Top critical review
Give Your New Regulator a Fighting Chance!
Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2015
I do think that this Dorman window regulator assembly is good value for money, of generally good quality, with good fitment to original parts, but I have given a 3-Star rating because it has a built-in defect that significantly limits its life expectancy.
If you're reading this, it's most likely because your regulator has failed, and the window dropped down inside the door. This has happened to me 4 times on the driver's window now. I've got pretty good at replacing them - about every 2 years on my 2003 Dakota. I can do the whole job in about 20 minutes as it is pretty straightforward. So the replacement is easy, and the cost is not too bad, but what really irritates me is the unpredictability of when the failure will happen. It always occurs at the most inconvenient time - you're on your way to work, just leaving on a road trip, hundreds of miles away from home, it just started raining, etc, etc. Not that there ever is a good time to be stuck with no side window.
My other major irritation is that these regulators always fail in the same way. The plastic 10-cent clip that retains the crimped ends of the drive cable in the window lift plate always fails at the top, which is where all the lifting force is exerted when the window is raised and then held in the closed position. From what I've read across the web, this is the failure that most others experience also.
As far as I'm concerned, it is inexcusable that such an obvious and widely reported defect has not been fixed by Dorman. Although their slick video touts identification of "failure modes" and "re-engineering of defective parts to improve design" they've had almost 10 years to fix this problem, and have not done so.
The plastic part that fails is one of the cheapest components of the regulator assembly, but of course when it fails you must replace the whole assembly. Any competent engineer could have figured out how to improve this - add metal reinforcement to the plastic clip and make it a 25 cent part, or even form the cable retainers from the lift plate pressing. I guess that at the end of the day, Dorman would prefer to sell you a new regulator every 2 years, rather than just the one...
So with my latest replacement regulator, I decided to spend a few minutes evaluating the problem to see if I could do anything to improve the "failure mode" (I'm not an engineer). The photos attached here describe what I did to make up a pair of aluminum support brackets for the cable retaining clip. I hope you will find this information useful, and try it out for yourself if you feel inclined. If you can remove and replace the regulator assembly yourself, the fabrication of these brackets should be a breeze.
UPDATE - September 2018
Wow, time flies! It's 3 years now since I modified my driver's door regulator cable clip. The other day I had a chance to check it while I had the door panel off for a speaker repair. It's already lasted 50% longer than the other 4 I previously replaced, and about a year ago I did the same modification to the driver's side rear regulator. Good news is that the clip looks just the same as when it was new. There are no cracks in the plastic, or distortion, or visible wear. Failure of this clip has become a non-issue in my opinion.
The rest of the regulator is looking good too. Cables and guides don't show any wear, and the motor action is still smooth and quiet. This is a good regulator unit once the clip issue is taken care of, and I expect to get at least another 5 years service from it.