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Driver's door electronic lock dead

Peace be to all beings!

On our 2005 Ford Focus, I came out of work a month or so ago to find that the lock would not unlock, either electronically or mechanically, on the driver’s side door. All the other doors work fine for the button or the key fob. (In fact, for the passenger doors, you need to use the fob from the outside, as they don’t have keyholes; a design flaw.)

Question 1: Is it possible to cut through to the mechanics of the lock from the other side of the pillar and trip the thing so that we can get the door open? CarMax says it would cost $1,100+ to replace the door, since they say they would have to cut it apart from the inside.

Question 2: Could this have had anything to do with the following? We’ve had electronic problems with this car for a bit, and recently – on a trip from home to Mobile – the battery completely died. We replaced the battery at a NAPA dealer, with a proper sized battery. (It appeared that the previous owner of the car had slapped in a smaller battery than the Focus was supposed to have, probably to save a few bucks.) But we were back in about an hour because we were now getting an actual battery light on the dash! (No light came on before; just the radio stopped dead. We actually managed to drive the car for another 50 miles or so before that battery gave up the ghost.) It had not appeared on the previous precaution check of the alternator, which I witnessed, but the alternator was showing bad. That alternator had been replaced just a few months before at our shop here at home. The NAPA man and I figure it was a result of the too-small battery overstressing the replacement alternator, as well as its original predecessor.

Could the small battery have also caused some sort of short/fault in the driver’s door lock system, so that the thing burned out?

Looking forward to some good answers,


I should also note that CarMax tried to slim-jim the door, but all it did was kill any connection between the lock button on the inside and the mechanics. The door would not open, period; now not even the handle will pull. It makes me very leery of mechanics with slim-jims now, to be truthful. (Maybe I should go find a professional car thief [grin].)


Maybe Car-Max knows something I don’t, but I doubt the door is a $1100 job. I think what they would need to do is butcher the door panel to get access to the inards of the door mechanism, open the door, replace the lock and the door panel. It sounds to me like they are pricing getting into the car by cutting a gaping hole in the outside of the door which probably isn’t necessary if the other doors work.

I think the first thing I’d do is talk to a locksmith. Maybe he/she will be able to get the lock working. If not, he/she will probably be able to recommend someone who can fix things with a little more finesse that Car-Max seems to be exhibiting.

You need a good independent mechanic. These clowns have done enough damage.

The entire door doesn’t have to be replaced for a door latch or a power lock actuator. Both of these items can be replaced inside the door you have, and for not too much money. All that needs to be done is to remove the inner door panel to access the latch mechanism. Now that Carmax has made it impossible to open the door, pulling the panel without damaging it will be difficult. Cutting into the steel skin of the door is not the approach they should take.

The slim jim probably broke the plastic clips that hold the rods to the door latch. I have no idea why they slim jimmed a car door that could be opened from the inside. You only slim jim a car door open when there is no other safer means to do so. The door could have been opened from the inside, panel removed, and malfunction corrected. Instead, your looking at adding probably a new door panel and more malfunctions. Find a good competent mechanic.

Here is an idea. See if you could remove the inside door handle piece and if you can then use the passenger side door as a guide to see where a small hole could drilled into the door panel but would be hidden when the handle is put back on. The hole would need to be large enough to insert a borescope so you can see what is going on inside the door. Then perhaps using some sort of tool coming through the window jamb you could work the door latch mechanism.

As for the premature alternator failure I doubt the smaller size battery caused the failure. The new replacement battery may not have been charged up fully and the extra load it put on the alternator may have caused the trouble.

I was unclear on that matter. The door would not open at all even before they slim-jimmed it. So I don’t lay that problem on them. But that treatment does seem to have creamed any connection the handle had. Compared to the door not opening, the handle is small beer.

Thanks much.

This sounds interesting; and, as the handle is probably toasted anyway, maybe they could just chop it out to get the borescope down in. I’ll offer this to whoever I have do the job when I can get the cash to handle it. Thanks kindly.