Low-Po Power Accessories
I recently bought a loaded '87 Chevy Silverado 1/2-ton shortbed Fleetside pickup. The truck was a one-owner low-mileage beauty that was mostly used for occasional household hauling. In other words, it wasn't used very hard. Given its light use and easy life, I was a little disappointed to see how poorly some of the power accessories operate. This is my first experience with these trucks, so maybe I'm expecting too much. My previous truck was only one year newer, although it was the new body style. Unfortunately, that truck was stolen, stripped, and burned. In particular, I'm dismayed at how slow the power windows are. The driver-side window seems slower than the passenger side, but they're both slow as molasses. The driver's window is getting progressively worse. Sometimes, it won't go all the way down or up without having to stop and catch its breath. I'm also unhappy with the power door locks. They're quite noisy and clunky. It sounds like someone is throwing a big switch on a jail cell door. My last complaint is that the air conditioning isn't very cold. I don't know if it's low on refrigerant or if the blower is defective. I'd like to bring these accessories up to the performance levels of my '88 Silverado. Are there things I can do to boost performance?
Sean Schwendt
via e-mail

There's a reason why your '88 Chevy Silverado accessories outperformed the ones on your '87; the '88 was a totally redesigned truck. General Motors definitely got its money's worth out of the stampings and parts used on the '73-'87 Chevy/GMC pickups, Suburbans, and Blazers. We've owned a couple of those trucks, and it seemed like an arthritic 90-year-old could crank the windows faster than those lame power window motors. The driver's window is more prone to problems due to its greater use.

Those clunky power door locks are the result of relatively primitive solenoids and minimal sound-deadening material in the doors. The diminished A/C performance is probably a combination of needing to have the refrigerant recharged and a not-too-fast blower motor. You could swap in similar parts from an '88-and-later truck, or you could try to maximize the existing components. Before trying to swap parts, we'd service the present parts. The driver's window problem sounds like the result of too much resistance. If the resistance is excessive, it can strain the window motor, causing it to draw too much current. When that happens, a thermal limiter or circuit breaker will protect the motor by shutting it down. To determine the cause of the unwanted friction, remove the door panel and inspect the window lift pivot points and the glass channels. A shot of silicone lubricant on the pivot points should improve performance temporarily, but white grease should be used for the long term. When you're satisfied that the pivot points are adequately lubed, run the window up and down several times while you carefully watch the glass channel. The glass could be binding or there could be an obstruction. You can adjust the position of the glass to lessen friction. You might need new channels and/or seals, but if your truck is as mint as you say, that probably isn't the problem. There could be a poor electrical connection with the power window motor.

Check for corrosion or a possible wiring short. Check the integrity of the wires where they pass from the door to the doorjamb. To lessen the clunking sound of the power door locks, you could add sound-deadening insulation to the doors. You could also wrap insulation around the solenoid motor. A certified A/C repair shop should check the air-conditioning performance. You probably need to have the system recharged, but some of the system components could also be failing.