Learn to Diagnose and Fix a Car Door That’s Stuck Open or Closed
If the outside or inside car door handle is stuck, not working, and won’t open the car door from the outside or inside, or if the car door won’t shut and latch, there are ways to diagnose the car door handles and the door latch assembly yourself that may only require removing the door panel. These tips from our experts will help you check parts like the outside and inside door handle, its locks, and the door latch assembly to determine which part needs replacing.
Once you know which part won’t open your car door, or keeps the door handle stuck, learn to replace it yourself with our how-to videos that cover many different years, makes, and models in 1A Auto’s how-to video library. You can also use our how-to videos to help with some of the diagnostic steps mentioned in this article, such as removing the door panel to access and check interior and exterior door handle rods, clips, and the door latch. For help accessing the door panel when the door won’t open, check out the video at the end of this article.
3 Causes for a Car Door that Won’t Open and How to Check Them
Outside Door Handle Not Working
Broken Outside Door Handle
If part of the outside door handle has broken off, like the lever or the pull-handle, the door will need a new exterior door handle.
Broken Outside Door Handle Clip
If the the door handle rod clip on the door handle is broken, a new exterior door handle is needed.
Detached Outside Door Handle Rods or Cables
If the door handle rods or cables slipped out of the outside door handle, you can fix a car door not opening from the outside by reattaching the door handle rod or cable.
Bent or Broken Outside Door Handle Rods or Cables
A broken or stretched door handle cable will have difficulty opening the door. A bent outside door handle rod or the lock rod can prevent the exterior door handle’s lever from working properly and consistently. A bent door handle rod can also mean there’s a problem with the door latch assembly, so confirm the latch on the assembly isn’t binding. If it isn’t, the rod or cable needs to be replaced.
Door Latch Not Working
Bent or Broken Door Handle Rods or Cables
If the cables or rods to the door latch are bent or broken, they need to be replaced as they can affect the latch’s ability to function. A bent door lock rod or door handle rod can also be a symptom of a broken door latch. If the latch is broken, either the car door won’t shut or could be stuck closed. Confirm the lever on the latch isn’t binding. If the latch is binding, the door latch needs to be replaced.
Binding or Broken Door Latch
A car door won’t shut or latch if the levers on the door latch are binding or broken. If this is happening, the door will need a new door latch assembly.
Detached Door Rods or Cables
If cables slipped out of the door latch assembly, the inside or outside door handle will not trigger the latch when pulled. If this happens, just reconnect the cable or rod to the door latch.
Inside Door Handle Not Working
If the inside door handle won’t open the door, the same causes that apply to the outside door handle apply here. Inside door handle rods and cables may bend, stretch, or detach, clips on the inside door handle may have broken off, and parts of the inside door handle may have snapped or broken off. The same solutions that apply to the outside door handle mentioned above also apply to the inside door handle.
How to Remove the Door Panel on a Car Door that Won’t Open
If the car door won’t open, this video can help with removing the door panel on a closed door.
Shop Quality Door Handle Replacements
If the rods cables and their connectors are all working, you may need a new door handle. Find quality door handles at 1aauto.com and save time and money installing them yourself.