Power Window Puzzle: Do They Work When the Car is Off

Do power windows work when the car is off

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I noticed the other day that with the car shut off and the key out of the ignition that I could still operate the power windows for a little while.

It does it only once in a while and never for more than 30 seconds, and I don’t have any problems with the battery so I wonder if it’s just a quirk of some kind of feature built into the car.

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I did a little research to see if the power windows work when the car is off.

Here is what I  found

Typically, power windows will not work when the car is off. Power windows are powered by the car’s electrical system and rely on the battery and alternator to function.

When the car is turned off, the power source is cut off and the windows will not operate.

Do power windows work when the car is off

In some cases, some vehicles may have a feature that allows the power windows to be operated for a short period of time after the car has been turned off, but this is not common. It’s always best to consult the owner’s manual for specific information about the vehicle’s power window operation.

Powered windows, as we all know, are for convenience. Certainly, they’d require power to be operated, else they’d be manually operated.

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Having powered windows brings in a load convenience as in not only reducing the effort in opening or closing but also giving the driver a convenience to close or open all or any of them at his choice with minimal disruption while driving.

If the windows have an ‘anti pinch’ feature, they’re safer too as they won’t close if they encounter an obstruction like a child’s hands or a face peeping out and so on.

Until a “hybrid” model where both manual effort and power can be used to operate the windows, I guess we’d have to live with those few inconvenient moments when we want to open the windows but the power is switched off.

Many cars do not have the option of using the power windows when your car is off. However, some luxury cars do have a short time – few seconds(30-45 secs) to be precise – whereby one can operate the windows though the power is switched off.

Also Read: Why do my car windows go down by themselves

Power windows still work without the keyes, you can use the power windows for up to 30-45  secs. after taking the key out of the ignition.

What are these Power Windows?

Power windows raise or lower a vehicle’s window with a button. 

Easy, convenient, and smooth compared to manually wound windows. 

Since this uses electric motors, the driver can control all four windows and lock the other three. Child safety may benefit.

Most cars’ power windows don’t work when turned off. Automatic and distributed control may cause jamming injuries.

You can continue to use your power windows after you turn your key to the OFF position and remove it. 

Additionally, you can continue to use your power sunroof, radio, and electrical outlets. 

If your vehicle is equipped with an electronic vehicle information centre (EVIC), these features will continue to function for an additional ten minutes after you turn off the engine.

If your vehicle does not have an EVIC, these features will operate for 45 seconds after you turn off the engine. This feature is disabled when any door is opened.

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Powered windows started way back and were a feature that shouted ‘luxury’ and ‘exclusivity’.

By about the 1970’s they started to appear in more a more cars & having electric windows was a big feature, almost something to boast about.

You could even get kits to electrify your plebian, manual, windy-knob windows..

As with just about all things automotive, what started as a luxury feature (air-con, central-locking. power steering) became standard, to the extent that people generally regard a car without these feature as being cheap, substandard.

It was a luxury convenience feature that became standard. It is useful to be able to lower window in other door from the driver seat, but really? A/c is better…

Yes, it can be inconvenient to have to switch the ignition back on to raise the window you forgot to raise before you switched the car off.

But it’s hardly the end of the world & fact is, many car have a convenience feature to close the windows. Keep the remote lock-button pressed and on many cars, any lowered windows will raise themselves.

Yes, it can even be dangerous if you cannot otherwise exit the car, but a door so badly damaged that you can’t open it will also probably have a broken window or one that couldn’t be lowered manually anyway.

Also, just about every car I have encountered has a mechanical door opening system. 

If you can’t open it, it is usually because it’s either damaged by the (assumed?) accident or you’re doing something wrong.

There are exceptions, such as sliding doors operated by motors, but in general, getting out of an otherwise undamaged, electrically disabled car shouldn’t be difficult.

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How do car power windows work?

Apart from the standard feature of rolling up and down the windows with the touch of a button, power windows incorporate several unique features that make them more user-friendly and convenient.

These characteristics can be summarised as follows:

Automatic Down: This is a feature that almost all power windows include.This feature enables the user to completely collapse the windows by simply tapping the button once. 

The system employs a circuit to determine the length of time the switch was held down.

When the switch is depressed for less than a second, the window descends completely to the limit switch and stops. 

If the button is held down for an extended period of time, the circuit calculates the time and immediately stops rolling down the window when the button is released.

Automatic Up: This feature is not widely used due to the inherent complications. The automatic up function is identical to the automatic down function.

While the window is being raised, anything that gets in the way, such as a child’s hand or a pet dog or cat’s paw, is very likely to injure them.

Because the window will not stop until it reaches the limit switch, it introduces the possibility of an accident.

The only way around this issue is to incorporate another circuit into the system that can monitor the window’s roll-up speed. 

When the speed of the vehicle is reduced due to an obstruction, the circuit restores power to the motor and the window drops.

As previously stated, power windows can  operate  when the vehicle’s ignition is turned off for 30-45 secs only. 

However, some vehicles include a courtesy power supply that supplies power to the window circuit even when the engine is turned off.

In the event that you forget to roll up your windows, this feature prevents you from having to restart your ignition just to pull the windows up.

However, the power window systems found in modern automobiles are quite advanced technologically. 

Nowadays, the majority of advanced and high-end vehicles feature multiple powered components, such as power windows, power doors, and power ORVMs (Outside Rear View Mirrors).

In such cases, automobile manufacturers have a difficult time condensing all the wires into one.That is why all wires are consolidated into a single module, allowing for the monitoring of all controls.

Due to the fact that all wires are consolidated into a single module, power is transmitted directly to the central wire module and then to all four windows at the driver’s push of a button.

Also Read: How to retain my cars resale value? 7 Nifty Tips to consider

Final Thought

Do you think  roll-up windows better than power ones?
I’ve stopped my car, turned off the ignition, removed my seatbelt, removed the key, and started to climb out only to realise I forgot to wind up the window.

Turning the handle a few times solves the problem with a manual winder. With the electrical version, you have to find your keys, climb back into the car to turn on the ignition, and then push a button to close the window.

Manual windows are easier.

If you have an accident and the door jams, you can still escape with a manual window winder. Electric windows won’t work if the engine dies.

Power windows rock. Positives abound. Until they break. Then fixing all the parts is costly. But that’s true of most modern cars, right?

Everything is powered: windows, locks, trunk, sunroof, radio antenna. Electronics dominate the dash. Analog gauges are digital. Radio, navigation, speed control, A/T, fuel injection, etc.

No more simple, repairable cars! Even tuning a motorcycle now requires a computer.

About Author: James Haines

James Haines is an avid traveler across Australia (mostly on road trips) and a car specialist by occupation. The perfect combo for our cars for road trips

James is a motor mechanic and Luxe Car detailing expert based in Melbourne, Australia.

Know more about the Author

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