Long: UPDATE: Car Door Lock Fixed!

Hi, I just wanted to give you guys an update about my Chevy door lock.

I finally fixed the lock this morning, but overall it turned out to be a lot harder that I expected, and the end result wasn't totally ideal (skip down to near the end if you don't want to first hear about my battle with the door rivets :-) ). I drilled out the five rivets holding the seat belt roller brace. I started out using a 1/8" titanium bit to drill pilot holes first, but I put the drill bit in first, then tried to power the drill. It wouldn't spin. Duh! I learned quickly that the drill has to be spinning

*before* you touch the bit to the metal! I ended up breaking three drill bits (but fortunately they come with a lifetime warranty). and I went back and forth trying to decide between a larger bit (not as prone to breaking) or a smaller bit (easier to drill with), which made work harder and longer. I learned you can't apply to much pressure using a smaller bit, since it will break. I used penetrating lubricant as drilling oil (not sure if there was something better to use--it smelled like WD-40, but it was a different brand). I also wasn't sure how far to drill, since I was unfamiliar with the shape of a rivet.

So after I finished the pilot holes, I started using as 5/32" bit. I had trouble since with this larger bit, the drill stopped rotating as soon as the bit touched the rivet. So I had to keep angling the drill a different way to keep it spinning, and after a while, this forced two of the rivet heads to pop off. For the other two rivets, the drill didn't stop, but just the opposite: it kept spinning the rivet head clockwise along with the bit (like a driver spinning a screw), so I couldn't accomplish anything. So I ended up using various grinding stones to grind off the rivet heads. I nicked the seat belt brace and paint a few times doing this, but not too badly (I sprayed primer to cover the pain chips). For the last rivet, I started drilling, but then realized I could just leave it in, since I could turn the brace out of the way without removing it. But since it was already weakened, I drilled it out, but it was hard, since there was interference from the door, and I couldn't drill straight. So I just ended up grinding the head off (and breaking another bit in the process!).

So I punched out the headless rivets. I measured the holes left in the door skin, and it turns out they are only 3/16", not 1/4", so my Arrow rivet gun

*would* actually work, since it takes that size rivet, assuming rivets are measured like bolts are. I could just as easily use 3/16" bolts, nuts, and locking washers though. For one hole though, the bolt there would run closely along a vertical metal door crimp, which would make the nut/washer lie flush against metal at only one or two of the six hexagonal corners (assuming the bolt was long enough to clear the crimp). So I am not sure if this would be safe, or if a rivet would be better there. Anyway, I will look for the highest rated bolts, but I am not sure how much of a choice I will have.

But the real problem started with me trying to get the loose rod attached. I found out where it goes: it is supposed to snap in to a hole in a flange where the lock is, which is part of the door latch. However, I could only get four fingers in the tight space, and not my thumb, since the window track was in the way, and there weren't any door skin holes nearby. The problem was the rod was not able to go into the hole straight, thus, I couldn't get it to lock in. If I were able to get all four fingers *and* my thumb in the small area, I would have been able to bend the rod, while simultaneously pushing it in so as to lock in place. I struggled for about one hour. Then I was angry for a while since I felt the job was just about impossible to do, and started contemplating having to take out the window and track, or actually cut through the metal to gain access. I even contemplated having to buy another door. But after a rest, I decided to give it one more try. This time though, I bent the rod first just ever so slightl y, to give it a better angle. I got the rod in the hole partway, then took another break to clear my mind before my final attempt. This time, I just concentrated, and was able to use two fingers to somehow get leverage and push it in place. I heard a "snap" and it was secure!

I am now able to lock and unlock the door with a key, but it doesn't lock as smoothly as it used to, and you don't hear a "click" anymore when locking it. The key now has to be just right in order for me to turn the cylinder, which is a little irritating. But at least it works now. It may be that the cylinder is just old? Because I really didn't bend the rod too much, and it would also have been hard for that police officer to have bent it with just the slim jim that he used. Or maybe this is the way it always was. I put off fixing this problem for about eight months (I had to unlock the car from the passenger side, and reach over to unlock the driver door), so I may have forgotten how the key was supposed to turn.

Well, now I have to buy the bolts or rivets, and put everything back together (correctly!). That shouldn't be too hard. So now I can concentrate on getting the ignition key out of the cylinder. :)

The funny thing is, I put off doing some supposedly more "complex" jobs (like replacing my radiator fan and blower motor, so I could do what I thought would be a relatively simple job first (the door lock). I never imagined it would be such a pain, but I am glad I learned. (And it actually

*would* have been a simple job, had I had easy access in the first place.)

Well, I just wanted to thank you guys so much for your excellent advice! I will also keep you updated on the ignition lock situation.


Reply to
Julie P.
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if its working less efficiently then before ? you don't have it fixed. there is more repair to be done. get everything inside the door cavity working correctly

*before* you replace the door panel.
Reply to

I second this. The rod is bent or not in properly. If there is a problem you probably have the rod pop off. Worst case order a new rod with the proper bends in it from the dealer.

Reply to
Roger Shoaf

Not really sure what the problem there was you should have the bit in contact with the work BEFORE you apply power it should spin no problem, maybe you just needed a little less pressure to get it started?

As a general rule for drilling rivets use a bit slightly larger than half the size of the rivet head. Once you drill away the center or most of it you can easily knock the head off with a chisel or similar tool if it's still attached. Alot of the time a die grinder works best because there's no problem with the rivet spinning in it's hole.

I used penetrating lubricant as drilling oil (not sure if there

Lots of pressure and angle the bit a little back and forth to jam the rivet so the bit can cut it. That's why I frequently just grind the heads down with a die grinder and cut off wheel. Only the center portion has to be ground away with a big slot then you can easily knock the head off.

No big deal it's unavoidable and covered by the panel anyway.

(I sprayed primer to cover the pain chips). For the last rivet, I

You can torque it down good and tight and it should be fine but if you can use rivets go ahead they are quicker. Make sure you use steel and that they fit tightly in the holes.

or if a rivet would be better there. Anyway, I will look

The rivets were pretty small. I guess they used those because they used five. The ones I usually deal with are in window motor assemblies. Sorry about that.

The linkage problem really shouldn't effect the lock so that you have to wiggle or manipulate the key. The person who tried to open the door didn't poke around in the keyway did they?

You can try to straighten your bend back out now that it is connected but as long as it works OK the best thing to do might be to leave well enough alone.

Make sure the motor is what's bad and not something else in the circuit that controls it. Test for 12V at the wires going into the motor if it's there wiggle the plug, if still nothing then probably the motor's bad. Another quick test is to turn on the AC with the car running. The cooling fan should run with the AC on. If it does and it doesn't come on when the car is hot and the AC is off, causing overheating you have a problem somewhere in the fan control circuit. Note do not run the AC for more than a short time with the fan not running. The high side pressure may go to high and blow something.

Reply to

That's good advice over all but be careful of trying to get something perfect that may not have been before. Make sure you don't try and bend the rod straight and pull it back loose again or else bend it so that it won't work at all. If the lock itself simply isn't unlocking without wiggling the key either up and down or in and out a little that is not being caused by the linkage. Try a little lube in the doorlock it may have stiffened up from non use.

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Swampee we both know that you have never had a woman in your bedroom or even kissed one for that matter so go back under your bridge.

OK I'm done feeding it. No rebuke needed.

Reply to

good advice. Actually, I went back and rechecked. This time I tried the passenger door lock, to see how it is supposed to feel and sound. then I tried the driver side door again. The key now seems to turn fine, without getting stuck, with pretty much the same tightness as the passenger door (although it may be slightly looser since I use the lock on the driver side a lot more). And once I rolled the window up, I was able to hear the "click" as I turned the key in each direction. So I may have just been paranoid or whatever when I posted earlier. I'm glad it's fixed though!

What I am actually going to do now, before replacing the panel, is practice using my slim-jim. It's a skill I want to learn. I bought a 10-piece auto lockout kit four years ago, and have never had a chance to practice. It comes with a slim-jim, wedges, manual, etc.

Reply to
Julie P.

maybe. what I did was but the bit in the rivet hole, and pressed the drill button. It wouldn't spin. I probably did have too much pressure. But I know you're not supposed to pull a bit out of a hole unless it is moving, or you might break it. I did this once with a cut-off tool. I was trying to cut an exhaust pipe, and midway though decided to take a break. So I stopped the cut-off tool, and tried to pull it out. But I ended up breaking the cut-off disc doing this.

Thank you. I would think you would have a hard time fitting a chisel head in between the rivet head and seat belt brace, although I have never tired that. What I used with two of the rivets yesterday was a flathead screwdriver to help bend/pry out the rivet heads.

Well, I'm headed to Home Depot pretty soon to buy bolts. I'll see what they have for rivets too. But I like the idea of bolts, since they are removable, should I ever need to gain access again to the door.

No problem. I have learned so much from you, and I appreciate this!

funny! no, he didn't. Although, ironically, the ignition lock problem was partially responsible for causing my door lock problem, in a roundabout sort of way. As well as a stolen credit car number. You see, I was at a gas station. Normally I would use my credit card at the pump to pay, but since it had just been stolen earlier that day, I had to go inside first to pay cash. Because of that, and since I was in a bad area, I closed my car door all the way, which I normally don't do. I must have also locked it first, by force of habit. And since the ignition key was stuck in the lock, which happened just a few days earlier, I had removed that key from the rest of my keychain and started leaving the key chain, with the passenger door key on it, on the passenger seat (for GM cars, there are separate door and ignition keys). Normally, I would remove the entire key chain from the ignition cylinder and take it with me when I leave the car, but this time I didn't, since the keychain was on the passenger seat. Anyway, because of all the new circumstances for me, I got locked out, which led to the police messing up the rod. I was lucky the store clerk let me use her cell phone, as all my money and even winter coat were in my locked car.

agreed. although it does seem to be ok now, as I posted in a previous post.

Good advice. I just assumed it would be the motor, but the car is old, so it might also be a switch, or even the fuse. I do have various test lights and digital multimeters. Now would be a good time to learn to use them. :)

Another quick

well, the unfortunate thing is I don't have AC! :) I might use jumper wires, which I don't own, actually, to connect the battery directly to the fan motor terminals. The problem is I don't really know how to make them or where to get the parts for them. But a test light using the technique you mentioned above might also work.

Reply to
Julie P.

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