Car Door Lock Buyer’s Guide
- Car door locks are designed to prevent crooks from getting into your car and keep the driver and passengers safe while the car is moving.
- Basically, car door locks work the same way as door locks in houses do, but are a little more complicated with the addition of parts not found in regular door locks, such as cables and motors.
- The main types of car door locks are manual door locks and power door locks.
- Some of the reasons to replace a car door lock include having a worn-out assembly, tampering, and converting from one type of door lock to the other.
- Car door lock assembly replacements can cost around $35 to $780 depending on the type and what would fit the vehicle based on make, model, and year.
Just as with houses, cars need door locks to secure it against burglars. The importance of having a well-functioning car door lock becomes more apparent when parking in public places. When the car door lock mechanism is lockpicked or bypassed, unlike with a house, a thief can drive away with the vehicle and everything else inside of it.
Other than preventing crooks from getting into your car, door locks are also designed to keep the driver and passengers safe while the vehicle is moving. When properly engaged, the car lock assemblies ensure that the doors remain shut until they are unlocked. This feature is crucial for the safety of young passengers who might accidentally open and fall out of a car door while the car is moving.
How Does a Car Door Lock Work?
Basically, car door locks work the same way as door locks in houses do. The car door latch is on the edge opposite the hinge and is what engages with the striker to hold a closed door to the frame. When the door handle is moved, the latch disengages from the striker and the door can be opened. If the mechanism has been locked using a key, button, knob, or pin, the handle will no longer be able to move the latch.
Car door locks, however, are a little more complicated than ordinary door locks. Unlike door locks where parts of the mechanism are all grouped together behind the handle, cables are needed to link and transmit movement from the car door lock cylinder, handles, and button, knob, or pin to the latch. Depending on the type of mechanism, car door lock parts might even include a motor and other components that are not found in regular door locks.
Types of Car Door Locks
In the early days of automobiles, when starting a car was a lot more complicated and only a few people knew how to do it, car theft was not an issue. However, as cars and vehicle operation became more common, security started to become a concern and cars began having doors and car door locks.
As the design of vehicles improved through time, so did the car door lock. From no doors and locks to having manual door locks, there now are power door locks and even keyless door locks.
Manual Door Locks
As its name suggests, manual door locks can only be locked or unlocked through the direct movement of the key, button, knob, or pin. It does not require any power to be operated.
Usually in cars with manual door locks, only the driver and front passenger doors could be locked or unlocked from the outside with a key. Meanwhile, the locks in the rear passenger doors can only be engaged or disengaged by pushing down or pulling up the button, knob, or pin on the interior side of the car door.
Power Door Locks
While basically having the same locking mechanism and could be operated like a manual door lock, power door locks, or electric door locks, central locking, and automatic door locks, feature the addition of an electronic motor assembly called a door lock actuator. This motor can move the locking mechanism to the locked or unlocked positions when activated by the car’s computer.
Since the door lock actuator is controlled by the car’s computer, power door locks expand the number of ways car doors can be locked or unlocked. In addition to the manual buttons, knobs, and pins, the driver can engage or disengage the car door locks using controls that are within reach from their seat.
Power door locks also allow remote or keyless entry. With this type of locking system, the key fob can send a signal to the car’s computer to activate the door lock actuator. The signal can be sent either when a button on the fob is pressed or when the fob is at a certain distance from the car.
Reasons to Replace the Car Door Lock
Just like every other vehicle component, car door locks are also liable to wearing out and breaking. When parts of the mechanism start to malfunction or fall apart, you might begin to experience problems such as a car door that won’t open. While it is easy to tell when there are issues with the car door lock, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which part of it is starting to fail, especially if it is a power door lock since it includes electric components. If simple fixes do not work, such as applying lubrication when the key won’t turn in the car door lock, then it might be time to replace the car door lock unit.
With the purpose of preventing burglars from getting into the car, the car door lock would be a target for fiddling. When a car door lock is tampered with, it might no longer be in good working condition. For a manual door lock, it is also possible that the perpetrator has already learned how to bypass the system even if the break-in was unsuccessful. On the other hand, power door locks could be hacked to open with techniques like signal jamming and relaying. When the door locking system has been compromised, it might be best to get a new one.
Aside from having a broken car door lock, this component can also be changed when converting from a manual to a powered system and vice versa. When doing this, all of the car’s locking systems might have to be replaced to ensure ease of access for the driver and passengers and security against would-be thieves.
Car Door Lock Replacement
Depending on the type and what would fit your vehicle based on make, model, and year, car door lock replacements cost around $35 to $780. This price range is for the door lock assembly itself. You can also opt to get a replacement for individual components if you are able to identify the specific part that needs to be changed.