Projects & Repairs --> Trim --> Door Panels --> 1999 Ford Explorer
Body Shop Zone Q&A:

Driver's Door Won't Open...



Hi Jim,
Like your website with very helpful information. I'm stuck with a problem.
I have a 1998 Explorer right hand drive in England.
Great vehicle except for fuel bills but carrying and long distance work are amazing.
Over 140,000 trouble free miles with 80,000 miles on a set of tires.
Last week the driver's door would not open from the outside and the door button would not raise. All the other doors and tailgate open normally.
I have to get in from the passenger side or rear door and climb over.
On your website you show removal of a 99 door panel but the door is open!
What would you suggest please?
Also the door handle feels light with no resistance etc.
Tried the electric release on the key fob and at the same time juggling the key in the lock.
After a few minutes this worked but hasn't since.
Hope you can suggest something so I can get back to normal.



It sounds to me like the door latch is the problem, or the connecting link rod between the handle and the latch. Ford uses plastic lock clips to attach the rods to the latch and to the release handles. One of those plastic pieces could be worn or broken. Also, the entire latch mechanism could be worn out. Once the door panel is removed this should all be easy to diagnose.

Getting inside the door panel is very difficult when the door cannot open. I've had to do this before, and it has taken me several hours to pop open a stuck door. When faced with this problem in the past, I have removed all the screws that I can reach, and pry out all the snap clips that I can reach, and then try to pull the door panel upwards so I can unhook the panel lip at the top. Then I reach inside and try to jiggle the linkage rods until the door pops open. This is time-consuming and frustrating work. Sorry.

I wish it was easier. Best of luck.

Jim Wilk
Licensed Auto Body Technician



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Written December 19, 2007