Door lock actuators are a common cause of problems in door locks. The Door Lock Actuator controls the locking mechanism, allowing you to lock and unlock your doors manually. If this component fails or malfunctions, it could mean that your car doors cannot be locked or unlocked at all. Testing these components isn’t too difficult once you know what to look for.
To test the door lock actuator, it is first necessary to isolate it.
There are two primary reasons why it’s necessary to isolate a component before testing it:
- To avoid damaging other components. If you don’t isolate a member, you may damage it when you apply voltage or current to your test equipment and perform measurements on the circuit. This can happen even if the component functions correctly at normal operating conditions; if you apply too much current and excessive voltage, the damage could occur.
- To avoid damaging your test equipment. A vehicle’s electrical circuits are designed for specific loads (currents and voltages), so applying different loads than what was initially intended can result in permanent damage to your electronics or even injury from electrocution. For example, when measuring the resistance between two points, many multimeters have internal fuses that will blow if too much current flows through the meter.
The usual procedure would be to check all the door locks one at a time.
The first thing you should do is to check all the door locks one at a time. To isolate the door lock actuator, you will need to disconnect it from any power source and ground. Once you have done this, you can test its resistance by using an ohmmeter and taking measurements between the external terminals of the coil. If there is no continuity in any airport, there might be a short circuit somewhere in your system, or it has failed altogether (meaning it won’t work).
Isolate the actuator by ensuring it is being fed power and receiving a signal from the lock switch.
Once the door lock switch has been isolated, you need to ensure that the actuator receives power and a signal from the door lock switch. To do this, follow these steps:
- Check the power supply. Are there 12 volts present at terminal 86 of connector J10? Turn the ignition switch ON with the driver’s door open and DMM set to 20 amps DC.
- Check the ground circuit for continuity between the ground stud and the vehicle body. If no continuity exists, repair the existing ground circuit or add ground wire directly between the ground stud and the vehicle body (green/black wire). If a suitable ground circuit exists, proceed by checking for power on terminal 86 of connector J10 (grey/white wire) with the ignition turned ON and the driver’s door open.
- Check actuator operation using a digital multimeter (DMM) while pushing down on both sides of shaft A2 until it contacts each stop inside the lock housing. If no voltage is measured when either end makes contact with its finish inside the lock housing, replace the door actuator assembly.
This can be done by checking these two things at the individual actuators behind each door panel.
The first thing you want to do is check the power supply. This can be done by checking these two things at the individual actuators behind each door panel.
- Check for a power supply to the actuator by using your DMM and checking for voltage between Pin 1 and Pin 2 of the connector at both ends of wire harnesses which run from the driver’s side doors through A-pillars, across B pillars and into passenger side doors. If there is no voltage, check fuse 15 in the fuse box under the hood or the dash near the battery (it’s a 10 amp fuse). Also, check the solenoid resistance on the driver’s side door lock assembly; if it reads infinity, replace it with a new one.
- Check the ground circuit with DMM by taking a test lead from the negative post of the battery directly onto the ground stud located on drivers side kick panel just below where the hood latch handle would be mounted when open; if no ground circuit exists here, then go back up above step 1 above where companies checked fuse 15
If a problem is found, it should be fixed before testing and replacing an actuator.
If your door lock actuator has a problem, it should be fixed before testing and replacing an actuator. If not, you’ll have to test with the lousy actuator in place and then again with the good one. This can be inconvenient if your car is no longer under warranty and is costly if an extended warranty plan still covers it.
Testing an actuator is pretty straightforward once you know how to isolate the component.
Things you will need:
- A multimeter (or another circuit tester) that’s capable of checking the voltage and resistance entering the actuator. You use a Fluke, but any good multimeter will do.
- A set of spade connectors and a crimp tool to connect them to your test leads (optional but recommended).
What tools do you need to test a door lock actuator?
You will need the following tools to test your door lock actuator:
- A digital multimeter (DMM). The DMM measures voltage, current and resistance.
- A lab scope. This instrument is used to view waveforms on oscilloscope screens. It can help you identify issues such as faulty connections or shorts in wiring harnesses that may cause problems with your door lock actuator.
CI was checking the voltage supply.
You’ll want to check the voltage supply at the door lock actuator. Depending on your vehicle, you can use a multimeter, and you should see either 12V or 24V. If there is no voltage present here, then there’s probably something wrong with either the fuse or the battery. If you’re not sure what sort of vehicle you have, don’t worry—companies will cover that later!
CI was checking the ground.
The ground is checked with a multimeter. To check for a reasonable basis, use a jumper wire to connect the battery’s negative terminal to the negative terminal on the door actuator. If this checks out and you still have no power, you need to take apart your door lock assembly and look at what grounds are used there. If you find that none of them is connected or is broken, then there’s something wrong with that circuit—you may need to get another replacement part from an auto parts store or replace your whole door lock assembly altogether!
Suppose you are testing the door lock actuator with a digital multimeter (DMM).
To see if the door lock actuator is working, check that the power door lock switch is in the off position. Then test for voltage supply and ground using a digital multimeter (DMM).
- Connect one lead of your digital multimeter to the battery negative terminal and another to an unpainted metal part of your vehicle’s body. The red clamp should always be connected to the positive (+), and the black clamp should always be connected to the negative (-).
- Now disconnect this clamp from the battery negative terminal and connect it to the door lock actuator connector where pin one is located, as shown below:
- Now press the power door lock switch on the dashboard while you have connected the ground clip of DMM with the terminal link between the inside panel trim panel or wire harness at the door latch mechanism end near the column shift lever housing assembly as shown below:
Pushing the power door lock switch with a DMM.
If you see that the power door lock switch has continuity, it is safe to conclude that the problem lies with the door lock actuator. To determine whether or not this is true, you can take a digital multimeter (DMM) and measure the potential voltage at each pin on the door lock actuator connector.
If your meter reads 0 volts when pushing down on either wire and 12 volts when releasing them, then there’s no shortage of current getting through to your power door lock switches. However, suppose there is no voltage present in any of these situations. In that case, there may be an issue with one or more components in your vehicle’s electrical system – including worn-out wiring insulation or faulty ground connections.
Door lock actuator testing with a Lab Scope.
Test the door lock actuator for continuity. To test for continuity, use the Lab Scope to set your signal generator to a frequency of 1 kHz and connect it to the door lock actuator. On the Lab Scope, determine which voltage level represents high voltage and place your probe on that point. Next, check all parts of the door lock actuator by moving your search from one position to another while keeping track of what you are doing on paper so that you know what each part is called and how many volts it should have when everything is working correctly. If any piece has less than 3 volts or more than 6 volts, then there is an issue with that part because they should all be around 5 volts if everything worked correctly before testing began (5V).
Testing the door lock actuator can be done with or without a scanner, but it will take longer.
Both testing methods take about 30 minutes to complete. The test with the scanner is faster because it can tell you if the actuator is working correctly, but it’s more challenging to do without one.
If you have access to a scanner and want to learn how to use it, here are instructions on how to use both types of scanners:
The door lock actuator is integral to your vehicle’s door locks. It sends signals to the waves, so they know when to disengage or engage. If there are problems with the movement or power supply, this will cause a problem with locking or unlocking your doors.
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