever, they just have their own downsides (specifically, you won’t be able to roll up and down your window traditionally).
A Little Duct Tape
Duct tape is one of those materials that can fix anything. In this case, the same story is true.
How you use the duct tape is up to you — feel free to get a little creative with it. The tape can either be used at the top of the window or at the base where the window meets the rubber seal.
One big downside with using duct tape is that your window will be left with tape residue on it. After removing the tape, use some acetal alcohol (nail polish remover) and a brush to get rid of the residue.
Use Junk Mail
One great use for junk mail is to keep your window from sliding down. Push the window up until it’s fully rolled up and stuff junk mail into the slot at the base of the window.
This will act as a wedge and pry your window closed at all times.
You can use magazines, letters, or thick envelopes to achieve this.
Use a Command Strip
A clever solution that I found online was to use a Command Strip. You commonly find these used in apartments where nails can’t be driven through walls.
They are plastic hooks with an adhesive backing. More importantly, the adhesive is designed to be removed quickly by pulling a tab.
This means that the strips can be removable. You can keep them on only as long as you need them.
You should apply the Command Strip to the inside of your window at the base.
Try a Suction Cup
An alternative to the Command Strip is a suction cup. You can affix it to the inside of your window at the base (after fully rolling up your window). Or, you can hang a hooked suction cup at the top of your window and use a small string, rope, or bungee cord to connect the cup to something on your car’s ceiling.
A good example of this is to use the handhold bar on your car’s ceiling and tie a rope to it with a loop on the other end. Use the loop to hook to the suction cup to keep your window up but still have the option to lower it slightly as needed.
Tape Plastic Over the Window
If your window completely falls down and won’t stay up, then you can just tape some see-through plastic over your window opening.
This should be used as a very temporary solution until you have time to fix the car.
Permanent Solutions to Keep Your Window Up
My preferred method is a permanent solution. This will return your windows to their former glory and allow them to roll up and down by using the hand crank or switch by the window.
Take it to a Mechanic
If you don’t have the time, patience, or mechanical prowess to fix the window on your own, you’re better off taking it to a mechanic.
They’ll deal with all the troubleshooting and repair work. All you have to do is wait a few days for them to complete the project.
The downside of this option is that it’s much more expensive than it should be. Realistically, this could be a $10 repair, but they’ll charge you hundreds due to the time it takes them to complete the repair.
Make sure your mechanic is honest before giving them your car.
Slam Your Door (the Most Fun Option)
Sometimes, there’s something that jiggled loose within your door frame. This causes the window to sag a little and “slide down.”
To fix this problem, it could be as easy as slamming the door. This is also the most fun option by far since you have permission to slam a door without anyone getting mad.
The process is really straightforward: roll up your window as far up as it goes and turn off your car. Step outside of the vehicle and slam the door shut as hard as you can. Watch your fingers during this and make sure nothing is in the door jamb.
Turn on your car and test the window switch to see if it drives your window up or down.
If it still doesn’t function or the window still slides down, repeat this step 3 or 4 more times. After the 5th time, call it quits and move to another method of fixing your window.
Fix it Yourself
I would highly suggest simply fixing the window yourself.
In a later following section, I’ll give you an in-depth guide to fix it yourself. In most cases, there are no new parts that go into the repair, just some lube and adhesive.
If nothing else, it’s cool to see what your window mechanism looks like in person.
Some Troubleshooting to Try
If you are deciding to fix the window on your own, start with this section. These are some of the common troubleshooting tricks to try. Hopefully, it helps you to pinpoint the problem so you know what to fix in the next step.
Check the Fuse
As I mentioned in another article, your car’s fuses can break down over time. These fuses are the sacrificial pieces of different electrical connections throughout your car.
When a fuse blows or gets broken, then the corresponding electrical components won’t work until the fuse is replaced.
All of your cars’ windows have a fuse that controls the electric motor that drives the windows.
Check your owner’s manual for a schematic of the fuses in your car. Alternatively, check near the fuse box and see if there are labeled instructions.
Be sure to disconnect your battery before touching any of the fuses.
Find the fuse responsible for your window and see if it’s blown. If the fuse is no good, then replace it, fire up your car, and try the window again.
Check the Window Motor for Power
Another part that could be broken is the actual motor for your window. If you hit the button on your door to roll up your window and you hear nothing or you hear a struggling mechanical noise, your motor could be at fault.
This can also be checked during step 4 of the step-by-step instructions in the next section.
Check the Window Switch
Another electrical piece to check is the window switch. This is responsible for passing the signal to the window’s motor to start moving.
When you press the switch, there is a mixture of a mechanical and electrical process going on.
A quick way to troubleshoot a faulty switch will work on any window except for the driver’s window. Use the switch on the passenger’s window (if that’s the one that’s sliding). If it doesn’t work, then hop into the driver’s seat and use the passenger’s switch located on the driver’s door.
If the switch here works, then something’s wrong with the switch on the passenger’s door.
If you press the window button on your door and hear nothing, it’s either the motor, fuse, or switch.
Check for Dirt, Adhesives, or Obstructions on Window
Finally, it could just be a matter of something obstructing your window’s ability to stay up. This is usually not the case if a window keeps sliding down, but it can definitely be blamed for a window that doesn’t roll all the way down.
Anything can prevent your window from moving — dirt, adhesive remnants (I’m looking at you, duct tape), a tint, ice, or bird poo can block your window’s path of travel.
Once you find something obstructing the window, be sure to quickly clean it off.
How to Fix a Window That Slides Down Step-By-Step DIY Guide
Now it’s time to talk about a solution that actually works: fixing the window on your own. This step-by-step DIY guide will walk you through exactly how to fix a window that slides down.
Materials required: There isn’t a lot that you need, here. In fact, most of the things can be found around the house:
- Phillip’s head screwdriver
- Wrench set
- Adhesive like Automotive Goop
#1: Disconnect the Battery
You’re going to be working around a live motor and wiring. It’s a good idea to disconnect your car’s battery before going any further so you don’t get hurt.
This can be done by turning your car off, popping the hood, then removing the two terminal connections to the battery. Be sure to never touch the two at the same time or hold anything metal against them.
#2: Open the Car Door
Open the car door that’s having the window issue. If there are multiple windows that are sliding down, then work through these steps on one window before working on the next one.
It’s best to do this work in an area where you can open the door as wide as it can go. This will give you more space to work and help you avoid a cussing fit as you squeeze into a slightly cracked door.
#3: Remove Everything from the Door Frame
This is probably going to be the longest step for most people. The window-driving mechanism is hidden inside your door frame.
To get there, you have to take off everything from the exterior of the door frame. This means paneling, insulation, speakers — everything.
By the end, you should have a skeleton of a door that you can see into and, more importantly, work inside of.
#4: Do Some Troubleshooting
Once the door is disassembled to this state, you can start doing some real troubleshooting. Use your eyes and ammeter to look around and try to find the root cause.
You can do continuity checks on the wiring, but you can’t check for voltage since you unplugged the car battery. If you’re super careful and know what you’re doing, you can briefly reinstall the battery and check for voltage across the motor.
Specifically, you’ll want to troubleshoot the window switch, motor, wiring, and mechanical pieces around the window. If the window isn’t in the track and the moving parts look dry and worn, then that’s great news.
Make sure you write down some of the troubleshooting steps you performed and what you noticed. This will come in handy if the window still doesn’t work after you try to fix it and you have to take it to a mechanic.
It also helps you to remember what you did so far so you can troubleshoot better without a bad memory getting in the way.
#5: Attach the Regulator (If it’s Detached)
If you notice a regulator that isn’t attached, then it’s time to hook it back together. This piece will move the window up and down when the window switch is operated.
A detached regulator will allow the window to slide down despite it being fully rolled up.
#6: Clean the Window
This is also a good time to thoroughly clean the window. You have a ton of access to the glass now, so you can use a window cleaner and glass-friendly grease remover easily. While this won’t fix your problem, it will help your window operate better moving forward.
#7: Lube the Rails
If the rails look dry or worn, then it’s time to apply some lubricant. Avoid using WD40 and stick to automotive grease, here.
Greasing these parts will help them move better and prevent slippage in the future. For reference, the rails are the crisscrossing arms that will help push your window as the motor drives a gear.
#8: Adhere the Window to the Track
The most important step is to check the connection between your window and the track under it. Apply an adhesive here and make sure your window is firmly placed within the track.
As I mentioned earlier, a loose connection between your window and the track is one of the most common reasons why your window is sliding down in the first place.
Give your window enough time to properly bond with the adhesive before doing anything else. Read the small print on the adhesive you’re using to better understand how to apply the adhesive and how long to wait before touching it or operating it.
Also, be sure that the adhesive you use is okay for glass-on-metal adhesion. It also has to be strong enough to hold the two together without fail, otherwise, you’ll be re-reading this article when the adhesion stops sticking.
#9: Put Everything Together and Test it
With these steps complete, you’re ready to put everything back together and try it out. Again, make sure you wait long enough for the adhesive to dry before going to this step.
With your door reassembled and battery reconnected, fire up your car and cross your fingers. This can be done in accessory mode on your car, but I’d suggest just fully turning on your vehicle instead.
If your window correctly rolls up without sliding down, then give yourself a pat on the back.
If something still isn’t working right, then it’s up to you on how to proceed. You can either take your troubleshooting notes and car to a local mechanic, or you can give it another stab yourself.
Just because it didn’t work on your first try doesn’t mean that you should give up. In my opinion, I think anyone is capable of successfully doing this repair on their own. I’d suggest going through the steps again, but be more slow and methodical this time. Take a closer look at everything and really look for the culprit of the problem.
Who knows, you could have simply jostled a wire loose while you were in the car door and it’ll be a five-minute fix.
Don’t freak out when your car window keeps sliding down. While this might be unsafe and annoying, you just read how simple the solution really is. If you want more how-to guides to help you fix your car, explore the rest of my blog. As always, drop a comment below if this article helped you. Also, check out some top car tools and accessories that you should consider buying.