What Causes Power Door Locks to Stop Working? & How to Fix?

Written by

Charles Bolte


Vernon Hoppe 

what causes power door locks to stop working

When a power door lock has stopped working, the root of the problem could range from a simple dead key fob battery to a complicated issue, like a damaged fuse.

Regardless, it’s a great hassle for car owners. Thus, if you’re caught in a similar situation, immediately identify the cause.

To do that, you’ll need to know what causes power door locks to stop working, which you’ll learn if you keep reading.

Why Do Power Door Locks Stop Working?


Behind every push of your key fob button, several components are activated and work together to unlock your power door lock.

Thus, when you read about the reasons power door locks stop working, you’ll observe that even only one damaged component can lead to power locks not working.

Admittedly, it’ll take some troubleshooting to discover which components are affected. But to make the process easier, you can go through the following causes and see if one matches your problem.

1. Key fob problems


When your automatic door locks are not working, the problem can be as simple as a faulty key fob or one with dead batteries.

It’s usually the latter if you’ve had yours for years. In that case, you can unlock your door again after a battery change.

But if changing the batteries didn’t work, bring your key fob to a technician so they can run a diagnosis. They’ll advise repair or replacement.

2. Obstruction or corrosion


Dirt, grime, and corrosion can get stuck in your power door lock or latch. To check for those obstructions, try pressing your key fob. When the power locks click but won’t lock (or unlock), they’re blocked with dirt or corrosion.

You can spray lubricant or silicone-based spray to get rid of them. It’s recommended to use WD-40 to remove the grime.

3. Frozen mechanism


When the car is off and out in the cold, you’ll get more than just ice sheets on your windshield. The mechanism inside your car door can get frozen, preventing the locks on some doors from working.

You can use these to melt the ice in your power door lock:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • De-icer
  • Hair dryer
  • Vinegar solution
  • Lubricant

Do not use hot water or flame, as excessive heat can damage your door lock.

4. Dead car battery


As mentioned above, dead batteries in your key fob can cause the power doors to stop working. However, they aren’t the only batteries you should think of.

Power door locks function using an electrical system. Thus, if the car battery is dead, the locks won’t have electricity to respond to the key fob’s signals.

To check if this is your situation, manually unlock your car door with a key and then try to start the engine. If it doesn’t or is too slow, the battery needs to be charged.

5. Actuator issues


The actuator is one, if not the, most important component in the power door lock system. When its motor, linkages, or gears are damaged, it will lead to the electric door lock not working.

In that case, you may have to replace the parts or install a new actuator.

Damage to the wiring that leads to the actuator or the power door lock will also affect the lock’s function.

6. Blown fuse


Fuses are included in a power door lock system to avoid overloading that can lead to short circuits or electrical damage. When they get blown, the system won’t work.

Usually, the power locks on all doors will stop working if a fuse is blown. You can follow the burnt smell or shaking sound to find and replace that fuse.

How to Fix Power Door Locks


When your power door locks aren’t working, you don’t have to bring your car to the technician immediately. Try resolving the problem by yourself or at least identify the cause.

1. Check other door locks

First, you must determine if the problem is on one door only or involves more. To do that, you can start by opening the driver’s side.

If it doesn’t open, proceed with the others, like the one on the passenger side. If the passenger door lock is not working, that’ll indicate you’re having a serious electrical problem.

2. Identify cause

Quickly assess your power door lock for simple, possible causes behind the malfunction, like obstructions or key fob problems.

Then, check the actuators, fuses, and other internal components. However, if you’re not confident doing that, proceed to a mechanic or technician.

3. Consult a technician

A car lock technician is best equipped to resolve power door lock problems. They can fix individual component issues or reset automatic door locks.

However, service can be expensive. Thus, it’s best to resort to this option only when you can’t resolve the problem at home or can’t identify the cause at all.

But always be aware of your limitations. Attempting to solve such severe issues yourself when you have no proper knowledge may lead to more significant problems.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Causes Toyota Camry or Lexus RX 350 Door Lock Problems?

Toyota Camry and Lexus door lock problems are usually caused by damage to individual components, like the actuator or fuse, or issues with the key fob. Serious electrical damage, like wiring issues, may also be the cause, especially when multiple door locks are malfunctioning.

Why Won’t My Car Door Lock Manually?

When your car door won’t lock manually, the problem is likely with the lock or key rather than the electrical system. The former may be obstructed or lacking lubrication.


This article has provided many answers to the question, “What causes power door locks to stop working?”. Identifying the one that best applies to your situation is crucial in determining the most efficient and practical response.

For instance, some causes, such as dead key fob batteries, allow you to resolve the problem at home. Meanwhile, other situations, like an electrical problem, are best left in the hands of an expert.

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