If you take a look at the vehicle you own, you’ll notice that it’s not just made up of large chunks of metal. It’s also run and held together by thousands of components essential to its integrity. Remove a few of them, and your car could fall apart.
Some of them will start showing signs of damage after years or months of use. One of the more inconvenient ones to deal with are those small parts in your car door. If you have difficulty opening or closing it, it may have a busted latch.
Car door latches come in many forms depending on the models and features of the doors they’re attached to. But most of them are designed for securing 2 planar surfaces regardless of their size. Some come with spring mechanisms and others with gaskets to offer varying levels of sealing. Getting to know how they can help you appreciate just how important they are to your vehicle.
First, you should start with the basics.
What Exactly Is A Car Door Latch?
The car door latch is a device that holds the weight of the doors as they move, allowing you to open and close them seamlessly. In most vehicles, you can find it situated at the top of the door, connected to the mechanism responsible for locking and unlocking. Most are made from plastic, but some high-end vehicles use latches made of metal. Except for a few uncommon models, almost every car has a latch on its doors.
How Does A Car Door Work?
The door of your vehicle may seem simple. But under its frame, it consists of several mechanical components that work together to ensure you can seamlessly open and close it as you move through your car. Some are even equipped with modifications such as speakers.
A standard car door includes several key parts, such as handles, hinges, latches, anchors, locks, and various electrical and mechanical elements.
Among these components, the latches play a big role. They are essentially small claws that release to allow the door to open and engage to keep it closed while your car is in motion. If they get worn out or damaged, your car door may either get stuck or hang open, making it hard for you to maneuver your vehicle or secure stuff inside.
A Close Look At The Latching Mechanism
Car door latch designs have evolved over the years. The latest latch mechanisms work by keeping the car door affixed to the adjacent jamb while driving and enabling the door to open in case of a collision.
The latching mechanism is composed of two jaws and a lever. The main function of the lever is to link to the door handle. When you tug on the door handle, the lever pulls back, opening the jaws. It causes them to release from the anchor.
That’s how it goes at the micro level. Basically, you move the handle of your car door from inside or outside to release the latch from the anchor, allowing you to open it. This goes the same way for electrical switches and actuators that open and close the door with a remote.
How To Deal With A Stuck Car Door
If find it hard to open or close your car door, there are minor fixes you can try out.
First of all, you should do this while your car isn’t on the road, preferably in your garage.
Inspect the latch to see if it requires any replacement parts. If the car door will not close securely, it indicates that the latch is stuck in the lock position while it’s open.
Once you’re sure that the latch is stuck, you can manually manipulate it so it can catch on the door. Try looking for a gap at the edge of the car door where the latch is situated. Then, insert a thin tool, such as the point of a coat hanger or key, into the gap. Drive the tool in an upward direction to reset the latch. While doing so, you must tug the door handle at the same time. Repeat these steps if you fail to reset the latch initially.
When you have a closed car door, it’s stuck in the lock position and may require you to open up the door panel. Go through all the methods available for opening your door first, such as an interior lock, key fob remote, or manual key entry. If the door fails to open, calling a professional may be wise.
In fact, you may have to take your car to a shop or call a mechanic for problems like these. Latch systems are delicate. You don’t want to risk causing more damage because you don’t know how everything goes. It never hurts to work with a professional for solving issues with your car.
The car door latching mechanism may seem simple, but your security and convenience while driving depend on it. Once you start having issues opening or closing your car door, it may indicate a problem with the system that requires intervention. Don’t wait for it to get worse; inspect it and find a solution for it, including reaching out to pros.