If you own a newer model vehicle, there’s a good chance it has power door locks. While these can certainly make life quite convenient, they do come with the downfall that they can “wear out” or break.

Typically to unlock or lock your vehicle you press the correct button on your keyless remote or on the button within your vehicle. Now when you're in the vehicle and you want to unlock your passenger door, there's no need to stretch across the seat trying to hit their button. Instead you will have a button on the driver's side that controls all the doors. As you press the button it completes a circuit that travels through a door lock relay. This relay is in fact a switch if you will, and it switches on the power that is needed to unlock the doors.

From time to time this door lock relay can break, which means you won’t be able to complete that circuit and unlock the door. There is no set lifespan for this particular part, but obviously the more wear and tear it endures, the less time it’s going to last. And keep in mind because this is an electrical component, things can go wrong even when it’s fairly new.

Here are some typical signs to look for that show it may not be working properly:

  • You press the button on your keyless remote (FOB device) and nothing happens
  • You press the button on the inside of your vehicle that is meant to unlock the doors, and nothing happens
  • They may lock but are unable to unlock, or vice versa. In other words, they aren’t reliable.

The good news is that even though your power door locks may stop working due to a bad door lock relay, you can always open them manually. You can lean across the seat to open the door for passengers, and get in and out of your vehicle by inserting the key into the lock. It comes down to the convenience factor with this issue. There is absolutely no safety aspect involved here, as it won’t affect how your car operates.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect your door lock relay is in need of replacement, you can get a diagnostic or book a door lock relay replacement service with a professional mechanic at your convenience.

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


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