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Old 06-24-2011, 07:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default one power window won't work

In my 03 Outback, my front passenger side window was giving me trouble today. I usually use the driver's side control and have had no problems, but today I was using the passenger side control because I was training someone on my route. Anyway, I would press it and it wouldn't work right away until I flicked it up and down a few times. Then it eventually just stopped working, as well as the driver's side control for that window. All other windows and power locks work, so I assume it is not a fuse, just a bad switch. I took off the small panel and took some photos. Any idea how to fix this? My window is stuck down at the moment. There is power because if I put something metal on the copper in photo 2, it sparks.
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one power window won't work-window-1.jpg   one power window won't work-window-2.jpg  
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Referring to the second photo, the exposed copper lines appear to be the back of the switch. The actual contacts that the switch opens and closes to control the power to the window motor, are on the other side, under the rocker knob.

Bad contacts in the passenger side switch could not only prevent that switch from controlling the window, but as you report, it also affects the driver's side control for that window.

There are threads here with reports on repairing the switches in the main driver's control, and I would imagine the single passenger side would be similar. Basically, I believe the rocker part is removed, and this exposes the moving contacts and possibly some other small, easily lost, bits. The copper surfaces are often dirty, corroded, or worn, and correcting this returns the switch to full operation.

An alternative might be to buy a replacement switch from a dealer (local or on-line) or find a used one (from a recycler).

By the way, it's not a good idea to test for voltage by putting "something metal on the copper". That can cause additional problems that would make troubleshooting and correcting the situation even more difficult. Use a Voltmeter, or a test bulb.
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply! One question, I have been trying to separate the black and white sections in photo 2 for quite a while now, even before I made this topic. It won't budge. I just tried taking off the switch on top in photo 1 and that won't budge. Is there a way to access what I need without damaging something? If I can get it apart, I'll try to clean it out. If that doesn't work, maybe buy another switch. I found one on ebay for $25. I'm not really a do it yourself guy but this seems pretty simple. And of course, the closest Subaru dealer 3 hours away and the nearest city is half evacuated due to flooding so I probably couldn't get it in anywhere. I may have to get creative during rainstorms, maybe a towel covering the passenger seat to protect the mail. I guess with my job, better stuck down than up. Anyway, thanks for the help!
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Old 06-25-2011, 07:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm not sure how to separate the bits -- haven't done it myself (yet). But based on others I've worked on, I would imagine it should be fairly simple -- some clips molded into the plastic that are pulled away to release the sections. But without seeing it close up, I guess it could be different, e.g., glued or welded.

Are you able to remove the wiring connector from the switch?

The power window switches at each of the doors, other than the driver's, should be the same. If the rear door switches are working well, perhaps try swapping one of those to the right front; if it works then that would verify that the original passenger switch is bad but, more importantly, it would allow you to control the right front window while leaving the "donor" rear window closed, at least until you could either repair or replace the defective switch.

Last edited by plain OM; 06-25-2011 at 02:16 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, I swapped the front and rear passenger switches, and the front still doesn't work while the back still works. I guess that tells me that it isn't the switch, which still has power, but a bad motor. I assume that replacing a window motor is a lot more difficult than swapping a switch. Time to take it somewhere. Thanks for the help.
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It could also be the driver's side switch, with which, as I noted earlier, others have had problems.

At the passenger door switch, the connector to the switch has, I believe, five wires. One is blue, and the other is blue with a red stripe. These go to the motor. There's two things that can be done to verify if the motor is bad. First, measure the resistance between those two wires. There should be continuity, probably above 5 or 10 Ohms, but not higher than say 15 or 20 Ohms. The other would be to connect a 12 V source to the two wires, connecting the positive to one and the negative to the other, and see if the motor turns. If not, then reverse the connections. If the motor doesn't run in either case, then the motor is bad. If it works up and down properly depending on the connection, then the driver's door switch is more likely the problem.

I've attached a wiring diagram that is representative of the circuit. When the passenger switch is being used, the circuit that provides the ground or negative side of the power to the motor goes through the driver's switch. If there's a bad contact in the switch, then that could also prevent the motor from running.
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File Type: pdf window cct 2003.pdf (131.4 KB, 239 views)
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I just fixed the same problem on mine. You need to take the switch completely apart. You can do that carefuly. Here's the deal: inside the switch there;s a little spring that pushes out a little white plastic part that makes connection to the circuit board. In time since you are using this switch a lot that connection metal bends down so that little plastic part doesnt reaches it. Solution is to stretch out the little spring just a bit then it will force more pressure on that plastic part and it should work.

Hope this helps...
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