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The Window Regulator can be electric or manual. Its basic function is to control the up and down motions of your side windows. This literally allows the driver or passenger to control whether their particular window is open, closed or partially open.
The Window Regulator in the manual version is made up of a worm gear, several spur gears, linkages and a mechanical plate and bar to support the glass. Using a hand crank the driver or passenger can lower or raise the side window.
The Window Regulator in the electric version, also called power or automatic regulator basically does the same thing, but it does it using electricity instead of a hand crank. Using the electric regulator simply requires the pushing of a button. This button then sends the worm gear and spur gears into motion and the plate and bar raise and lower the glass/window.
It is very common for the Window Regulator to wear out due to constant use. The gears wear down and sometimes due to severe weather the window can come out of the plate and bar that support it. Replacing a manual regulator is much less expensive than replacing an electric one. Often times you can find very cheap Window Regulators in junk yards check there before buying a new one!