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A couple months ago, the driver front door lock on our 2004 Kia Optima started giving us problems. If you were in the car and locked the door, you could not unlock it. If you were outside and tried to use the keyfob to unlock the doors, it would not unlock. If you tried to use the key, it felt like something was jamming, and the actuator would automatically relock.
We took the car to the local Kia dealership where we had purchased the car new, and the shop told us that it was a faulty door lock actuator. The mechanic did not open the door, but said that this was a common problem. They estimated $200 plus labor to repair. As an interim solution, the mechanic told us to "turn the key and pull the handle simultaneously". The trick worked about 30% of the time. It still does not solve the fact that once you're inside, you have to crawl out through the passenger side to exit. Or go Dukes of Hazzard on it.
After a few Google searches, I decided that he was correct in part of his diagnosis; the part that it is a common problem. I have run across several stories of people having issues with their Kia door locks.
I am a real DIY guy, and an aircraft mechanic by trade. So this weekend, I decided to open the door and take a look for myself.
What I found is that the actuator was fine. The fault was with the latch mechanism (called "door checker" in the Kia service manual). Not the lock, mind you... the latch; the actual part that latches onto the striker when the door is closed.
To determine the fault, I first removed the door panel. Remove 1 screw in the grab handle pocket, 1 behind the door open lever, and 2 screws at the forward edge, the bottom edge, and the rear edge. Remove the small window-corner speaker if equipped. Then lift off the door panel. Don't lift too far, there are wires to disconnect.
Once the door panel was removed, I removed the exterior door handle. Two bolts on the inside of the door secure it. Use 10mm socket to remove them. Then remove the connecting linkages by flipping the plastic catches on each to the side. This should allow you to pop the linkage from the socket. The heavy linkage is a little harder, as it has a locking groove. You may need a jewelers screwdriver or dental picks to open the plastic socket a little. Be very careful not to get forceful or you risk breaking the plastic catch. The actual lock mechanism turns 1/8 turn and slides out of the handle assembly. Set the handle aside.
Now disconnect the linkage from the actuator, again by flipping the plastic catch to one side and slipping the linkage from the socket.
Finally, disconnect the linkage that goes to the interior lock above the door-open handle.
With these linkages disconnected and the door handle out, remove the plastic cover on the latch mechanism. You should now be able to peer in and work the lock and opening levers independently and find the fault.
On my particular latch, the plastic bits (yes, they used plastic) had worn and become loose. This allowed the rotating part of the latch to rotate too far, which in turn caused a bind when you try to unlock the mechanism. The security system senses that the latch is not properly unlocked, causing the actuator to immediately engage and relock the doors.
If you confirm that this is your problem, then remove the three screws that hold the mechanism in place and replace the mechanism. I obtained mine from a salvage yard for $30.
Total time to diagnose and repair was about 3 hours - but you should be quicker since you will have an advantage in knowing what you're looking for!
Had the locking problem and my BIL took and had actuator replaced to surprise me.
Worked fine for a while but right back where we were before. Seems like if I purposefully lock the doors, the driver's door will not unlock from the inside or from the outside without using the key. After about 2 weeks then it settles down and I can upon the driver's door from inside and outside with door handle.
If it wasn't the actuator, why did it straighten out for a while?
Just my .02 on the door locks. When you guys are trying to lock and unlock the vehicle - do you hear a relay click. You should hear a relay click sound each time you lock or unlock the vehicle (remote/door/ or key). The click sound can be heard behind the dash on the left side of the steering wheel. I believe there are 2 different relays (one controls the drivers door switch and the other for all the other doors). I don't know if that helps any but worth the quick check.
I'm not sure if I have a relay promlem, I had a problem "locking" the passenger's doors on my white 2003 Optima 4 door car, the dealership changed a relay which seem to help but the problem returned. I have a spare relay but not sure where they are located. You indicated they may be somewhere around the steering column. Do you have any further input as to the relay location or any ideas about the problem I'm having. The problem is the same with the remote or the manul switch on the driver door.
Had the same problem. Fixed it myself. No I am not an aircraft mechanic by trade like the guy above. I am someone that has a Kia that has over 150K miles and lives in Wisconsin where winter salt is loving my car. So yes I played the door game for a week or two. (Unlock with the key fast over and over and try the handle at the same time over and over until it catches and the door pops open) I went on here and everywhere else google took me. I ended up with the door latch, lock etc after following the advise above. I took it to the dealer and asked for a new one as I could see that the latch was rusty and the metal parts would not line up to pop the latch open. The parts guy asked me for the last 6 # of my vin as he had two parts availble for the 2004 optima. one was for the old 2004's and one for models after a certian date. well mine was the old one and the part # is 81310 3C000 "LATCH ASSY - FR D" I thought I was in over my head with the rods and the torn apart mess that I had but the dealer had nobody to fix my car for two days and wanted at least 1 1/2 hours labor about 140 bucks he said to me. So I took my part, got into my ride and straped the bungie cord to the now broken door and rode home gangster yeah thats how I roll Wit da doow straped up. I got home and put everything back in with my fat hands and the door pops open like new. there was three phillips screws on the side of the door holding the door latch and two 10mm bolts......I forget trust me if I can do it anyone with the time can. just go easy with the plastic clips that hold the lock and latch throw arms in place they didn't brake on me but I know they are probally brittle. Also the part cost me $81.00 plus tax at the dealer. Good luck to all and keep rollin gangster in your throw away cars after all if I wanted a good ride I'd have bought that VW TDI
I seem to have the same problem as EBGB, the aircraft mechanic, except this happens to my passenger side door. I took out the mechanism and checked it out on my bench,. the problem?...... wear and tear, when the door is locked, unlocking still does not l open the door cause a mechanical stopper is worn and reaches 1/16 of AN INCH too far, preventing a door opener pin from being in the correct position to push another mechanism to allow the door to open. A mechanic will not waste his time fooling around to understand what makes the world go round, cause he already knows.... its the customers money and so they probably change the whole module , solenoids, mechanisms, and motors. i'm just gonna order the mechanism from the dealer, and hope I don't finish the job ending up with a couple of extra screws I may have forgotten !!??
I have been reading a number of complaints regarding several Kia models that have the exact same issue describe essentially in the same manner with similar casts for resolution of the problem.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if enough consumers file a report about the same issue with the same make, model and year of vehicle, the NHTSA may decide to open an investigation.
In other words, it takes a village, and it takes time.
According to howstuffworks.com "If enough consumers contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and file a report about the same problem with the same type of vehicle, the NHTSA may decide to open an investigation. And if it does, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is the agency in charge of performing the automotive recall investigation."
This fault is a serious safety issue in the fact that, even if you do get into the car, you may not be able to get out quickly in an emergency situation. My car started locking on me as I was trying to get out as well as locking when I was trying to get in.
I called my local dealership and was told that this falls under "normal wear and tear ... like brake pads." That is ridiculous! Brake pads are designed to wear out ... if they didn't, the brake system wouldn't function properly. Door locks are not "designed to wear out." Nor should they be. If they "wear out" and the driver cannot escape the car, that's a design problem and can cause harm to the driver.
I also called Kia. They weren't any help and, as a matter of fact, gave me attitude for lodging the complaint.
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