What to do when your car’s central locking is not working

A selection of electrical rocker switches controls the locking of your car doors. Car door locks can still be activated manually (by a traditional key in a lock method), but more commonly we all use the electronic key fob to activate the switches. It’s easier, quicker and better for everyone involved: driver and passengers alike.

How your remote central locking works

The mechanical explanation to describe your car’s central locking system function goes like this:

  1. Your remote button sends a signal to the door lock relay.
  2. The lock relay activates the lock actuator inside the door.
  3. The lock opens and grants access to the vehicle.

The cost to repair central locking and to replace an assembly unit

The lock switch operates as the remote for the actuator. One of the problems with this is if the switch dies, the actuator has no way of being activated, and your locks are inoperable.

Given that most of these components are supplied as a complete assembly unit, the repair is impractical, so replacement is more than likely your only option.

These complete units can be costly, so if you have to replace them in several or every door, your central locking repair costs can quickly escalate.

Regular use and wear and tear will lead to door lock replacement

Your locks will be used every time you use your car. With such frequent operation, including small parts and delicate operations, the switches and electrical components will eventually wear out, fail and require replacing.

Reasons why your car doors aren’t locking properly

Your mechanic won’t ever just jump in and replace the units straight away. Your central locking failing to function could be one of a number of issues.

  • You could have blown a fuse

    If one door works as it’s meant to, but another doesn’t, it could be something as simple as a blown fuse.Fuses cost next to nothing to replace, so they’re always worth checking before you start jumping the gun.

  • The key fob is faulty

    If none of the door locks operate, then the problem could be with your key fob.
    These times and effort saving gadgets can be hooked up to a computer to troubleshoot and test. If it’s your fob failing to send a signal, it’s going to need replacing.
  • The key fob battery is dead

    Before you arrange for a mechanic or garage to check your key fob, the first step should be to check its battery.It’s easy to overlook the most basic things, as we’re prone to thinking the worst from the outset.

    So make sure it’s not the battery before you book an appointment to have your key fob tested.

  • Your door lock solenoid could have failed

    The solenoid in your lock might have failed if, again, the problem is only with one door lock.
  • Broken or damaged electrical wires

    A simple way to detect broken wires is to hold up the switch and open and close the door repeatedly.A broken wire may be jolted into making a connection. If this is the case, you’ll get intermittent power to the locks when using the fob.

 How to fix your car's central locking

Central locking repair costs

Typical costs to repair or replace your central locking obviously depend on the make and model of your car. 

Central locking replacement can cost anywhere between £100–£300 for standard model vehicles. Fixter can save you around 15% on many dealer and independent garage prices when you choose us to take care of your problem.

Your central locking fitters will:

  • Test your door lock operation
  • Test all the fuses in each circuit
  • Test the electrical relay
  • Decide on the best solution to repair faulty door lock switches
  • Replace any malfunctioning central door locking units
  • Test the system on completion to assure 100% operation


About Fixter

Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.