Reasons a Car Door Won't Open

by Jerry Garner
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Finding yourself unable to open a car door can be a frustrating experience. The ordeal is compounded when it occurs during bad weather conditions, but even in the best weather it can still be a stressful situation. There are a number of reasons why a car door won't open. Identifying what is preventing the car door from opening is the first step in correcting the problem. Fortunately, there are a few common issues that provide a place to start looking.

Make Sure the Car is Unlocked

As simple as it may sound, a common reason for why a door does not open is because it is locked. Many people lock doors without realizing it, sometimes even locking the keys inside the car in the process. If a door fails to open, the lock should be the first thing you inspect.

Check the Seat Belt

If your seat belt does not fully retract, it may be closed up inside the door of the car. Sometimes when this happens, the door closes with the seat belt positioned over the door's latching mechanism, causing everything to jam. If you can enter the car from the other side and see that the seat belt is closed in the door, give it a firm shove from the inside while pulling the door handle. You may feel like you are forcing the door open, but once the seat belt is taken off of the latch, the door will work like normal again.

Consider the Possibility of Mechanical Failure

If the car door will open from either the inside or outside, but not both, it is most likely a failure with the mechanics inside the door. The most likely cause is a loose or broken rod or cable connecting the non-working door handle to the latch. Remove the panel from the inside of the door to gain access to the mechanical components.

Lubricate the Door Hinges

If the car door will open, but with difficulty, the problem could simply be that the door hinges need lubrication. A creaking door is a sure sign of a lack of lubrication, and if the matter is ignored long enough, the hinge could begin to lock in position. Simply open the door all the way to gain access to the door hinge. Apply a generous amount of lubricant to the hinge. Use grease or a spray lubricant, such as WD-40. Fan the door open and closed several times to work the lubrication into the hinge.

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