Pickup Truck Door Won’t Open? Here’s What To Do

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  • Post last modified:October 26, 2020

The doors on a truck and in any vehicle are the most used component. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise when the doors on your truck eventually run into problems. One of the most common problems with trucks is a door that typically won’t open from the outside. To help you with this problem, we researched this topic to give you an in-depth and helpful answer. 

When the door does not open, there are various places that you should check to diagnose the problem correctly:

  • Is the door locked? If the door shows no signs of opening, the first thing to check is whether the door is locked and unlock it. 
  • Check the seat belt’s position. Sometimes, you might jam the door with your seatbelt if the belt gets positioned over the door’s latching mechanism.
  • Mechanical failure? If the door does not open, either direction, it is likely a mechanical problem. Remove the panel from the inside of the door and check whether the components are properly working. 

You should ensure that truck doors are well lubricated and handled carefully at all times. In this article, we will guide you exactly on that and check for common problems that might affect your truck door and what to do in case that happens.

Ford Ranger pickup truck on display at a motor show, Pickup Truck Door Won't Open? Here's What To Do

Truck Door Won’t Open – What To Do? 

When your truck door does not open, a few problems might have caused this. Each problem calls for a different solution, and we have highlighted some of the most common causes below:

Lubrication

If you have tried to turn the key while in the lock and the door refuses to open, it might be a stuck lock mechanism. This leads to some difficulties for the key going into the lock. One such problem is not turning as fully as it is supposed to when unlocking the door. Add some lubrication to check on whether it will loosen a bit and open.

This sticking lock mechanism is caused by an accumulation of moisture and dirt, which jams the lock mechanism. When the lock is lubricated with graphite powder’s help or a dry spray, the frozen lock will work properly. To lubricate the door:

  • Get a can full of compressed air and blow out any dirt and grime accumulation in and around the lock.
  • Spray the moving parts of the lock with WD-40.
  • Then use a dry lubricant or graphite powder to lubricate the lock.

Take extra precautions to avoid getting any WD-40 spray on the paint, as it will damage the paint and require you to repaint the truck

While using a lubricant can get all the moving parts of a lock to function correctly, a cleaning spray (WD-40) works to ensure the lock is free and will work efficiently but only on a short-term basis. A dry lubricant ensures that the lock remains clean and dirt-free and increases its efficiency over a long term basis. 

With all this said, a more straightforward way to unlock the locked door is trying to open it from the inside. This is because some stuck mechanisms will become unstuck once you unlatch it from the inside. If you notice a problem with the latch and refuses to open, read on for a latch solution.

Broken, Lost, or Worn-Out Keys

Your door might be okay, but you try opening it, and it does not work. It might have been due to broken or worn out keys, and while shaking the key in the lock might open the door, we advise against this because you may damage the components of the lock. 

For a car with a power locking system, use a door lock motor to unlock it, and before investigating, check whether the fuse is blown. If your lock motor is broken or does not function when power is on, replace it with a new one, or get an expert to look at it.

It would be best to keep a spare key with you when your key gets lost and cannot be used to open your door. In case you already have spare keys, make another copy of the key so that you have two. A remote car starter will also help you open the truck remotely if you have locked your keys in your truck. However, if you have lost your car key and need to gain entry right away, here’s a video on how to use readily available objects to unlock your car without keys.

For a long term solution, ensure you have a spare key to your door and at an easily accessible and safe place.

Removing the door panel

If none of the above tips deliver a solution, your next best solution might be removing the door panel and checking whether any part of the door is broken. To remove the door panel:

Use your screwdriver to detach the screws from the panel and disconnect any electric connections on it. Start removing the screws from the bottom of the panel and keep all your screws organized and remember where each goes – keep them in a zip lock or magnetic tray.

Lift the panel upwards slightly and give it a shake to open it. Ensure that you know the right way to unlatch your car’s panel to avoid damaging or breaking anything inside. 

Once the panel is opened and removed, check to see what happens when you pull on the door handle. If your door fails to open from the outside, check whether the metal rods inside the panel work okay. A metal coat hanger works well as a make-shift metal rod for most trucks and, when secured with epoxy, will be good as new. Keep it tight for the door latch to unlock when opening the door.

If your truck has many electronic parts, you will need to take extra precautions when handling door repairs and ensure that you have gone through the steps outlined in the truck’s repair manual before opening the door. 

A Damaged Car Latch

Slamming the door too hard and repeatedly while closing it will cause so much damage to it that the latch jams and fails to release the door. For such a jam, you might need an emergency tool to unlock it. But if it’s broken, opening it from the inside might be the only way to get your door open. 

While a coat hanger works for opening a stuck door, you need to avoid scratching the truck’s door.

Calling a Locksmith

If trying everything and has either failed or left you frustrated, try calling a locksmith to open your door. You can later consult with a mechanic to fix your door or check whether the locking system needs to be changed. In some cases, such as an accident, the whole door might need to be replaced to function correctly.

Before you attempt to fix your truck door, ensure that you have the right tools for the job and know whatever you are doing. Otherwise, get a mechanic or professional locksmith’s services.

What Do You Do When Your Key Doesn’t Unlock The Door?

If you cannot open your door, here are several alternatives that may do the trick. However, we always recommend you call your local locksmith to prevent damaging your truck’s lock. 

Open it using a tennis ball

Tennis ball centered on the court line

While you may be skeptical about it, this method works. You make a hole in the tennis ball, place it over the opening of the car’s lock, and squeeze. The air forced out unlocks the door.

Use a shoelace

Well, we are telling you methods using nearby tools. With this, tie a small loop on your shoelace, gently push it inside the door, ensure you get the loop over and around the lock, and pull it up. You may get lucky, and this method will open the truck door without needing a locksmith. 

Coat hanger

This only works with horizontal locks. Straighten the hanger wire, make a hook at one end, and work it into the door. Get the hook around the lock and pull up. Take extra caution to protect the door and window from scratches.

Can A Door Lock Actuator Be Fixed?

A door lock actuator is a device mounted on the inside of a truck door and contains parts such as an electric motor, gears, and cables that connect to lock the door and keep it that way. It also has a small computer connection that receives your car’s lock/unlock signals from your key. 

If your truck door: 

  • has strange sounds coming from the direction of the lock actuator,
  • interior lights do not come on or shut off as they are intended,
  • alarm system malfunctions regularly, and/or
  • has a dead battery that results in the actuator cycling all the time; then, the actuator is damaged and might need repair.

While a door lock actuator can be repaired, it is much more advisable to replace it with a new one. This is because the repair costs and costs of buying a new one are nearly the same. A new actuator will cost somewhere between $280 and $350, while parts will cost at least $200. 

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Truck Door That Won’t Open?

The repair costs to a door latch are mostly dependent on the extent of the problem, difficulty in door latch removal, and where the repair services are to be performed. Labor costs will typically be $100 for an independent repair shop and $150 for a dealership.

In case your latch’s cables and rods need replacement and do not come with the new door latch, you might need to buy a new one as they are not readily available from aftermarket supplies. New cables and rods cost between $25 and $50, respectively, depending on the brand. 

You can expect to pay between $200 to $600 to repair your truck’s lock at a mechanic’s shop or dealership.

How Do You Fix A Car Door That Won’t Turn? 

While the car door lock is the first front in protecting your car against theft, it might fail to work as is supposed and lock you out instead. A plethora of reasons might cause it, and there are numerous solutions to this.

Thawed lock

If you are in colder areas, locks will sometimes get frozen and refuse to turn. To thaw it out, you can use a de-icer or a blow-dryer. If either of these is not available, you can let your key linger under a lighter for some time, then reinsert it into the lock and turning it.

Lubrication

If your truck is getting older, a bit of lubrication might get the lock turning again. Many older trucks will accumulate rust in the locking mechanism. Use professionally recommended lubricants like WD-40 to avoid any damage to the gears.

Keyless entry

If you have the newer truck model, you may have the option of a keyless entry that allows you to open the truck without needing to insert a key. If the physical key fails to work, you can use this feature to gain entry and check on the problem later.

Locksmith 

If all has failed, contact the nearest locksmith. They will use a device called a “slim jim” to gain entry by fishing this piece of equipment between the window and pulling the handle of the truck’s door. It is a quick fix and works particularly well with older truck models. 

Once you have opened the truck, drive it to your local mechanic. You will need to get it checked out for any broken components. 

Conclusion

When your door is stuck or doesn’t open, do not kick or slam it to get it open. Instead, you should seek professional help or use the methods mentioned in this article to open it gently. Just as the vehicle itself, a truck door requires regular maintenance to keep it in great shape and avoid expensive repairs. Keep your door properly lubricated and ensure it is handled gently.

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