I can’t get at the window motor

March 1, 2009 | By Richard Prince


I have a 1983 Cavalier convertible that I bought new 25 years ago. The car is now accepted as an antique in the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) and Vintage Chevrolet Club of America (VCCA). I plan to start a partial restoration to make a nice driver to use in club functions. One of the first items I need to fix is a non-functioning rear quarter power window that has failed in the down position. I have a piece of Plexiglas in place as a temporary fix to keep the rain out.

I am relatively sure the problem is due to a motor failure. In the Fisher Body Manual the procedure for removing the regulator motor is described. One begins by removing the quarter glass assembly but according to step #3 the quarter glass assembly is removed by unscrewing the bolts and nut when the window is in the up position. My problem is that I don’t know how to get the window up when the motor isn’t working. Can you help me solve this problem? I hope that I don’t have to cut out part of the inner quarter panel to get the exposures I need. This would make a little job into a big one.


As you likely know, the manufacturers normally install all of the components that go inside the doors and between other body panels before the doors and body panels are fully assembled, making it quite easy upon initial assembly but very tricky to remove and reinstall afterward. While working on many different kinds of vehicles I have found that there is nearly always a way to get the parts out without cutting the body open.

I have never had the misfortune of having to change the rear window motor in a 1983 Cavalier so I can’t give you specific instructions. I will offer some general advice, however.

Try removing the hardware that secures the entire window/motor/regulator assembly to the car. This consists of two bolts near the top edge and a nut near the bottom. You may be able to lift the entire assembly out or, if not, perhaps you can raise it up high enough to reach the window attaching nuts and bolts through the small access hole found in the inner body panel. If all else fails, cut the inner panel open to gain easy access to the entire window assembly, make the needed repairs, and then fix the hole you cut by either welding the cut-out piece back in or fabricating a cover that bolts on and can be easily removed down the road if needed.