Dead Switch Disease
If your power windows stop working, work intermittently, or work in
"ghost-mode" where the go up and down on their own, don't immediately
conclude that the window motor is dead. Many Esprit owners have gone through
the same experience in the past. It turns out that the more common culprit
is the window switch and not the motor itself. So which would you rather try
to test and replace first?
If it turns out to be your motors after all, list member Tim Miller rebuilt his window motors and wrote detailed steps on the procedure. Here's what he did:
First, the things you'll need:
1. A Phillips head screwdriver - used to get the door panel off
2. Both a 10mm and a 11mm sockets
3. A star head screwdriver (I don't know what size) - this is to separate the motor from the gear section.
4. Some sort of instant bond or super glue. I used "Instant Bond" from Radio Shack -- $1.59.
5. Some sort of lube oil, like "WD-40". I used "Slick 50: Oil One".
6. (optional) a very fine sandpaper or soft scrub and a toothbrush.
First, I'll assume you know how to take the door panel off. (If not, read that elsewhere on this Fact File.) After this, disconnect the two door panel electrical connectors and the motor lead wires (the latter should be a green wire connected to a slate/light green wire and a red wire connected to a slate/pink wire)
Next, remove the four nuts holding the whole window lift assembly to the door crossbar with your 10mm socket. NOTE: In order to remove the bottom bolt, your socket's inner hole must be big enough to go over the screw (test it on one of the upper screws to make sure that it does). Next carefully remove the assembly from the door and CAREFULLY slip the arm roller from the window holder. Next, remove the four bolts that secure the lift bracket to the lift assembly with the 11mm socket. Now, remove the three bolts that hold the arm assembly to the motor assembly with the 10mm socket.
Now for the rebuild: Remove the two star-headed screws to separate the motor from the gear and CAREFULLY pull the motor out -- you may have to rotate the gear manually to get the motor out clean. Now the fun begins. The plastic housing and set it aside -- out of the way. Now, pull the motor out of the casing. If the two magnets came out with the motor, this is the cause of the motor failure. When the magnets are right up against the motor, it can't move and so it seizes.
All right, you now want to clean the housing and both magnets THOROUGHLY. I used soft scrub and a toothbrush. If there is a lot of rust, you might want to use fine sandpaper to get it off. After these pieces dry, add an appropriate amount of glue to the magnet (i.e.. one drop per square inch) and place them into the housing. Make sure that the magnets are lined up correctly and pushed all the way to the bottom. While you are waiting for the glued to set up (make sure you let it set a little longer than even the glue manufacturers recommend) check the two copper leads on the plastic housing. They are the two small copper blocks that are loaded on either side of the housing's inner circle. If there is any corrosion, clean it off, usually with VERY fine sandpaper.
All right, now that the glued has set up (you did wait long enough, didn't you? Try to pry them off with your fingers to be sure), spray a small spot of the lube onto each magnet. It's o.k. to let the excess stay on the bottom, it'll help lube the bottom part of the mast on the motor. Now push the motor into the casing between the magnets, making sure that it goes ALL the way to the bottom. Try to rotate the motor with your hands. It won't necessarily spin like a top, but it should be possible to crank it gripping the copper ring below the "screws" of the motor. Do this for a little while to let the lube distribute evenly across both magnets.
Now for the hard part: In order to get the plastic/electrical piece back on, you must push the two copper leads outward so that they fit over the copper ring below the "screw" of the motor. This can be tricky, but DO NOT FORCE THE HOUSING, this could ruin the leads, and all your hard work will have become much harder (I found this out first hand). Now slip that rubber "gasket" over the motor casing from the bottom up and place it between the plastic housing and the motor casing upper lip. Next, carefully place the gear assembly back on the top of the motor assembly. Again, you might have to turn the gear manually to get it in correctly. After you screw the two star-headed screws back into place, it is time to check to see if you were successful. First, connect the motor back up to the electrical system -- green to slate/light green and red to slate/pink. Then you have to connect both of the door panel electrical connectors back up. Now for the moment of truth: start the car or turn the key to the on position and try the switch. Your gear should be turning. If not, either the magnets weren't the problem, i.e. the motor is "burned out", or something went wrong in one of the above steps remove the gear again and make sure that the motor still turns freely between the magnets. If it doesn't you'll have to go all the way back to the beginning of the rebuild section (maybe you didn't wait long enough for the glued to set) or, more lube is needed.
Disconnect all the electrical connections, and re-attach first the arm assembly (you may have to shift the arm a little to get it to match up with the gear) and then the lift holding bracket. If you can't remember which bolts go where, the 10mm heads hold the motor assembly to the arm assembly, and the 11mm heads hold the lift assembly to the lift holding bracket. Reinsert the arm roller back into the window holder and replace the whole lift assemble onto the three bolts on the door cross-bar. This is another of those tricky jobs, but be careful -- you wouldn't want to damage your hard work, would you? Replace the nuts that hold the lift assembly to the door cross bar not forgetting to re-attach the grounding terminal to the forward, top bolt. I recommend that you close the door while tightening these down, else you might not be able to close it later (again, I'm speaking from first hand experience). Reconnect all of the electrical connectors and try the window again. If it doesn't work, something may have caused the magnets to come loose and you'll have to try again, or there is something wrong with the arm (I'm sorry that I can't be any help in that situation). If everything checks out, make sure that the electrical connectors are inside the door and put the door panel back on. If everything has gone as planned, you now have a workable window and CONGRATULATIONS, you've just saved yourself a bundle of money. If not, I'm sorry, but I tried.
Steve Brightman added the following points:
1. Before removing the motor assembly get the window glass into the desired position and clamp it there. On the newer Esprits (Steven's body) this seems best in or near the fully "up" position. On the older Esprits, if I recall correctly, there is a cutout in the bottom side of the glass carrier piece to allow egress of the roller on the end of the actuator arm. Position the glass so the roller is near here. Now take some vise-grips and clamp them to the aluminum runner just underneath the point where the glass carrier and its four plastic rollers are located. This will stop the window from dropping as you remove the motor assembly. (Be careful not to deform the runner!).
2. Once the motor is out of the way, you may want to move the glass up and down and check there is no binding. If there is binding you have the delightful task of fiddling with the door frame and spacer washers until you get it right. If you've ever had to do this I know you'll never lean on an Esprit door frame again - and will probably inflict grievous bodily harm on anyone you catch doing this!
3. Once you have removed the lift bracket and BEFORE you take out the three bolts securing the motor - clamp the lift arm to the motor support
bracket (use a second pair of vice grips in a suitable location which will not deform anything). Otherwise once the motor is removed the spring in the
mechanism is free to swing the lift arm around.
4. When reassembling do not over-tighten the three bolts, they are screwing into really wimpy metal in the motor casing.
Now some notes on my specific problem: The problem was not binding or the motor itself. Nor did I have any broken teeth on the inner gear wheel as I suspected. I did find there was a clutch of sorts embedded in the gear wheel but it wasn't that either. In fact when I cranked up the motor everything was fine in both directions. Only when I re-attached the lift arm did the problem become evident. At certain points of the travel the worm gear was actually disengaging from the plastic (bevel?) gear producing the nasty rasping sound. I can only conclude this is due to wear on the plastic teeth. So, before you put it back in the car check this sub-assembly first.
I also figured out the purpose of the screw on the top of the gear unit. On other units I have seen this screw with a lock nut. Mine is too short for that - no idea why. Anyway it seems to function to stop the worm gear from lifting itself off the motor spindle. It should be snugged down but not too tight or it will load down the motor. It also is a convenient way to introduce some lubrication into the mechanism - judging by what was in there I guess this would be grease.
If you're interested in having your window motors professionally rebuilt, you can send them to South Florida Window Lift. They usually charge about $90 to rebuilt one motor, which is far cheaper than buying a new one.
Click here to see a step-by-step guide to removing the door trim and accessing the window motors.