Door switches are just on/off mechanisms connected to the interior light (dome light), and may also be connected to a warning light, speaker or other device, to tell the driver when the door is not closed. In American cars from the 1950s to 1990s, they had buzzers or “door dingers” that sounded, along with the check light, whenever door was open.
Power door lock (also called as electric door locks or central locking) helps the driver or front passenger to simultaneously lock or unlock all the doors of an automobile or in truck, by pressing a button or even by flipping a switch.
Power door locks were introduced on the luxury Scripps-Booth in 1914, but were not so popular on luxury cars until Packard reintroduced them in 1956. Nearly all car models today offers this feature as at least optional equipment.
Early systems locked and unlocked just the car doors. Also, many cars today feature systems which can unlock such things as the luggage compartment or fuel filler cap door. It is also common on modern cars for the locks to start automatically when the car is put into gear or reaches a certain speed.
How to Replace a Door Lock Switch
The door lock switch gets damaged when pressing the button does not lock or unlock the door or the usual functionality fails to work.
Today, many cars with power door locks have a radio frequency remote keyless system too, which allows a person to press a button on a remote control key fob. Currently, a lot of luxury makers also allow the windows to be opened or closed by pressing and holding a button on the remote control key fob or by inserting the ignition key and holding it in the lock or unlock position in the external driver’s door lock.
The remote locking system confirms successful locking and unlocking through either a light or a horn signal, and generally offers an option to switch easily between these two variants.
Both provide almost the same functionality, though light signals are more discreet while horn signals may create a nuisance in the residential neighbourhoods and other busy parking areas (e.g. short-term parking lots). Some manufacturers offer an advantage to adjust the horn signal volume. The remote locking device can be used within a specific distance of the vehicle’s location only.
However, if the battery in the remote locking device drains out, the distance to the vehicle’s location decreases and becomes shorter. A lot of drivers are relying on the remote locking device to lock their vehicles after they have walked away. The system might show signs that the locking device is working, but the doors may not be locking correctly.
Part 1 of 5: Verifying the door lock switch condition
Step 1: Find the door with the damaged or faulty door lock switch. Just look at the door lock switch for any exterior damage.
Carefully press down on the door lock switch to see if the locks will activate the door locks.
- Note: Some vehicles will only operate the door locks with the key in the ignition and the tumbler turned to on or in accessories position.
Part 2 of 5: Removing the door lock switch
Having all of the required tools and materials prior to starting the work will allow you to get the job done more efficiently.
- Boxed end wrenches
- Cross tip screwdriver
- Electrical cleaner
- Flat tip screwdriver
- Lisle door tool
- Needle nose plyers
- Pocket flat tip screwdriver
- Ratchet w/metric and standard sockets
- Torques bit set
Step 1: Park your vehicle. Make sure to park it on a hard flat surface.
Step 2: Put wheel chocks around the rear tires ground. Engage the parking brake to the lock the rear tires from making any movement.
Step 3: Add a nine volt battery saver into your cigarette lighter. This will help to keep your computer live and keep your setting current in the vehicle.
Even if you do not have a nine volt battery saver, it’s fine.
Step 4: Open the vehicle’s hood to disconnect your battery. Take the ground cable off from the battery’s negative post disabling the power to the door lock actuator.
On vehicles having a pop out door lock switch:
Step 5: Locate the door with the faulty door lock switch. Using a flat tip screwdriver, slightly investigate all around the door lock cluster panel.
Pop out the cluster panel and take off the harness from the cluster.
Step 6: Slightly investigate on the locking tabs on the door lock switch. Do it with a small flathead screwdriver.
Pull out the switch out of the cluster. You might need to use needle nose plyers to help pull out the switch.
- Note: Keep in mind, some of the door and window clusters are not serviceable and require the cluster to be replaced as a whole unit.
- Note: Prior to hooking up the harness, be sure to clean it with the help of electrical cleaner.
On vehicles having mounted in panel door lock switch on 80’s, early 90’s, and some modern day vehicles:
Step 7: Find the door with the faulty door lock switch.
Step 8: Remove the outer door handle of the door panel. This is fixed by one cross tip head screw in the outer edge of the door.
The upper of the two screws are visible just above of the latching mechanism and is partially hidden under the rubber door seal in the door. Take out the two screws that hold the door handle to the door shell. Push the handle in forward direction to release it and pull it away from the door.
- Note: Be careful to examine the two plastic seals on the door handle and replace if necessary.
Step 9: Remove the inner door handle. For doing this, pry the cup shaped plastic cover out from under the door handle.
This component is not connected to the plastic rim around the handle. There is a gap found in the forward edge of the cup shaped cover so you can insert a flat screwdriver. Take off the cover and underneath is a cross tip head screw which must be removed. The plastic rim can then be taken off from around the handle.
Step 10: Remove the window crank. Make sure the window is closed, pry up the plastic cover on the handle (the handle is a metal or plastic arm with a metal or plastic clip).
Remove the cross tip head screw while holding the door handle to the shaft and then pull the handle off. A large plastic washer will come off along the handle. Take notes or click a picture on which way it sits against the door.
Step 11: Remove the panel placed on the inside of the door. Carefully pry the panel away from the door all the way around.
A flat screwdriver or a lisle door tool (preferred) will help here, but be gentle so you don’t damage the painted door around the panel. Once all the clips become loose, grab the panel from the top and bottom and bend it slightly away from the door.
Lift the whole panel straight up to lift it clear of the catch which is behind the door handle. As you do this a large coil spring would fall out. This spring sits behind the window winder handle, and it’s somewhat fiddly to get back into place as you try to reinstall the panel.
- Note: Some vehicles might have bolts or torques bit screws that hold the panel secured to the door.
Step 12: Slightly pry on the locking tabs on the door’s lock switch. Do this with the help of a small pocket flathead screwdriver.
Pull the switch out from the cluster. You might need to use needle nose plyers to help pull out the switch.
- Note: Prior to hooking up the harnesses, make sure to clean them with electrical cleaner.
On vehicles having panel door lock switch and power windows on late 90’s vehicles to current:
Step 13: Remove the panel on the inside of the door. Carefully pry the panel away from the door all the way around.
Take off the screws that mount the door grab handle in place. Remove the screws in the center of the door panel. Use a flat screwdriver or a lisle door tool (preferred) for removing the clips around the door, but be gentle so you don’t damage the painted door around the panel.
Once all the clips have been loosened, grab the panel top and bottom and bend it slightly away from the door. Lift the whole panel straight up to lift it clear of the catch which is behind the door handle.
- Note: Some vehicles might have torques bit screws that hold the panel secured to the door.
Step 14: Disconnect the door latch cable. Take off the harness to the speaker in the door panel.
Disconnect the harness which is at the bottom of the door panel.
Step 15: Disconnect the lock switch harness from the cluster control panel. With a small pocket flat tip screwdriver, slightly pry on the locking tabs on the door lock switch.
Pull out the switch away from the cluster. You might need to use needle nose plyers to help pull out the switch.
- Note: Prior to hooking up the harness, make sure to clean it with electrical cleaner.
Part 3 of 5: Installing the door lock switch
On vehicles having pop out door lock switch:
Step 1: Pop the new door lock switch in the door lock cluster. Make sure that the locking tabs snap onto the door lock switch keeping it secured.
Step 2: Hook up the harness to the door lock cluster. Snap the door lock cluster into the door panel.
You might need to use a pocket flat tip screwdriver to help the locking tabs slide into the door panel.
On vehicles having mounted in panel door lock switch on 80’s, early 90’s, and some modern day vehicles:
Step 3: Pop the new door lock switch in the door lock cluster. Make sure that the locking tabs snap onto the door lock switch keeping it secured.
Step 4: Just hook up the harness to the door lock cluster.
Step 5: Install the door panel onto the door. Slide the door panel down and in towards the front part of the car to ensure that the door handle is in place.
Snap all of the door tabs in the door securing the door panel.
Step 6: Install the window crank handle. Make sure that the window crank handle spring is located prior to securing the handle.
Install the small screw to the window crank handle to secure it. Install the metal or plastic clip onto the window crank.
Step 7: Install the inner door handle. Just install the screws to secure the door handle to the door panel.
Snap the screw cover in place.
On vehicles having mounted in panel door lock switch and power windows on late 90’s vehicles to current:
Step 8: Pop up the new door lock switch into the door lock cluster. Make sure that the locking tabs snap onto the door lock switch keeping it secured.
Step 9: Connect the lock switch harness to the cluster control panel.
Step 10: The door latch cable should be connected to the door panel. Install the harness to the speaker available in the door panel.
Connect the harness at the bottom part of the door panel.
Step 11: Installing the door panel onto the door. Slide the door panel down and in to the front of the car to ensure that the door handle is in place.
Snap all of the door tabs into the door while securing the door panel. Install the screws in the center of the door panel. Add the door grab handle and mounting screws to the handle.
Part 4 of 5: Hooking up the battery
Step 1: Open the vehicle’s hood. Firstly, reconnect the ground cable back onto the battery’s negative post.
Take off the nine volt battery saver from the cigarette lighter.
Step 2: Tighten the battery clamp. This will make sure that the connection is good.
- Note: If you did not have a nine volt battery saver, you would have to reset all of the settings in your vehicle, like your radio, electric seats, and electric mirrors.
Part 5 of 5: Testing the door lock switch
There are two types of functions on the door lock switch: lock and unlock. Just press on the lock side of the switch. The door must lock with the door in the open position and in the closed position. Then, press the door unlock side of the switch. The door should unlock with the door in the open position and in the closed position.
Put the key in the ignition and turn the key on. Operate the door’s lock switch. With the door in the closed position, the door should get locked. While operating the driver door lock switch with the door in the open position, the door should lock then unlock.
When you’re standing outside the vehicle, shut the door and lock it with the electronic device only. Operate the outside door handle and you will find that the door will just be locked. Unlock the door with the electronic device and operate the outside door’s handle. The door should now open.