Car doors come in different shapes, sizes, and types. Aside from protecting the passengers inside a vehicle, the doors also ensure a comfortable ride for everyone. Aside from being the main entry and exit points of your vehicle, the doors secure the cabin. In addition, they help keep the outside air and noise from entering the passenger cabin.
If you’re interested in auto repair, this guide will help you get acquainted with the parts that make up the doors of your vehicle and help you troubleshoot any basic problems that may arise.
What are the Parts of a Car Door?
The doors of your vehicle contain a lot of important parts like windows and handles. Your car door is also where some controls and electronic switches are located.
Car door parts can be divided into two main categories: the interior parts and the exterior parts.
Car Door Exterior
Typically, the exterior side of the car door is made of metal, just like the rest of the car’s body. The paint, finish, and decorative molding or trim of the door should match the rest of the car exterior.
Exterior door handle
Car doors have both exterior and interior door handles, which can be made with either plastic or metal. The handle may be black, chrome, or painted to match the rest of the car.
Both the interior and exterior door handles are attached to a long metal rod that extends to the door latch.
Car doors have windows that can be operated either manually or automatically. Manual windows are operated with a mechanical crank, while power windows are controlled with a switch, electric motor, and accompanying components.
The window molding (also known as trim), which is usually made from plastic or rubber, helps secure the window in place and provides a certain level of protection for the glass.
The door hinge is where the door is attached to the car’s body. Like any hinge, it is the mechanism that allows you to open and close the door. Most door hinges are made from strong metal, such as steel.
Door Seals and Weatherstripping
Typically, they’re made from rubber and can be fastened around the door using sealants or specialized fasteners.
The pillar is a vertical support integrated into the car window area that supports the windshield and roof (or soft top, if you’ve got a convertible). Different vehicles have different car door pillar designs.
Car Door Interior
The interior side of the door contains switches as well as the internal mechanisms that control the windows, etc.
If the car has power accessories, the doors will have switches for the windows, locks and (on the driver’s side) the power mirrors.
The door panel covers internal parts like the window regulator, the power window motor, and the wiring. In older cars, door panels used to be made out of cardboard and upholstered with material that matches the rest of the upholstery within the cabin. On the other hand, most modern cars have door panels made from plastic.
Interior Door Handle
The interior door handle disengages the door latch so you can push the door open. Most modern interior door handles are made from plastic.
The linkage for both the interior and exterior door handles is found inside the door, underneath the door panel.
The car window regulator is a scissor-like mechanism that allows the window to be moved up and down. Depending on whether the car has power windows or manual windows, the regulator is either operated by a crank or an electric motor.
If this part fails, your power windows can become stuck and will no longer be able to roll up or down.
As mentioned, manually-controlled windows use a crank to move the window up and down. On the other hand, cars with power windows use an electrical switch to operate the window motor.
Power Window Motor
Vehicles with power windows use a small electric motor to move the regulator up and down. Like other window components, the motor can be found behind the door panel.
Door Locks and Latches
Car doors are equipped with latches and locks to keep the door in place and prevent unauthorized access to the inside of the vehicle. There are manual locks and power door locks.
Power door locks are operated with a switch and, in some cases, they can also be operated via a key fob. Also, most vehicles have a child safety lock feature that prevents backseat occupants from opening the doors.
Door Switch/ Door Ajar Switch
The door ajar switch activates the interior dome light when the door is opened. Depending on the vehicle, the switch may also be an input to the car’s onboard computer for additional functions.
Car Door Speakers
Most cars also have speakers installed inside the door. These speakers can come in a variety of sizes and output ratings.
Common Car Door Problems and How to Fix Them
Leaks can be caused by a deteriorating door weatherstrip or seal. As a result, water or winds can enter the passenger cabin. In such a scenario, you’ll need to check your weatherstripping or seal and replace it as needed.
Typically, weatherstripping is relatively easy to remove and install. The part can cost anywhere from $5 to $250 depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle.
Faulty Automatic Lock
There are several reasons why your car’s automatic door locks might not work. Common causes include a failed door lock actuator, bad door lock switch, or wiring issues.
Diagnosing the problem usually requires some troubleshooting or professional assistance.
Difficulty in Opening or Closing
A faulty door latch can make a vehicle difficult to open and close, as can a rusted or corroded hinge. Sometimes, lubricating the hinge or latch can fix the problem.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to replace the failed component.
Car door repair can be complicated. Should you decide to fix any door issues yourself, you should have a repair manual on hand. Professional assistance is the best bet if you’re unsure of your repair abilities.