Locked out

Date:1 June 2012 Tags:,

I have an older work pick-up, and although it still runs and drives well, I’ve noticed the key lock tumbler on the driver’s side door is starting to get finicky. When I put the key in, I have to jiggle it around before the tumblers will turn in the lock. Is there a way to fix this without too much trouble?

Doors and door parts – especially on the driver’s side – get a huge amount of use and abuse. The advent of keyless entry has reduced the number of cycles a lock tumbler will experience, but manual locks get the what-for every time you enter the vehicle.

The first thing you might try is spraying some graphite lube into the keyhole – if the mechanism is just sticking, this could be an easy fix. If that doesn’t do it, you’ll need to replace the lock tumbler with a new one; this ranges from a very simple procedure in old trucks to a bit tricky in new and high-feature pick-ups.

The inexpensive option is to take the inner doors apart and swap the driver’s side lock for the invariably less worn passenger-side tumbler. In all likelihood these are interchangeable parts and the passenger-side tumbler has another 300 000 kilometres’ worth of use in it because it has gone through fewer cycles.

The more fancy-pants fix is to get a new lock mechanism from your dealer for the driver’s side door, machined to match the original keys that came with the vehicle. Obviously, this is a bit more expensive than swapping old parts around. Considering how cheap I am, taking a few minutes to transfer those locks side to side is what I’d go for.

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