Here is a piece of automotive trivia you may not know. The first power window was introduced in the 1940 Packard 180 Series. One year later Ford followed suit on the Lincoln Custom, and Cadillac installed them on their limousines shortly after that.
So for all of you who cranked those windows up and down well into the 80’s and 90’s, they have, actually, been around for quite some time.
Interestingly, the idea for power windows started from the idea of having power assist on convertibles to retract the tops. From that technology it was not much of a leap to the retractable window. The earlier power windows used a hydraulic system and were actually called the Hydro-Lectric system for Buicks during the 40’s and 50’s.
The emphasis shifted to electrically powered windows in 1956 with the Continental Mark II; in 1960 the Cadillac Fleetwood came standard with the same type of powered window.
So, how do they work? Powered windows usually can’t be operated unless the engine is running, a drawback from the earlier hydraulic systems which could operate and did not need electricity from the motor. In the 1980’s a new feature was introduced: the express-down and express-up feature, meaning that one touch of the window button and the window would go all the way up or all the way down, eliminating the necessity to hold the button down.
By 2008 almost all cars manufactured had the power window feature, eliminating hand cranking completely. Only the 2008 Audi RS4, sold in Europe, still had the hand-crank feature.
Regarding safety, there have been some lawsuits related to children deaths because of the power feature. Time will tell if there becomes a more safety-oriented feature that will be child-proof.
This is really a very simple mechanism and easy to replace should you be one who does car repair yourself. Simply go to any reliable salvage yard, check your manufacturer manual and specs, and pick one up for cents on the dollar. The same can be said for other replacement auto parts that are easy to replace, like wheels, batteries, radiators and brakes. Why pay more when you can get perfectly functioning used parts for much less?
If you have a friend or relative who is handy with car repair, then by all means tackle the bigger jobs as well. Replace transmissions and engines; buy with confidence at salvage yards and save big bucks in the process.