Replace Door Locks on Your Car

Updated: Jun. 12, 2019

Learn what you need to know about car door lock replacement. Replace a worn out lock actuator quickly and easily.

car door lock repairFamily Handyman
Repair broken power locks by replacing the actuator, which is a problem on late-model Fords. Learn more about car door lock replacement.

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Car door lock replacement: How to fix a power door lock

car door lock replacement

Remove the actuator

Force the flat blade of the offset screwdriver into the plastic locking tab to depress it. Then jam another flat-blade screwdriver between the latch and the actuator and pry. The actuator will slide off two “rails.”

Close-up: Depressing the locking tab

Depress the locking tab with an off-set screwdriver.

Power door locks fail quite often on late-model Ford vehicles. They’re controlled by a computer, but most often it’s the actuator itself that’s failed—not the computer. So if you press the lock/unlock button and hear clicking or see that the lock is moving, but not enough to open the door, the actuator is fried. A new actuator costs about $50, and you can save about $75 in shop labor if you do the job yourself. Along with ordinary screwdrivers and sockets, you’ll need a few inexpensive special tools: a door handle remover for crank windows (about $7 from any auto parts store) and a flat-blade offset screwdriver.

Car lock repair parts

Buy a new actuator online ( or from your local Ford dealer. Then remove the interior door trim panel (consult a shop manual for screw and snap locations). It’s hard to see in these photos, but the trick involves using a flat-blade screwdriver to pry the old actuator off the latch while you depress the actuator locking tab with the flat blade of the offset screwdriver. You’ll be working blind behind the door structure, so examine the new part to get a feel for how the locking tab works.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Flat-head off-set screwdriver
  • Flat-head screwdriver
You’ll also need a door handle remover for crank windows and plastic gloves.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Lock actuator