Try poking at the driver’s window switch more forcefully than you normally do. If the contacts for the window switch itself are rusting or coming apart, sometimes a little extra force can get them to work again for a while — sometimes a long while. If you can get the window to work by stabbing your finger on the switch, that tells you that the switch is your problem.
Then you have two options: You can live with it, and try to revive it when you need to, which leads to SIFS: stubby-index-finger syndrome (which is what you’ll probably do). Or you can replace the switch (which is what I’d do).
If you can’t get the window to work by being more vigorous with the switch, the next thing you can try to test is the window motor. That’s inside the door. The easiest way to test it, without investing time or money, is to give it a Judge Judy: Gavel it.
While an assistant is holding down the window switch, close your fist and give the middle to lower half of the door some quick, sharp blows with the bottom of your fist. Try it from the inside first, and then from the outside. Obviously, don’t use so much force that you dent the car. Or your hand.
If the motor is failing, a jolt like that often will get it to start working again, at least temporarily. But more importantly, it’ll tell you that the motor probably is the culprit here. Then you can either replace it (which is what I’d do), or go to the gym and do fist exercises (which is what you’ll do).
If you can’t get the window to respond to those tests, then you may have to resort to actual diagnostic methods. Start by removing the window switch and using a test light to see if it’s getting power.
If there’s no power getting to the switch, the next thing I’d suspect is a broken, or almost broken, wire in that bundle of wires that runs through the driver’s door pillar and into the door. Those wires connect to things like the window switches, the door-locking switches and the sideview mirror adjusters. After opening and closing that door 500,000 times (that’s the door that gets used the most), it’s certainly possible that one of those wires is frayed or partially broken.
If there is power to the switch when you test it, then that suggests that the motor is bad. Then you’ll need to remove the interior door panel, if you haven’t already broken it by banging on it, and confirm that power is getting to the motor — which it probably is.
Once the motor is exposed, you can try the Judge Judy again, this time tapping it directly with the end of a screwdriver or some such thing. Or you can just replace it.
And whatever your diagnosis, you can look for parts at a junkyard. These cars were plentiful, which means rusted-out ones are now plentiful in the nation’s junkyards. Just be sure to park a block away so you don’t come back to find other shoppers eagerly pulling parts off your car.
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Used cars can be a great bargain, and reliable, too! Find out why by ordering Click and Clack’s pamphlet “How to Buy a Great Used Car: Secrets Only Your Mechanic Knows.” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Used Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
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(c) 2015 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.