What is a car door latch?
Before knowing how things work, you need to know what is a latch? It is a mechanical clasp that holds two rods together in a car door lock system.
In simple words, a latch is a mechanical lock that enables the car door to close or open. In case of a broken latch, the car door won’t lock or open smoothly, and extra force might cause more damage.
Why does Car Door Latch Stuck?
The most common reason behind a stuck car door latch is a broken part somewhere in there. To fix a car door latch, replace the broken part immediately before it damages the door further.
A frozen car door latch is another reason, but this problem only occurs in winters or if you live in an icy place like Siberia. When rainwater or water after a car wash reaches the car door latch and if not properly dried, it freezes the latch.
Dust and rust may also cause a similar problem. Use a rust cleaner to lubricate and clean the latch.
You need to understand the car door latch mechanism to know how it works before fixing the latch.
How does a Car Door Latch Work? The female part (knobs) of the latch is fixed in the door while the male part is attached to the car’s chassis. When the door is closed, the female part hits the male part of the latch, and the door gets locked, which is then opened by pulling the lever.
Now you know the mechanism lets jump quickly to the next part: How to fix a car door latch mechanism?
How to Fix My Car Door Latch?
If your car door latch is stuck, then you don’t need to worry about it. As the latch mechanism itself, the way to fix a car door latch that is stuck in is also simple. Let’s talk about the different problems of the car door latch and their solutions.
How to Fix Car Door Latch that won’t Close?
Is your car door latch stuck in a close position, and you can’t figure out why? It might have happened because of the latch getting stuck in the lock position; this keeps the catch on the body from fitting in the latch.
If the problem is as small as a stuck latch, you can fix it yourself. Simply pull the door handle and move the latch upwards using a key. Use a lubricant to avoid the same problem in the future.
This happens when the latch is broken, rusted or has dust accumulation, or a damaged door catch or door handle cable. Unless some peculiarity occurs, these are the common reasons for a malfunctioned latch.
How to Fix Car Door Latch that won’t Open?
If you have got a car door latch that is stuck and is giving you a hard time opening up, it can happen due to the following reasons:
- A stuck latch
- A broken handle cable
- Dirt build-up
- Electrical malfunction
However, these issues are no big deal, and you can fix them quickly. The following steps will guide you but make sure you turn off the ignition for safety purposes.
- Look for all the options available for opening the door like the key, hands, remote, or the interior lock.
- If none of the above options work, get in the car through another door and check the lock in a stuck position.
- Find the screws in the door panel and remove them all. The goal here is to remove the panel to get full access to the door lock.
- If removing screws does do that job for you, look for particle dissemble in some other way.
- Once you have complete access to the lock, you can easily diagnose the fault and repair it.
- Find a temporary way of moving the latch with a screwdriver and open the door.
- Use debris cleaner for rust and dust, or replace the cable if it is broken. If the electrical issue is more than a wire loosening/breakage, then consult an auto electrician.
How to Open Frozen Car Door Latch?
Opening a frozen car door latch can be a hard job. If you belong to a cold region, a frozen latch is a problem that might frequently occur in winters.
In case your car door latch is stuck in a locked position, you need to confirm first that it is the latch or the whole door lock is frozen. The low temperature can allow ice to form on the latch spring or hinge and jam it in its place.
These simple and easy-to-follow steps will help you, to fix a frozen car door latch:
- Check for problems in other car doors. All you need is one door to at least work so you can get in and turn on the heating system, but if all doors are affected, then try:
- A heat gun or a blow dryer to heat the door latch area.
- A deicer spray on the latch using a pipe.
- A straw to blow warm air in the frozen latch area.
- A warmed-up key can also help in melting the ice on the latch area.
What to do if Frozen Car Door Latch won’t Close?
Are you stuck with a frozen car door latch and late for work again? The harsh weather isn’t coming slow, and now it has become a daily problem.
Don’t worry. It is pretty easy to fix it. All you need is something to melt down the ice, so the last would work again. You can use a heat gun, a deicer spray, or a warmed-up key.
Here is a new one, wd-40. I know what you are thinking, like how is wd-40 supposed to help with a frozen latch? It does, actually. Doing a couple of wd40 spritz on the frozen latch will cover the metal and prove insulation to help in melting the ice and preventing it from freezing again.
You can also use lithium grease to lube and cover the lock’s latch area to prevent frost.
Warning: If a frozen car door doesn’t latch, people pour boiling water over the lock/latch, which is a bad idea. It will melt the ice on the lock, but later the temperature of boiling water will drop, and it might cause the same problem again by freezing. Another reason why it’s not a wise idea is the electronic system. The boiling water can mess with it.
If you are looking for a good hot gun or a deicer spray, here are some brands you can rely on:
SEEKONE Heavy Duty Hot Air Gun
Not only is it a powerful heating device, but it offers two modes for temperature so you won’t ruin your car’s paint. With high ranged temperature settings, you can loosen up the lock and melt the ice with no hassle. The innovative scientific ergonomic design minimizes wrist strain, and with four nozzle accessories, you have options to choose from. Pick the one that lets you access the latch part easily. See the latest price here.
CRC Ice-Off Spray De-Icer
This deicer spray keeps the car paint intact and melts the toughest ice within a couple of minutes. Not only does it work great on frozen locks, but you can also use it on headlights and windows. Using a CRC deicer on a frozen door lock latch will immediately refreeze it even at a sub-zero temperature. See the latest price here.
How to Prevent Car Door Latch from Jamming?
To prevent your car door latch from being stuck, you need to lubricate the latch after cleaning with a dust and grime cleaner in your regular car maintenance.
To prevent the door frozen shut, try to park your car in the garage or under some shade in the winter season. If you do not find any shade, then cover your car with a car cover to protect from cold weather.
How to Replace Car Door Latch?
To fix a broken door latch, you first need to get complete and easy access to the lock’s internal parts.
Here is a simple guide on how to open a broken car door latch, which will make the tedious process quick and easy. Here is what you’ll be needing:
- Wheels chocks
- Mineral spirits cleaner
- New door latch
- Electrical cleaner
- Cross tip, or Philips head, screwdriver
- Needle-nose pliers
- Ratchet with metric and standard sockets
- Before any repair-maneuver type, make sure you park the car safely to avoid it from moving while you are at work. Place the wheel chocks in front and back of the tires to secure them in their place.
- Now, take off the outer door handle. For this, you need to remove screws that join the handle and the door shell. Push the handle and then pull it away to release it.
- While you are at it, make sure to check the two seals in case they need a replacement.
- Use a screwdriver to pry the cover under the plastic handle. Below the cover, you’ll find Philip type or cross tip screws. Remove them.
- Once you complete the above process, it should be pretty easy to separate the handle’s rim.
- Close the window completely, and start removing the window crank. To do so, manipulate the plastic cover and remove the crews under it.
- Clips and screws keep the panel intact. Use a screwdriver to loosen it. Doing so will make the whole plastic panel come off. Remember which side goes in.
- It will expose the mechanism for you; check the drain holes at the bottom first for debris accumulation or rainwater. Make sure to clean the area thoroughly.
- The lock knob is there in the window sill; remove that and free the latch.
- Locate the two bolts and remove them. Pull the latch mechanism towards yourself, and you’ll be able to remove the end of retaining clips from the pull wires.
- Once you remove the clips and pull the wire, the door handle will come off.
- Remove the screws under the window and move the latch forward and back to remove it from the door casing. It might take extra force, so don’t hesitate. Just be careful not to cause any damage.
- Install a new latch and fix all stuff again.