Adventure | car door latch repair trick

Ford Fiesta 2012 Side Doors Won’t Latch Shut Or Stay Closed

The problem, or I should say ‘the jam’ as in door jamb, is that both side rear passenger doors on my 2012 Ford Fiesta are not working on the close. The car doors won’t stay closed or stay shut. When you try shutting either door it just bounces back out a little. When I try it I get the same result. Neither door will latch closed.

This is no ordinary open and shut predicament. I tried an easy fix of lifting the door handle while rotating the latch. That trick doesn’t work for this car’s latching dilemma as the latches aren’t stuck in the wrong position. As you can clearly see in the photo below, upon breaking they actually remain in the correct rotational position to latch when the door is closed. The latch just rotates freely. Lifting and lowering the outside and/or inside door handle has absolutely no affect on the latch. It seems the latch assembly is broken internally.

It’s scary to think that the latches might have just suddenly released the doors to open while carrying passengers in the back seats!

As a public service I have decided to chronicle and publish for public record this ongoing saga as the story of the 2 broken door latches unfolds.

Photo Of 2012 Malfunctioning Ford Fiesta Door Latch In Correct Position To Close

2012 Ford Fiesta Malfunctioning Door Latch In Correct Position To Close

Is this a Ford Fiesta Recall waiting to happen?

Has anyone out there had 2 door latches fail on a new car? Only 35,772 miles on my 2012 Fiesta when both rear passenger side door latches failed within 12 hours of each other. Is both doors failing at the same time just a coincidence? I think not!

My car developed a pair of double D’s overnight.
Double D-fective flapping doors that is!

My Ford Fiesta safety issue case #CAS-4651084-H7G4M8

My Fiesta has never been involved in an accident, no body damage, no evidence of attempted break-ins and no apparent reason to cause 1, let alone both, rear passenger side door latches to malfunction and prevent closing of the rear side doors. And, absolutely no warning or indication of any looming or pending problem with the operation of either door nor my fingers, hands, wrists or arms… although I do get a bout-of-gout in my knee occasionally. I just opened each door normally to find it broken upon shutting. What I find extremely strange, and at this time still unexplained by anyone, is that both doors failed within 12 hours of each other in exactly the same manor. Seems like too much to be a coincidence, doesn’t it. There must be some sort of a connection. So what’s the connection? Do these 2 doors share a symbiotic relationship where one cannot go on without the other? Do the electric door locks associated with the latches have something to do with it? What is the “real” cause of the latches failing? What else might be or go wrong with the doors???

The passenger side rear door is almost never used since I rarely carry more than one hitchhiker :-) at a time. That door has been opened and closed maybe 30 times or less since I purchased the car… and I never pick up hitchhikers – really. Well, not since the doors broke anyway :-). If you can’t open and close a car door many hundreds or even thousands of times perhaps you should have your hand checked for tendinitis, or just maybe the door is faulty. In all my years I have never experienced any car, my car or any other car with even one faulty door latch – never! It’s always been my hand, ha-ha.

A Serious Safety Hazard

It seems to me that a failing door latch represents a significant public safety hazard. How many Ford Fiesta’s have this safety issue? How many hands are getting tendinitis trying to close those doors? What if the door latch had failed while I was in motion? What if the door swung out and hit someone, something or another vehicle while I was making a turn? What if one of my grand kids fell out of my back seat because the door latch failed and then swung open? What if something tumbled out onto the roadway and caused someone to have an accident or just damaged their vehicle?

Door Latches Should Be Fail Safe!

A door that will close and remain securely closed is on my short list of things I would expect to work on each and every car no matter what!

Rear Side Door Latch Failure #1

The first door malfunctioned and failed to close in a parking lot after placing some groceries in the back behind the driver’s seat on Wednesday June 25, 2014 at approximately 10:30 PM. I had to drive home with the driver side rear passenger door dangerously free to swing wildly.

Rear Side Door Latch Failure #2

The passenger side rear seat door failed to close the next morning after placing a travel bag into the back seat area around 9:00 AM on Thursday June 26th. It was my daughter’s birthday and I was on my way to Torrance California to celebrate with her. I figured I would go see a Ford dealer once I got to Torrance, which I did. So I tied the 2 doors closed from the inside and set off on the 300 mile dive to join my daughter and other family members for her birthday.

The following day Friday June 27th 2014 I visited the Ford Dealership on Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance, AutoNation Ford. I must say that I was treated exceptionally well but was informed that since my car mileage was now 36,072 my rear door repairs would not be under warranty unless Ford Motor Company made an exception. Inferring that since I drove 300 miles to Torrance for my daughter’s birthday I would lose out on warranty coverage because of the extra 72 miles above the 36,000 mile warranty. The dealer did kindly take the car into the service area to determine exactly what would be the extent of the needed repairs. They advised me that 2 new complete door latch assemblies would be required and that the closest parts were in Sacramento. I explained that I would have to take my car to a dealer near my home as I could not stay for 5 to 7 days to complete the repair.

The Pending Solution?

This morning (07/01/2014) I called Ford Motor Company at (800) 392-3673 and talked with a nice customer care service representative (Steven) who created a service / safety review report Case #CAS-4651084-H7G4M8. I was advised that a copy of the report would also be forwarded to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Steven told me that they would look into it and my best course of action now would be to work with a local Authorized Ford Dealer as they are the ones in a position to work with Ford to resolve this. I contacted Colorado River Ford at (928) 757-3131 as per Steven’s suggestion. I initially spoke with Charles at Colorado River Ford. I am currently waiting for Colorado River Ford to get back to me with information as to what they are able to work out with Ford Motor Company.

07-03-2012: Waiting.

07-09-2014: No communication from Ford Motor Company or Colorado River Ford

07-09-2014: Called Ford Motor Company and spoke with customer service rep Stephanie. She opened a new case #CAS-4860114-T7N7J2 and has escalated the matter up to a regional supervisor or similar level person. According to Stephanie, the highest level. Was also informed I should expect a call back from Ford Motor Company within 2 days. I also learned that someone from Colorado River Ford did contact Ford Motor Company but did notes do not reflect that they tried to negotiate a warranty repair or advance my claim and nobody from Colorado River Ford advised me that they had indeed contacted Ford. From my perspective it seems like Colorado River Ford just dropped my request for assistance.

Added Note 07-09-2014: Parts to perform the needed repairs are scarce and/or currently not available from Ford dealers or local/regional Ford parts warehouses. This is an indication to me that other Ford Fiesta owners are likely to be experiencing similar issues leading to a run on door latching mechanisms needed to correct my Fiesta’s defect. When I finally do get this resolved I hope the new parts are of better quality than the ones that failed.

07-14-2014: No callback within 2 days as promised. I was promised by Stephanie at Ford Motor Company that a high level Ford case rep would call me within 2 days of opening the new case #CAS-4860114-T7N7J2. Today is the 3rd business day. Thursday and Friday last week are the 2 full days that lapsed without being contacted by Ford.

07-15-2014: I called Ford customer care again since they have taken no action and have not bothered to honor their commitment to contact me to resolve this issue. Today I spoke with Shannon for about an hour. Shannon opened yet a 3rd case #CAS-4889525-R7K7F0. If Ford was as good at contacting their customers as promised to resolve issues they could cut down on creating case numbers and composing lengthy reports. This time I was promised a callback in 1 day by Shannon. So on or before the end of 07-16-2014 I might get a call from “Leroy” my Ford regional manager.

National Backorder No Parts Available

07-15-2014: Today also I learned that the required parts to repair the doors on my Fiesta are on “national backorder”. This information was obtained directly from Ford customer care. The customer care rep actually inquired about the door parts. She conveyed to me that before she could even state the model and year, the parts person said, “if this is for a Fiesta 2012 the door parts (latching mechanisms) are on National Backorder”. More evidence to indicate Ford has a serious problem with defective Fiesta door latches.

07-17-2014: Leroy, the regional Ford manager DID NOT CALL me on 07-16-2014 as promised by Shannon on 07-15-2014.

08-23-2014 The Resolution:
As of last week my doors are repaired after much back and forth between me and Ford. Mostly Leroy was not returning my requests for communication about having my doors repaired under warranty and the fact that the parts were on National backorder. Parts became available about 3 weeks ago now. The result of my effort is that Ford finally agreed to pay for the repair of one(1) door and I had to pay for the other. Leroy claims that in order for the car to be repaired under warranty the repairs must be completed while the mileage is 36,000 miles or less and within 3 years of purchasing the vehicle new, whichever comes first. I was within the 3 years but my mileage was slightly over. However, Ford still kicked in on the repair with their out-of-warranty customer assistance program with the sum of $250 toward the $514 dollar repair cost for both doors.

So the bottom line here is if you need anything repaired on your Ford make sure you get it to an Authorized Ford dealer before the car is out of warranty by even 1 day or 1 mile. Warranty wise it makes no difference where you are when it breaks or the circumstances, if your car is not being repaired at the dealer exactly within the warranty you loose out on full warranty coverage.

I have nothing but high praise for my local dealer (Colorado River Ford) but as far as Ford Motor Company Customer Care is concerned my comments are probably better left to your imagination!

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DIY Fix & Repair For Car Doors That Will Not Close

You are out and about and your car door suddenly won’t close and stay shut. Or perhaps your car is just parked under your carport in your driveway and as you prepare to leave for a short trip. You open a back passenger car door to load in the kids. Surprise, your car door will not stay closed. What are you going to do?

You should find the following information on how to fix car doors helpful for the majority of cars, trucks and vehicles.

If your car door will not stay shut CALL the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) @ 1-888-327-4236 to file a complaint! OR
File A Complaint Online!

Repairing A Car Door That Will Not Latch Closed

Many older car models have what I would describe as less complicated strictly mechanical door latching mechanisms that are not so technically and electronically integrated into the car’s computer and other system features. Compared to most of the newer car models these older vehicles are much easier to fix and often the repair is very simple. Older cars are the holly grill for the do it yourself car door repair. Unfortunately these easy to fix vintage cars are disappearing from the road at an alarming rate.

If you own a newer make and model vehicle you are most likely out-of-luck when it comes to an easy do-it-yourself fix. Most newer cars have electronically activated door latching and locking mechanisms that are intricately integrated with the vehicle’s electrical system and computer. These include a host of convenient bells and whistles.

Electrically activated door locks, in-motion automatic door locking triggers, on dash door ajar warnings, overhead dome and dashboard lights are common accessories on most vehicles today. All are combined and/or dependent on your vehicles door latch working correctly. These convenient and safety accessories complicate the diagnosis and repair of vehicle doors that will not stay closed. Hardly a novice DIY job!

Options For Fixing Vehicle Doors That Will Not Latch Shut And Stay Closed

The repair options below will cover the majority of situations where vehicle door latches are not working.

    3 Kinds Of Car Door Latch Repairs

  • Option 1: Rotate The Door Latch Back Into Correct Position. This should be your first go to choice for repairing a car, truck or vehicle door latch of any kind, make or model. It is simple, straight forward, and also serves as a general diagnostic test. All you need is a small diameter stiff rod or bar of some kind to complete this repair or test the latch to determine if it is actually broken internally or just stuck in the incorrect rotational position. Almost any screwdriver works well for this type of fix but a stick, a pen, or similar object will often do it too.

    Swing the door open and take a very close look at the actual latch opening on the edge door itself, NOT the door jam. This is where the rotational portion of the hook-shaped latch is located on most doors. When the door is open the correct position for the hook is open so that it will accept the latch bar located on the door jam into the hook and then rotate closed when you close the door.

    If you find the latch in the closed position do the following. While lifting the door handle, as if you are opening the door, rotate the latch back to the open position. This will fix a car door latch that has rotationally malfunctioned. Note: This is the only simple and easy method to fix a car door that will not stay closed that I know of. If anyone knows of any other method(s) please comment on this post.

    The broken door latch test. Using your tool of choice and without lifting the door handle check to see if the hook-shaped latch will rotate freely to the open and closed positions. If it rotates freely then the latch is almost certainly broken internally and will require a fairly major repair effort to replace a broken car door latch. On most vehicles you will likely need to remove the door panel to even get to the latching mechanism. Warning: door panels can be very difficult to remove and put back on without doing visible damage.

  • Option 2: Temporary Car Door Fix
  • Obviously a car door that will not stay shut is dangerous and represents a liability as well as a safety concern. Until you can get your vehicle to the shop or while your are waiting til you can afford the repair your vehicle should not be driven around with a car door freely swinging open and closed. The temporary solution is to tie, strap or bungee the door closed. You must draw the door very tight replicating a normally closed door or your door ajar warning system, the dome and dash lights, and the annoying warning noise maker will remain on and active; potentially draining your car’s battery. I suggest using ratcheting tie down straps with hook ends to draw your door or doors closed. You can purchase them cheaply, around $11 for a set of 2, at most Walmart stores in the automotive department. I have seen them priced at around $20 for just a single strap in hardware and automotive stores. These will enable you to easily draw most doors tight enough to trick your car into thinking the door is closed properly.

  • Option 3: Replace or Repair The Door Latching Mechanism

    As mentioned previously, most door panels are difficult to remove without doing cosmetic damage to the panel, breaking panel door fasteners, and quite possibly damaging some inner door parts or electronics. With the cost of this repair (parts and labor) hovering around $300 and up it is understandable why you would want to consider it as a DIY car door repair job.

    Being formerly employed in a repair services industry I have encountered many DIY repairs where do-it-yourselfers were unable to complete the repair, did damage, and in some cases the damage they caused could not be repaired properly short of replacement.

    If your vehicle has any of the above mentioned car door accessories my sincere suggestion and best advice is that you take your car to an authorized service dealer that corresponds with your vehicle’s make and model where they have the correct parts, tools, expertise, and technical instruction manuals to correctly repair your broken car door.

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