Dear Car Talk:
I’m having a problem with my 2013 VW Passat now that the weather has turned cold - the driver’s door won’t open. The other three doors open just fine, but not the driver’s door, not even from the inside since the inside door handle doesn’t open completely. When the car warms up, either by running it for a while or when the outside temperatures get above freezing, then the driver’s door works just fine. Any idea what’s causing this door to stay locked up? (While getting in on the passenger-side and sliding over to the driver-side is easy to do in my De Soto, climbing over the center console is getting old real fast in this VW!)
Dear Car Talk:
You have moisture getting into the latch on the driver’s side. It freezes and you are stuck. Try some WD-40 sprayed into the latch to dry up the water.
It may also be that your latch is just so worn that the contraction of the metal when cold prevents it from opening. If the WD-40 doesn’t work, that my be your problem. In that case the door panel needs to come off and the latch adjusted or replaced.
Thanks for the advice. I sprayed some WD-40 into the door latch and had to wait a couple of days for another cold snap to see if that solved the problem. Unfortunately, it didn’t solve the problem. So I guess I’ll be opening up the door panel.
Its possible the door weather strip is freezing to the metal body of the car. You can put a silicone based lubricant on the rubber weather stripping and see if that helps. If your going into the door trim panel I suggest getting a set of plastic trim panel removal tools…they are cheap on amazon. Avoid using a screw driver as a pry bar here. VWs are notorious for having stout clips and without the right tools you risk breaking the clips or the trim panel itself.
For some cars, the owner’s manual specifically says not to use anything with silicone, so I recommend against this in general. Something like 303 protectant is preferred.
The problem is likely found inside the door panel. Maybe some bushing or something needs a little lube is all. I usually use a spray-on white lithium grease for that sort of thing. For removing the door panel suggest to secure nylon tools like below. Trying to do pry open the door panel with a screwdriver will more than likely result in broken plastic fasteners and marred surfaces.