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I was watching a teenager try to remove the window crank from his first car the other day, and it struck me that there are folks out there who’ve never suffered through it before.  For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, let me assure you that you won’t need the above tool in most cases.

Ah, the old window-crank removal game — it can be super-frustrating and time-consuming, however I benefited from a cantankerous mechanic taking pity on me about 17 years ago, and I will now pass that knowledge on to you.  When I did the procedure this weekend the entire thing was over and done with before anyone could grab a camera, so these pics are some I found at ColoradoFans.com.

The first order of business:  grab a screwdriver and wedge it between the door panel and crank. There’ll often be a plastic disc in between there as well as a clip. You may not be able to see the clip very well, or at all in some cases.

If you can see the clip, start stuffing a rag in the space where the clip is.  If you can’t see it, make a guess which side of the disc the clip is on. If you’re wrong the worst that’ll happen is you’ll have to repeat this.  No harm done.

Now using a flossing or shoe-shine motion (whichever analogy you prefer) work the rag back and forth, applying a little pressure. Most of the time the horseshoe clip is facing with the prongs down toward the handle, in which case you’ll want to work the rag around so the rag is hitting that part of the shaft.  But sometimes it’s the other way, and you’ll need to spin the rag around and work that side of the crank.

If everything goes well you might hear a tiny pop.  You might be rewarded with the clip flying loose. Or you might hear nothing. In any case, try and remove the crank. If it doesn’t come loose, try again on the other side of the plastic disc or the reverse side of the shaft.

Note: Don’t lose the clip. You’ll need that to put the crank back on.

Installation is pretty simple as well.  Just reassemble the crank/clip/disc and position the clip so it’s stuck on the crank in the slots but the prongs don’t go in them. Carefully position the crank in place and nudge the clip home with a screwdriver once it’s seated.

I’m sure there are situations that might require the actual removal tool (perhaps some friendly gear-heads reading this will fill in the specifics), but I’ve never used one and this method seems pretty universal.

Window Crank Removal [Colorado Fans]
Another Removal Article [Focus Hacks]
Street Pricing [Google]


42 Responses to How-To: Remove A Window Crank The Easy Way

  1. fred says:

    I’m betting that most kids now have power windows.
    But back when I was a kid working on a 60’s car – I remember my KD 431 spring clip remover – and their #2330 tool that help with reinstallation of tricky ones that wanted to pop out of the slot.

  2. Adam R says:

    Whenever I had to remove a window crank I always used a spring hook tool. The hook was small enough to reach in between the crank and the door panel and the other side had a notched pusher that could be used to reinstall when I was done working inside the door. The bonus is they are cheap, you can usually find them for a buck or less at electronics stores, flea markets, or the different shows at the fair grounds.

  3. Steve W says:

    When I did this back in the ’70s the splined stud had a chamfer on the end. All I had to do was put the clip all the way on the crank and knock it on the shaft, it just popped right on.

  4. Shopmonger says:

    What is a window crank? HAA HAAAA HAA just kidding. When restoring cars we use needle nose pliers. But the rag protecting vital
    “bling” is good idea

  5. BC says:

    The tools like the one in the first picture are definitely the easiest way I’ve found to pull the window crank on a vehicle. It’s been at least 10 years since I’ve had to do it, but by god, the tool is still in my toolbox.

    For $4, totally worth it. You’ll spend less time driving to AutoZone to pick one up.

    @SteveW, every one I’ve ever done was that way. Slide the clip onto the crank handle, get the handle angle right, and give it a smack.

  6. jim says:

    It was a lot easier for me on my last crank-window car. I just unscrewed the Philips head screw in the center of the crank and pulled it off.

  7. Brau says:

    Funny, I’ve always found pulling them off, with a hook or needle nose, much easier than trying to align a tool and push it off.

  8. Jim K. says:

    Wow, haven’t had to do this in awhile. I’ve done this several ways including the screwdriver and rag flossing method. IMHO the tool is often worth the money as BC says, at least worth the $1.50 I paid back in the day at the flea market.

  9. Lojiko says:

    Thanks for the tip! The Ford Focus window crank may be a little harder to get off than the one pictured as it’s a little shorter than the one in the photo. Otherwise, great advice … I dugg this.

  10. Tim Collier says:

    I have been looking for a long time for this information. I tried the towel tool and to my suprise it worked beautifully. Trouble is, there was no pin or clip at all. Therefore to replace does it simply push on? 1976 Chevy Cheyenne pickup…

    Many Thanks

  11. tim from oztralia says:

    Thanks very much for publishing this!

    I went to buy the tool and my store (called supercheap ffs) wanted $USD13!
    replacing door speakers shouldn’t mean 1/3rd budget goes on a piece of generic brand metal.

    so I’ll sure as hell try this method.

    [1995 Hyundai Excel/Accent) everything is plastic so i gotta be careful!]

  12. J D Landon says:

    Forget the tool use the rag, it’s super slick. Thanks a lot.

  13. Tate says:

    Just used the method to take off the door pannel of my 1999 Ford Escort. I’m installing power door locks and a keyless entry system. When it says “Easy” it is the truth. It took me less than 10 minutes to take off all 4 of my window cranks. I would recommend this article to everyone. The pictures are a plus too.

  14. jason says:

    Man I love you haha. It took me 3 hours of trying to get the door handle off of my car. I have never been so mad and irritated in my life. And then i found this site, move a rag back and forth between the handle and door panel, and thats all it took. Thank you so much.

  15. bendodge says:

    My experience with a Ford 1998 E350 15 passenger van was totally different. There was no wire clip at all.

    The crank is two parts: an exterior pretty plastic shell and the load-bearing crank underneath. I used a flathead to pop the plastic shell off where you did in photo #2. I then rotated the plastic shell (which was still attached at the round knob end) away so that I could remove a Torx bolt from the center.

    Then I just pried and pulled till it came off the splines. Maybe I didn’t have to remove the Torx from the center, but I don’t see what else it could have been doing.

    • Tony says:

      Yes. I had a ’98 F150 “tradesman” model. Rubber mat flooring, manual locks and windows. Ford finally came up with an easy way to remove the crank, (after 80 years) Just pop cover, remove torx and pull from spline. Supa easy!!

  16. raul says:

    I have a 1965 Falcon. The window cranks are not like the ones shown on the How to: site. The handles are solid. The back is brass and seems to be 1 piece.Some where I thouht I saw something about something like a gear puller. Can yo tell me how?

  17. Zeromus says:

    Great info. The plastic retainer clips on my window dry-rotted and snapped today, and I had to pull out the door interior…wasnt sure how to remove the crank so I consulted the net, and here I am. Took a minute, but it worked like a champ. Thanks for that!

  18. Ricky says:

    Thanks for this tip, I own an 08 chevy silverado single cab that still has a hand crank and had to take the panel off to upgrade the garbage speakers to a kicker setup.

    I found the easiest/quickest way was to get a flathead screwdriver to hold one end of the clip then pull straight down with the rag on the other end, took about 15 seconds. I wouldn’t have thought of this if not for the article.

  19. Dan says:

    Worked awesome, thanks a ton!

  20. dave says:

    excellent this worked well i was able to complete the job in one go instead of waiting to try and obtain a tool and worrying about theft from my car as i had a plastic bag over the window many thanks

  21. Bryan says:

    That rag trick worked great. Thanks!

  22. Marla says:

    Worked great! A lot easier than I thought it would be.

  23. Cody Luther says:

    Your the best man! Took me all of 1 minute to remove the crank handle from my 1992 gmc. Can’t thank you enough for your post.

  24. bryan g says:

    A thousand thank yous from me and my no-frills 08 GMC sierra. I’d ask u to man-marry me but I fear what may be behind the sorcery. Seriously, thanks.

  25. keith says:

    I tried this on a 2009 cobalt crank, but couldn’t find the clip. Is there another way to get the handle off?

  26. Daniel says:

    I have a 1954 Ford F-100 pickup that has the Horse Shoe type clips that hold the door window cranks and the door release handles on. However none of the above options work. Have tried them all. Any other suggestions would be very helpful. The parts books for restoration show a tool to remove the clips, but that is no good either.

  27. matt says:

    Awesome tip, worked like a charm on the passenger door, but had to coax the driver side out with a tiny screw driver. 2012 Silverado (yes cranked windows.)

  28. Olen says:

    This worked absolutely flawlessly
    Thanks for posting this

  29. Cory says:

    Well seems like most of the comments are from people older than me. But I’m 18 with a 89 chevy 1500… great truck to learn on. I just bought the tool and it was quick and easy and worth every penny

  30. Murthy says:

    Very smart way, solved my problem easily. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Ed says:

    I worked at an auto upholstery shop. We had several different types of window crank tools. We also kept a box of a hundred clips on stock. because when you push the clip, sometimes they would fly.

  32. Jared says:

    So yeah I was like there’s no way this rag trick is going to work. OMG couldn’t believe it it popped right off after barely pulling the rag around at all. Excellent tip ty very much sir.

  33. Acacia says:

    I have an ’87 Buick Somerset that is basically kicking my ass right now. I am pretty sure there is some kind of silicone sealant holding the clip in place because I have tried just about everything (besides the actual tool designed for the job). The pictures here are extremely helpful though so I am gonna go give it another shot now that I have a better idea of what it is I’m prying at. I’m only 23, that means some kids these days know the struggle! haha And the struggle is REAL. This is my 3rd car, 1st was a ’92 Camry (R.I.P.) with power windows, 2nd an ’87 Camry (still running strong @ 240k) also with power windows. So needless to say, this is my first experience with a window crank & I have in fact broken every finger nail in my attempts to remove it. Thanks for the tips!

  34. Mark sanders says:

    Is there a trick I’ve done this before on an American car but this Hyndai Accent handle does not want to come off !

  35. Mark sanders says:

    Is there a trick on a Hyndai Accent window door handle , I’ve done this before on a Chevy no problem , but this Hyndai handle does Not want to pop off that clip !

  36. Ruth says:

    Thank u this worked in one go!

  37. Gerald says:

    I had tried using rag on a Kia Rio 2006 and I still can’t remove the window crank, I ended up buying the crank removal tool and got it working

  38. John says:

    Thank you so much for this. I spent a few minutes trying to pry off what I thought was a cover that would let me access a screw or bolt so I could just pull the handle off. I read this, grabbed an old t-shirt and it about 30 seconds, I had the first one off. Thank you so much! (96 Toyota T100)

  39. Rod says:

    Well i must be useless cos i tried for over an hour using this technique and no chance at all. The car itself is a Hyundai Excell. This so called trick is exactly that.A trick.It simply doesn’t work.Don’t waste your time.

  40. Griff from London says:


  41. Earle Montis says:

    How To Get A Back Window Crank Off Of A 1930 Model A Sedan?

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