Anyone out there remember the old school window crank? It would take FOREVER to get the window up and down. Granted there are still some cars out there with manual windows, and one benefit to them is that they never fail!
Power windows on the other hand are more susceptible to failure. From the motor or regular to the window switches, there are more components that can break in the system. One that you can easily prevent from premature failure is the window switch – especially the front driver window.
The front driver window switch is an important one because it's also considered the master switch. It's responsible for operating all windows and some incorporate lock/unlock, power mirror adjustment, and/or child safety lock functions. That means the master power window switch can be costly to replace. Of all the power window switches in the car, it's the one that is used most often. Lastly, the switch is an electrical component and can easily be damaged if any water gets into in, corroding or ruining the connections.
Having said that, have you ever noticed where most master window switches are located? On the door handle or in the door panel itself. Water can travel along the switch and if it doesn't have a good seal or there's excessive water then the window switch is prone to fail. Keep in mind that when electrical components are located on the door panel, the water can at least run down the door trim. When the switch is located on the door handle, the water just sits on the handle/switch until it evaporates.
Water gets to the switch in a few unassuming ways. When it's raining out, you might mistakenly leave the window cracked open a bit. During the winter season, snow falls on the switch when you open the door without first brushing off the snow from the top of the door. Anytime you open your window, whether it be at a drive through, for a smoke, or to swipe a security card, there's opportunity for water to get in if it's raining or snowing outside.
So what to do? One thing to keep in mind the next time you roll down your window is to put your arm over the switch to cover it from any precipitation. It's not rocket science and doing this won't stop the switch from failing altogether... but it's food for thought and a nice habit to get into. At the very least it will help keep water from getting on the switch to a minimum.
Just a note – in Ontario, the front driver side window MUST be operative to pass a ministry safety inspection. Reason why? If your turn signals and brake lights don't work, you must be able to roll down the window and use hand/arm signals.