Vehicles with rear sliding windows like minivans have a sliding motor door assembly that automatically controls their operation. The motor assembly permits the doors to open and close with a quick push of a button. The button is commonly on the driver side door for easy access for parents and in many cases on the rear window itself for rear seat occupants to select. However, there are safety locks that can also be activated by the driver to protect children from operating the windows.
The sliding motor door assembly is commonly attached to two, independent rear sliding doors that will open and close when activated by a control module. They are subject to wear and tear like any mechanical motor, but can also break due to vehicle accidents or abuse of the operating buttons. When they wear out or are broken, they will display a few warning signs of failure.
Listed below are a few of the common symptoms of a bad or failing sliding motor door assembly. If you recognize any of these symptoms, you should contact a certified mechanic as soon as possible to repair damage or replace the sliding motor door assembly if needed.
1. Sliding doors don't open
There is typically two operating buttons for a sliding rear window, one on the driver side door and the other in the rear where the window is located. If you press either button, the sliding door should open and close. An obvious warning sign that a problem with your sliding motor door assembly exists is if the door won't open when you press the buttons. If the sliding door assembly is broken or damaged, you may be able to still operate the door manually. This warning sign may also be due to a short in the wiring system, a problem with the buttons or a fuse that has blown.
While the door is still able to function, it does make life a little more difficult. If your door does not open with the push of a button, contact a professional mechanic to have your slide motor door assembly replaced or have them inspect the vehicle to ensure that is the correct problem that needs to be fixed.
2. Noise coming from the door
When the sliding door assembly is damaged, the window commonly comes off the hinges and can float freely inside the side compartment. When this occurs, the window will make a noise every time it hits against the assembly. If you recognize this warning sign, it's very important to contact a mechanic as soon as possible to fix the issue. If left unrepaired, the window may break inside the side compartment, leading to expensive repairs and removal of broken glass in some cases.
If the motor assembly is starting to wear out, you might also hear a low pitched noise coming from the window, as if the motor is struggling to operate. This is commonly caused by the window dragging or being caught on something that is restricting the operation of the motor to freely close or open the window.
3. Metal-to-metal grinding when you try to open or close door
If you hear a grinding sound coming from your sliding door when it opens or closes, then your motor door assembly is beginning to wear out quickly. If you discover this issue quickly, it is possible to have the sliding motor door assembly repaired. This sound may also cause your window to get stuck and take some time to get it closed, which can be a hassle.
The sliding door motor assembly is a part that typically won't break or wear out for the lifespan of your vehicle. However, frequent use, abuse of the buttons or vehicle accidents may contribute to damage. If you recognize any of the warning signs listed above, contact a mechanic to take a deeper look into the problem.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Sliding Motor Door Assembly and was authored by Timothy Charlet.