Car Lock Replacement Cost Guide

Author: Daniel Rey

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If your car’s lock or locking system has any sort of problem, it’s recommended to get it repaired or replaced immediately. A car lock that has been damaged will almost certainly need to be swapped for a new one.

What’s the Cost of Replacing Your Car Lock?

For your reference, we’ve calculated the total car door lock replacement cost based on data gathered from various online retail sources. The price range of these parts varies depending on your vehicle type, the brand of the part, the type, and the purchase location.

The term ‘car lock’ is very broad as, in reality, it’s comprised of many different parts that work to provide the locking function. Depending on what type of locking system your car uses and which part of it you want to replace, the pricing will vary.

  • Door Lock Cylinder

This refers to the actual keyhole that’s normally located on a car door handle. It’s usually sold along with a set of two keys and with retainer clips and washers to be used during installation. These can be used to replace a lock that’s been damaged from the exterior due to collision or impact with an external object.

A ‘door lock kit’ is usually the same thing but might include additional wires/wiring and an installation guide.

A door lock pack might include more than one lock. The cost of a door lock can range from $10 to $350, but the majority cost between $10 and $100.

  • Door Lock Assembly

A door lock assembly is an internal mechanism inside the door that works in conjunction with the handle and the locking system of the car to help open and close the door. The assembly is located behind a panel on the side of the door.

It’s also referred to as a ‘door lock mechanism’ or ‘door latch assembly’. The door latch, which hooks onto a strike plate on the car door frame, is built into the door lock assembly.

The cost of an assembly ranges from $30 to $750. However, most of the parts cost between $70 and $150. An assembly can be replaced manually or brought to a repair shop.

  • Door Lock Knobs/Switches

Another small but important part of a car’s lock system is the door lock knobs. These are what a passenger or the driver uses to lock or unlock a car door from the inside. Older-model vehicles use a push-type knob which is located near the window while newer-model vehicles use a switch type of knob that flicks back and forth and is located inside the compartment with the interior door handle.

These knobs/switches cost as little as $3 to as much as $20. They’re fairly easy to replace and shouldn’t warrant a tech visit.

  • Power Door Lock Actuator

The actuator is used in power door locking systems and is the primary part responsible for auto-locking or auto-opening car doors. It consists of a small motor and several gears which serve to move rods which can control the locks.

Essentially, it mimics the pulling and pushing force that is needed in manual door lock systems. The door lock actuator is located behind the door panel.

The price of an actuator ranges from $30 to over $1000, which is a pretty wide margin. Good-quality actuators aren’t that cheap and the majority of them cost more than $100. There are, however, many aftermarket actuators that are priced from $50 to $100.

A problem with one or all of these car lock parts may cause issues with engaging/disengaging the lock when needed and end up with replacement as the solution. Some of the most popular brands that specialize in auto parts are OPGIACDelco, and Auto Metal Direct. Compared to the replacement cost, the car door lock repair cost might end up being higher.

Where to Get Your Car Lock Replaced?

Broken car locks can be replaced or repaired at either branded dealership auto centers such as Toyota and Honda or independent service centers like Firestone Auto Care or the American Automobile Association.

Replacement costs will vary depending on where you get the part(s) replaced. Be aware that most dealerships will have a much higher service charge compared to any other automotive shops. Besides both of those options, there’s a third one – auto locksmiths.

Auto locksmiths are technicians that specialize in replacing and repairing car locks, lock systems, and keys. They can help you if you’ve left the keys in your car or can’t lock a certain door.

Locksmiths can fix any problems related to damaged mechanisms, assemblies or jammed locks. In case a car lock can’t be repaired and must be replaced, locksmiths can also perform the labor and make sure that your existing car keys fit the replacement, thus saving you time and money.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular and widely-used auto locksmiths in the United States.

  • Locksmith USA
  • High Tech Locksmiths
  • United Locksmith
  • American Best Locksmith
  • Broward Lock Expert
  • All USA Locksmith

Locksmiths can also help you upgrade a manual car lock system to an automatic one. It’s recommended that you choose a locksmith over other service centers to replace your car lock as they typically have lower hourly rates.

The starting price that you can expect to see for a locksmith is $45 for the basic service and could go beyond the $100 mark depending on the security level required. The cost can also vary, however, based on location and the technician’s hourly rate.

It may even be as high as $350 depending on the year, make, and model of your car as well as the complexity of the job. Some locksmith may also ask for a trip charge. For example, Mobile Locksmith Indianapolis LLC charges $19 for every service call.

car lock repair

What’s a Car Lock?

Automobiles nowadays use either one of three different types of locks: manual lock cylinders, automatic locks, and remote keyless systems.

Child locks are special safety locks that are placed on the rear passenger doors to prevent children from opening the door from the inside. A door that’s locked with a child lock can only be opened from the outside. These locks usually look like a small switch on the door itself and are completely inaccessible once the door is closed.

As the switch is easy to flip and can be manipulated by knowledgeable older children, some automobile models have incorporated a lock wherein a key is needed to activate/deactivate the switch. 

Child locks are also used in some police cars to prevent a prisoner in the back seat from leaving the vehicle.

Manual locks are activated by either pushing down a knob near the window or flipping a switch near the inner door handle. They prevent the door from being opened from either side.

Automatic door locks perform the same function but can be activated from a button or switch located on the driver-side window. They use a system called power door locking or central locking. All the door locks or individual ones can be activated or deactivated by a single button push or switch flip. 

Automatic door locks can still be operated manually if desired.

Remote keyless systems use remote technology to engage/disengage the locks without having to use a key to get inside. Most modern automobiles already use a remote keyless system. It works via a radio transmitter which is located in the car.

A key fob (which is a type of keychain for cars) communicates with the transmitter via radio waves and has buttons that can be pushed to lock or unlock the doors.

Some cars also come equipped with a proximity system which is triggered by a transponder car key or ‘Smart Key’ which has a chip in it. It works in almost the same way as a key fob except that it can lock or unlock the car doors depending on how close or how far the transponder is from the vehicle.

Symptoms of a Malfunctioning Car Lock

Although there are many components that allow a car lock to work, there’s only one part that’s the most likely to have caused a car lock system to malfunction – and that’s the door lock actuator.

The first symptom to look out for that will alert you to any problems is when the power locks stop working. Each door in the car has an actuator, so if a certain door fails to respond to lock/unlock command, the problem is most likely with the actuator inside that door.

If you hear unusual noises coming from inside the door panel, there could be a problem with the actuator as well. It operates with a motor that turns gears, but the sound isn’t supposed to be very loud and if the sound is actually audible, the gears might be getting worn down. If left alone, the motor itself might die.

Power door locks that have internal wiring issues can behave erratically. 

Some examples are locks that lock and unlock themselves, become non-responsive, or react intermittently. 

A lock with electrical issues can short-circuit and spark, causing possible damage to the door itself. The cost to replace a car door is definitely higher than the cost of fixing the car locks, so have it checked out right away.

door lock of a car being opened

How to Keep Your Car Lock Working Well?

To keep your car locks in good working condition and to avoid premature replacement, there are a few things you can do.

Firstly, you can help the moving parts inside the car door to living longer by being gentle when closing it. Avoid overuse of the power locks. If you have children that frequently ride in the car, teach them to avoid playing with the locks. Every time that it’s used, the cables, gears, and motor inside the door panel wear down.

Regular maintenance of your car locks can also play a big part in prolonging the lives of the lock parts. WD-40 is a great light lubricant that can be used to spray the latch, assembly, and actuator in order to remove grime, dirt, and grease buildup on the moving parts.

Silicone-based lubricants and anti-rust sprays are also recommended as good maintenance fluids.

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