How to Fix a Stuck Van Door Lock

Two vans on a road.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-60
What You'll Need
Slim Jim

Dealing with a stuck van door lock can be very frustrating. Depending on the model of your van, there can be little idiosyncratic glitches that cause a malfunction. If you are having trouble with your van door lock, try working through the tips below, and you should be on your way in no time.

Step 1 – Check Other Doors

Find out whether it is only one door that has a problem by trying the other doors of your van. If all of the doors remain locked when you try to unlock them, it may be a problem with the battery in your remote locking device. If the other doors unlock properly, you need to investigate the individual lock more closely.

Step 2 – Try Internal Handle

If you can open all doors but one, get into the van and try to open the malfunctioning door by using the internal handle. Sometimes, this can free the mechanism if it is just stuck in position. If this is successful, try locking and unlocking the doors a few times to check whether the problem is solved or continues to reoccur. If the car has a pop up lock button, try using a pair of pliers to pull it up into the unlocked position. You may need to use a little force if something is stuck inside the door but don't pull it too hard or you may break the mechanism.

Step 3 – Force Lock

Use a “Slim Jim” or similar tool to try and catch the levers inside the door and force the door to unlock. Be very careful not to scratch the window glass when inserting the tool. If you have never used one before, it can take some time and persistence to hook the correct mechanism in the door. Always be careful not to use an excessive amount of force. If the door latch is simply malfunctioning, it shouldn't take too much effort to move the mechanism. Hooking onto something inside the door that is very difficult to move suggests that there is a major fault with the lock or that you have caught the wrong place. In either case, it is better to remove the tool rather than break any of the internal door fixtures.

Step 4 – Remove Door Panel

On many models, there are difficulties in removing a door panel if the door is stuck shut. Take a close look at any functioning doors to see where the securing points are for the door trim. If possible, use a screwdriver to remove the panel so that you can have a closer look at the door lock mechanism.

Step 5 – Consult a Professional

If none of the other options have worked and you are unable to remove the door panel, it is recommended you take the van to a professional and have them look at the locking mechanism. It may need to be completely replaced, and if this is the case, a professional will know how to perform the procedure while causing the least amount of damage to the van. If you attempt a repair and make the problem worse, it will most likely cost you more than having someone do the job for you in the first place.