1997 RAV4L - Passenger Front Door Won't Open - Toyota RAV4 Forums
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#1 (permalink) Old 11-08-2012, 05:42 PM
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1997 RAV4L - Passenger Front Door Won't Open

Hoping that someone will have some suggestions.

My RAV has had some issues with its front doors for a while. After coming back from a 6mo. absence I've started to tackle some of them with significant help from the forum -- Thanks all!

Here's what's been going on.

Before I left, the drivers door wouldn't unlock (the key wouldn't turn) on cold/damp NW days. Most cases I would open the passenger door (on the warmer/drier side of the car sun-wise) and crawl over the stick get the car running and warm it up. Generally this would take care of the driver's door not opening. Obviously not optimal but you do what you gotta do. At the time the passenger door worked fine.

Since I returned, the drivers door would take several attempts to turn the lock cylinder to get the door unlocked. This was in July so cold/wet wasn't the excuse any more. I took off the door panel, pulled the actuator, cleaned the little motor brushes and reinstalled things. We took a careful look after this made things better (less frequent) but not perftect at the lock itself. Even with graphite it seemed not to work particularly smoothly. A newer key often worked better, but now both new and old keys take a lot of patient (& sometimes not-so-patient) turning in the lock to get it to fully open and open all of the doors -- except, and this is the most problematic -- except the front passenger door.

Now the front passenger door will not open at all. The manual lock/unlock button under the door handle (interior) does not fully unlock (showing the flag) so it always appears in a partially locked state. I'd love to see what's going on inside the mechanism, but since the door will not open, I haven't been able to get the inside panel off to do so.

Last attempt at fixing the passenger door we found that one of the rods had detached and managed to re-attach it by going down through the small slit on the door sill with the window open. Using a flashlight and various items of stiff metal and wood we were able to get the thing back in the plastic snap-on. At the time we were pretty stoked - maybe this would solve the problem. But no, the door still would not fully unlock.

Writing this reminded me of another thing I used to try when I was coming in through the passenger side to get the driver's door to unlock. I would repeatedly try to unlock using the lock/unlock all door mechanism on the driver door. Once things got thawed enough, the driver door would unlock (the passenger and all other doors would consistently lock/unlock properly at that time). Don't know if that has anything to do with the passenger side door issue though.

So, my questions for the forum...

1) Any ideas on getting the passenger front door inner panel off while it's closed? (Aside from take it to a dealer...)

2) Should I be replacing the door lock cylinders since the key doesn't seem to want to turn in the driver's door and the passenger door seems headed the same direction?

3) Does the passenger issue ring any bells for anyone on what I should be looking for?

Any ideas would be helpful. I'd like to avoid taking the car in if I can since most things I could probably replace myself, but I'm stumped on how to remove that inner panel and wondering if the lock cylinder replacement will fix the drivers side issue (you can actually feel rough turning in the cylinder when you try to lock/unlock).

Thanks in advance for any ideas/help!

Regards,
-B

p.s. I've been through the door lock issue threads/search, so I'm hoping for some additional ideas/thoughts. Thanks all!
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#2 (permalink) Old 11-09-2012, 03:29 AM
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When you had the panel open, and re-attached the rod, did it feel slack, could you move it while it was in open/ closed position?
If so, the rod is likely partially broken and has since then increased in length, making it regularly impossible to open the door lock.
And when you inserted the rod end into the plastic snap-on, have you seen the state that was in?
In my experience with people dealing with lock issues most of the time this plastic snap on has worn out. Replacing it would be nice, but as far as i know it's attached to the locking mechanism and not a single replacement.
Below is an exploded view of how it looks on the inside with the right partnumbers.
That can help you figure out what you might need to replace. It is only from the front door and goes up to 1997 RAV4 mark 1. Using CTRL plus scroll wheel of your mouse can get the picture enlarged on your screen, or you can download it (right click, save as) and zoom in if you need to look in closer detail.
Greetz

Pim


Driving a BMW318i with LPG at the moment. Had a 2.0 RAV4.1 1997 3drs 4WD euro model w/ABS dual sunroof blue two tone previously.
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#3 (permalink) Old 11-09-2012, 12:14 PM
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1997 RAV4L - Passenger Front Door Won't Open

Thanks for that additional info PIM. I had downloaded the image from another thread when working on the drivers door. Helpful.

I think though I need to clarify some things from my initial post.

* Drivers Door (Front)*
This is the door I took the panel off, cleaned the actuator motor brushes on. It works somewhat better but after continued issues, I took the panel off again and took a close look at the lock cylinder itself. With the cylinder alone in my hand and a key, I note that there are 'rough spots' in the turning where the cylinder seems to 'hang up' and not consistently turn fully. This is why I'm considering replacing at least the driver's door lock cylinder.

* Passenger Door (Front) *
This door used to work fine before my absence. Now I cannot open it from either inside -or- outside. I've never had the panel off this door. When the other doors are unlocked, the manual button on this door never makes it over halfway open (while others open fully & display the red flag). The key does not fully turn in the lock on this door.
The last attempt we made to try to see what was going on was by opening the passenger door's window and going in from the slit of the window opening (at the sill). With a flashlight and long piece of metal we found one of the rods had become disconnected from its plastic snap-in. This seemed strange given we'd not be inside the panel on the door or otherwise messed with it. After much careful maneuvering we were able to reattach the rod to the snap-in. BUT this did not resolve the problem. The door still does not open and remains locked.
Because the door is locked, the inside panel has never been removed to see what's going on in the mechanism. This is why I was hoping someone might have ideas on how to remove the panel with the door shut. That's the only way I can think of to really see what's going on as the view from the slit of the open window is extremely limited and doesn't allow you to really see the amount of play in any rods -- particularly any horizontal rods. You can see enough though to reattach a horizontal rod to the plastic snap-in near the door jam. But that's about it.

So, perhaps that helps explain what might not have been clear before and why I asked the 3 questions (below) as I did.


1) Any ideas on getting the passenger front door inner panel off while it's closed? (Aside from take it to a dealer...)

2) Should I be replacing the door lock cylinders since the key doesn't seem to want to turn in the driver's door and the passenger door seems headed the same direction?

3) Does the passenger issue ring any bells for anyone on what I should be looking for?

Thanks for your help.
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#4 (permalink) Old 11-09-2012, 02:09 PM
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Have you tried your local door lock specialist? They generally know tricks how to open doors without ruining the locks.
And if you want to replace the door lock, notice that it is a very pricey door lock to replace. Especially since it has to be made specific to your key.
Greetz

Pim

Driving a BMW318i with LPG at the moment. Had a 2.0 RAV4.1 1997 3drs 4WD euro model w/ABS dual sunroof blue two tone previously.
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#5 (permalink) Old 11-09-2012, 02:34 PM
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What it sounds like to me is that it is a combination of a bad lock actuator motor and lock cylinders.

How easy does the lock lever on the inside of the door move back and forth? First, I would spray the door mechanism with a type of lubricant like WD-40 to see if the door mechanism is rusted or sticky. If the vehicle hasn't been used in 6 months then it could be rusted pretty good. This can be done on the passenger side also through the window crack. Can you move the rod more toward the unlock direction with a stick, etc. on the passenger side? That is how I would try to open the door. More than likely the plastic washers, etc. are worn and need to be replaced like PIM said. Or one of the rods is bent. But it's worth a try.

If you have electric locks see if they work after you use the lubricant. I have had a actuator motor go bad and only move the lock lever halfway. The only way to fix this was to replace the actuator.

It sounds like you have tried everything I would. You tried lubing and new key. Was the new key a copy of the old one or made from the VIN #. If it was a copy then the worn spots were copied to. I had a Chevy Corsica and the dealer could make a copy of the key with the VIN #, I don't know if a Toyota dealer can do it with yours but it is worth asking. This way you can determine if the key or lock cylinder is worn. (It might be cheaper to do this first before you replace the lock cylinders. Get prices first before you do.) If you do need to replace the lock cylinders maybe get them from a salvage yard. Sure you will have two keys, one key to unlock the front doors and the one you now have for the back door and ignition but I am sure it is cheaper then new lock cylinders.

If you have electric locks, once you get the actuators and lock cylinders working I would look into adding a keyless entry system to your vehicle. That way you will only need the key for the ignition. Bull Dog Security makes one that is reasonably priced and works well. I know I installed one on my RAV4 and many other vehicles.

Good luck on your repair.

Mark

Last edited by Marko59; 11-09-2012 at 04:42 PM. Reason: spelling
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#6 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 12:30 AM
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Not sure if you can take off the interior without doing some damage and possibly finding replacements. I brought back my mom's rav4 after a failed attempt from her nephew so it was already damaged. I had to rip off the upper half of the interior and peel back most of the lower half. Move your windows up if you still can so the window wont block the plastic shield. I took a craftsman rotary tool, attached the flexible shaft accessory with a small drill bit and shaved around the mounting screw holding the plastic shield around the latching mechanism. Took the shield off, followed the lock/unlock rod and pushed that up and opened the door handle. It's late right now but I will post pics of the assembly for you. Basically the lock switch rotates the mechanism (clockwise = lock, ccw = unlock) and when the door handle is pulled, itll either catch the tab to release the latch or miss the tab and latch is never touched.
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#7 (permalink) Old 11-20-2012, 04:53 PM
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1997 RAV4L - Passenger Front Door Won't Open

Thanks for the inputs.

Now to answer and ask a few more questions.

The passenger side front door interior lock button does not move more than 1/2 way -- even when trying to move it manually. It's like the lock is stuck at this point.

I have two keys I use now. Both for the same locks. One is the one I've used for some time, the other was made some time ago as a backup and rarely used (still quite 'crisp' on the edges). So though not from VIN # directly, it was made before my normal key became worn.

Seems from Mark's post I have a couple things going on with at least the passenger front lock/mechanism. Perhaps both cylinder and actuator.

djarmag the photos would be helpful. It's too bad there isn't another way to deal with accessing the mechanism other than to destroy the interior. Did you replace that after fixing the mechanism, or was it repairable too?

Right now it takes about 2-5 minutes of moving the key back and forth in the driver's side lock to open that door. So I'll need to do something soon or face crawling in from the rear (and unloading all the stuff I have back there).

Thanks all for your help everyone!

Last edited by NWdriver; 11-20-2012 at 04:55 PM. Reason: clarified normal key was worn
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#8 (permalink) Old 11-20-2012, 06:24 PM
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Can you take the seat out,maybe both and get it off?
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#9 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 09:43 AM
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I know that this is not the answer to your problem, but adding a keyless entry would help to unlock the doors if the electric lock actuators work.

The next step that is needed is to find out if the worn key or the copy with the "crisp edges" is the best match. Which key unlocks the back door better? If it is the worn key then the crisp edged key is not a true copy. I have had a key copied and because it has notches on both sides (which is what RAV4 keys are) it would not work in the lock. Maybe the crisp edged key is that way.

Maybe, like stated by Pim before, take the key and lock to an auto locksmith and see what they can do for you. Get an estimate first and find out if a lock can be bought at a salvage yard and which is cheaper.

Taking the passenger front seat out will not help remove the inner panel, but it will make it easier to get at. The problem with the inner panel is it is behind the door post and dash. I still think a combination of moving the inside lock rod, pressing the unlock button, and lubing the lock will help. I don't know if the plastic open lever, lock/unlock, and cover can be removed from the inner door panel but if it can that let you move the flag lever rod easier, maybe.

Good luck, keep at it.
Mark
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#10 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 07:26 PM
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Sorry it took me so long but here is a quick walkthrough of what to expect. NOTE : The removing plastic shield in the second picture might be optional now that I know how it works...so don't remove it unless you need to vent =P





Here's the fun part, you have to reach behind the shield and feel for the mechanism that you'll need to move. Since it sounds like the same problem as mine, more than likely your actuator is weak and there is rust and gunk keeping the mechanism from moving freely. I think I used a small but long-shaft flathead to move it. The mechanism is probably stuck in the lowered position which is why the inner lock is in a halfway state because it's hitting the tab that's supposed to unlatch the door. You have to push the mechanism up and the inner door lock should fully move to the unlock state. Pull the door handle and grab a beer (or in my case some jack)









Here's a further breakdown
This is where your problem is, the red lines are the rod for the door handle. Pulling the handle brings the red lines down to where the green lines are, and the spring in the upper right is "supposed" to return it to default. The rust/gunk prevents it from returning and gets stuck in the green portion, and when moving the lock/unlock switch, it just hits the latch to its left.


once you have it out of the door, scrape the rust and gunk off and apply some lube at the orange arrows (I used white lithium grease) so that the metal wont stick again.


I want to change out the electronic actuators but I don't know the part number so if you find out let me know =) hope this helps and good luck to you!

Last edited by djarmag; 11-27-2012 at 10:47 PM. Reason: More detailed
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