The door lock actuator locks and unlocks your vehicle’s doors. The lock buttons are located on each of the doors, with a master switch on the driver’s door. Once the button is pressed, it triggers the actuator, allowing the doors to be locked. This is a safety feature so people cannot get in your vehicle while it is parked, and passengers cannot get out while you are driving down the road.

The door lock actuator is a small electric motor. It works with a series of gears. Once engaged, the motor turns spur gears that serve as a gear reduction. The rack and pinion gears are the last gear set and are connected to the actuator rod. This converts the rotational motion into linear motion which moves the lock.

Some vehicles made today do not have a separate door lock assembly, so the entire thing needs to be replaced, rather than the actuator. This depends on the make and model of your vehicle so it is best to have it inspected by a professional mechanic.

The door lock actuator can go bad over time because it is used on a regular basis. The motor can fail, or different parts in the motor can go bad. As soon as you notice something is not right with the locks, contact a professional mechanic to have your door lock actuator replaced.

Since this part can go bad over time, you should be aware of the symptoms that indicate it is coming to the end of its life. This way, you can be prepared with a scheduled maintenance and hopefully not be without door locks on your vehicle.

Signs your door lock actuator needs to be replaced include:

  • Some or none of the doors will lock on your vehicle
  • Some or none of the doors will unlock on your vehicle
  • The locks will work sometimes but not always
  • The car alarm will go off for seemingly no reason
  • When the door locks or unlocks, the actuator makes a weird noise while it is performing this operation

This repair should not be put off because it is a safety concern. Make sure you consult a certified technician if you are experiencing any of the above issues.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Door Lock Actuator Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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