Window regulator and window removal/repair - for VW Passat (VW Jetta is similar)

Apr 18, 2017
Window regulator and window removal/repair - for VW Passat (VW Jetta is similar)
  • Window regulator and window removal/repair - for VW Passat (VW Jetta is similar)
    difficulty: 1/5

    For the mk4 (1999-2005) Jetta, Golf, or Passat, see 1000q: mk4 window regulator repair and recall letter


    The window may start to make clicky noises when at the top of the travel or fail to move smoothly. If you hear clicky noises when raising or lowering the window, feel for catching or clicking by feeling and listening to the window and door. Unlike later generation cars, the window is held in place by a gear and electric motor, both of which require door card removal. The rubber boot at the door hinge where all the electrical wires are routed through the door may also be chafed and broken and cause problems, so check there as well.

    Parts (click links to compare current prices)

    VW# 3a0 837 461 driver's side window regulator for passat (no motor)
    VW# 3a0 837 462 passenger's side window regulator for passat (no motor)

    phillips screwdrivers
    10mm socket and wrench
    torx screwdriver if you need to transfer the electric window motor to the new window regulator
    needlenose pliers


    First remove the door cards. See 1000q: door card removal - mk3 passat for more details. For Jetta, see door card removal Jetta. Also remove the speaker and speaker bracket.

    Peel down the moisture barrier. Try to avoid tearing it since it serves as the moisture barrier which separates the inside of the door (which gets wet from rain) and the inside of the car. Be careful of the black tar because it can smear onto the seats or windows and is difficult to remove. WD-40 does a good job of removing the tar from metal but isn't appropriate for cloth seats.

    Side note: If you have a passat, you can add a second layer of door foam from a recycled door (junkyard). This will make the door slightly quieter. See 1000q: soundproofing for more tips.

    Try moving the window up and down to spot broken plastic clips or broken gear teeth. A common problem is the window is clicking at the top of its travel. This is broken or worn gear teeth. It's possible to weld and file down new teeth, otherwise you need a replacement regulator. Here are some pictures from Fixit-13 showing the areas of wear.



    Here is a picture of the inside of a passat front passenger side door. Note the circled locations for the window regulator, motor, and rail. The left most bolt is holding the front window rail. Make sure it is holding the window tightly or else it could fall off the track. The top red dashed line is where the window trim was, only remove it if you are going to remove the window glass.


    Window regulator removal

    Here is a picture of the front and back of a window regulator and electric motor for the driver's side. First use pliers to remove the 2 window clip springs so that the window won't fall down. Then remove the black plastic electrical connector - don't pull it off, you have to slide the union diagonally up to remove it, slide down to secure it back. The union and it's diagonal track are indicated with a red arrow in the picture below. Remove the bolts (10mm x 6 bolts) that hold the window regulator in place. The window regulator can now be removed - take care to not scratch the window.

    Pretty much everything could be greased for smoother operation. A new window regulator does not come with the motor, just remove the torx screws holding the regulator-motor and it will separate.

    Here is a tip for replacing the plastic slider spring locks. Instead of putting the metal knob on the regulator in the slider then trying to put the locking clip on, put the locking springs on the clips first (closed end should face towards each other), then push the metal ball into the slider with a firm clamp. It will click when the ball of the window regulator is locked in place.

    When you are adjusting the new window regulator, note how the whole assembly moves back and forth when you raise and lower the window. You may notice some door sheetmetal flex so compensate for it. You want to have all the bolts on loosely, then set the window to where you want it to be. Tighten the bolts to keep the relative position of all the components. Otherwise, the window won't be centered in the track and won't move well or leave a gap at the top.



    Window removal

    If you only want to remove the window, first remove the door cards.

    Then remove the 2 window regulator spring clips and loosen the front window rail (10mm x 1 bolt).

    At the other end of the track, there is a gold colored clip and a black plastic stopper (circled below). Remove the metal clip and then press down on the hook holding in the plastic stopper to remove. Also remove the hard plastic trim at the top of the inside door seam, marked with a red dashed line in the picture at the top of the page - just pull up to remove. Be careful if you use a pry bar since it can bend the trim. You can now slide the window up, away, and out. It will just barely clear the gap, so make sure that you remove the door seam trim and the black plastic stopper at the end of the track. Adjust the new window with the above procedure.



    Permanent welding fix to regulator.

    ADDED by Nevadan November 24, 2015:

    I've been going through my recently purchased 1997 Passat fixing a lot of little things with help from the excellent data on this site.

    While diagnosing the cause of the problem I determined it's a design flaw causing the driven gear to be worn, or chewed up, by the drive gear. The large toothed gear is too far away from the drive toothed gear, or stated another way, the drive sprocket on the electric motor doesn't fit into the teeth on the driven gear.

    Here's a picture of the original regulator "driven" gear. The "drive" sprocket is under the tab circled in yellow. You can see the end of the drive shaft in the center.

    The only way to get the driven gear closer to the drive sprocket is to cut the driven gear and re-weld it about 1/16 inch closer to the drive gear. Here's a picture of the weld job about 10% complete. You can see my original cuts, made with a cutoff wheel. The tricky part is to position the gear so it remains in a uniform arc or circle. You can see my Sharpie marks on the frame under the teeth of the driven gear. I used some large locking pliers to hold the gear in position while welding.


    I did the welding with a gas torch and some baling wire, completed filling the gap and then bending/aligning it so it was in the correct position.

    After re-installation it works perfect. The worn teeth now fit deep enough into the drive gear so they don't skip. It was not necessary to weld and grind new teeth on the driven gear.

    After making this repair I've since found you can purchase new regulators for $40 - $130. You'll have to determine which is the better option. The "new" regulators may have the same design flaw which would require the above repair.