'02 Impala 3.4L, 211.6k : Annoying Window Motor Assembly Problem

Colt Hero

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#1
Make
Chevrolet
Model
Impala
Year
2002
Miles
211.6
Engine
3.4L
'02 Impala 3.4L, 211.6k : Annoying Window Motor Assembly Problem

The vehicle was bought brand new in June 2002. Original driver's side window motor assembly lasted to 184k miles. Three years ago (but only 26,000 miles ago), that part failed when the plastic pulley(s) cracked and the metal cable ended up jammed between the broken pulley(s) and metal framing. So I bought an inexpensive replacement assembly on Ebay for only $35.

It looked identical to the OEM unit: motor, with metal stranded cables running either way over pulleys and meeting on either side of this metal bracket that slides up and down on a vertical (~20") piece of metal.

The problem with the design of this assembly is it has embedded plastic parts, and one of these parts is a receptacle to attach the metal balls at the end of the stranded cables. So the motor turns, pulls the stranded cable over a pulley, and lifts the window UP in its fixed track inside the door. There's constant tension on this cable when the window is UP, and so eventually the plastic pieces fail. This time, instead of the pulley cracking, the metal ball got pulled clear through the plastic receptacle!

My question is:

The HUGE disparity in lifespan between the two units leads me to believe the problem here could be the fixed tracks inside the door. Maybe the window pane is getting cocked as it's being lifted, causing undue stress on the cables, and eventually failure of the plastic parts? If this is the case, do the tracks just need to be lubricated, or are they lined with some kind of material that has disintegrated after 16 years time, leaving more wiggle room for the pane to move?
 
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'02 Impala 3.4L, 211.6k : Annoying Window Motor Assembly Problem

The vehicle was bought brand new in June 2002. Original driver's side window motor assembly lasted to 184k miles. Three years ago (but only 26,000 miles ago), that part failed when the plastic pulley(s) cracked and the metal cable ended up jammed between the broken pulley(s) and metal framing. So I bought an inexpensive replacement assembly on Ebay for only $35.

It looked identical to the OEM unit: motor, with metal stranded cables running either way over pulleys and meeting on either side of this metal bracket that slides up and down on a vertical (~20") piece of metal.

The problem with the design of this assembly is it has embedded plastic parts, and one of these parts is a receptacle to attach the metal balls at the end of the stranded cables. So the motor turns, pulls the stranded cable over a pulley, and lifts the window UP in its fixed track inside the door. There's constant tension on this cable when the window is UP, and so eventually the plastic pieces fail. This time, instead of the pulley cracking, the metal ball got pulled clear through the plastic receptacle!

My question is:

The HUGE disparity in lifespan between the two units leads me to believe the problem here could be the fixed tracks inside the door. Maybe the window pane is getting cocked as it's being lifted, causing undue stress on the cables, and eventually failure of the plastic parts? If this is the case, do the tracks just need to be lubricated, or are they lined with some kind of material that has disintegrated after 16 years time, leaving more wiggle room for the pane to move?
In my experience, aftermarket parts, Especially window regulators, are unacceptable as a replacement, when you want something with endurance.

You’re saying that the cable end pulled out through the retainer slot causing failure. If it did this and didn’t break the pulley, the pulley was made of a plastic that was too soft. If it broke, causing failure, it most likely, was too brittle or became brittle due to exposure to heat/elements because of inferior unstable materials.

When the window gets into a bind, the motor will eventually stop working temporarily because they have a built in amperage breaker and/or the circuit itself has a (typically 30 amp) breaker inline of the motor to keep it from burning up or causing damage to the regulator or window assembly.

The part you bought from eBay was roughly 1/3 to 1/4 the price of OEM AC Delco found on Rock Auto. OEM is expensive, yes, but if you’re in it for the long run, OEM is the way to go because it will outperform almost all aftermarket parts.

OEM hurts once, aftermarket keeps on hurting.

I was an automotive glass tech for over 10 years before I became an official automotive tech. (Official because I had been working on vehicles since very young doing tune-ups, oil changes, etc. light work since pre-teen.) started out as a shade tree and worked up from there.


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#3
The HUGE disparity in lifespan between the two units leads me to believe the problem here could be the fixed tracks inside the door. Maybe the window pane is getting cocked as it's being lifted, causing undue stress on the cables, and eventually failure of the plastic parts? If this is the case, do the tracks just need to be lubricated, or are they lined with some kind of material that has disintegrated after 16 years time, leaving more wiggle room for the pane to move?
You are on the right track (no pun intended). They can be lubed and possibly aligned. I would suggest you check that out very carefully. I also agree 100% with Tommy's info.
 

Colt Hero

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I really don't think it's the part - although from the day I put the Ebay unit in 3 years ago I noticed the motor seemed to be a tad more sluggish than the OEM one. If there's any difference between the two, that's it - inside the motor. I doubt the plastic pieces are any different.

I really think it's the window tracks. When everything was new, all was well, but then the tracks got dry (or wore out ... whatever that means), and they eventually ended up breaking the plastic pulleys on the OEM motor/regulator (or maybe the pulleys just cracked on their own after 184,000 miles of heat over the years, who knows?). Now comes along the Ebay replacement, nothing done to the tracks, and the pulleys on *it* survive, but the hoisting cables pull straight through their plastic anchor pieces - an indication that either the plastic was softer on the Ebay unit or - more likely I think - there was undue stress on the cables trying to hoist the window because the tracks are worn out (or dried out) and the window is 'cocking' as it's being hoisted.

I can try spraying lithium grease into the tracks, but I *think* I tried to do this the first time and couldn't because the smallish access holes are at the bottom and it's just very hard to get access to the vertical tracks inside the door cavity. It's not like you can just open up the inner metal door skin and have direct access right in front of you. And I wonder, too, if there was some kind of liner on those tracks to fill in a gap that might now exist because the liner has worn out? I mean, you can't have a pane of glass sliding directly on a metal track. Doesn't there have to be a felt liner on those tracks? If this is worn out, then I'm not sure how to fix that - unless the liner can be pulled off and a new one snapped on because, again - all you can do is reach your arm up from the bottom through the access hole, and you can't really *see* what you're doing with the metal door skin in your face.
 
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#5
Again, I like your diagnosis. I would suggest "googling" and "youtubing" and you may get a clue.

And , you could use a cut off tool and remove unnecessary parts of the inner door panel to make for easier access . This shouldn't be necessary but it has been done. Be careful.
 

nickb2

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#6
There were issues with the front door run channels catching/binding. I remember an internal memo that came to us techs, but can't remember if the following tsb is the right one, that was many years ago. But any GM tech like I was back then will tell you, we changed alot of them.

Regulators and channels I mean.


If you think this is a poor regulator design, volkwagons were the worst, especially new beetle models.

The fact that you noticed a
the motor seemed to be a tad more sluggish than the OEM one. If there's any difference between the two, that's it - inside the motor. I doubt the plastic pieces are any different.
May indicate that in fact, with the design of the e-bay model may have been more tight, but in the future, I would buy a front window channel (rear one) as specified in the TSB as well. Part # 10345417 is what alldata is giving me. Part # may have changed, check that with your local dealer.
 

Colt Hero

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There were issues with the front door run channels catching/binding. I remember an internal memo that came to us techs, but can't remember if the following tsb is the right one, that was many years ago. But any GM tech like I was back then will tell you, we changed alot of them.

Regulators and channels I mean.


If you think this is a poor regulator design, volkwagons were the worst, especially new beetle models.

The fact that you noticed a

May indicate that in fact, with the design of the e-bay model may have been more tight, but in the future, I would buy a front window channel (rear one) as specified in the TSB as well. Part # 10345417 is what alldata is giving me. Part # may have changed, check that with your local dealer.
Wish I could just create a metal anchor point to hold the metal ball at the end of the stranded cable - instead of the stupid embedded plastic socket. But the original lasted 184k, so it's the tracks now...
 

Colt Hero

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Installed the ACDelco part from RockAuto. Looks the same, maybe the plastic pulleys were bigger (?), but *felt* and *sounded* like a better unit (although it was made in Taiwan). I used some high temp bearing grease from a tub I had sitting around to grease the two fixed tracks inside the door cavity.. With consistency like Petroleum Jelly, I thought this would linger longer than the white lithium grease out of the can that I've used before but doesn't seem to have much "body" to it.

So the window is going up and down OK, and I still have the door panel off, but when the window reaches the top it makes a metallic-like clunk noise that I haven't pinpointed yet. My Taurus used to catch the rubber seal at the top on one of its windows, bend it, causing a "Thump" noise as the seal snapped away from the glass. *This* noise is different. It doesn't sound very good. Also, while putting the grease in the vertical tracks, I noticed they each have a velour or felt-like liner that appeared to be intact from top to bottom. My narrow index finger fit tightly, so it didn't seem like these tracks were worn out. However, the window seems to have more "play" in it as it travels upward (than, say, the passenger-front window).
 

nickb2

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#9
but when the window reaches the top it makes a metallic-like clunk noise that I haven't pinpointed yet.
Most likely a worn rear track as I talked abut earlier in this post. The tracks don't wear out where
My narrow index finger fit tightly
but in the depth of the tracks. When a window goes up or down, it will kink backwards or forwards depending on direction, this wears out the depth of the tracks over time, especially the rear ones on this model, hence the TSB I talked about. The clunk you are hearing is most likely that as the window hits home and clunks back into it proper place due to looseness.
 

Colt Hero

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#10
nickb2,

So you're saying replace the internal "fixed" tracks inside the door. And by "depth" of the tracks you're referring to the (perpendicular) gap depth of the channel the glass slides within, not the parallel, or in-line depth of the track, right?
 
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