Tech Story - October 2004

Electric Window Installation in a VW Beetle (or Baja, or probably most VW's)

Here's a crash course in installing electric windows in a VW Beetle. I have done two so far, one for my Baja and one for another guys beetle. I bought both kits from a place in Brisbane called Autostrada, mine cost $375, and the other one cost $330 nearly a year later. 

I tried to find some info on Autostrada. It is a weird little place, and actually a distributor, not a retail shop, however you can still buy from them. I found a website that I think is their's, . Go there and search for "electric windows". At the time of typing this they were selling a SPAL kit for $409, I think my original kit in my Baja was the SPAL one. There is an email contact on their website.

The kits were very similar. Below are various bits of the kit...

plugs.jpg (54280 bytes)
The box, instructions, various door plugs to plug the old winder hole, and a T-bar spanner to use as a temporary window winder

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The electric winder. This kit uses the original glass winding mechanism, and simply fits onto the original winder spline. The kit comes with plastic adaptors to adapt from virtually any car's spline pattern to the electric winder.

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A series of bolt spaces, weird brackets, bolts, nuts, and two window switches that illuminate at night.

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A wiring loom, waterproof plugs for the motors, grommets, heat shrink tubing, heaps of screws and some steel mounting brackets.

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This is the motor end. On this kit it connects to the winder end by the rectangular flexible cable. On my Baja's kit it was slightly different and connected via two round cables, again flexible. Not much different. Some of the grommets fit into the brackets to act as vibration and sound dampers.

So the first thing to do is to remove the stock winder, and then unbolt where it mounts to the door at the two M6 bolts. Now if you mount the electric winder straight in the stock VW winder spline, the whole mechanism will stick out from the door. You won't be able to get the door panel on, and it will look kinda silly. So what I did is try to offset the whole VW winder spline further into the door. That way the whole thing fits behind the VW door panel.

In order to do that you need to do some cutting of the door, unless you are a contortionist.

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Shows where I chose to cut the door to mount everything behind the door skin. What you need to cut will greatly vary on what model VW you have.

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Then trial fit the mechanism into the door. I aim to have the motor at the bottom of the door.

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Here you can see the electric winder had been slid over the stock VW winder spline. The various adaptors get held into the electric winder by using some small screws. The final adaptor then screws onto the stock VW splined winder using the old winder screw or something similar. The probem that I had with this particular kit was that the head was too wide, and needed clearancing to use the stock VW bolts pattern.

marking holes.JPG (42714 bytes)
You can see I have offset the whole winder mechanism back, so the stock VW splined winder shaft will be flush with the door skin. Here I am marking the electric winder so I can clearance it for the bolts.

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You can see I simply notched the head to clear the bolts. I also use two longer bolts (longer than the stock ones) that same in the kit.

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You can also play with the spacers and other weird bits that come in the kit. You need to find a combination of spaces that let you bolt everything the right offset behind the door skin.

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Once you've chosen your bolts and spaces, bolt the thing in. Next part, mounting the motor.

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For the motor I use the brackets that come with the kit, and try to bolt to whatever is nearby. The brackets are designed to screw into the flange of the motor at almost any angle you want, just screw them on using the little screws supplied. Bend the brackets to pickup a couple of point on the door. Use the rubber vibration/noise isolators at these bolting points, to prevent undue noise when operating.

door mounted.JPG (76255 bytes)
Then your whole door will look something like this.

door mounted passenger.JPG (80944 bytes)
This car was weird in that the passenger door was different to the drivers door. It has no metal bracket in the door nearby, so I just screwed a few winder kit brackets together to make it long enough to reach the door skin. Looks weird, but works fine.

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Don't forget to stick some kind of plastic on the inside of the door to waterproof it. Try and put the motor on the dry side of the plastic, although I think it's waterproof.

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Then run the wires from the door to the car however you want. This car was pretty rough, so I ran the wires through some grommets with the heat shrink wrap over top.

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I chose to mount my switches in the center of the car (just above the stereo), that way the driver or passenger can do both windows. It also simplifies the wiring

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Because I am lazy I am running the plugs that came with the kit, to hide the old winder hole. I cover the plug to match the door panel. If I get really really bored I will make new door panels with no winder hole.

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