Stuck Doors

Created: 8/14/03

Last updated: 

Author/source: DML

From: "twinenginedmc12" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2002 11:02 AM
Subject: Re: Stuck Door

--- In dmcnews@y..., wmack <wmack@v...> wrote:
> I still can't get my driver's door open.  I have tried messing with
the rods
> and everything, and nothing works.  I'm at the point now where I am
> of drilling out the old latch assembly from the inside.  Has anyone
tried this
> before?
> Thanks
>   Willie
>   Vin 5043

Hi Willie.  Here you go.

This troubleshooting sequence is tailor-made for Willie, who is
having trouble with the front driver's side door latch of his car. 
The sequence makes assumptions that may be valid only for his car. 
I've called the parts I reference whatever I felt like.  There may be
different, official names.  I apologise for not following convention,
but feel it doesn't matter, as long as Willie can follow what I'm
talking about.
Email me privately at twinenginedmc12(AT), and I'll
give you my phone number, if you want verbal explanations of this
hard to follow text, Willie.


The rear door latch is okay.
The torsion bar is installed and properly tensioned.
The door panels, armrest, and translucent plastic vapor barrier have
been removed from the door.

Before you start:

Print these instructions out, so you can have them with you at the

If you find any broken, disconnected or bent parts, stop right there,
and give me an email.  This sequence assumes everything's intact,
which might be a stretch.

You might benefit from taking the panels off of the passenger door,
to see how things work on the door that functions properly.  It's
less destructive then wrecking the driver's side door latch
mechanism.  Instruction manuals often recommend overhauling doors one
at a time, so you can use the intact door for reference.

Lubricate all the pivot points in the linkage, just in case it's
simple binding causing the trouble.

These are "no whining" instructions.  Use them at your own risk.

Start here.

1.  Check to determine whether front latch mechanism is locked.

Find the front lock actuator rod.  It's about 1/8inch in diameter,
runs horizontally about 5inch from the bottom edge of the door, and
has a distinguishing pair of 40-45degree bends in it.  On one side,
it should connect to a lever at the cylindrical lock solenoid, on the
other side it should connect to a t-shaped plastic piece at the lock
mechanism.  At the t-shaped piece, the rod connects to what would be
the "bottom" leg of the t. 

Try to move this rod back and forth, length-wise along its axis. 
Doing this locks and unlocks the car, if it's working right.  You
should be able to move it back and forth about 3/8inch, using a
pressure of only a few pounds.  Don't force it.  If you do, something
will bend or break, introducing new and improved problems not covered
by your DeLorean warranty :).  While you're moving it back and forth,
there should be a distinctive k-click, c-klick noise.  This is the
sound of the lock mechanisms locking, and unlocking.  There is a lock
mechanism in the rear latch, and one in the front.  Each one makes
its own noise.  They both need to work, to unlock the car.  Move the
rod back and forth, while listening intently to the rear mechanism,
and then the front mechanism.  Since you've already determined that
the rear mechanism works okay, you should expect to hear the click,
klick noise there without problems.  The front latch mechanism is the
suspect one.  If you hear the click-klick noise at the front
mechanism okay while you're moving the rod back and forth, it's
likely that the lock is working okay. Move the rod toward the back of
the car.  This is the unlocked position.
Proceed to "3.  Unlatching the door."

If, on the other hand, you don't hear that click klick sound at the
front latch, proceed to "2.  Unlocking the front lock manually at the
latch mechanism."

2.  Unlocking the front lock manually at the front latch mechanism.

The T-shaped plastic part at the front latch mechanism can be
manually actuated.  One end of the t, the part closest to you when
you look at it, doesn't have anything connected to it.  Move this
part of the t up and down.  Don't force it.  This plastic part should
rotate back and forth, and you should here the click-klick sound of
the lock locking and unlocking. If you hear this sound, move the part
of the t described up.  This is the unlocked position.  Proceed
to "3.  Unlatching the door."

If the t shaped part doesn't rotate freely, try to figure out what's
jamming it.  This is probably the problem, causing your door to be
stuck locked.  If it does move freely, but doesn't make the clicking
noise, there's one move accessible part of the linkage to test.  The
furthest-away from-you part of the t interfaces with another plastic
part at the latch mechanism.  Try to move this part back and forth,
listening for the click-klick sound of the lock locking and
unlocking.  If you can't move this part back and forth, or don't hear
the click-klick, the lock is probably jammed at the latch. You should
get a professional at this point.

3.  Unlatching the door.

If you haven't convinced yourself the door is unlocked at this stage,
it's pointless to proceed.  You must go back to  "1.  Check to
determine whether front latch mechanism is locked." and make sure the
door is unlocked first.

If you're sure the door is unlocked:
Find the front door latch actuator rod.  It runs horizontally about
10inch above the bottom edge of the door.  One side is connected to a
pivoting bracket that also connects to the door handle cable, the
other to the front latch mechanism itself.  It can be distinguished
by the adjustment turnbuckle on it.  It's possible that a bad or
outdated adjustment to this turnbuckle is causing your problem, but
we're not at that stage yet.  I mention it only to identify the rod.

Move this rod back and forth along its axis.  Don't force it.  It
moves about the same distance back and forth as the front lock
actuator rod, but doesn't make any particular noise, except for the
quiet clicking together of the linkage parts and the door.  The latch
mechanism is sprung, so as you move the rod toward the back of the
car, it should put up progressively more resistance.  When you move
the rod forward, the resistance should decrease.  Both the front and
rear latch mechanisms have springs, so try to "feel" whether the
front latch has this springyness or not.  We're assuming that the
rear does, because it's working right.  If you don't feel this spring
tension, or if you can't make the rod move, it may be jammed
somewhere.  Try to find out where.
If it does move okay, and you feel the tension as described, then it
might be okay.

Move the rod toward the back of the car.  This unlatches the front
mechanism.  At this point, the front lock should be unlocked, and the
front latch should be released, and you should be able to open the
door. I'm still assuming that the rear mechanisms are working
correctly. If the door doesn't spring open itself, door misalignment
might be jamming it a little bit.  Hold the rod toward the back of
the car, under tension to release the latch, while simultaneously
pushing the door outward.  The lower front part of the door is a good
place to push.  Don't push too hard, about 10 pounds, and don't push
on the exterior steel.  If this doesn't open the door, get a
professional.  It's likely the problem is inside the mechanism
itself, or that the mechanism is jammed on the pin in some screwy
way.  Either way, don't try to "drill out" the mechanism.  You'll
probably just wreck the door, which probably still won't open when
you're done drilling.  Get the professional.

If the door does open, then the lock and latch mechaniam are probably
okay, and slope or binding in the rods or linkage are probably the
cause.  See if you can find anything damaged, jammed or unconnected. 
There are too many screwy things that could go wrong to list.

Good luck.  Let me know how it goes.

Rick Gendreau

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