The first power windows began to appear in the 1950s, though until the 1970s, most people actually used a crank to roll a window up and down.
A power window allows an automobile window to be raised or lowered at the touch of a button. This is accomplished using a very powerful motor. Controls for the window are located on each door. In addition, in many vehicles, controls for all the windows are located on the driver’s side. Unfortunately, if the motor breaks, the window cannot be raised or lowered.
Power windows have experienced a variety of defects. In some cases, the defect involves the motor. In other circumstances, the defect involves the switch that activates the power window. Finally, power window defects can be caused by inferior materials or workmanship.
Power Window Motor: In this case, the window will actually freeze in place. In most vehicles, the defect seems to occur while the window is lowering or rising and freezes in place midway up. The window can actually fall off the tracks when this occurs.
Power Window Switch: During proper operation, in order to “roll” a power window up or down, someone must push a button. Unfortunately, sometimes this button can stick or is located in a place where it is accidentally pushed.
Power Window Construction: It has been documented that many power windows have contained inferior materials which have resulted in the window breaking. In some cases, the window doesn’t work properly. Other times, the window actually falls apart and can even shatter when the interior parts break.
The National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) has been significantly concerned about power window issues for decades. Since many of these incidents occur when the vehicle is not moving, many statistics are inaccurate. The NTSB has recommended power windows not be operational when the vehicle is off and that manufacturers include a reverse mode if something is obstructing the area (NIHS, 1972). According to the NHTSA, there are approximately 2,000 injuries per year and several deaths occur relating to power windows. In addition, at least 25 children have been killed over the past decade due to power windows.
Several examples of defective power windows are detailed below.
In 2008, General Motors (GM) and Toyota recalled more than half of a million cars due to defective power windows. In this case, bolts inside the window casing were breaking. This caused one of two things to occur. Either the window would not work, or the window would actually shatter when the part broke.
Volkswagen has experienced several power window recalls dating back to the 1996 recall involving the Jetta. In this case, the sheet metal in the door could potentially damage the wiring of the power window motor, spark and ignite, possibly resulting in a fire.
BMW has also experienced power window recalls. The anti-pinching devise in several vehicles did not function properly and could result in injury.
Those injured by defective power windows may wish to seek the assistance of a lawyer to explore the option of filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for pain, suffering or medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury. Though recalls are often implemented following a defective power window, litigation may be an option to receive damages if the product was not recalled in a timely manner or the company knew of the danger when the product was placed on the market.