Troubleshooting Your Car Door Locks

  • 1-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 6-25
What You'll Need

Short of having to replace them, there’s not a great deal that can go wrong with your car door locks. Even replacement is a simple procedure. When you do have a problem, look at the car door locks before rushing out to replace them. In most instances a few minutes will take care of the problem.

Step 1 - Frozen Locks

In winter, moisture can get into the car door locks so they won’t open when you try to turn the key-in fact the key won’t turn at all. Keep a can of WD-40 handy (keep it in the house or garage, not in the car). Squirt a little into the car door locks and wait for about 30 second. Put the key back in the lock and it will turn easily.

Step 2 - Rusted Locks

If the vehicle has been sitting for months in wet weather, rusted car door locks are a possibility. Once again, spray some WD-40 in the lock and wait about a minute. Insert the key and try to turn it. It might be difficult at first. Jiggle the key. It will soon begin to move and you’ll be able to open the car door.

Step 3 - Key Doesn’t Work

If the key turns in the lock, but the lock doesn’t seem to engage, the chances are that the rod has come loose. If you can get inside the car you can work on this problem. Start by taking off the speaker covers and the arm rest. You will need to unscrew these. Now remove the door panel by gently pulling it out of the plastic clips that hold it in place.

Unscrew the interior door handle, then remove the clip that holds the workings of it in place. It will come free inside the car. This will let you access the rod that connects to the car door locks. Look at the rod. It should connect to the car door locks. If it’s not connected, then you need to put it back in place and check it’s tight and secure. Do this and then try to turn the key from the outside. It should move the rod and the door should open easily.

Step 4 - Broken Key

Having the key break off in the car door locks is something many people have experienced. At this point you have no choice but to replace the car door locks. If you can enter the car another way, do so and then follow the procedure for the lock not working.

Disconnect the rod from the lock and then use a pair of pliers to remove the bolts that attach the car door handle to the rod. Take off the clip that keeps the handle in place and remove the handle. Move the snap ring on the old car door locks and then remove the clip. At this point you’ll be able to pull out the old lock. Put in a new one and reassemble the handles and door.