No matter how well you maintain your C5, you're probably going to have to replace a window regulator or two before your ownership days are over. Yep, it's almost a right of passage on '97-'04 Corvettes, just like buying new rear tires, adding a column-lock bypass, and turning off the traction-control button before hitting the road. Don't believe it? We'll see you again when your window gets stuck halfway down in the middle of a rainstorm.
Do I seem bitter? That's because this recently happened to our very own '03 C5 Z06, in the middle of a torrential downpour, on the driver-side window. And it got stuck all the way down. For an hour-long drive home.
Once back in town, and with a really stylish garbage bag taped over the door, it was time to work on a replacement. After one look at the pricing, availability, and installation time of OEM units, well, let's just say we were set on seeing what the aftermarket had to offer. Luckily, the Corvette aftermarket is full of high-quality reproduction window regulators for the C5. In fact, Zip Products had the perfect set in stock for half the cost of OEM, with all the same functionality.
That's right, just $139.95 per side (PNs DR-584 and DR-585), and Zip was able to ship them out to us on the same day we ordered them. Compared with the OEM units at $299.99 each, Zip's regulators are essentially “buy one get one free,” and they even bolt directly in place of the stockers.
All that was left was to install them, so we partnered up with AntiVenom in Seffner, Florida, to get the job done. Greg Lovell, the shop's owner, has been installing regulators in C5s since 1998, and his crew has the job down to a science. In a little less than two-and-a-half hours, we were back on the road with functional windows, and a little cash left in our pockets.
01 The C5 Corvette window regulator system was designed as an all-in-one unit. It includes both window tracks, the clamping mechanisms, all of the required cabling, and the motor itself. It bolts inside the Corvette’s door, and you’ll need to remove the interior door panel to access it.
02 Working in the interior of a Corvette is always a challenge, but the C5 door panel comes apart quite easily if you’re both careful and a little “firm” from time to time. The first step is to remove the door-handle surround, which is simply clipped in place.
03 Next, gently pry up on the power-window/lock-switch assembly and separate it from the interior panel. Don’t pull too far, as you’ll need to disconnect the wiring from the underside before you can pull the assembly free.
04 There should be a small door-panel-screw cover here, which you’ll need to remove to gain access to these two T30 Torx bit screws. In the not-unlikely event that the panel is missing (ours was), you can always buy a new one from Zip for just under four bucks a side. The two T30 Torx bits unscrew, and then you’re ready to pull the panel.
05 Starting around the bottom of the door, lightly tug at the panel to get a feel for where the clips are. Using a long, flat screwdriver, gently pop the door clips out of the door itself, being careful not to break them or pull too hard on the interior panel. If you get stuck, try working it slowly along the bottom edge.
06 The top edge of the door panel slides into the top of the window channel, which means you’ll have to pull the bottom of the panel away from the door and then twist the entire panel up and out of the doorframe. You may get hung up on the speaker, so take your time and slowly work the panel out of the way.
07 Success! From here, you can see the areas where the interior panel clips to the door. (They’re the five little white dots that run alongside the bottom portion of the door and both sides.) Gently peel back the black sound-deadening material and get ready to remove the window.
08 A C5 Corvette’s window is held in place by two clamps, which are a part of the window-regulator assembly. These clamps sandwich the window itself to hold it in place.
09 To loosen the clips, simply loosen the window-clamp bolts. One bolt can be found toward the rear of the door (shown here), while the other is found toward the front. It’s best to have someone else hold the window while you loosen these bolts.
10 Finally, you can pull the window free from the door. It’s a good idea to have a place already set up where you can lay the glass; otherwise you may end up scratching or dropping it. Don’t do that!
11 With the glass out of the way, you can turn your attention to removing the regulators. Start by pulling the factory speakers out of the door. This will give you room to access the front window track and assembly.
12 Then, unbolt the rear (bottom) window-regulator mounting nut. This mounting point will allow you to adjust the new regulator later, so remember its location.
13 There are three bolts above the speaker area that hold the window-regulator motor in place. Remove these nuts with a 10mm socket and set them aside for later use.
14 Depending on the lighting, it can be difficult to see the lower mounting bolt, which goes in through the bottom of the door. There’s a small black cover you’ll have to take off, after which you can remove the nut with a 10mm socket.
15 Using the speaker hole you opened up earlier, reach inside the door panel and unclip the wiring that attaches to the window regulator. Lovell is a big buy, but he got his muscly forearm in there, so mere mortals shouldn’t have any trouble. It’s a bit tough to reach, though, so take your time.
16 At this point, you can pull the entire broken assembly out through the large opening at the back of the door. You won’t be reusing any of these parts, so feel free to take out any pent-up frustration on this mess of metal.
17 The Zip Products window regulator is an almost perfect replica of the factory unit, but it costs half as much and ships almost instantly. One part number per side gets you everything you need for a complete installation.
18 There’s really no perfect way to slide the new regulator in place, so just work it into the door however you feel most comfortable. Note, of course, that you’ll need the rear track in the right place and the motor itself facing the correct way.
19 The tracks bolt up using the factory holes and come with OEM-spec studs to make for a quick and easy swap. Here you can see the rear window track and window-clamp assembly installed in the passenger-side door.
20 The lower portion of the track is adjustable, which means you can simply get the nut snugged in place for now; you’ll probably need to adjust it later.
21 The motor assembly also lines up perfectly with the existing holes and uses the same hardware to bolt into place. You’ll want to tighten these nuts down snugly, making sure not to crack the inner door panel in the process.
22 With the regulator up, slide the OEM glass back in place, being careful not to scratch it on the way in. Line it up even with the rear of the window channel and tighten it down using the Zip-provided clamps. Not too tight: It is glass, after all.
23 Using all that cash you saved by buying the Zip parts, check the tightness of the window gaps around the window. You want the glass to close properly against the window seals, but you should still be able to pull the bill out of the gap.
24 If the fit is too loose or too tight, turn the bottom window-regulator screw to adjust the gap. Set it in and out, and against the window seals, until you are happy with the fitment. You may need to take a quick drive to verify a perfect seal.
25 And just like that, you’re done. Well, except for the other window…which you’re going to do right now, aren’t you? vette