Cannot Unlock/ Open Driver Door - What to do

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Jun 20, 2007
Tuscaloosa, AL
So the other day I drop the kid off at school and go back out to the truck, hit the unlock button, and the driver door will not unlock. I open the rear door and try to actual the power lock switch, no luck. I then try unlocking it manually with the switch itself and it will not click over all the way to the unlock position (it does go all the way to the lock position). It also will not open with the key.

I've since removed the small trim piece around the door handle and cannot move the rod enough to unlock it. It seems to bind before it unlocks, even trying to forcefully move the switch there is significant resistance and if I force it to the full unlock position, the door remains locked and when I let go of the switch, it goes back to an in between position.

My big problem here is that I cannot open the door and thus cannot remove the door panel as there are screws and clips holding it on that can only be accessed with the door open.

What can I do to get the door open? I don't think a locksmith will have any luck and the only option may be to destroy the trim piece around the outer door handle to access the mechanism there? Thoughts?

And yes, I've searched pretty extensively.
Have you tried lubing anything yet?
Lube the key hole, work it with the key, repeat.
Use a spare key and don't be afraid of breaking anything, it's already buggered.
That’s an odd one if you haven’t been in the door recently. So the doors not unlocking all the way....going by memory to unlock the door the knob is pulling on the wire cable to unlock. You could try grabbing the cable if you can get to it...should be attached to the knob and pull on it a bit.

Not sure how long u have owned but a 2001, someone’s probably been in there and fixed or replaced the actuator by now. Sounds like the wire cable may have been slightly bent/crimped at that time and finally failed. Another option is that they did the motor fix and didn’t glue it back together well and the actuator has shifted.....spitballing here.

I was able to get an FJ cruiser door panel off with a closed door with little damage ..,never had to try with a landcruiser. I did have to remove the seat.
I lubed the lock well and still no dice. Whether I try to move the inner lock or the key, it just won't get 100% of travel in the unlock direction.

I believe there is a rod connecting it to the knob on the door panel. I've owned the truck for 8+ years and haven't had to do the actuator. Certainly could be a factor, but the door panel has a number of bolts a clips holding it on that are behind the dash and at the bottom of the door.

I feel pretty cool climbing over the hump and out the passenger door!
The actuator isn't strong enough to stop you from unlocking the door.
Try turning the key and pulling the handle at the same time. I bet you find a sweet spot that lets you open the door, once you get it open do not close it until you get the door panel off.
Something lodged in the way of the rod, you can also try pounding on the outside of the door with your fist while you turn the key.
You could try removing the piece on the armrest which would give you access to the inner door a bit. It will/should be covered with plastic but maybe releasing some pressure or fiddling around in it will trigger something. Might have to poke thru the plastic with something.

When u say “can’t move the rod enough to unlock” what are you referring to? If you can remove the inner door handle to pull that lock wire cable that’s attached to the knob further to the right it should unlock. That wire sounds like it’s not moving far enough to unlock. It may have lost where it snaps in... top pic...though not sure if u will be able to see it if you can get it off.

And I don’t think it has anything to do with your outer door handle. From what I’m getting the door is just locked and not unlocking. Even if you opened up the outside door handle the door would still be locked. This would be more of a fix if the rod had come loose from the handle, the both handles,,inner and outer would feel like they aren’t doing anything.
So I have removed the trim piece around the handle. I can grab onto the cable which attaches to the lock with needle nose pliers, but it is tight. When I try to move it (it doesn't move very far due to the limited room) it feels basically like the switch itself - there is resistance at the end of the movement to the unlock position. I can remove the door switch panel in the armrest, but it doesn't really provide access to anything. I don't believe I can remove the armrest itself...
Not a lot to go wrong with these things. I’m at a loss. The suggestion to beat on the door panel doesn’t look to bad right now. Going over a speed bump at high speed to see if you can jostle something. Rapidly moving the lock unlock button while someone is pulling the handle....

The symptoms are similar to when I slightly bent a cable in my back door, it did exactly what ur saying and then freed up. It’s been good for a year since, still waiting for the day it fails. Not much room to do anything but at this point trying to work a little hooked rod thru the plastic...I don’t know. I assume you have tried window up, down, halfway etc.

Try using the interior handle and lock switch repeatedly whilst someone is pushing in on the door from the outside then rapidly hitting the door by the latch with the side of a fist.
Try using the interior handle and lock switch repeatedly whilst someone is pushing in on the door from the outside then rapidly hitting the door by the latch with the side of a fist.

+1 this... I have a Toyota Echo that, when attempting to open the door from inside while locked, will trigger the exact symptom you've described.

The way I initially resolved this situation is by jiggling/shimmying the manual door lock on the edge of the "unnatural" resistance associated with the symptom. My original method usually also involved rolling down the window and pulling exterior handle etc, this never helped. Pulling harder never helped.

I've since refined the method to a methodical, rhythmic push-pull of the lock lever against the edge of resistance... 4 to 5 medium-gentle push-pulls usually results in lock release. :love:

Side note...
I'm 6'10" and It was hilarious to watch me frantically jiggle the lock lever while trapped in the tiny econobox. Usually while cursing, always in front of pretty ladies.

Side note 2...
I also have a Scion XB that sometimes does this after manually locking the door while already inside. The refined fix works the same in the Scion.
I finally was successful today in getting the door open. After much study of the passenger side door and fiddling, I determined that the plastic bushing where the outer handle connects was stuck in the down position. I opened the window, and then bent the end of a welding rod and hooked it underneath it and pulled it up, which allowed the door to unlock. Basicially it was like the handle is pulled out when that bushing is stuck down, so the door can't unlock. See pics of the bushing in question, in stuck and unstuck positions. Any idea of the root cause? Is this a bad actuator, or whole assembly? If I lock the door, it gets stuck.


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