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 25 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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Fabrice

18 years of experience
133 reviews
Fabrice
18 years of experience
Toyota Yaris - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Orlando, Florida
My appointment was late in the day, so being late was expected. Fabrice notified me ahead of time about his tardiness. When he arrived, he was apologetic, courteous and professional. He got to work right away and let me know of other work that was needed for future appointments

Oreste

12 years of experience
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Oreste
12 years of experience
Nissan Frontier - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Miami, Florida
The best ever!!!! Will not use anyone else in future .. very knowledgeable and explained every thing to me .very professional, well spoken .

Breck

18 years of experience
527 reviews
Breck
18 years of experience
Jeep Patriot - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Houston, Texas
Becks was very informative about things that I didn't know needed to be looked at with my car. He fixed little hick ups quickly and had me ready to get back on the road sooner than I thought he would.

Miguel

19 years of experience
63 reviews
Miguel
19 years of experience
Audi allroad - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Miguel is very professional mechanic. He called me in advance about his coming. He brought the quality parts (brakes pads and rotors) and done his job quickly and of great quality. I tested the brakes after the replacement and they were efficient and very silent. I would recommend him very much.

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