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Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge minivan window repairs

Also see this guide on replacing the glass

The van was finally packed and we are ready to hit the road. As we pulled out of the driveway I go to put up the drivers window. On, no!! It won't go up. This could be a nasty drive, in the heat, with the big hole in the door where the glass used to be. Luckily I've been through this drill before so I carry a spare regulator tape in both my 89 and 95 vans. My wife (MAC) and JohnC go into the store, while ScottE, our youngest son, helps me tear the door apart to replace the broken window regulator tape. By the time my wife gets out of the store, maybe 30 minutes, ScottE and I have the window working again.

A few weeks ago, sometime in August 2005, I'd posted something similar to the above on Allpar.com. Someone read it and asked how you do the job as his window wasn't working. So I wrote up the proceedure from memory and emailed it to him. Well this morning I was getting the van ready for state inspection. When we went to roll down the drivers side window, we heard the click, click, click, of a broken regulator tape. So we had to fix the window before we could take the var to be inspected.

The young man in these photos is JohnC, my oldest son, he's the brawn, and I'm behind the camera, and the brains of this operation.

1. Tools required:

  • Phillips head screwdriver.
  • A small but stout flat blade screwdriver
  • A door panel removal tool - looks like a putty knife with a slot cut in the center - available at the autoparts store for $5. The slot is to allow the clip to slide into the tool. Then when you pry up/out there is equal pressure on each side of the clip. But a putty knife or an old steak knife will do the job.
  • An inspection mirror, a mirror on a stick.
  • White lithium grease

The door panel must be removed first.

Remove the electric window switch plate (left-hand photo below). This is held in with metal spring clips on the ends. You will need a realitively small screw driver - but not a jewelers screwdriver. It has to be a little stout as these clips are pretty strong. I usually put something like a scrap of wood on the arm rest so I don't crack, break, or tear the arm rest when I try to pry the switch plate out. On the end farthest from the door hinges, you'll see a little indention in the plate where you can get the screwdriver in to pry.

Once out, remove the connector from the switch plate. It has a couple of plastic clips on the side of the connector that you'll have to pry back to pull the connector. I usually use the screwdriver to help pry the connector off the switch plate. (Center photo below.)

There are two Phillips head screws that hold the arm rest to the door panel which must be removed.

For the next two steps - Don't just use brute force - use a little finesse.

Using the special tool (or putty knife or stake knife) gently pry outwards to release (pop) the clips. The door panels are now plastic, and not as prone to breaking as the old cardboard panels were. (Right-hand photo below.)

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d. Once all the clips are free, you will have to lift and wiggle the door panel up as it rolls into the window channel area.

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Once the panel is free, feed the wires and connector from the window switch panel through, and disconnect the wire at the courtesy light.

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Set the panel asside.

e. Once the panel is removed, you'll see the nylon tape that pushes and pulls the window up and down. (Photo on left, below.)

The tape is held to the regulator "head" by a pin. The pin is held to the head with a little clip that can be difficult to remove. You have to lift the top up (away from the pin) and then slide the clip off the pin.

Next the window regulator tape will have to be removed from the window, and the track the tape rides on.

The window is held to a head with a couple of nuts. (Photo on right, above.)

You will need to remove these nuts. If you lower the window a little you'll see these nuts through the large access hole in the door frame. You may have to lower the window almost all the way down to get access to these nuts.

To raise and lower the window, you will have to reconnect the window switch to the connector so that you can run the motor to adjust the window's position.

Once the nuts are off, carefully press the bottom of the window so that the studs are retracted through the regulator and lower the window until it's sitting on the bottom of the door. Again, I will urge caution, you don't want to break the window glass.

Now comes the hard part - removing the pin. You might need a small mirror so you can see how the clip is attached to the pin. There are two possible ways, see which works best for you:

  • Try pressing the up switch and carefully seeing if you can get the head and the regulator head and the tape out of the window slit. You will have to pry the window slit apart a little and pull on the regulator to get it to come out as it's a tight fit. (Left hand photo below; old broken tape is right-hand photo below.)
  • Work the tape up and down to allow you the best access to the pin and clip. Then try to remove the clip from the back of the regulator head. You'll be working in the blind and this can be very frustrating.
  • [Matt Caldwell wrote: “I just did this and found one way to make this job even easier. Instead of bending the door sill to get the regulator head out of the door, there is a 10mm bolt that attaches the curved way to the inside of the door. Loosening or removing that bolt entirely makes the track bend out a tiny bit making it much easier to get the tape/head in and out, and requires no bending of metal or possible hangups. You must of course remember to reattach this though.”]

Be careful that the clip doesn't go flying as you pop it off the pin. Now slide the pin out of the hole. This will release the tape from the window mounting head. If the regulator and tape have not already been removed from the door, they can now be pulled up and out the window opening. You may still have some of the tape below the motor. Simply press the up switch and carefully press on the tape to engage it in the motor to let the motor pull the tape clear. Then remove that piece of the tape.

It's time to install the new tape. These are available at most auto parts stores in their "HELP" section for about $12.

The new tape is longer than needed. You will have to lay the new tape out, and then piece the broken tape together beside the new one and cut the new one to length using a pair of large diagonal cutters.

I'd suggest that you add at least 1 to 2 inches to the length of the broken tape before you cut the new one. It's easier to take more off than to have to purchase another tape if you cut it too short.

(A neighbor of mine had his window fail. Since I had the spare tape I gave it to him. He cut the new one too short and the window would not roll all the way up. So he had to get another one and add a couple of inches before the cut.)

Today, when I did the job, I added about two inches to the length. Since I've done this job a few times already, it turned out that the tape was too long. As I looked down inside the window, with the window rolled all the way down, I could see two inches sticking beyond the track the tape rides on. I reached into the door frame, and gently pulled down on the excess tape, and it broke right off at the end of the track.

To reassemble everything:

a. Coat the spiral way (the metal track attached to the door frame that the tape rides on) with some white lithium grease.

b. Slide the new tape onto the track. Make sure you have it on the correct side of the track or the tape won't engage the motor. (See photo)

c. Once the bottom of the tape touches the motor, you'll have to press the window down switch to get the motor to pick up on the tape. And continue lowering the tape until the head (eyelet) is just above the window opening in the door.

d. Now set the regulator head on the tape. There is a flange on the regulator head that will not allow the tape head to be attached once the tape is all the way down in the door. You can install the "top hat" spacer, pin, and clip now. But remember it will be a little difficult to get it down into the window opening. You may want to wait on the pin until you get the regulator head in the door.

e. Lower the tape and regulator head slowly and align the regulator head onto the track. Continue lowering the assembly, until the regulator head and tape are accessable through the large access opening in the door.

f. There is a little "top hat" spacer that needs to be inserted in the hole in the tape head. This can be done, by raising the tape a little as it will come out of the top of the regulator head. Now raise the regulator head to align the pin hole in the regulator head and the tape. Replace the pin and clip connecting the head of the tape to the regulator head. (See photo.)

g. Work the window into the window channel, and then align the studs on the window and the holes in the regulator head, and install the 2 nuts.

You're just about finished. All that's left is to reinstall the door's interior panel.

While holding the door panel near the door:

  1. Connect the wire to the courtesy light
  2. Disconnect the window switch from the connector, and feed the connector back through the switch plate hole, leaving it hanging for the time being.

Check that you have all the clips still on the door pannel. Some have a habit of falling off. If so, you can crimp them to tighten them before you slide them back onto the door pannel. Lift the door panel up and slide the top of the pannel into the window slit. You may have to gently tap the top of the pannel with your fist to get it into place. Check the alignment of each of the clips with the holes in the door frame. Once a clip is lined up, hit the door panel with the palm of your hand, at the clip, to seat it.

Feed the window control switch connector through the arm rest and reattach the arm rest.

Connect the switch to connector and press it back into the arm rest.

Reinstall the two screws that hold the arm rest to the door frame and...

YOU'RE DONE!!!

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