A car door that won’t open is one of the most frustrating experiences you can have. Have you ever dashed across a parking lot in the rain and yanked on the handle just to have it yank back? Or even scarier yet, have you ever needed to exit your vehicle in a hurry and the door just wouldn’t budge? Whether it’s trouble getting in which is inconvenient and annoying, or trouble getting out, which could turn into a dangerous situation, car doors that don’t open are a big problem.
Most people wouldn’t suspect it, but there are many complicated parts and pieces inside your vehicle’s doors, which means lots of parts and pieces that could go bad. There are also several outside sources that can cause your door to be stuck as well.
A door that is stuck needs to be dealt with right away. Don’t be one of those people that you see in the parking lot of your local big box store, climbing in the passenger seat because their driver door won’t open. It may be funny to watch, but in reality, doors that don’t work mean a car that is not safe.
Trying to figure out the cause of the problem is the first step in regaining entry or exit.
There are several things that can cause a car door to not open:
- I know, I know. You’re going to glare at your screen when I say this, but, is your door locked? Sometimes doors get locked without us knowing, so take a deep breath, bear with me, and check the lock.
- Has your door been creaking loudly when you open it? If so, your door’s hinges could be rusty and need lubricating.
- Is your area experiencing extreme cold? It’s possible that your door is frozen shut. Winter can wreak havoc on a vehicle, and your doors and locks are not immune to the elements.
- Something has happened to the door handle or the door in general. Whether it got dented, bent, the handle pulled off (yep, I’ve had that happen to me in the winter… pulled it clean off), or damaged some other way, a door or handle that is in less than kosher shape can cause the mechanisms inside to not work properly and result in the door not working.
- Seatbelt! Who hasn’t seen someone driving around town with their seatbelt hanging out of their door. If that seatbelt happens to get closed in just the right place, or the wrong place, it might be the culprit. A seatbelt covering the latch can cause things to jam up.
- Newer cars have a technology that causes car doors to deadlock, or just stop working. Deadlocking is an antitheft precaution and is triggered when someone has been attempting to enter your locked vehicle.
- If the offending door is a rear door, check the child safety lock. If it’s engaged, the door is meant to not open from the inside. But if it won’t open from the outside either, there is a problem.
How do I get in? Or out?
You can always call a locksmith. They have a number of things they can try to get in and they know what they’re looking at and can tell you what the problem is. If you can’t afford a locksmith or want to try some things yourself first, here are some things you can attempt:
- Unlock it. Yep, I said it again. Just humor me.
- If the door or handle are damaged, they might need to be repaired or replaced. Auto body shops have ways to remove some dents, or handles.
- If you are inclined, you could remove your inside door panel to manually manipulate the latch and open the door. While the panel is off, you could inspect the locking mechanism. There may be parts you can replace within the power locking system. This fix is of course one that should be completed by someone who is mechanically inclined.
- Try squirting a little grease spray like WD-40 into the crack where the hinges are and then attempt to open it again. There are a lot of moving pieces and parts inside a door that could get rusty and seize up.
- Use a dry spray or some graphite powder on the lock to help clean the locking mechanism.
- If your car is newer and you suspect it is deadlocked, this can be easily fixed by pressing a series of buttons on the car’s keypad or your key-fob, or using the key.
- For seatbelts that are stuck in a closed door, go inside the vehicle and attempt to pull the belt back in. Usually you can achieve this with a little muscle and the door should open once the belt is out of the way. If you can’t get the seatbelt to come loose, pull the door handle from the inside and with a little force, shove on the door. This should loosen up the belt enough for the latch to release.
- For frozen doors, try to remove ice from around the frame of the door and the handle with your ice scraper. If it opens, great! If not, attempt to thaw with some warm water (note that this water will freeze again too if it’s seriously cold), or one of those fabulous keychains that have the mechanism that slides out and can be place into the lock and heats up. Note if you have one of those, they are only for a keyed door.
These fixes won’t work for every situation. Sometimes, you’ll have to break down and take your car in to a professional for repair or replacement, depending on the issue. Bottom line, if your car door won’t open, you need to address the issue right away. Not doing so not only means you will have to use another door every time you need entry or exit, but it could have catastrophic results for yourself or your passengers if there is an emergency.