Given that this problem claims the title of “Twelfth Most Common Complaint” on, I shouldn’t be too surprised that a window regulator from my 2004 F-150 (the thing that makes the window go up and down) broke with a loud “POP!!” and sent my window sliding into the door… twice. Yep: once for the driver’s window, and once for the driver’s side rear window (I have a crew cab). The first time this happened, I bought the part and had a Safelite Auto install it, but the second time, I did it all myself. Given the commonality of this problem, there’s a lot of good help on the internet, but it’s all spread out, and surprisingly hard to find. So, in the spirit of community, here’s a post of everything I learned in the process, and hopefully all the info you’ll need. Disclaimer: If you break something, it’s not my fault!


Buying the Part

[PHOTO HERE = broken part]

The part that breaks on these is a cheep plastic pulley. Unfortunately, this pulley is riveted directly to the unit, and cannot be purchased separately, so unless you are able to drill out the rivet, find a comparable part, and reattach it, you’ll have to purchase the whole unit. Also a bummer, nobody makes an aftermarket version of this part (you CAN find aftermarket regulators for 2004 F-150’s, but these are for Heritage/pre-2004 body style models). So, you’ll have to purchase from Ford. Lucky for me (and you), there exist some great folks at who will sell you any Ford OEM you can imagine at wholesale price. Use their site to find your part, or give them a call – they’re extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and will give you the part number right away. (I’m not posting my part numbers, just to avoid confusion: the parts differ depending on cab type and vehicle side, and I don’t want any of you ordering the wrong part.)

[PHOTO HERE = motor]

Motor or no motor? Well, [expand]

The Tools You Need

[WRITE = tools]


Here’s how you replace the regulator. It’s really easy to do, and could probably be finished in 20 minutes if you know what you’re doing, but I’d budget 1 or 2 hours for your first time. I only have pictures from my rear window replacement, but there are links to front window tutorials in the helpful links. Hint: if you are replacing the right rear window, just flip the images horizontally in an image editor.

Panel Screw Positions

To take off the rear door panel, remove 4 sets of screws and bolts, marked A, B, C, and D.

Panel Screw A

Getting to screw A requires popping off the trim that runs along the side of the window. Slide your trim removal tool or flat screw driver between the trim and door about 20% from each end, and pop up. Use your 6mm ratchet to remove the screw.

Panel Screws B

Use a flat head screw driver to pop out the small bolt cover behind the handle. This exposed two 8mm bolts which must be removed.

Panel Screw C

Use your trim removal too or wide flathead screw driver to pop off the control panel. Disconnect the control wires, and remove the now exposed 10mm bolt.

Panel Screws D

Use your 6mm socket to remove the two screws at the bottom of your door panel.

Remove Panel

Now remove the panel. Grab the handle and lift straight up. Make sure you clear the lock/unlock probe (circled), then lean back. The panel is still held on by the handle cable.

Remove Handle Cable

This image is looking from the top down, inbetween the door and door panel, which is tilted as in the previous picture. Use your fingers to pop out the white lug attached to the cable away from the panel, rotate toward the door, and lift the whole cable out. The panel is now completely detached.

Remove Plastic Liner

Carefully remove the plastic liner by gently pulling from one corner. Keep it from stretching by always gripping near to the door. The tar-like glue used to hold this on will stay tacky, and as long as you don't get it dirty, you will not need to use any additional glue when you put this back on.

Tape Window Up

Now is a good time to tape your window up. If your window fell into the door completely, push it up, and tape it in place. We will be removing the regulator, and if the glass is not secure, it could fall in and break.

Loosen Window Clamps

Locate and loosen the Torx screws on the clamps that attach the regulator to the window (shown outside the door at right). With the window up, they should be directly behind the oval holes pictured on the left.

Remove Window Regulator

Remove all 5, 10mm bolts attaching the regulator to the door frame. You may also need to disconnect the regulator from the frame shown in the green box. The old regulator I removed was attached as in the top right photo; the new regulator I installed used a black plastic trim pin (see bottom right) pushed through the metal. These keep the regulator cable out of the way of the moving window. Once this is disconnected, pull the regulator out, gently twisting it as needed.

Disconnect Regulator

Before the regulator can be fully removed, you must unplug it from the electrical system (left photo). The regulator cable might be stuck behind the speaker cable, as shown in middle picture. If it is, disconnect the speaker wire from the speaker, and finish pulling out the regulator.

Raise Window Clamps

You're halfway done! Now, insert the new regulator the same way you removed the old one. Secure it with the 5, 10mm bolts, and reconnect the speaker wire and black trim pin, if necessary. You may notice that the window clamps are not at the top, as they were on the old one. To fix this, connect both the regulator and door control panel to the electrical, as shown above. Turn on your car to accessory mode (ie, you don't need to start your engine), and hold the button that rolls up your window. Turn your car off, unplug the control panel, and tighten the now-raised window clamps onto the window using your Torx screwdriver.

Reinstall Liner and Panel

Put everything back together:

  • Reinstall the plastic liner, using your finger to press the glue back together.
  • Reattach the handle cable!
  • Place the panel back on, making sure to thread the lock probe through its hole.
  • Plug the control panel back in, and tighten all screws.
  • Celebrate! You just saved a lot of money, and learned something in the process!