Feature Fail: Chrysler Power Windows

Feature Fail: Chrysler Power Windows

There are few things in the automotive industry more comical than early-2000s Chrysler cost-cutting. Virtually every car the brand released at the time includes at least a few items where Chrysler trimmed a few pennies on the theory that “they’ll never notice this!”

Examples, therefore, are easy to find. But no example is as egregious as power windows on the Dodge Neon and Jeep Liberty.

The Neon is the best of the two. In order to make the car as cheap as possible – which would then become even cheaper with legendary incentives – Chrysler didn’t offer power rear windows on the Neon. But here’s the ridiculous bit: it did offer power front windows. So no matter how much money you spent on a Neon (including the high-performance Neon SRT-4), there was absolutely no way to get your rear windows to roll down with anything other than a manual crank.

With the 2002 Liberty, Jeep realized it couldn’t get away with not offering power windows. So it did the next best thing from the brand’s clearly influential cost-cutting department: it placed the switches on the center console.

This is actually worse than it sounds. In front, the Liberty had four window switches mounted in between the seats. That’s fairly normal for a lot of automakers who are too cheap to do two window setups for right- and left-hand-drive cars. But in back, Jeep said “screw the doors!” and put two more unlit and unmarked window switches at the base of the center storage bin. That meant if you wanted to roll your window down, you had to hunch forward and feel around in the dark until you grabbed the switch. Here’s my question: how much more would it have cost to relocate the switches to the doors?

Really, it’s a wonder Chrysler went into bankruptcy.

17 Responses to “ “Feature Fail: Chrysler Power Windows”

  1. cgjeep says:

    Didn’t matter where the switches were on a Liberty. They wouldn’t work for long. Interior redesign in 05 or 06 put the rear switches on the doors.

    • Doug DeMuro says:

      Hah! So true. So very true.

    • PDQ says:

      Was it the switches that failed or the window motors? If the switches, I wonder if Chrysler was using the same POS switches that Ford used on my ’99 Ranger. The driver’s express-down switch has never failed. But all of the other window switches and power lock switches have failed at least once.

  2. tentacles says:

    One of the older Audi S4 or RS4s also didn’t have a rear power window, because fuck you I’m a VW.

  3. HaloNHorns2002 says:

    I had a 1st gen Neon (stop laughing) and I always thought it was ridiculous that they didn’t offer power rear windows. And a 3-speed automatic? Really?!? Would an overdrive gear have added THAT much cost?

  4. becauseCAR says:

    Most of this cost-cutting was due to Mercedes ownership at the time. Jurgen Schrempp wanted to make good on his investment and decided to implement at Chrysler the cost-cutting measures that were going on at Mercedes. For instance, the W210 E-Class of the same period had all the window switches in the center console in order to save money as well (apart from other maddening cost-cutting decisions).

    The best part is the location of the window switches in the PT Cruiser where they put the window switches in between the air vents on the dashboard in the center. Seriously, I never understood how Chrysler could make a good car so bad over time. Thank God Marchionne cares much more than Schrempp and Zetsche ever did.

  5. Mike Livshiz says:

    Haha, everyone loves to hate Chrysler… Cause it’s so damn easy. My brother works for a major tier 1 automotive supplier. This is how he described a typical reaction from each of the big three to a newly discovered problem; GM: “OK, how do we fix this problem?” Ford: “Holy shit! We need to fix this problem NOW!” Chrysler: “We have that part on our cars?”

    • Doug DeMuro says:

      I actually laughed out loud at this. So true. Poor Chrysler – and it’s still like that, clearly.

  6. Land Ark says:

    I briefly dated a girl who drove a yellow Neon SXT. I was dumbfounded by the manual rear window thing. I had no idea it was the same in the SRT4.
    I would have given her a real hard time about it but she was too hot to be dating me so I didn’t want to take any chances.
    Of course inside the center stack surround was the same yellow as the body color. The extravagance!

  7. Vlad says:

    I remember reading somewhere that Dodge couldn’t put power rear windows into the Neon because of the rear door design. It didn’t have the room to accommodate the electric motors.

    • Doug DeMuro says:

      Wouldn’t surprise me at all, although in doing research for this piece I actually discovered there’s a retrofit! Seems like it isn’t worth it to me…

  8. Acd says:

    At least they didn’t put the switches on the roof like an Alfa Milano. And pushing the Chrysler switches generally results in the window actually moving unlike the Alfa.

  9. David Schaffnit says:

    Actually, here in Germany BMW and Mercedes both used to “offer” most models with crank up windows in the back! I do not think it has been offered in several years now but even in the early 2000 models it was found. In the Mercedes the E-Klasse was so equipped and in the BMW lineup I think I even saw a 5 series with the cranks in the back. Definitely offered on the 3 – series.

    A penny saved…..

  10. Tyler says:

    Even the new Ford Focus has crank rear windows on the base trims.

  11. Jay says:

    In my sister’s Liberty, the rear window completely collapse inside the door.

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