How Power Windows Work

By: Karim Nice

The Lifting Mechanism

­Let's start with the lifting mechanism. This cool device is the heart of a power-window system.

The win­dow lift on most cars uses a really neat linkage to lift the window glass while keeping it level. A small electric motor is attached to a worm gear and several other spur gears to create a large gear reduction, giving it enough torque to lift the window.


An important feature of power windows is that they cannot be forced open -- the worm gear in the drive mechanism takes care of this. Many worm gears have a self-locking feature because of the angle of contact between the worm and the gear. The worm can spin the gear, but the gear cannot spin the worm -- friction between the teeth causes the gears to bind.

In the next section we'll learn about some of the neat features some power windows have, including the child lockout and automatic-up.