Problems With Automatic Door Locks

Lee Morgan

Automatic door locks are a handy modern convenience for drivers and passengers in cars. This added feature allows the driver to unlock the doors without reaching across the front seat, reaching to a back door and even remotely unlocking the doors without a key. But with extra features comes added problems.

Automatic door locks in your car sometimes have problems and malfunctions.

While car owners may go through the entire life of their vehicle without door lock problems, they can certainly arise at any time. A few common problems will make your locks stop working.

Insufficient Voltage

If you have one door lock that is malfunctioning while the other one, or three, appear to work normally, the problem may involve voltage. When the driver’s door switch pops open the door locks, the switch uses an electrical charge to operate each mechanism. Each one of the locks takes a certain amount of voltage to work. If there is a failing door relay, a bad ground or bad receiver, there may not be enough voltage to operate all four locks, according to the Flash Off-road website.


A cable is typically attached to the manual lock button on the door that is then connected to the automatic door lock system. When one door stops working, the problem may be due to the physical condition of the cables. Moisture or other elements may have formed corrosion on the cable, locking the cable in place or at least making it too difficult to move for the electrical system.

Try pulling the lock button manually up and down with your hand. If it will not move, or is very difficult to move, and your automatic lock system will not move it, the cables or another part of the locking mechanism is likely corroded or broken. You must remove the door panel to get to the lock mechanism to inspect it and potentially replace the parts.

Door Lock Actuator

One of the most common problems with an automatic door lock is a worn out actuator. The actuator fits inside the locking mechanism and is made up of a small motor that turns a shaft and a gear. Often the gear is worn out or the motor has stopped working. You can examine these parts by removing the door panel and unscrewing the cover of the actuator to see what part is not working inside the device. Your car dealer can likely identify and order the part for you if it needs replacing.


If all of the locks suddenly stop working when they had been working normally before, the issue is likely a blown fuse. If other items in the car stop working at the same time, such as the radio or dash gauges, a blown fuse is a very likely conclusion. Look in your owner’s manual to find the corresponding fuse, and replace it.