How to Replace Door Lock Actuators
Important Tips: There are several steps and quite a few parts involved in this project. It might be a good ideal to take your phone or camera and take pictures during each step of disassembly, so you can be sure everything comes back together again properly during the repair/replacement phase. Remember that taking things apart is always a lot easier than putting them back together again!
- With the windows rolled up, disconnect the battery. Plug a battery saver into your cigarette lighter. This will keep your computer live and keep your vehicle settings current. If you do not have a nine-volt battery saver, though, that’s okay.
- Remove interior door trim. Depending on what you drive, you may need a door-panel-pulling tool that's specific to your vehicle; be very gentle because you don't want to break any connectors or end up with any missing parts or a rattle after the job's completed.
- Start at the inner door handle bezel and look for bolts or screws holding the trim to the door frame. Another common location for bolts and screws is in the bottom of cup holders and door handle pulls, behind mirror or speaker trim plates, and the bottom edge of the door trim.
- Use a trim tool or thin screwdriver to pry the switch plate (where the electric window and lock buttons are located) up and away from the door panel. Disconnect the wiring.
- Next, pry the door trim off the frame, starting at the bottom. The door clips need some encouragement, but will pop off. Easy with the screwdriver, as it can easily break the plastic clips (replacements are available). You may find that a special forked tool is what you need for this step; entire door-panel tool kits are available, with just about everything you need for the job. Continue down the length of the door, removing clips as you go.
- Grasp the bottom of the plastic door trim with both hands and pull towards you, then lift. The door trim should slide up and off the frame. Unclip any wiring for interior lighting or power mirrors at this time. Set the door trim aside somewhere out of the way.
- Remove the plastic water shield by pulling on a corner and slowly working it off. Do your best to keep it in one piece, as this moisture barrier can be fragile and will need to be reused.
Some models feature an additional metal door access plate, protecting the internal components. Remove the bolts and set it aside.
- Locate the lock actuator. It is bolted to the inside of the door frame by the door latch. Remove the electrical plug that supplies power to the actuator. It should come out by hand.
- Remove the three or four torx head bolts securing the actuator to the door frame. The actuator will be loose in the door frame, supported by two metal rods running to the exterior and interior door handles. The rods should slide out of the actuator with no tools, but take note of which rod goes into the different sections of the actuator. Then pull the actuator free of the door. Check the electrical connector for the actuator carefully for signs of corrosion or damage.
- Assembly is the reverse order. Start by sliding the new actuator into the door panel, orienting it so you can insert the lock rods. Set the actuator in place and bolt down tightly with the torx bolts.