July 08, 2015

Project Saturn Window Regulator 2015

It started off innocently enough. I had two worn tires on my 2007 Saturn Ion (I am rather notorious about not rotating tires, so the front ones wear out much more quickly than then rear) so I went to Town Fair Tire yesterday morning to purchase new ones. All went smoothly, but when I went to drive away, the driver's side window was stuck down - the motor engaged, but all I got was a clicking noise that communicated "off the track" (a bit of an anachronism, turns out) or "gears slipping".

So I had a window stuck down, intermittent rain in the forecast, and no way to lock the car. When I got home, I dug around online to find out how to take the interior door trim off, in order to at least pull the window up, and found this gem.

Easy enough; I gathered the tools and proceeded. The interior moisture barrier was a bit of a challenge (glued on, removing it involved more tearing than I'd prefer) but all good. But this really did not give me sufficient access to the window to either manually raise it, or so see what was going on. So I decided to remove the exterior plastic door panel, also with the aid of a Youtube video (albeit a much more coarse and in some ways amusing one)

Fortunately, I have a full collection (several different sets in fact) of star and security bits, so the door panel was not a big challenge. The result, a somewhat freakish looking driver's side door that was nevertheless fully driveable.

Once apart, I was able to raise the window (about 1/2 way up, the gears engaged, and the power window kicked in), and although there was a bit of a sliding bolt adjustment on one of the support bars, I could not seem to improve the situation.

However, while I was Googling around for door removal information, I had stumbled upon door removal instructions published by Dorman Products, a company that makes the window motor / regulator assembly. They were very clear, copiously illustrated, and I realized that I was almost 1/2 way to the point of replacing this part myself, if I could find the part.

So I dug around online, found a "parts finder" at Advance Auto Parts, and within 10 minutes had purchased the part online, and was 30 minutes away from picking it up in downtown New Britain. My one mistake was not shopping around online (turns out I could have gotten the part for much less) but perhaps not within 30 minutes, and I do not think I wanted to drive around for a day or two with the door disassembled (parts were all over the front floor, the cup holders, and the back seat) for too long.

The actual replacement also went well, the Dorman Products instruction se4t I found was most helpful, as was yet another Youtube video (which turned out to be the master video that the door removal one above was clipped from)


I remain somewhat curious about the whole "left vs. right" issue - since the window regulator is not side specific, I assume it's mounted "backwards" in the passenger side door, but I'm not prepared to pull the door apart to find out. 

The regulator went in fairly easily; a little challenge to unclip the window from the old device and reseat it in the new device. Nothing got broken (those little plastic clips are notoriously easy to mangle, not to mention the big piece of glass), there were no parts left over, and I impressed myself by having everything I needed, tool wise (including Gaffer's Tape to hold the window in place during the repair). The Facebook video link below will have to suffice until I get the Vine-ish video of the window going up and down uploaded. 

My Facebook feed was somewhat engaged: 
  • Wow you're very handy (to which I replied "Poor more like it. Also self employed so I have time to mess around.")
  • Impressive
  • Nice job, just saved hundreds of $ 
So yeah, mischief managed, thanks in no small part to the information afforded me by Google, Youtube, and the Internet, and the content providers therein.   

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