Repairing 1999-2004 Honda Odyssey Rear window actuator

Member-Contributed Guide

Member-Contributed Guide

An awesome member of our community made this guide. It is not managed by iFixit staff.

Quit replacing the rear window actuators at ~$200 to $300 each time they fail.

  • Author: Marvin
  • Time required: Actuator modification 30 to 45 minutes for both. Removal and reinstallation time will vary with experience ~1.5 hours each side
  • Difficulty: Difficult

The actuator failure occurs due to faulty design. Apparently replacement actuators are no better than the originals as they continue to fail. I did this to my Odyssey several years ago after both rear window actuators failed within months of each other. I have not had a single failure since applying this fix.

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Edit Step 1 Rear window actuator  ¶ 

  • Download attached PDF.

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

For more information, check out the 1999-2004 Honda Odyssey device page.

Required Tools

Soldering Station

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6-in-1 Screwdriver

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Large Needle Nose Pliers

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Comments Comments are onturn off

Down load didn't work...I would really like to have the answer to this question. PDF does not provide any information...if there are links inside the PDF they don't work either. The key question is how do you remove the panel that covers the Honda Odyssey Rear window actuator?....on a 2002 to be specific?

KHM, · Reply

Worked great!! I only broke 1 clip getting the panels off. That meant I paid the dealer about $1.50 instead of the $300 they wanted to fix it.

Grunt, · Reply

This mod is done to new/working actuators, correct? Not ones that have already failed.

gradh, · Reply

The mod can be done to failed or non-failed actuators. The part that fails is bypassed. It was primarily developed to repair failed actuators.

Marvin, · Reply

Thank you so much Marvin, you are a genius! I have been looking for a fix since i bought my van a couple of years ago. I found your link last friday and I fixed them on saturday. they work great. So many people have been ripped off because of this. Mine work like a champ. I bought 2 light sockets for the bulbs you recommended and soldered them in so if they quit again i can just change the bulbs.

I cant thank you enough for sharing your idea.

Roger

Roger Jones, · Reply

Man, I have not tried it yet; but from the instructions it looks like it will work.

There is just one word for the author of this: "ExtraordinarySuperSmartGiftGivingGenius"

Thank you very much

Koki, · Reply

Both my windows seemed to fail at the same time. I hear clicking when switches are activated and sometime windows will open slightly. I have skills to apply the fix but have no idea where the actuators locate or how to access them. Can anyone point me in the right direction. Preston 20120912

Preston, · Reply

The actuators are behind the plastic side panels located underneath the windows. These side panels are held in place with snaps, clips and screws. Take your time and go slow until you find all the clips and screws. If you get in a hurry or force parts they may break. Replacement clips and snaps are dealer only parts and are thus expensive to replace.

Marvin,

Many thanks. I ended up drilling small holes in the metal tabs to ge good contact for the wires. It worked great.

Jay, · Reply

Could not get the step-by-step info to download ???

Bob, · Reply

Look under the FILES tab on the left side of the page. You can download the document from that location.

Marvin,

hi,i did what you write only one of the wire i faild to solder it to ptc thermstor,and the window work and the light not illuminate?i used the bulb 194ll and it's socket

maher, · Reply

If you followed the instructions in the PDF document, you would have 2 not one wire soldered across the PTC Thermistor. You must have one wire soldered across each side of the Thermistor for this fix to work. Do not solder both wires to the same side of the Thermistor. The lamp must be wired in parallel with the Thermistor. As shown in the photos, the Thermistor has two gold/brass colored leads. One lead is connected to the actuator motor and the other lead is part of the plug on the actuator. If you are unsure of what you are doing you should get help from someone that has experience electrical or electronics experience and can solder small electronic parts.

Marvin,

yes, i solderd each wire on each bar,one on the lober bar and the other on the upper bar,and the motor open the window but the lamp still not illuminate .

how can i upload the picture so you can look if my work is ok or not?

thank you

maher, · Reply

The lamp will only light very dimly during normal operation. If you stall out the actuator the lamp will light brighter. If you are watching the lamp at the instant power is applied it may also light brighter and then dim down as the motor comes up to speed. The easiest way to test these actuators out of the vehicle is by using a 12V gel cell battery and a pair of Radio Shack clip leads. You simply reverse polarity of the clip leads to change the direction the actuator runs.

Marvin,

thank you , i will do that and i will let you know

thank you again

maher, · Reply

THANK YOU Marvin you are genius it work now without the socket,so I think with socket it work also but with out illuminate the light

any how you have the favor

maher, · Reply

what will happen if i connect the motor direct with out the ptc thermistor?

maher, · Reply

Did you read the pdf document in its entirety? The purpose of the PTC Thermistor and what can happen without it is explained in the very first paragraph. The lamps replace the function of the thermistor. Do not attempt to use the actuators without this current limiting protection unless you want to risk a vehicle fire!

Marvin,

Instead of a small bulb you could use one or more resistors to give you 50 Ohm resistance with a minimum 5 watt rating at 14 Volts.

It would work the same way as the posted solution because the "fix" works by bleeding off some of the power that otherwise goes into heating the PTC in a motor stall condition. It would be easier to solder a resistor compared to a bulb and probably cheaper too.

The only bad part of using a resistor would be you wouldn't have a visual check to see if you wired it correctly. You would have to feel if it got hot when power is applied with the motor stalled.

Trevor, · Reply

The only issue I have with the posted solution is the un-likely event of the switch being continuously actuated for a long period of time. The bulb will dissipate the energy in light and heat, but since the procedure asks to shrink wrap it the light energy gets absorbed by the shrink-wrap and turned into heat (and degrades the shrink-wrap). This could cause a fire. If high quality shrink wrap is used, the bulb may burn out quickly and the original condition would present itself again. (during normal usage this would never be a problem)

A resistor would be easier to wire without all the shrink-wrap and therefore less chance of a fire as resistors are designed to dissipate energy at their rated capacity.

Trevor, · Reply

Instead getting and wiring two bulbs you could get the following. A two pack wire-wound resistor at radioshack for $2.50. That would be enough to fix both windows.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index....

Trevor, · Reply

By the way, the root cause of the issue is not the PTC. The root cause of the issue is high load on the actuator motor. This is most likely from dirty, old, and/or frozen window seals.

Marvin,

The posted procedure is very well documented and I love the detail you gave. I'm an engineer and have encountered a similar issue on the Ford Expedition 3rd Row Power seats. I'm going to try this type of "fix" on that issue to help that PTC cool faster.

May I suggest you add something to your posted procedure for this though? Just a quick note at the beginning something to the effect of:

"Before opening your trim panels, try applying silicone grease to as much of the window seal as you can and clean the mating surface of the glass. Re-test to see if the windows now function more normally. Do not hold the buttons down for more than 5 seconds if the window doesn't open."

Trevor, · Reply

Trevor; The root cause of the failure IS the PTC. Dirty, sticking seals etc may help accelerate the process but ultimately the PTC is not up to the task over the long haul. As an electrical engineer for over 40 years I am very familiar with the failure modes of PTC's. One of the problems with these devices is their notorious instability with repeated heating cycles, especially when they get really warm as they will in this application. They have a tendency to increase their resistance. I explained this in the pdf document. You also talk about using a resistor. There is a reason I and the manufacturer did not do this (I also explained that in the pdf). A PTC resistor (a lamp or an actual PTC resistor) exhibits a low resistance when cold and a high resistance when hot. The low cold resistance allows for a high inrush current to start the motor and the high resistance prevents a motor burnout if the motor is stalled.

Marvin,

Due to the motor resistance, the lamp never gets bright/hot enough to ever cause a fire from the heat shrink tubing even if the motor was stalled until you ran the car battery down! Heat shrink takes a very high temperature to actually burn and is very flame resistant. (Check the UL listings for that material, that is why I used it.)

Marvin,

If you used a fixed resistance that was low enough to start the motor and provide enough torque, it would be so low it may not protect the motor in a stalled condition. That is the reason for a PTC or a lamp. LOW resistance cold, HIGH resistance hot. Lamps and heater coils have been used for current limiting for many years. Their use goes all the way back to vacuum tube equipment. (They called them ballast resistors.)

Marvin,

The resistor I'd selected was something available from radio-shack that would have similar characteristics to the lamp you'd selected. I was thinking you wired the lamp up in parallel to the PTC. If instead you bypassed it, I've mis-understood your fix. I was thinking the PTC would still pass the current for most uses if the mechanism and the seals were refurbished and working well. Isn't it true that the resistor (of whatever type) would then dissipate some of the energy while allowing some power to flow to the motor.

I was not thinking the PTC would be so degraded that it wouldn't even be able to handle the initial inrush current. If that's true then that would explain why my windows won't open even when the mechanism is getting manual assistance.

So should I just get new actuators and upgrade them with this fix before installing?

Trevor, · Reply

Trevor, once again again, a resistor from Radio Shack or anywhere else will not behave like a PTC! A resistor maintains a FIXED resistance. A PTC, like a lamp, varies resistance with temperature! As the motor load increases toward a stall, the lamp brightness increases, resistance increases and this limits the current to prevent possible motor burnout or fire. The PTC in these actuators fails by increasing resistance to the point the actuator motor will not run under load. I did parallel the PTC and that does effectively bypass it because the PTC resistance increased to the point that it would not run the actuator. I paralleled the PTC because it provided the necessary electrical connections to the motor and the wiring harness. It will pass some current but for all practical purposes it only serves as a mechanical termination point for the lamp. The PDF document I wrote explains most of this in detail.

Marvin,

What is the purpose of the PTC? I'm asking, because the PTC on my Honda disintegrated while I was soldering the new leads to it.

Can it be bypassed? Just direct-wiring to the leads coming from the front switch?

eric, · Reply

Eric, please read the above response to Trevor. I explained all of this in the original document and again in the response to Trevor. To destroy this during soldering you must have been using way too much heat or you were heating it far too long. Electrically you don't need it but it does make wiring easier if it remains intact. I guess you could solder the wires to the gold PTC tabs and then epoxy the PTC back together. This will restore the ability to use the motor and the wiring harness plugs after you complete the modification.

Marvin,

Eric, please read the above response to Trevor. I explained all of this in the original document and again in the response to Trevor. To destroy this during soldering you must have been using way too much heat or you were heating it far too long. Electrically you don't need it but it does make wiring easier if it remains intact. I guess you could solder the wires to the gold PTC tabs and then epoxy the PTC back together. This will restore the ability to use the motor and the wiring harness plugs after you complete the modification. Just make certain that the two gold PTC tabs are not shorted after they are glued.

Marvin,

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