Power Door Locks Not Working – Diagnose and Repair

10:02 am Consumer, DIY

Continued from Page 1.

Question – I have a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the right rear door lock makes a loud buzzing sound when I try to unlock the door. Can you suggest what the problem could be?

Answer – This is a common symptom of an actuator that has gone bad. It could be the gears inside that are worn not meshing properly, although the exact cause of failure doesn’t really matter since the part is replaced as a unit and not taken apart and repaired.

Question– After replacing an exterior door handle on my Mercury Mountaineer, the door locks will not work properly. The locks worked before, what could be the problem?

Answer – Since the door locks worked before the door handle was replaced, the problem most likely is the link adjustment from the handle to the door lock actuator. If the adjustment is too tight or too loose, it will not work properly. A little free movement of the handle should be felt if the adjustment is correct. It’s best to notice where the positioning is on the threaded part of the rod prior to taking it apart, then check the door lock operation before putting the interior door panel back on.

Question – On my 2003 Ford Explorer, the power door locks go on and off while driving down the road. The door ajar warning comes on the dash and chimes, what could be the problem?

Answer – It’s possible that one of the door ajar switches located in a door latch could be going bad. Another possibility is a wire that goes from the door through the body could be shorting sometimes (see the picture at the top). The Explorer uses a security module located underneath the right rear quarter window behind the trim panel – I’ve heard of cases when the window is not closed, rain can enter and ruin the module causing strange problems due to the water shorting it.

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223 Responses
  1. DeAnn :

    Date: December 1, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

    Hi I have a 2006 Ford Explorer XLT. My front passenger door does not want to unlock. I have tried using both the remote and driver door unlock button. All doors except passenger are working unlocking and locking. Could you give me some tips? Thank you.

  2. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: December 1, 2015 @ 1:58 pm

    Most likely the actuator. I’d unlock it manually and remove the door panel to access the actuator for testing. Good Luck.

  3. Cameron K :

    Date: December 6, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

    I have a 2003 Toyota Prius and none of the power locks work on any of the door. It doesn’t work from the driver’s side switch, the passenger’s side switch, or by turning the key twice from outside (on either door). I thought it was a fuse problem, but i check the fuse and its alright. What’s interesting is it still makes the clicking noise like it usually would when pressing the switch. I just bought this car (with this problem known and pre-existing) but I need a little help! Thanks!

  4. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: December 7, 2015 @ 7:16 am

    I would suspect a bad relay which is probably what you hear clicking. If it’s not that a wiring diagram, test equipment and knowledge of how to do electrical diagnosis is needed. Not something you learn overnight. Good Luck.

  5. Katie :

    Date: December 12, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

    I have a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer – as soon as the car is turned on ALL the auto locks will start to cycle (It does it when its turned off as well) and drains the battery. Do you have any idea what I can do to make it stop (will turning off the auto locks make this stop) Or possibly unplugging the RAP? If I can avoid fixing it I would rather do that – I just need it to not drain the battery every time I drive it. Thanks!

  6. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: December 14, 2015 @ 8:44 am

    Low voltage can cause strange things like that. I’d check the battery with a load test. Also, check to make sure that the door ajar warning is not on. Unplugging a relay would be a way to disable it if you cannot fix the problem correctly. Good Luck.

  7. Reco :

    Date: December 18, 2015 @ 5:20 am

    Hello Dennisb,

    I have a 1998 Toyota Camry LE. My front passenger side door lock won’t lock or unlock if I try the main driver door switch, the door switch for that door, nor if I use the key on the driver’s side. However, that door will lock and unlock if I use the key to unlock it at that passenger side door. All the other locks work fine using the main switch and key.

    I already tested to make sure it wasn’t the door switch. Any idea what could be the problem?

  8. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: December 18, 2015 @ 7:47 am

    Most likely the door lock actuator. Good Luck.

  9. Reco :

    Date: December 18, 2015 @ 8:38 am

    Lol I was hoping you wouldn’t say that be a use I already had a hint that may be it. That ks for the info. Great forum.

  10. Richard Samson :

    Date: December 30, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

    2009 ford f150 lariat. left rear door lock will not actuate. replaced actuator but will still not work. all other doors will work.
    Thank you. Rich.

  11. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: December 31, 2015 @ 7:10 am

    Possibly a broken wire going to the door. It will take some testing and a wiring diagram. Good Luck.

  12. Don Tonk :

    Date: December 31, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

    I have 08 Chevy Malibu that the FOB is not working not locking or unlocking or opening trunk. Tried new FOB programmed still not working. I was told FOB is sending he signal but car not receiving. Any ideas where I should look first? Thank you

  13. Robert :

    Date: January 2, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

    I have a 1999 Toyota solar v6 doors aren’t working sometime it does but most of the time it doesn’t I hear it click in doors like they want to open but sometimes it does but most time they dont

  14. sage :

    Date: January 2, 2016 @ 11:13 pm

    Hello Dennis,
    I have a 2002 ford Mustang gt, all locks work with the FOB and door locks, but when I turn the key it doesn’t look automatically any more and I noticed my factory alarm isn’t working. Is there a connection between the two?

  15. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 3, 2016 @ 10:01 am

    If ALL doors are affected at same time it would have to be something that they all have in common, like a faulty relay or intermittent poor ground connection. Good Luck.

  16. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 3, 2016 @ 10:03 am

    If a “door ajar” switch is indicating any of the doors are open, this problem would occur. If the doors are open the locks won’t lock so you don’t lock yourself out of the car. If the doors are closed and the door ajar light is on, you may just have a bad door ajar switch. Good Luck.

  17. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 3, 2016 @ 10:05 am

    May need reprogramming. A locksmith or dealer tech may be needed for this one. Good Luck.

  18. tim :

    Date: January 23, 2016 @ 9:26 pm

    I have an 2003 ford f150 , the power locks stopped locking, they will unlock but not lock. this happens on all switches, also the power windows work ,up down when the key is not in ignition.. do you know what could cause the locks to not work>? worked fine till now.. thanks, Tim

  19. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 24, 2016 @ 10:01 am

    Tim, One thing that comes to mind, is that there could be a “key reminder” or “key in accessory position” issue. If the vehicle senses the key is in the accessory position, the doors will not lock to help prevent the key from being locked inside the vehicle. The power windows should not work with the key removed unless the vehicle falsely senses the ignition is in the accessory position. The problem could be with the electric part of the ignition switch or with a ground sensor in the ignition lock itself. One time I found a similar issue on a Ford was caused by a broken plastic clip that snaps around the ignition lock. One end had broken which allowed the ground sensor to come off and loose connection. After replacing that full function was restored. It’s possible that just using a tie strap to hold it may work as well. I’d look for a piece that has a single wire like in the picture. Your’s may not be exactly like the one in the picture, this is just the closest image I can find based on my memory and what I can find online. If you take pictures of what you find let me know and I’ll post them. Hopefully this helps.

    Ford ignition switch ground sensor

  20. Dean :

    Date: January 30, 2016 @ 2:48 pm

    2009 Jeep Liberty
    electric door locks not working with either door switch or the key fob. Unlock works fine. I assume through some of your posts that it could possibly be a door switch. Where do I start to look for this issue-assume the drivers door?
    thx Dean

  21. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 30, 2016 @ 6:31 pm

    A single door lock switch bad, in most cases wouldn’t affect the other door lock switch and key fob. I would look for a bad fuse. If the fuse blows after replacing it there could be a short in a wire or a faulty actuator causing a short and too much of a draw. If fuses are good check a wiring diagram and start checking to see where the power or ground circuit could be open. Good Luck.

  22. Terry :

    Date: January 31, 2016 @ 2:13 pm

    I have a 2008 G5 door locks are going crazy will lock and unlock during driving or sitting.. But the motor is going and they aren’t actually unlocking or locking.. Tried a lot of ways the switches are working but locks are not moving but sound like they are.. What could this be???

  23. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 31, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

    I’ve heard of the window switch getting wet and corroding causing a short, although other things can cause this problem. May want to get this one diagnosed by a pro so you don’t install unnecessary parts. Good Luck.

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