Door lock actuators are an electronic component found on vehicles equipped with power door locks. They are the electronically controlled actuators in every single door that are responsible for locking and unlocking the power door locks when the switches are pressed. When they fail or have issues, they can disable the power door lock feature, which can be a major inconvenience to the driver. Usually a bad or failing power door lock actuator will produce a few symptoms that can notify the driver of an issue that should be serviced.
1. Unusual noises coming from inside the door
Unusual noises coming from inside the door are one of the first symptoms of a potential problem with a power door lock actuator. Most power door locks operate using gears or motors that may quietly whir, or make noise when they operate. Those noises are normal. However, if the noise suddenly becomes louder or more pronounced, then this may be an indicator that the gears or motor are becoming worn out. The noises may get louder until the actuators eventually fail.
2. Power door locks behave erratically
Another symptom of a potential problem with the power door lock actuators are door locks that behave erratically. If the actuators have any sort of internal or wiring issue, it may cause them to rapidly lock and unlock unexpectedly, or cause them to function intermittently.
3. Power door locks do not function
Another symptom of a potential problem with the door lock actuators are power door locks that do not function. If the door lock actuators fail, they will disable the power door lock feature from working. This will require the driver to use the key to lock or unlock the doors, and can disable the power door locks completely for vehicles that do not use a traditional key, such as newer luxury vehicles.
The power door lock actuators are a simple component, but are critical to the operation of the power door locks - which are among the most commonly used features of any vehicle. For this reason, if you suspect that one or more of your power door lock actuators may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic to determine if you need a door lock actuator replacement.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Door Lock Actuator and was authored by Ed Ruelas.