The car door latch is the locking mechanism responsible for securing the door to ensure it doesn’t open while driving. This is why you hear clicking sounds whenever you close the door.
Although it may not be as commonly known, the car door latch is as important as other parts of the car. Unfortunately, not many people understand this, as some even forget or are unaware of its existence. As a result, car owners tend to forget to replace them when necessary. Naturally, this can lead to various issues, such as the door suddenly opening.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five signs your car door latch needs a replacement.
- It Requires Excessive Force To Lock Or Unlock The Door
If you regularly use your car, you must know exactly how much force it takes to lock or unlock the door. If the usual amount of force no longer does the trick, your car door latch may need a replacement. However, before you buy a replacement, keep in mind that there are different types of car door latches, and some are inherently more strenuous to lock or unlock.
With that in mind, it’d help if you knew a thing or two about the different types of car door latches. This helpful post should tell you what you need to know.
- You Can No Longer Hear Clicking Sounds
As stated earlier, the car door latch is the main reason you hear clicking sounds whenever you close the door. Therefore, if you can no longer hear the familiar sound even after pushing or pulling the door all the way through, the car door latch is most likely already broken.
However, the problem may also be due to a broken striker—yet another part of a car. The car door striker catches the door latch. You hear clicking sounds whenever the striker successfully catches the latch. If the striker is broken, there’ll be no such sound.
So, the lack of clicking sounds is either caused by a broken car door latch or striker. Either way, it would be in your best interest to at least schedule an inspection of your vehicle.
- There Are Visual Signs Of Exterior Damage
A car latch rarely breaks due to interior damage. If it’s broken, it’s most likely due to exterior damage. You should be able to spot the damage by simply looking at the appropriate area.
Of course, if you see signs of exterior damage, that doesn’t necessarily mean the door latch is broken. But while it can be fine, it’s still best to check the door’s interior for good measure. Exterior damage can also affect the striker, giving you another reason to double-check.
When the car door latch is broken, it may fail to attach itself to the striker. When that happens, it will produce rattling sounds as it cannot latch itself onto the striker. The same can happen if only the car door striker is broken. The striker would fail to catch the latch, resulting in rattling sounds.
- It’s Been Seven Years Since You Last Replaced The Door Latch
A car door is expected to last for up to seven years. That refers to the door in its entirety as well as its individual parts, including the door latch. If it’s been over seven years since you last replaced it, then now is the time to do so.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely for one not to get a replacement all this time, but it’s still a sign worth noting. It would be a particularly handy sign if you bought a second-hand vehicle as there’s a chance the previous owner hasn’t replaced the latch for years.
What Do You Do If Your Car Door Latch Is Broken?
If you’ve identified that your door latch is, indeed, broken, what now?
To start, you need to get a replacement immediately. It’s also worth noting that replacing a car door latch isn’t as simple as removing the old one and plugging in the new one. It requires you to disassemble a huge part of the door, and that typically involves the use of tools. Therefore, it’s not something you’d usually do yourself.
The cars from the 50s to the 80s were quite simple. Only the cars manufactured from the 90s up to the present have such complex door systems. Although it does have merits, it also causes inconveniences, such as how it’s now difficult to identify whether a car door latch is broken. Even the replacement process itself is difficult, unless you let a professional help you.
Thankfully, you now know exactly what signs to look for if you want to figure out whether your car door latch needs a replacement. Check for noise, vibration, and damage. Also, be mindful of the last time the latch was replaced.