Adventure | repair truck door latch

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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