Between the system’s keypads, keyless entry, and door locks themselves, the locking and unlocking of your VW’s door isn’t as simple as it seems. There are several things that can cause your Volkswagen door locks to quit working.
Most of the time, the fix is simple, but some problems may require the assistance of a professional mechanic. Here is some information to help you determine what’s gone wrong with your VW power door locks.
What’s Happening with Your Door Locks
While there are many different things that can cause your power door locks to fail, the most common causes are:
- A bad door lock actuator/door lock solenoid
- A bad door lock switch
- A bad key fob (remote)
If it’s not one of these items, it could be an issue with the linking rod connector. The linkage can sometimes pop off — especially if the doors have been unlocked with a slim jim or door hanger recently. It’s fairly easy to hook into the rod and cause it to disconnect if you stuck an object down into the door. If this is the case, you will have to remove the interior door panel and reconnect or adjust the linkage. You may also have to replace the plastic rod retainer if it was broken in the process. (A related issue would be a worn rod retainer that is causing the linkage to stall out or come off track.)
Door latches can also wear, some have the lock actuators built-in while others don’t. In either case, a worn latch can cause issues with the locking mechanism. If there is too much movement or excess play, the door lock will not work dependably. The door lock actuators are usually available with the door latch and actuator as a unit (where applicable) if this is the problem.
What about computer problems? Almost all modern cars have computers that come into play when controlling door locks. Fortunately, these computer systems are rarely an issue when it comes to malfunctioning door locks. If there is a problem within the car’s ECM (computer) that’s causing your door locks to fail, a check engine light will usually illuminate on the dash. You will then need to scan the ECM with a handheld scanner to read the code.
Here are the common scenarios and associated problems.
One door lock is not working: When one door has the locking issue, it is likely an issue within the door. Be it the switch for that side, latch, or actuator. If the lock slowly started to lose power/speed locking and locking — or would stop working intermittently and start again, the motor/actuator is most likely to blame.
The windows work off the passenger side switch but not the drivers side (or vice versa): If one set of switches can control the windows, it’s likely the switch on the opposing side that needs to be replaced.
The door lock works in only one direction: This issue also indicates a bad lock actuator.
Locks work from the switch, but not the remote: If this happens, the problem is with the remote. The battery is likely dead and needs to be replaced, but the remote(s) may also need to be reprogrammed to work.