How car door locks work

Written by don bowman
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Door locks in an automobile are a twin magnetic reversible mechanism. There are two types of door lock mechanisms used on vehicles today. For a long time, there was just one type of unit, which was a separate magnetic solenoid attached to the back latch side of the door. It was held in by a bracket that was riveted below the door latch mechanism. It had a rod from it to the door latch. There are still some cars that use these, although the newer units have a door lock mechanism that attaches as an integral unit on the door latch mechanism.

These mechanisms use opposing electromagnets with a pole piece in the middle. By using a reversible switch and applying power to either electro magnet, the pole piece will be pulled toward the actuated side.

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If the door locks do not work, the best way to check to see if the locks are functional is to remove the door lock switch and test it for power and switching terminals. If there is power but the switch does not alternate terminals, the switch is bad. If there is power and the switch functions properly, then the likelihood is that the door lock is bad. If there is no power, then the fuse and wiring should be checked. The door locks are actuated by many different methods, depending on make and model of car. The door locks circuit includes the body ride control module and the ECM, as well as the security system, which includes the remote control.

To remove the door locks, the door panel must be removed. The separate type door lock mechanism is located in a bracket directly below the door latch and has a rod from the door lock to the door latch. Just disconnect the rod and the electrical connector. In most cases, the way the bracket is designed, the door lock can be pulled out of the bracket. If not, then the rivets must be removed from the outside under the door latch and replaced with pan head screws and nuts or rivets. If it is of the latter style where it is part of the door latch, then all the rods and the electrical connector must be removed. The rods have little plastic snaps holding them in place. Just push the retainer arm off of the rod with the fingers and lift the rod out. Remove the large Phillips screws holding the door latch in. Once the door latch is removed, the screws must be removed in the door latch holding the door lock in. Usually the door lock is black in colour, and in any event, it is the part with an electrical connector.

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