What To Do When Your Window Is Broken

shattered window

We’ve all been there. We roll our window down to grab something from a drive thru, and suddenly realize it’s broken. What do you do now? Today we talk about 2 different cases of auto glass in need of a repair, the dreaded shattered window and broken automatic windows. Here’s what you can do for your broken window until you get it to us to fix it for you!


Fixing A Shattered Window

If your window has been shattered, immediately cover it and get it repaired as soon as possible. If you are a victim of vandalism, make sure you do these things right away. We are always happy to help you. 

Here’s how to properly cover a shattered window. Before moving on to the next steps, make sure you have these supplies ready:

  • Plastic garbage bag or other plastic material (cardboard will let the elements in!)
  • Gloves
  • Packing tape or duct tape
  • Car vacuum with vehicle-specific attachments
  • Dry microfiber cloth 
  • A few pieces of paper to protect the window’s bottom

Step By Step

Step One: The first thing to do is vacuum the debris from the broken window so you don’t cut yourself. Be sure to remove glass from the window seal, seats and anywhere else the glass has shattered. Use any vacuum attachments to ensure you get all of the broken glass out of the vehicle.


Step Two: Next, clean the window. Use a microfiber cloth and a drop or two of water on one side to make sure there are no oils on the window or around it so the tape will stay. Dry off any excess water.


Step Three: Once the area is clean, over the hole with a plastic garbage bag. Place the pieces of paper at the window’s bottom for protection. Sit inside the car and fit the garbage bag to the window and cut any excess. Then, place the bag over the hole and while holding the bag tightly, secure it with packing tape on the edges and in the middle. Apply the tape on the inside of the vehicle, not on the outside which will just draw more attention to the broken window. Make sure there are no open seals so rain doesn’t get into your vehicle. Apply a second layer of tape around the edges of the first layer to ensure a tight and secure fit. 


Step Four: Lastly, test the tape. Tap against it and if it falls in, redo the taping. If it stays taut, you are good to go. 


Fixing Broken Automatic Window

The most common power window mechanism is pretty basic. There’s a simple regulator mechanism, similar to the mechanism used on hand-cranked windows. It comes in several types – rack, sector and cable drive. What happens when it just stops working? A power window failing isn’t fun for anyone, especially when it happens in the middle of winter or summer.


The first thing you’re going to want to do when your window isn’t working is get the window up. If this fails, follow the rules for a shattered window until you can get it to an auto glass professional. 


Here are a few ways to try to get the window rolled up:

  1. Turn the car on.
  2. Press the window switch and hold while completing the next steps.
  3. With the button held down, slam the door and repeat it if it doesn’t work the first time. If slamming the door didn’t work, try hitting the door with an object. Avoid using your fist so as not to harm yourself. (We used a light camping chair when we had this problem and it worked like a charm!)

If this doesn’t work, try palming the glass. 

  1. Turn the car on.
  2. Open the car door and sandwich the car window between the palms of your hands. Have someone help you to press and hold the window button. Using light pressure, push the window up with the palm of your hands.

Once your broken window is up, do not lower it again until you can get it to an auto glass professional.


Fixing An Automatic Window

If you’d like to try to deal with the problem at home, please do so at your own caution. It is always easiest to call your local auto glass professional and let them handle it.

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify the problem. Press the button to see what happens and make sure there simply isn’t a child lock turned on. Sometimes the problems are the most obvious things. 

After ensuring it’s not user error, listen to see if you hear the motor groan. If you can’t hear it, your fuse is likely blown. Is it all of the windows or just one not working? If all of them aren’t working, it’s likely the fuse as well. If the fuse is blown, pushing a window button will do nothing. Check your fuse box by checking your owner manual to see which fuse is the problem. 

Fuse okay, but the window still won’t movie? Is it all of the windows or just one? If there is a problem with all of the windows, it’s likely something simple you can fix yourself without having to take the door panel off. If you do hear the motor, but the window still doesn’t budge, you’ve likely got some sort of mechanical problem. Time to dig in and see what’s going on under the door panel. 

On some vehicles you can simply pry the switch panel up with your fingers, while other vehicles may require that you remove the panel. Door panels are held on with a variety of different types of fasteners. Start by pulling off the door pulls and handles. Lift the plastic studs up carefully so you are able to reuse them. Once you’ve got the door panel off, remove the weather sheeting. You’ll need to replace this later. Be very cautious.


Digging In Under The Panel

First, check the window gaskets. There’s a fair amount of friction between the gasket and the window glass. Any misalignment can dramatically increase the friction to the point where the motor no longer has enough torque to move the glass properly. If the gasket is torn, you might be able to use super glue to simply repair the tear. Replacing a gasket or seal with a new part is generally straightforward. 

If it’s not obvious that the gasket is astray, inspect the entire gasket and channel carefully next. Clean the surface of the gasket and window with lacquer thinner to remove oxidized rubber and scum. Lubricate the entire channel with silicone spray or protectant, because the reduced friction may get your window working again.

It’s also possible that the problem is deeper inside the door. Sometimes the problem is nothing more than a loose bolt allowing the door’s inner structure to move around. This causes misalignment in the window track.

Lastly, the mechanism that runs the window up and down may be faulty. Watch it moving up and down a few times. Sometimes the problem will be a loose fastener or rivet, sometimes a broken or missing bushing. Lube all the friction points with white grease. Don’t forget there are gaskets in the window track down below the top of the door, and you may need to reglue, repair or lubricate them.

It may be possible to replace a bad motor, or you may need the entire mechanism. Check the weatherstripping and window channel for torn, loose or folded rubber parts, or foreign objects in the way.

Broken windows are always a downer, but they don’t have to be! Don’t forget to contact us to help repair your autoglass anytime at 877-49-GLASS.

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    Got windshield cracks? Unsure of insurance coverage? Get free answers today!

      Enter your full name

      What is your glass issue?

      Enter a valid email

      Where can we reach you?

      Any additional information we should know about.