How to Fix a Car Door That Can't Be Opened From the Inside

by K.K. Lowell

When a car door cannot be opened from the inside, there are less than a half-dozen possible reasons why. This repair is a good project for those who like to do their own repairs and have a few simple tools.

Check the child safety lock if the problem door is a rear door. If it is engaged, the door will not open from the inside by design.

Remove the window crank in cars with manual windows. There will either be a screw in the center of the handle or a retaining clip on the back side of the handle.

Remove the inner door handle. Look for a screw in the bezel, under the handle lever. Some models have handles that have no screw but are held on by locks, which are disengaged by sliding the bezel either forward or back. Check to make sure the handle is not broken. There should be a cable or rod attached to the handle. If there is not, you found the problem and need either a new clip or handle.

Remove the inner door panel retaining screws. These are generally along the bottom and each side, but one or two may be in or under an armrest, depending on make and model of the car.

Remove the door panel. The method for this will vary by make and model, but start by trying to slide the panel upwards. If it does not move, gently insert a screwdriver or small pry bar between the panel and door and gently pry the panel away from the door to determine if there are any retaining clips. Be very careful on a cold day to not crack the door panel.

Continue to pry outward on the door panel where retainers are located until it pulls out of the door.

Slide the door panel up to clear the window opening and door lock button and remove it. Unplug any power window switches and courtesy lights.

Remove the plastic vapor barrier. Save for reinstallation.

Check the cables or linkage rods at the latch end. Many cars use plastic clips to retain the cable or rod to the latch mechanism; check these carefully for breakage and cracks. If no broken or missing parts are found, proceed to the next step.

Close the door and allow it to latch.

Operate the release lever on the latch. If the door does not open, replace the latch.

Tip

  • check Proceed slowly when removing the door panel. There are several types of retainers used.

Items you will need

About the Author

K.K. Lowell is a freelance writer who has been writing professionally since June 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. A mechanic and truck driver for more than 40 years, Lowell is able to write knowledgeably on many automotive and mechanical subjects. He is currently pursuing a degree in English.