How Do Automatic Car Door Locks Work?

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Whether they are single purpose or multi-purpose, electronic car door locks have standard features:

  • A latch/door lock
  • An actuator
  • Actuator rods
  • Activated by radio

Electric car door locks operate by receiving a radio signal transmitted by the car key fob, signaling the actuator to activate, which then routes the command through the correct path (lock/unlock) and performs the desired action.

How the actuator works

On activation, the actuator unit moves a rod attached to the rear of the latch/door lock mechanism. The rod exerts pressure on the lock-open switch on the back of the door lock mechanism. The pressure opens a pair of jaws on the latch/door lock mechanism, releasing the jaws from the strike on the center pillar.  The action connects the door handles to the latch/door lock mechanism. The door opens when you lift the an inside or outside door handle.

Computer-controlled automatic locks

A computer-controlled lock system also uses a radio signal to wake up door lock and unlock mode. The computer-controlled system sends out computer programming to the key controller module (computer). The module reads the programming that is directed its way and applies the proper system command. The computer-controlled key usually controls not only locking and unlocking doors but also auto security. The auto security piece includes car halt/disable programs that effectively make your car undrivable by potential thieves. The same system has the capability to:

  • Open the trunk lid
  • Remote start the car
  • Lower the windows
  • Kill the ignition

This system is potentially feature-rich. It depends on the amount the customer wants to spend, provided the manufacturer offers it.

One more way that automatic locks work is by keypad. Introduced 35 years ago, the keypad system appeared first in 1980 on Ford cars and trucks. Still available today, a car owner simply enters a computer code and the controller module tells the door actuator to go to work.


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Nazareth

26 years of experience
110 reviews
Nazareth
26 years of experience
Mazda 3 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Los Angeles, California
Nazareth provides excellent service. He is very friendly, flexible and proactive, I can only recommend booking him.
Mazda 3 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Glendale, California
Nazareth was great to work with. I would highly recommend him for future vehicle work. He was able to get the job done quickly and in a professional manner.

Michael

7 years of experience
16 reviews
Michael
7 years of experience
Honda Accord - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Scottsdale, Arizona
Michael is awesome! Extremely knowledgeable, competent, and has strong integrity. He was able to help me understand why I didn’t need certain fixes that the dealership recommended (which ended up saving me almost a thousand dollars). He’s very personable, charismatic, and skilled at what he does. I can confidently say that the “YourMechanic” website is beyond blessed to have this man working with them.
Jeep Wrangler - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Chandler, Arizona
Very professional and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend Michael to anyone looking for car maintenance. Great service! Thank you.

Jason

31 years of experience
167 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Fiat 500L - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - San Jose, California
Unbelievably efficient and knowledgeable. Jason just comes and gets it done. I so appreciate his commitment to Excellence as evidenced by his refusal to use the wrong oil for my oil change, even though it meant him coming out another day. Just had my brakes done in less than an hour. So happy I found this and so happy that Jason's my mechanic. I highly recommend him. Meghan in San Jose
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Mateo, California
Jason was very professional and friendly. He provided extremely honest and helpful advice on issues with my Altima that would require proactive future maintenance.

Pardeep

20 years of experience
655 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Honda Civic - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Jose, California
Thank you for helping to problem solve and being professional. I will likely be seeing you again soon.
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Fremont, California
Again 5 star service. And already scheduling him for my next appointment. Highly recommend Pardeep for your car needs.

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