Maybe it’s just me, but every time I hear a squeak or rattle coming from my car, I slowly lose my mind. Every mile seems to drag on until I’ve had enough and have to pull over to find the source of the noise. I recently had a squeaky car window, and it took some troubleshooting for me to finally find the culprit and fix it.
The hardest part is finding the source of the squeak. It could be the glass itself, the rubber weatherstripping, the window regulator, track, or seal which are found inside of your car door. I would suggest going through each part from the easiest to the most difficult, lubricating the part, testing the window, looking for a squeak, and continuing if necessary. Often times the squeak can go away just by cleaning the windows and adding lubricant to the glass and track.
I went into the repair without any help, and I don’t want you to have to waste your time and energy. In this guide, I’ll teach you how to stop a car window from squeaking with my step-by-step guide. I’ll show you the exact steps I used with additional information from a professional mechanic friend that I have.
How Car Windows Work
Have you ever stopped and thought about how your car windows actually work? You press a little button and suddenly they roll down then up again, but how?
It all happens inside of your car door. You can see the window and the rubber weatherstripping at the bottom, but when you open your door panel, you’ll see everything else.
Within the door, there are mechanisms that control the handle, door lock, and the full motion of the window.
When you push the “down” button on your window, an electric motor starts winding. This is connected to the base of your window through linkages that will move as the motor pulls. The window is situated on a regulator rail that ensures it always moves along the same path and fully seals your car when it’s rolled up.
As your window rolls, it passes through rubber weatherstripping that keeps rain and debris outside of the sensitive inner workings of your car door. There are also wires strung throughout the door panel, so it’s important to keep those dry and clean.
By understanding how the window works, you’re ready to find out why it’s squeaking and how to fix it.
Why Is Your Window Squeaking?
As you just learned, there are only a handful of parts that are responsible for rolling up and down your window. From there, you can narrow down the squeak to just a few parts.
It’s not the wiring or motor assembly, so that leaves the other parts that I mentioned by name a second ago:
- The glass itself
- The track
- The linkages used for motion
- The rubber weatherstripping
- Seals are used to keep moisture and debris out of your door panel
The actual reason why any of these components would cause your window to squeak depends on a few things. First off, a squeak is created when two objects are rubbed against each other without the right level of lubrication. It could also be the byproduct of certain materials coming in contact with others (the same reason why certain boots squeak when you walk).
In your window assembly, it typically means that something’s not set correctly or there’s debris forcing two parts to come in contact.
Is a Squeaky Car Window Dangerous?
Luckily, there’s nothing dangerous about a squeaky car window. The window’s motor isn’t going to explode and blow a hole in your car door or anything.
There are a few small issues that come up with a squeaky car window, but nothing too serious.
One problem is that the squeak is annoying. I don’t have to tell you that, you already know it.
Another issue is that the squeak might mean that something is slowing down the travel of the window, like something stuck between the glass and slot in your door panel. If this is the case, the added stress will put unwanted strain on the motor and cause it to burn out or prematurely die.
Finally, a squeaky window might be a hint that your window will become defective soon. If you don’t fix the squeaky issue, you might be reading my guide about fixing a window that keeps sliding down in no time.
In general, when your car starts making a new and annoying noise, it’s a sign that something is about to break. Going too long without fixing the issue can lead to further issues down the road.
Good News: You Can DIY the Repair
The silver lining to a squeaky window is that the repair is relatively easy. If you’re lucky, it only takes about 5 minutes to make your window squeak-proof. If there are some mechanical issues that cause the squeaking instead, then it might take you a few hours.
Regardless, you won’t need any special tools to do the full project. If you have a mechanic do the work for you, it can easily cost hundreds of dollars more.
If you DIY the repair, it will likely cost you less than $10 for all the products you need.
Step-By-Step Guide to Eliminate Window Squeak
To better understand how to eliminate the window squeak in your car, I put together this step-by-step guide. I’ll outline everything you need to do in order to get a squeak-free window.
Step 1: Find the Squeaky Window/s
Before you get started, you should find out which windows are the squeaky ones. It might just be one of your windows, or it could be all four. Make sure your car is running and put all of the windows completely down, then bring them all the way up.
By running your car during this, you won’t be taxing your car battery. When the car is off, the battery alone powers the windows. It’s likely not enough battery draw to kill your battery, but it’s a good practice to get used to.
Once you identify the squeaky window or windows, put a piece of tape or something on the door so you don’t forget. The last thing you want is to waste time and effort fixing a window that isn’t even squeaky and forgetting about the squeaky one.
Step 2: Start with Cleaning
Through this step-by-step guide, I’m going to start with the easiest options and then work up to the most invasive steps. With that being said, the quickest and easiest potential solution is just cleaning your windows.
If dirt or grime is stuck near the bottom of your window, it can squeak as these contaminants come in contact with the rubber weatherstripping as your window goes down.
To clean your car window, you’ll just need Windex and a few microfiber towels. Spray a generous amount of Windex on the towel and wipe it across the glass of your windows. It helps to have the windows fully rolled up so you can access all of the glass.
Personally, I like to go side-to-side on the exterior of the glass, and up-and-down on the interior. That way, you can tell which side is giving you streaks based on which way the streaks are going.
You should avoid contact between the Windex and your car’s paint. Windex has chemicals in it that can melt your topcoat and lead to some expensive damage, so it’s best to limit how long Windex is touching the glass.
Once you apply the glass cleaner, go through with a clean, dry microfiber towel and wipe it dry. Check your window and make sure all the debris is gone. If not, then apply another treatment or two until the glass is perfectly clean.
Step 3: Check the Health of the Weatherstripping
Next, take a look at the base of the window and check the health of the weatherstripping. If the rubber is discolored, cracking, or has pieces missing, then you might be experiencing failing rubber.
When rubber gets towards the end of its life, it can squeak as the glass rubs against it. This is more common for outer window weatherstripping since rubber doesn’t deal with UV rays or heat very well.
If this is the case, then you should replace both strips of rubber. To do so, roll down your window completely and pull up firmly on the rubber. It should come right off and expose the trim that the rubber was previously attached to.
Grab your new weatherstripping pieces and apply some appropriate adhesive to the central groove. Push the pieces into position in your car and push them down to ensure they’re fully seated.
I would suggest doing this with all four windows, even if just one is squeaking. Rubber tends to fail at roughly the same time, so doing this will save you the hassle in a few months when the next window starts squeaking.
Step 4: Lubricate and Test
Now you can try lubricating the window. I would suggest using WD-40 or a silicon-based lubricant. The best option is one that comes in a sprayable can with a directional nozzle like a standard WD-40 can with the attached straw.
You’ll want to start with your windows fully rolled up. Spray the lubricant along the base, right above the weatherstripping. Make sure you spray the interior and exterior of the glass to ensure it gets fully lubricated. Then, roll the window completely down and then back up. This will start applying the lubricant to whatever part is squeaking inside of the door.
Once you’ve done that, roll down your windows all the way. Locate the window tracks on either side at the base of the window. Spray a generous amount of the same lubricant into both of these tracks to help loosen them up and get rid of the squeak.
Step 5: “Work” the Window
If you want to get the best results, you should “work” the lubricant into the window assembly. This entails rolling down and up the window repeatedly. I would do this about 10 times altogether and see if the squeak goes away.
After the 5th repeat, it might help to apply another layer of lubricant in the same fashion that you applied it in step 4.
This step is all about ensuring the lubricant gets to the right components. By working the window, you’re helping the WD-40 get into every crack that might be causing the squeak. It’s the same technique you might use after spraying lubricant on a squeaky hinge — you keep moving the hinge to help the lubricant seep in.
Step 6: Open the Door Panel
If you’re still experiencing a squeak at this point, you’ll need to try the more extreme DIY solution. In the following steps, you’ll be opening your door panel and exposing the inner workings of your door. More specifically, you’ll be looking at the window assembly and finding out what’s wrong with it.
There are some clips holding the panel in place, and potentially fasteners hidden under trim pieces. With all of these removed, you can use a flathead screwdriver to pry the plastic away from the metal bodywork of your car.
The plastic panel will come off in a single piece. If it’s snagged on something, then check for a fastener in that area.
Once removed, you’ll see the inside of your door with a strip of plastic over it. The plastic is another layer of weatherstripping that keeps the door’s interior moisture-free. You’ll need to remove the plastic but be very careful and avoid tearing it.
Step 7: Check the Inner Workings
This is when the troubleshooting becomes a little more tricky. You’ll need to find the culprit of this squeak, and there’s no guaranteed way to find it quickly. At this point, your window won’t be able to move anymore since you removed the electrical wire when you took off the panel.
Instead, trace the components that are attached to your window. You’ll find the regulator, track, seals, and some rods.
If any parts are rusted or look worn, then they’ll likely need to be replaced. Simply lubricating them will just act as a Band-Aid, and you’ll be back in this exact scenario in a few months. Replacement parts are fairly inexpensive, they just take some elbow grease and focus to get them installed.
Step 8: Lubricate the Regulator
Personally, I would start by lubricating the regulator. This is the 3-arm or 2-arm linkage that attaches to the bottom of your window and looks like a side profile of a scissor lift.
It’s made up of a few different parts that hinge and connect together, so there’s plenty of room for squeak-producing interference. I would recommend using white lithium grease to lubricate the window regulator.
Spray a generous amount of lubricant on the full assembly, but make sure the lubricant doesn’t drip onto any electrical parts.
Step 9: Lubricate the Track and Seals
Next, take a look at the seals and track for the window. Since your door is now exposed, you have better access to these parts. If you see any debris in the tracks, you can scrape it away and clear up the track.
Spray the lubricant along the length of the track and any seals that you see within the door. All of these interference points are common places where squeaks originate. This is also the area where the glass comes in contact, so it makes sense that they’re likely to squeak.
Step 10: Check for a Squeak
Reassemble your door panel and remember to reapply the plastic sheet before closing up the panel. You want to carefully put on all the fasteners and plastic clips that hold the panel to the door frame. Reattach the wiring and ensure everything is plugged in and set before fully tightening the fasteners.
With everything reassembled, you can cross your fingers, turn on your car, and check for a squeak. It might take a few cycles of rolling your window up and down before the squeak entirely goes away. Again, this repeated motion is just a way to ensure the lubricant gets into the appropriate components and starts lubricating.
If the squeak is gone, then you’re all set. If the squeak is still persisting, you have two choices:
The first choice is to redo the steps in this guide and be even more intentional about where you spray and ensure you add enough lubricant.
The other option is to take your car to a mechanic and allow them to diagnose the origin of the squeak. They probably have more experience taking apart cars and looking through for the problem component. This will require more money, but it offers a much better chance of getting a resolution.
I just covered exactly how to stop a car window from squeaking. I also outlined a step-by-step guide to finish the project and gave you more insight into how your window works. If you want to troubleshoot other parts of your car or have some questions, explore the rest of my blog. I upload content almost daily, so check in regularly for new guides. Also, check out my expert list of recommended car products that might make your life a little easier.