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I have a 1997 RAV4 w/manual transmission with 130,000 miles. I live in Boise, Idaho, so it does get cold in the winter. I have owned my RAV for about 6 years. Every winter I have a problem with the door locks freezing up, usually after a storm and when the temperature dips well below freezing. I don't have a garage, so my car sits in my driveway. It does get driven every day. I also have an after-market key-less door lock. When it "freezes" up, my remote won't unlock it, and I can't unlock it with my key. Previously I was able to get into my car through the rear tailgate. Believe me, at age 65 and of large size, climbing over two sets of bucket seats and a stick shift on a cold winter morning is both uncomfortable and undignified. When I do finally get in the car, I still can't unlock the doors. I have to start the car and let it warm up before I can unlock the other doors. Last winter my son used some lock lube on the door locks and I didn't have a problem the rest of the winter. This year, the very first cold night after a storm, the whole car was frozen and I couldn't even get in the back. Toyota suggested I just get a new key made, but I have a 2nd key that has rarely been used and it didn't work either. I have had the keyless system checked out several times. My mechanic said he could take the driver's side door apart and rework the lock, but I don't really want to pay for exploratory surgery. I would feel better about it if someone actually knew why it does this. I don't know if it is literally freezing because moisture is in the lock mechanism, or it simply won't work because is it worn and the cold makes it worse.
 

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'99 RAV4.1, 3MZ-FE, E250F 4x4, Torsen Dif
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You can do a few things to prevent freezing.

Note: Be aware that lubricant will probably leak through the drain holes while performing the following.

1) Clean and lubricate the locks with WD-40 Specialist Water Resistant Silicone Lubricant With Smart Straw. Insert the tube and just spray away to clean and any moisture and gunk in the lock and also lubricate it. Insert the key and lock and unlock the door several times.
2) With the windows up insert the tube between the window and door and spray into the door varying the location and angle to cover everything, this will lubricate the lock and window linkage. Insert the key and lock and unlock the door, open and close the door, roll the window up and down several times. It is actually better to take the door panels off and spray directly onto the linkage, particularly where the linkage joints are but this is time consuming and a bit of a bother now that it is already cold.
3) Make sure the door drain holes are clear.
4) Move to Florida, LOL

There are people who will say use other products but this worked well for me in Misawa, Japan where it would drop down as low as -60 degrees F at night. And here in Okeechobee, FL where it gets all the way down to 40 degrees a couple of nights a year.:lol:
 

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'99 RAV4.1, 3MZ-FE, E250F 4x4, Torsen Dif
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Your keyless system isn't working because everything is frozen up, don't pay someone to mess around with your doors when all you need to do is what i pointed out above. If my mechanic told me what he told you, he would no longer be my mechanic.
 

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I live north of Toronto and I have some experience with cold winters as well.

You say that you have an after-market key-less door lock. Has that only been installed on the drivers door? If installed on all doors (as expected) it would seem odd that none of the other doors unlock. That would indicate a problem with the key-less entry system and not a problem with locks themselves.

Ice formation in a lock barrel can cause the tiny pins in the barrel to stick and prevent the key from rotating. This type of problem can be remedied by spraying WD-40 (water displacer 40) into the keyhole to displace the water from the lock. Water located anywhere else in the mechanism should not interfere with the lock mechanism. If none of the other doors have keyholes, then they should have been unlocked by the wireless system.

The most common problem I found years ago, is when moisture in the rubber weather stripping would freeze to the door frame. This effectively glued the door to the frame preventing it from being opened despite the fact the door was unlocked. I was able to completely prevent that problem by spraying the weather stripping with silicone on an annual basis.

The silicone also lubricates the rubber and reduces wear even in warm dry climates. It can also reduce some squeaks which are caused by small movements in the doors when driving.
 

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You apparently are quite athletic to be able to get all the way into the front seat through the tailgate of your RAV! Did you try lubing the door locks this autumn with the lock lube which your son used last year? Water can get into the lock mechanism both directly as in through the keyhole, and also via the window glass draining water past the window exterior seal and into the interior of the door. When I lived in the Midwest and had a car which did that, when I parked the car at night I would take some thick plastic sheeting which would cover the window, the window seal and the keyhole and close the top part into the top of the door when closing it and then tape the bottom part to the door so that the wind wouldn't blow it up. Getting the tape off the door in the morning could be a problem but either leaving it until there was a thaw or using a hair dryer would loosen it.

Also there is door lock antifreeze in aerosol cans which can be sprayed into the keyhole and often will thaw the lock.
 

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Oh and I forgot to mention to spray the silicon lube on the door catch parts that you can see when you open the door.

And yes, spray the silicon lube on the door seals and the door where the seals make contact as Ricki pointed out.
 

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I have 1997 Toyota RAV4 also and experience same problem for many years,,, this is not problem of the locker tumber mechanism, it is problem of electronic locking mechanism. The problem is not from being old or worn out, I find the problem to be from time accumulation of condensation moisture in this locking solenoid mechanism. I fix mine maybe by luck but what I did was to
#1 painstakingly remove door panel to point I could access this module.
#2 then I drill moisture relief drain holes in mechanism to allow moisture build up to disapate.
#3 Reinstall, Oh and first lubricate with Non Freezable lubricant and possibly most critical thing to fix was apply plastic from plastic bottle cut out and place over top (As a hood or cover) on mechanism to prevent rain and moisture from entering as easily.
#4 Reassemble (You may need new insert retainer plastic pieces that you can get at automotive outlet store) in order to have secure hold for panel. And your done. this resolve my problem on driver door, i haven't done it to other doors yet cause it took me over an hour to get it all apart and attempt resolution of problem. My most critical door is driver door, I'm 6' 4 and heavy and look as a gorilla/elephant climbing from rear hatch over console into driver seat. And first time I do it was in parking lot and police were called as I guessing I looking like a burgler steal my car. It was rediculous and scary cause police demand me to open window it wouldn't, then get out of the vehicle, I couldn't Damn Toyota for this... I love their quality but this is danger issue in manufacturing defect that could be life threatening. Police have gun drawn screaming commands at me, I finally exit through the rear hatch as I entered. No one should have go through this ever. Hope it will help someone else from theres situation. I really don't know which one fixing it, but maybe its comvination of the three.
Best of luck and enjoy your RAV4 as you should be able to normally all months of the year...
By way I spend hundreds of dollars at Toyota dealer and they no able to fix it. They look at me like I crazy in disbelief it actually happen. Can't believe they no hear of this situation, I think ther many with same issue. It may be liability issue for them to acknowledge??? like a big recall or something but they acted totally clueless on issue and even try to blame it on aftermarket GPS console and stereo installation. Wow.
 

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'99 RAV4.1, 3MZ-FE, E250F 4x4, Torsen Dif
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I have 1997 Toyota RAV4 also and experience same problem for many years,,, this is not problem of the locker tumber mechanism, it is problem of electronic locking mechanism. The problem is not from being old or worn out, I find the problem to be from time accumulation of condensation moisture in this locking solenoid mechanism. I fix mine maybe by luck but what I did was to
#1 painstakingly remove door panel to point I could access this module.
#2 then I drill moisture relief drain holes in mechanism to allow moisture build up to disapate.
#3 Reinstall, Oh and first lubricate with Non Freezable lubricant and possibly most critical thing to fix was apply plastic from plastic bottle cut out and place over top (As a hood or cover) on mechanism to prevent rain and moisture from entering as easily.
#4 Reassemble (You may need new insert retainer plastic pieces that you can get at automotive outlet store) in order to have secure hold for panel. And your done. this resolve my problem on driver door, i haven't done it to other doors yet cause it took me over an hour to get it all apart and attempt resolution of problem. My most critical door is driver door, I'm 6' 4 and heavy and look as a gorilla/elephant climbing from rear hatch over console into driver seat. And first time I do it was in parking lot and police were called as I guessing I looking like a burgler steal my car. It was rediculous and scary cause police demand me to open window it wouldn't, then get out of the vehicle, I couldn't Damn Toyota for this... I love their quality but this is danger issue in manufacturing defect that could be life threatening. Police have gun drawn screaming commands at me, I finally exit through the rear hatch as I entered. No one should have go through this ever. Hope it will help someone else from theres situation. I really don't know which one fixing it, but maybe its comvination of the three.
Best of luck and enjoy your RAV4 as you should be able to normally all months of the year...
By way I spend hundreds of dollars at Toyota dealer and they no able to fix it. They look at me like I crazy in disbelief it actually happen. Can't believe they no hear of this situation, I think ther many with same issue. It may be liability issue for them to acknowledge??? like a big recall or something but they acted totally clueless on issue and even try to blame it on aftermarket GPS console and stereo installation. Wow.
Wow! Great story, great repair idea.
 
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