How Can I Unlock My Car Doors If the Key Won't Turn?

1. Check the battery

You don’t want to be kicking yourself later because you missed something so obvious. If you use your key fob to open and close car locks and not much happens, check to make sure its battery isn’t dead or dying.

  • Just like your car, your key has a tiny battery that must be replaced from time to time.


Broken Connections

One common reason the car door lock is stuck in the locked position is due to broken connections within the door panel or lock assembly. These include a broken link from either the handle, lock cylinder, or interior locking post/switch to the car door latch. If any of these components are broken or disconnected, it disrupts the entire locking process within your car door.

Whether one or all of these connections are broken, it can result in the car door being stuck in the locked position.

How can you tell if this is the issue? If you can enter the car through a different door, you can attempt to open the jammed door from the inside.

How to Open Your Door for Troubleshooting

You will have a hard time troubleshooting your door unless you completely open it up. This is my step-by-step guide to open it up.

3. Try the other doors

Before ripping off a door and changing the wiring when it doesn't open, check the other door locks first.

  • If they don’t work, then there’s a good chance that you might have a blown fuse.
  • This can usually be fixed with a simple replacement.

There’s a problem with your key chamber

Okay, so your keys are fine. But what about the key chamber?

Just like the key itself, a damaged lock chamber can stop your locks from working properly.

A damaged key chamber could be the consequence of a failed break-in.

For example, maybe you left your phone in your car once. That’s the jackpot for thieves – perhaps somebody tried (and failed, thankfully) to pick your car door to get it.

And since the vast majority of cars come with remote unlocking by default, chances are we might never realise until we’re forced to rely on physical keys!

More specifically, this can cause damage to the pins in your lock chamber, so they don’t align with your car key any more.

One of the first things your local auto locksmith learns is how to unlock car doors. In the vast majority of cases, we’ll be able to unlock your car door, even if it’s damaged.

If time isn’t critical, we can also rekey your car lock altogether. Alternatively, we can schedule a follow-up appointment, fixing your problem for good.


How do you unlock a stubborn lock?

Most people recommend using a silicone lubricant on the lock, but I prefer multi-purpose lubricating oil because it’s cheaper and just as good. Hold the key flat and pour some oil on it, then insert it into the lock. Work the lock and be patient, and you’ll likely be able to turn it.

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Why won’t my key unlock my car door?

We’ve explained the reasons why the physical key might not work, but you’ve still got other options to open the door. You can unlock the passenger’s side door with the key, use the fob remote, or even unlock the vehicle through a phone app.

Final Words

Car keys not working could become a big problem if you don’t deal with it properly. Read through the above points thoroughly to ensure that you can properly diagnose the exact problem you might be facing with your car keys. Hopefully, this article will help you solve your problem of key turns but won’t unlock the car door. If not, then you must contact an automotive locksmith to keep from damaging your car lock or key any further.

How to Diagnose a Car Door That Wont Unlock with the Remote Key

Diagnose the Door Lock Actuator

Since a door lock actuator is the most common case for doors staying locked, we recommend starting there.

1. Test the Door Lock Rod

Try to lock the door mechanically. If the mechanical lock works and the rod shifts and unlocks as intended, the latch or the actuator is working. If the lock rod does not shift and unlock the door, the latch on the door lock actuator is probably frozen.

2. Find the Door Lock Actuator Electrical Connector

Find which electrical connector connectors to the door lock actuator. One of the connectors may be from another part like the dome light. You may have to look up the wire colors for each connector, inspect the size of the wiring (sometimes the thicker wires are for the actuator as it handles higher voltage), or, for example, disconnect the connector with the dome light on (dome light in this case will turn off when the connector is removed) to tell the connectors apart.


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FAQs On Car Door Won’t Open From Inside Or Outside

How To Open A Car Door That Won’t Open From The Outside Or Inside

Let’s assume that there’s a broken lock. Here, the car won’t open from inside or outside because of a single lock being broken. This issue can be resolved easily if the door lock is working and we can still get into the car.

What Causes A Car Door Not To Open

This can be lots of things. Rust and dirt accumulation, connection issues, mechanical failure, water damage, damage to the door, handles breaking etc.

How Can I Break Into My Car

Car doors that won’t open from inside or outside may have a failed lock assembly. These issues are easier to diagnose and resolve once we are able to get the car door to open. Thus, a simple solution for this is to turn to a professional auto locksmith.

Why Does My Car Door Not Open From Outside

Part of the mechanism could be loose. Use your tools to detach the door panel. Once the screws from the door panel are removed, it will be easier to identify the issue. Next, disconnect electrical connections that are attached to the door panel. Once the panel is removed, you will notice a plastic cover inside the panel. Remove this cover and look for issues that are preventing the door from opening. Now, check whether the issue is with the mechanisms or the inside shafts.

How To Fix A Door That Won’t Latch

If you stumble upon a car door that either won’t latch properly or wouldn’t close at all, it could be caused by two key issues. Either the door itself has sagged and isn’t making proper contact with the door latch. Or, the door latch mechanism itself is faulty. To fix it, you can start by measuring the alignment of the affected door(s) against the body of your car. You could then start by examining the door latch. Usually, a door latch would rotate downwards when the door handles are pulled. If it’s instead rotating upwards, you can try pulling the latch to make it rotate down. Otherwise, you could try adjusting the striker between the door latch and the doors. Push and wiggle the striker around until it can latch properly.

How To Fix A Door That Won’t Stay Open

When you open your car’s doors, they should always remain open. Most of the time, the door’s hinges have notches (aka the door’s brakes) that keep them held in place. However, you might experience a moment where the notches or brakes feel like they’re gone. Thus, your car’s doors would no longer stay open. The key point of failure if your door isn’t staying open is likely a bar that’s mounted on the door hinges. This bar hinges on one end and slides at the other. Other than making sure your car’s doors don’t open more than they should, this bar also holds them in place. Check for signs of physical wear, damage, or lumps on that bar. If so, fixing a car door that won’t stay open often requires you to replace the hinge assembly. In some cars, you might be able to adjust it, instead.

How To Open A Jammed Door From The Outside

Should your car’s doors remain jammed from the outside, your first task would be to try and open it. One common cause for older cars would be that the locking mechanism is sticking, and your keys might have trouble unlocking it. Getting past this is as simple as lubricating the door locks with WD-40, and wiggling your key around to unlock it. If that doesn’t work, you might have to open up the entire door panel to see what’s wrong. Carefully check all wiring and connections, including the components inside the door. In particular, look at the connections inside the door. Specifically, connections leading to the door latch, lock cylinder, or the interior locking switch. See if there’s any sign of damage on them. If you’re not confident with this type of work, try ringing up a locksmith to help you out.

How To Unlock A Frozen Car Door

In wintertime, it’s easy for your car’s doors to get stuck. Usually, this happens as water and moisture seep between the door’s seals and the frame of the car. As this freezes, your door gets stuck in place. To unlock it, you can first start by pushing into and putting force onto your car doors. This added pressure might break the ice that’s holding your door in place. If that doesn’t work, try scraping away any ice on the door seals or the handles. You might also consider pouring warm (not hot or boiling) water around the rubber seals of your car to try and soften or melt the ice. An alternative to the latter would be using commercial de-icing products, instead. Similarly, you could bring out a hairdryer to heat up and soften or melt the ice, as well.

Replacing the Lock Assembly

If you have determined that it is a structural issue within the key assembly, it may need to be replaced. This is not recommended if you do not have experience with car mechanics or do not have the proper tools.

While you may be tempted to DIY your car door lock issue, sometimes it is not the best way to go about it. If you are unsure how to diagnose your car door lock issue, calling a professional locksmith is always preferred.

They can help with diagnosing and repair, with certainty that the issue is fixed right the first time.

If you need to remove the door panel or somehow get into the inner locking assembly, a professional locksmith will be your best bet. They can do this with ease without damage.

Since there are so many causes and solutions, a professional locksmith will always be your best option. Even though it may not be the cheapest option, it will guarantee you a long-term fix. A professional locksmith will also be able to fix your problem without further damaging your vehicle.

The time it takes for a locksmith to repair your car door lock issue will ultimately depend on the issue at hand. Each case is entirely dependent on the lock, type of care, and the scope of work needed. Your car will not be damaged, unless, destructive entry is needed. This will only be done as a last resort.

With destructive entry, a professional locksmith will only damage the part that needs to be replaced. They will only perform this with your consent after exhausting all other avenues of entry and repair.

If there is structural damage to the lock or an issue with the connection, this usually indicates that the lock will need to be replaced. In order to safely open the car and have the proper tools and replacement lock, a professional locksmith would be ideal.

While a car door lock stuck in the locked position is initially alarming, it can sometimes be an easy fix. Whether the locking assembly needs to be cleaned or if it is an issue with your key FOB, sometimes the average person can fix it themselves.

However, professional locksmiths are there should you need help. They can handle whatever issue you may have in a courteous, safe, and efficient manner.

Once your car door lock issue is solved, you can get back on the road without worry! Contact us today to have this and other lock problems quickly taken care of.

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