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Carl’s Corner – Auto Repair Help

DIAGNOSE – POWER DOOR LOCKS DON’T WORK PROPERLY

By Carl O’Reilly

SYMPTOM SUMMARY
The power door locks are all inoperative or a single door lock is inoperative.

USUAL CAUSE
The power door locks utilize individual solenoids in each of the doors that activate the door lock mechanism. The switch provides power to the door lock solenoids. To lock the doors the switch provides voltage to the two terminals of the solenoid. To unlock the doors the switch reverses the polarity of the voltage applied to the solenoid. An inoperative power door lock can be caused by the switch, solenoid, wiring problem or mechanical problem within the linkage of the affected door.

DIAGNOSIS
If all of the door locks are inoperative, start your diagnosis at the fuse box. Inspect the fuse that protects the door lock circuit to ensure it is not blown. Consult the fuse box placard or your owners manual for fuse designations and ratings. Operate each door lock switch in the vehicle to determine if the doors can be locked with any of the switches. If the doors lock with any one switch the most likely problem is a defective switch on the door that is inoperative. If all of the door lock switches are functional but one door fails to operate, the most likely problem is an open circuit in the circuit between the switch and solenoid or a defective solenoid in the affected door. You should listen to the affected door while energizing the door lock. If a click is heard but the lock did not engage, a problem with the door lock mechanism or linkage is the most likely cause.

PRECAUTIONS, TIPS, and NOTES
An inspection of the rubber boot and wiring harness that connects from the door frame and the door can often reveal wiring damage. A volt meter, available at any auto parts store, can be used to check the voltage to the individual lock solenoids and switches. Refer to the meters instruction for proper usage and precautions.

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40 Responses to “Diagnose Power Door Locks Dont Work Properly”

  1. Richard says:

    My Gm car doors work fine when it is cool, but is either slow or almost don’t work when hot

  2. Robert says:

    Put the key in the lock to unlock the door and the key turn 360. Will not not unlock the door. Have to unlock from the inside once get in from the other side. Have to pull up the door lock.

    • Matt says:

      Robert, the likely cause is that the plastic clip on the back of the lock cylinder is either broken or has otherwise become detached from the linkage that allows you to manually unlock the car with a key. It is also likely that there are other problems with the cylinder as it should not rotate 360 degrees you may want to consider replacing it or having a locksmith take a look and see if they can salvage the current lock.

  3. Tory Lee says:

    Hi, I have a 2005 Nissan Sentra and the power locks aren’t working. Wen I go to push the button on driver and passenger door I hear a clicking sound but all 4 doors do not lock/unlock. What can I do to fix it… Pleas Help.

  4. Garry says:

    I have a 99 Durango and the locks on the passenger side do not unlock when pushing the unlock switch on both sides as well as the fob but will lock. Any ideas?

  5. Jim Huber says:

    Hi Carl – I’m trying to help a friend diagnose door lock problems with his 2008 Chevy Malibu. The interesting aspect of his problem is that when he first gets into the car, he can actuate (open/close) all four door locks. If he tries doing it again, only three of the door locks actuate. If he tries it yet again, only two actuate. He gets to the point where only the right rear door lock functions. It’s also the case that each time he actuates the system, there is sound in the other lock solenoids, but it gets weaker with each actuation. If he turns the car off and then on again immediately, this situation persists (i.e. only the right rear door lock works). However, if he lets the car sit long enough (I’m not sure how long is long enough), the system seems to reset and the same pattern as described above reoccurs.

    To me it sounds like whatever device (solid state relay in the body control module?) is supplying the current to actuate the solenoids is able to supply sufficient current the first time the system is actuated but then degrades with each subsequent actuation. Stated differently, I’m wondering if some device in the body control module is failing such that each actuation results in it having a reduced capacity to supply current. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

    Thanks,

    Jim

    • Jamie says:

      im having the same damn problem with my chevy malibu 2009

      • Jarrett says:

        Very similar. .’09 Malibu. Only driver door and right rear have trouble. The key always unlocks the driver’s door, no problem.

    • sm says:

      i have the exact same problem in my 08 malibu. After the the BCM recall issue for the brake lights this is happening more. The car has been in the dealership for over 3 weeks, and they are no help at all. I’m pretty sure the BCM or something on it is causing this. What did you find out???

  6. kev says:

    Hi, simple problem. My power locks work but will not move to actually lock/unlock the doors. I can hear the locks working with both the remote and the door switches. The lock tabs will jerk but ultimately will not move to lock/unlock positions. This is happening on a 1999 Ford F150. What could be the likely solutuion?

    • james says:

      Hey Kev,

      more than likely the actuators are out, You-tube for a disassembly video on your truck. You can either rebuild the actuators by an extra 20 minute per unit, time investment, as the resistor goes bad, and that entails breaking open the little drive motor and wrapping resistor in foil and placing back, from the comments, ppl say this fix last for the life of the truck. You can You tube that actuator rebuild also, there’s some great stuff there which will help you way more than a black and white Haynes manual with poor grainy photos. That will save $35-40 per actuator or just you can buy new actuators online or via local parts store. I’ve had several fleet F250s with power locks and you can tell they are going out as they start to get weak. while you have your door apart, make sure you lubricate all plastic parts with silicone, all metal parts with a light grease or oil. The less resistance this whole assembly has the longer I believe it will last.

  7. Cammi says:

    I have a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan. Whether using the key remote, or the button inside the van, the 2 sliding doors may or may not lock/unlock. There’s no real rhyme or reason as to when they work. You can hear the sound, and sometimes see a slight movement, but they do not always lock or unlock.

    If this is not something I can fix myself, do I take the vehicle to a mechanic or someone special? My vehicle was just gotten into last night (probably a crime of opportunity) and my GPS was stolen and I’m getting annoyed. Thanks!

  8. Andy says:

    I have a 2004 Pontiac Montana and my power locks work only with remote not on the switches at the door. I hope you have a solution for me. Thanks

  9. Wes says:

    I have a Pontic 2002 Montana it to only locks with the remote? Do you know what the issue is?

  10. ian says:

    My alarm goes off in my car no matter what i do. Even if the keys inn ignition and i do the least of just pressing the unlock button my security system goes off. I believe the problem is that one of my doors(rear passenger) doesn’t lock our unlock when i press the button. What do i do ? Its driving me mad.

  11. Jamie says:

    My right lock makes a horrible sound when I lock with the my button device.

  12. Sarah says:

    I have a 2014 chevy impala. My issue is with the front passenger side door.

    It will not lock/unlock if trying to use my fob. While all other doors have no problem with it. The door also does not respond to the power lock/unlock button on the inside, although all other doors again have no problem.

    It will lock if I manually lock it with my key from the outside, or manually with the lock switch on the inside.

    Best way to go about diagnosing and fixing?

    • Jim says:

      First I must ask why you wouldn’t take the car back to the dealer and make it their problem on such a new vehicle? The best way to diagnose and repair would be to first remove the right front inside door panel. Since it doesn’t respond to the key fob or the power lock switch the problem is in the lock solenoid or the wiring to the solenoid. I would guess on such a new vehicle the harness connector just came unplugged from the solenoid (or actuator). With a volt meter you should have 12 volts at 1 wire going into the solenoid and ground at the other wire. These 2 wires just reverse polarity when you attempt to reverse the direction of the locks, either lock or unlock. I you have 12 volts and a ground then the solenoid is defective.

  13. Rich says:

    Carl – Love your insight! I hope you can shed some light on this mystery…

    2004 Honda Accord (4dr)

    Symptom #1: – when locking/unlocking the car with key fob, key or inside driver door switch, the driver side door will lock/unlock. The other 3 doors remain unaffected. All three doors went out at the same moment.

    Symptom #2: – After the driver side door is unlocked, within 1 min, the door will lock. This happens if the door is open, or closed, whether the car is running or not. This is not the standard Honda safety auto-locking feature.. this is a random locking within 1 min or less. I suspect that this started to occur at the same time as Symptom #1, though I didn’t notice it until I locked myself out of the car (while running) a week later.

    Thanks in advance for the help…..

  14. wayne says:

    The driver’s side on my 2004 Mazda3 is locked and cannot be unlocked with the remote or with the key. The key will not turn to the unlock position. This door also cannot be opened from the inside by manually toggling the unlock button or by activating the electric lock switch.

    When the remote is activated, no sound is heard in the driver’s door. Both power door fuses test functional. All other doors unlock/lock as per normal from outside and inside.

  15. Shane says:

    hi i have a ford fiesta 1.3 2002 mk6 i have trouble code 1310 in the gem module i have used a scan to to manually operate the central locking and boot and individually tested each door and all seem to be working and also through my 3rd party alarm the central locking works but it will not work at all through the key interior latches and the boot relese in the dash will not work i have also tried a different module with the same fault
    and using the built in test function nothing happens on any of the door latches cheers shane

  16. Jamie says:

    i press the unlock button on my car remote and only the passenger and driver doors open. but sometimes one of the back back doors opens. in some rear occasions all the doors unlock properly.

  17. doree says:

    Hello — my passenger side door unlocks manually with no problem, locks with the switch on the driver’s side door no problem. The driver’s side door used to open manually, but now I cannot get it to open using my key. It has never unlocked by using the power switch (I have to pull it up by hand), nor does it lock by using the power switch.

    In order to lock ANY doors, I have always had to hold the driver’s side inside door handle out while pressing down on the power lock button on the driver’s side door.

    As of late, the driver’s side door not only will not unlock by using my key, but now, when I go in from the passenger side and pull up on the button, as soon as I pull on the door handle, it automatically locks the driver’s side door. So… I discovered that I have to pull out the inside driver’s side door handle while pulling up on the lock button at the same time, then throw the door wide open and hope that it stays open.

    Do I have one main problem going on here, or a few?

  18. Jonathan Alvarez says:

    my passanger door unlock/lock switch unlocks but does not lock. but my remote unlocks all doors. could it be a bad switch?

  19. Carl says:

    Hi, my passenger door locks/unlocks both doors but my driver side door works independently and feels powerless, any ideas ??
    I have a fiat punto.

    Thanks carl

  20. John says:

    Hi I have an 06 chevy cobalt, both buttons on the doors do not work but my remote will unlock and lock the car. My fuse looks fine so I’m not sure what it could be. Also as I’m driving, the doors will periodically lock and unlock for no reason. Any help?

  21. Jay says:

    Hello i have a 95 Nissan Sentra and I have been having problems with the doors locking and unlocking by itself. Im finally fed up with it today someone actually ransacked my car and left all the doors wide open although they did not take anything. I do not want my car to be missing one of these days. So to begin my window switches on both the passenger doors do not work. My main switch has been programmed to where I had to rewire the rear passenger button to be able to control my driver side window but the problem has been going on long before I had to do this. Thanks ahead of time.

  22. Cole says:

    Hi, I have a 2006 Crown Vic P71. All the door locks stopped working yesterday evening after working fine. All fuses are good, when you hit the lock/unlock button you hear the relays in the drivers door module clicking but none of the locks seem to get any power. Do you think something as went bad in that module?

  23. Lauren says:

    I have a 2003 Nissan Micra 3dr (new shape) – since buying it this April I’ve had nothing but trouble withthe driver front door – sometimes I unlock the door and it doesn’t unlock properly, sometimes I lock it and it doesn’t lock – the passenger door and boot all lock fine. At the beginning, the central locking system was going AWOL and would click hen I turned a corner or something like that but since changing the battery in the remote this has not happened. I’ve taken it to a Nissan dealership and they said it was the door lock actuator as it still makes the locking noise but doesn’t lock. They wanted around £180 for the part and to fit it but couldn’t 100% guarantee that that would fix the problem. PLEASE HELP ME. If there is a chance that it could be done NOT by a mechanic then please let me know

  24. Tshepo says:

    I have nissan sentra 1997 model,alarm is working,bt it doesnt lock all 4 doors

  25. Anant says:

    I have Ford Ikon with crosslinks wheels remote lock installed. The problem is that while using the remote key the doors lock but cannot unlock.

    This is a strange problem. Please help me sort it out.

    Regards,
    Anant

  26. Linda says:

    I have a 2005 dodge caravan. Today when I drive to my destination I discovered none of my door locks would lock. Recently I had trouble getting the key fob to operate any of them, but now none of them will lock from the fob or the interior lock switch. My fuses tested OK. What could the problem be?

  27. Pat Langan says:

    I have a 2004 Chevy Impala. All doors will open and lock from switch on drivers and passenger doors but only drivers door will lock and unlock from key in drivers door lock. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  28. Ke says:

    I have a 2004 ford expidition. I’ve checked fuse box and all is fine. None of the power door locks don’t wort. They don’t even make a noise. All included in this problem is the radio console lights don’t work either although the sound works just fine. Can this be fixed easily?

  29. Naomi says:

    My Malibu unlocks and the trunk opens, but will not lock the doors and the horn button no longer sounds the horn.

  30. I Have A Nissan Murano 2009 and the drive side door will not open all the other doors open can you tell me what is the problem.

  31. Cindy says:

    I have a 2007 Kia Sportage. When I lock and unlock my doors with my Fob there is no longer any sound. Also, my alarm does not work. Is this a loose wire or a bad fuse, which I could not find?

  32. Orlando Paez says:

    I have a 2005 Honda Civic EX. My door lock aren’t working properly. My door lock remote is fine as far as the battery goes. I changed out a door switch on the driver side which didn’t help either. This is a 4 dr sedan. I can hear all 3 doors clicking except the driver side front door. Does the front driver side door link to all the other doors? I figured that the door actuators only pertain to each door. Not sure what the issue is? I wouldn’t think it’s a fuse only because I can hear the 3 doors clicking. Now, again, the front driver side door I can’t hear any clicking. Can you tell me what my next step should be?

  33. Danny Gonzales says:

    Hi,
    I have a 2004 honda accord. My problem is that the doors automatically locks when the key is in the ignition.

  34. Ryan says:

    2006 Ford F150 4 door – My door locks function with the remote and interior lock buttons only when the drivers side door is closed. If the drivers door is open, the locks and window switches become inoperable with the switch, but the remote will still unlock/lock the doors. Any ideas?.

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