Having your car door latch get stuck is frustrating whether you are inside trying to get out or outside trying to get in. There are several reasons that your door latch may be sticking and preventing the door from opening.
Determine which doors have the problem
If you can’t open one door, try another door to see if it opens. If all of the doors remain locked, the issue may be with the remote lock. However, it is likely to be a problem with the individual latch if the other doors open easily.
Try to open the door from the inside
Once you determine only one door is having a problem opening, you can try opening the door from the inside. The issue may be with the external door handle. Sometimes opening the door from inside will free the door mechanism and allow it to work properly. If you think this is the case, try opening and closing the door a few times to make sure the problem is resolved.
Common reasons for door latch failure
Many problems with car door latches happen in older vehicles and are the result of normal use. Over time, the components break down and make it difficult to open and close. Water can also get in this area and cause rust, which will affect the latch after a period of time. Slamming the door can bend the mechanism on the latch and make it more difficult to open and close. It may cause the latch to get stuck inside because it is slightly bent.
Many times, a latch will warn you before it quits working entirely. You may have to use extra force to get the door to close or open. You may also hear a scraping sound, which is an indication that the latch isn’t working properly. You can also book our mechanics to look at the door, and may be able to get it repaired before it stops working completely.
Repairs for a stuck or broken door latch
Lubricating the door latch may allow it to open and close if rust is the culprit. You should notice a difference immediately if this takes care of the issue. If this step doesn’t fix the problem, the door latch mechanism may need to be replaced.
It is important not to drive a vehicle with a latch that doesn’t work properly. You can become stuck in the vehicle if it is in an accident, which could put you in danger.
A door that doesn’t stay closed because of a damaged door latch is just as dangerous and may open while you are driving at a high speed. If your door latch is failing or has become stuck, have a professional look at it right away.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Get a Car Door Latch Unstuck and was authored by Joyce Morse.