Replace a Door Lock Actuator That’s Broken
A stuck or broken power door lock actuator is one of the most common reasons why car doors stop working. A bad or broken actuator is normally the main culprit. This is especially true if you can’t open or lock your car using a remote device. This article explains how to fix the door lock actuator if your car doors stopped working.
What Is a Door Lock Actuator?
The actuator is designed to alleviate the need to manually lock or unlock the door. If it wasn’t there, the door would have to open by rod or cable. Many cars have the actuator placed right below the latch, and a rod connects it to the latch. Another rod connects the latch to the lock.
The actuator uses a small motor to move the lock through a set of gears. This can be activated by turning a key inside the door, pressing a button from a remote device, pulling a knob from inside the door, using keyless entry, entering a combination from a lock outside the door, or activating it from a control center.
Symptoms of a Failing or Bad Actuator
When you have a bad or broken actuator, the above processes may fail. Here are some of the most common symptoms of a failing or bad power lock actuator.
1. Stuck or Broken Power Door That Won’t Lock or Open
If your door lock actuator fails, the lock feature will not work. You may find yourself with a door that won’t lock or open. For older cars, you can use a traditional key to access your car. However, you may have to disable your door locks completely for newer luxury models.
2. Power Doors Work Intermittently
Another common symptom of a bad or broken actuator is a power door that functions erratically. This means that on a good day, you’ll have a functional door that works properly, but on other days, you either have a stuck door or one that won’t lock.
3. Noise from Inside the Door
Abnormal noises from inside the door are also a common symptom of a faulty door lock actuator. The door lock actuator operates using a motor and gears that tend to whir or make noise quietly when in use. When the noise suddenly gets louder, it may be an indicator that your actuator is broken or bad. The motor and gears could be worn out.
How to Replace Your Door Lock Actuator
Steps for Replacing for the Door Lock Actuator
- Disconnect the Negative Battery Terminal
One of the best solutions to a stuck power door is to replace the bad or broken actuator. You’ll need to first disconnect the battery by removing its negative connection. This prevents power from reaching the door lock actuator.
- Remove the Door Panel
Like any other repair that requires you to access the inside of the door, you’ll need to remove the door panel. This may involve unscrewing any bolts present and prying the panel out. Be careful not to break any cables and wires that may be connected to the speakers and door lock.
- Disconnect the Cables and Remove the Actuator
Once you set the door panel aside, you should be able to see two cables that are secured using clips. Remove them and pull them out of their sockets. The actuator should have bolts and lock screws that secure it too. You’ll need to remove those to free it.
Once the actuator is free and hanging, disconnect the electrical connector. This will allow you to remove the actuator and lock assembly.
If you’d like to find out what could be the problem, you can disassemble the power lock actuator, connect the electrical connector back, and test it out. You should be able to see how it works every time you press the button on your key.
Is a Bad Door Lock Actuator Serviceable?
A bad or broken actuator is not serviceable. It comes as a single unit from the factory. The best way to fix the problem is to simply replace it. Find a replacement power door actuator for your car at 1aauto.com. Install it yourself with 1A Auto’s how-to videos.
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