Door Lock Failure: Getting the Door Open (P38)

Latch ViewIntroduction
Failure Symptoms
Tools Required
Parts Required
Door Opening Procedure
Optional Aside: Trying to release latch w/o destroying it
Door Latch Removal and Replacement

Door Lock Opening and Rebuilding by a Professional Locksmith
More Information


Many owners have experienced a mechanical door lock failure in which the vehicle acts as if it is in "superlocked" mode. The central locking function still appears to work via the sill button, but the door won't open from either the inside or the outside. In this case the latch itself has failed and has to be replaced. This malfunction is common enough that a Technical Service Bulletin appeared on the subject in 2000.

Andrew Parker encountered this situation on his Range Rover recently and in addition to referring to the Technical Service Bulletin he documented the operation with photos, and kindly supplied his own details on the symptoms and repair procedure, outlined below and supplemented by a few other comments based on the shop and parts manuals. Photo at top right shows latch assembly removed from vehicle).

Failure Symptoms RHD or LHD Front Passenger Side Door:

Door fails to respond to either internal or external door opening handles.  Lock button and remote actuate but door will not open and is therefore stuck shut and seemingly super locked.  The only way to open the door is to purchase a new latch (but see optional aside below whereby it MIGHT be possible to avoid this).   Busting open the old latch housing to release the super locking spring allows the pawl to fall down. This allows the latch to open thus releasing its grip on the striker bar that is mounted to the door jam of the body.



Tools Required

Heavy hammer or sledge,
Screwdriver with a foot (30 cm) long flat blade (see picture at right),
Duct tape,
5-minute Epoxy,
18“ of approximately .010” thick wire and Pliers to bend a small hook in the end of it.


Replacement Parts Required:
You will neeed one of the following latch assemblies depending on which door latch has failed:
FQJ103240 right front door - left hand drive
FQJ103250 left front door - left hand drive
FQJ103220 right front door - right hand drive
FQJ103230 left front door - right hand drive
In the US, Atlantic British has the necessary parts for LHD vehicles for $224.95.


Priority 1: Getting the Door Open
Andrew's instructions for this appear below. Alternative instructions from Peter Sterling appear on this page.

1. Lower window half way down and mask the top back most edge of the window with duct tape to avoid accidental damage to the glass.

2. Lower the window down all the way. Access can be improved by inserting wedges between the window glass and the door seal or panel to push the glass inwards or outwards a bit.

Aside: Optional Step -- Attempting to Release Latch Without Destroying it.

At this point you can attempt to use the long screwdriver to operate the latch itself to get the door open without destroying the latch. This is probably futile as the latch should be replaced anyway to prevent a recurrence, but might be worth a try. In this case wedge the window glass inwards and peer down the outer side of it. You will see a partial view of the idealized picture shown in the technical service bulletin, reproduced below left with modifications.

Where to Push and Hit the Latch


Photos of latch adapted from technical service bulletin. left hand photo is idealized view of latch still in position.
Right hand photo shows complete latch assembly removed from door. Letters refer to text below.
Note on right hand photo the positions of the top two mounting screwholes right and left of "D" arrowhead -- these are the holes for the top two screws shown in the right hand photo at bottom of this page.

You can push the white nylon internal release (connected to the inside handle and marked by an "X" in the modified photos from the service bulletin above, and clearly visible in the photo at top of this page as the white nylon part closest to the camera) down to its stop and see if the door opens (maintaining inward pressure on the door to ease the latch operation).  It probably won't, but you have one more chance if the problem is maladjustment of the release rod attached to the external door handle. Accordingly, you can try disconnecting the external release rod from the latch (at point marked "A" in the modified tech bulletin picture at right) and try again. If this works, you have the door open and can step to Part 2, latch removal and replacement. Otherwise, continue with the main procedure for latch destruction and door opening below.
latch screws
3. Remove the screws (#2 Phillips) from the handle used to pull the door closed in the interior trim.

4. Remove the screw from the trim panel behind the interior door handle and remove screw and trim. Put all on dash mat for safe keeping (see photo at right).

5. Tug interior trim panel loose from the doorframe where it nears the lock button end of the trim panel.

6. Fix the pried open position of the trim panel with wedges to keep it opened up, and try to wedge the glass outwards towards the outside of the vehicle.

7. Use flashlight to locate and view door latch along the back edge of the door framework along the inside of the window glass (see picture below).

View down window slot

View looking down inboard side of window slot showing chamfered top of door latch (rear of door is at right). Thin arrow shows forward end of hole through latch for mounting screw. (Also see tech bulletin photos above showing positions of these screw holes)

Thick arrow shows spot to impact with screwdriver to break plastic top and release spring underneath.

8. Locate the top surface of the latch and identify the surface that is chamfered at approximately 45° (see thick arrow on photo above and point marked "H" on modified tech bulleting photo).  You can see the holes for the three screws used to fix the latch to the doorframe (photo below right) coming through it.One of those three screws is at the corner of the flat top surface and the angled surface (thin arrow in photo above).

9. Position the edge of the screwdriver here (at thick arrow point in view through window slot above, which is point marked "H" in modified Technical Service Bulletin picture above right) and drive it into the plastic with a sharp blow from the hammer. There is a relatively long coil spring inside which will pop out from inside the latch's structure, once enough of the plastic is busted away.See the picture of the tools below left to see what the spring looks like, and the modified TSB picture above (showing latch with plastic top removed) to see how the spring is positioned inside the latch.


3 screws

Photo showing long spring (lower right) after removal from latch

Photo from rear outside of door showing the three screws holding the latch in place. Top right screw goes through hole shown by thin arrow in photo above taken through window slot.

10. Andrew found the spring popped up about ½ inch after it was uncovered. Then use a length of wire with a small hook in the end to hook the spring, pull it out of the latch and remove it from the door cavity.

11. Identify on the latch the gold colored cadmium plated metal (see photo at top opf page). The three mounting screws are threaded through it. They fix the latch to the door. You can see the threaded ends of the screws just coming through the plate. This metal plate has a jog in it that the screwdriver will rest on easily. Place the screwdriver there (point marked "D" on modified technical service bulletin photo) and with your knee and hip push the door inward to release any pressure on the latch and striker. Tap the screwdriver with the sledge hammer just enough to rattle the latch.  The internal pawl should drop down with gravity releasing the latch and the door should open.

Removing the Latch and Installing a New One
This procedure is described on the separate Door Latch Replacement page.

Door Lock Opening and Rebuilding by a Professional Locksmith
Mike Coleman experienced a slightly different problem when his key remote stopped working and he had to open the door with the key. He discovered that the only key he had did not fit the lock! He hired a professional locksmith who was able to open the lock to gain entry, and also rebuild the lock so it worked with his key! This trick might well be worth remembering for emergencies!

More Information
Alternative Door Opening Instructions from Peter Sterling
Replacing the Latch





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Page revised February 2, 2012