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Car Door Won’t Shut – How To Fix This Problem?

by Jordan Harris
Car Door Won't Shut

Are you having a problem with your door? The car door won’t shut? If this is the situation you are into, then you are at the right place, because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we will learn how to solve this problem with car door won’t shut.

Having a problem like this can be really frustrating to deal with. All doors need to close properly if you want to keep using the vehicle as it should be used. Even in the good old days when people were driving in carriages, there were doors that latched properly and closed. Helping the passengers not to fall off.

And considering that modern cars go at crazy speeds, having a properly working door latch is quite essential if you want to avoid some dangerous situations. You could put your life in danger and you could easily fall out if you are not properly secured. Because the car door simply won’t shut as it should. Whenever this problem happens, it means that it is quite essential for you to act quickly and try to solve it.

But before this, you need to perform research on this topic and learn all the possible reasons and fixes for this problem of car door won’t shut. And we are going to cover precisely that.

First, we are going to elaborate more on this problem of car door won’t shut. Then we will discuss all of the possible causes why this problem is happening. And after we will discuss the diagnosing process and the fixing process as well. Not to forget the costs involved in this job. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Car Door Won’t Shut?

Now before we cover the reasons and causes of why the car door won’t shut. Let’s first start from the basics and elaborate more on this problem. Having a better understanding of this issue is quite essential if you want to solve it in the right way. So, if you want you can jump right to the causes, if not, keep up with us.

The car door won’t shut as we mentioned is a problem that troubles a lot of owners out there and makes their life difficult on a daily basis. Nobody wants to have problems like this. But sometimes that’s how things go.

The mechanism is giving up on us when we most need it and we need to take action as soon as possible if we want to avoid the possible repercussions of this problem. And they are quite significant and tragic in some cases.

I’m telling you this because if your latching mechanism doesn’t work and the door doesn’t close well and you are not buckled, you could easily get thrown out of the vehicle at a high-speed corner. In these situations, the body is leaning towards the door and you could be thrown out of the car by this gravitational force. The injuries from this could be fatal.

Another downside when the car door won’t shut is the possibility to get your car stolen or robbed. Some burglars notice these cars from a mile away. Because the gaps when the car door won’t shut are much larger than on a good door. So, they could easily end up stealing your car or stealing your possessions in the car. That’s why it is quite essential to sort this problem with the car door won’t shut.

How Does The Car Door Work?

Now before we elaborate on the causes for car door won’t shut happens. Let’s first learn how the car door works and from what components this closing mechanism is composed. Knowing this will help you look for your problem the right way and quickly find the culprit for your problem.

The door mechanism is basically composed out of the door itself. On the door, there is the door handle that you use to open the door (unless you need to first figure out how to open Tesla door) and enter the car. Doors also have locks that lock the car when needed.

And the most important bit in the car is the door latch. This latch is responsible to keep the door closed or open the door when you pull the handle.

The latch is mounted on the inside of the door and is hidden. You can only see it from the inside whenever the door is open. Then the latch is in contact with the striker plate that is mounted on the body of the car. The striker plate is a plate that holds the door in place.

There are also the door hinges. The hinges are steel plates that are holding the door whenever you open it. If there were no hinges, the door would simply fall to the ground. So, they are also one of the most essential components when it comes to proper closing of the door and avoiding the car door won’t shut.

The most important things that you will need to focus on when you have this problem are the latch, striker plate, and door hinges. But you shouldn’t worry because later in the article we are going to elaborate on all the probable causes that could make this problem happen. We will address all scenarios. So, follow along.

How Does The Door Latch Work?

Now before we discuss the causes for the car door won’t shut. Let’s cover one thing more. And that is the latching mechanism.

As we mentioned above, there is the latch and the striker plate that come in contact to open and close the door. But we have not covered the mechanism.

And the mechanism is simple. There is a tooth that opens and closes the door. Whenever you pull the handle, the tooth in the latch is released, and this allows the door to open the door.

There are two latching positions of the tooth. One of them is a medium position when the door is closed but it still wobbles if you try to push it. And the second position is when the door is fully latched.

It is important to note that there are two positions of the latch. Many people think their door is broken but this isn’t the case. If you want to close the door fully, you need to close it by applying more force. And if then the car door won’t shut, you have a problem. But in the following chapters, we are going to cover the causes of this problem.

Causes Why The Car Door Won’t Shut

Now let’s elaborate more on the causes for the car door won’t shut problem. Knowing the causes will probably make sorting out the problem much easier because you will be able to tell what is causing this issue in your car.

Car Door Won't Shut

Not to mention that you will be able to tell how much money would be needed to sort things out. And frankly, some of these causes can get quite expensive to fix. But more on that in the following chapters where we will dive into this problem in depth. Now let’s get started.

​1. The Jaw Latch Is Stuck In The Closed Position

The first and most probable reason why the car door won’t shut is that the jaw latch or the tooth is stuck in a closed position. Thus preventing the door to close.

This shouldn’t be the case and the latch should always retract whenever there is contact with the striker plate pin. If the tooth is stuck and doesn’t move it means that there is a problem with the latching mechanism.

The latching mechanism needs to be checked or lubricated if there is a lack of lubrication in it. Another useful tip is to use a screwdriver and try to persuade it to open. But be careful not to ruin the mechanism.

If this doesn’t help then you would probably have to replace the latching mechanism on your door. This will for sure going to fix the problem with the latch stuck in the closed position and the problem with the car door won’t shut will be solved.

It might be a bit more expensive, but it will be totally worth it since you will return the door back to its former glory. Now let’s move on to the following probable cause.

2. Car Door Refuses To Latch

Another cause for the car door won’t shut problem, completely from the opposite that we covered is when the door refuses to latch. The latching tooth simply doesn’t work and doesn’t activate when you close the door.

This is a big problem. When this problem happens it could be because of a bad latching mechanism or a stuck latching mechanism. Meaning that there is no lubrication and the latch is stuck open.

This problem could also be sorted out with a screwdriver or some penetrating fluid to test the mechanism and see if this does something.

If it doesn’t it means that the latch is probably broken and the spring inside that pushes the latch to close is broken. In this situation, the only possible solution would be to replace the latch with a new unit. This might be a bit more expensive. But if you want to have a reliable latching mechanism, you need to replace it. More on that later in the article after we cover all of the causes why your car door won’t shut. Now let’s move to the next probable cause.

3. The Door And The Latch Are Misaligned

Another probable reason why the car door won’t shut is that the door and the latch are misaligned. Meaning that they are not on the same level so the door would be able to close.

The tolerances for the door mechanism are very tight. And even if there is a small difference between the two, the door would not close properly. So, whenever you have a problem like this, you need to check where the latch and the striker plate meet and if there is an obstruction.

If there is an obstruction, then you know where to look for your problem. This often happens on old cars that have been through a lot and the doors have closed and opened million times.

The door hinges that are holding the door could simply fail and the door could sag a little bit. As we said, even if it’s only for a fraction of an inch, the door will not want to shut.

Another reason why this could happen is if the car was previously in an accident. The metal has been pushed from the accident and everything was misaligned. When the latch and the striker plate pin are misaligned, the car door won’t shut problem will happen.

The solution for this problem would probably be to check and replace the hinges. Or if the car was into an accident and if there needs some metalwork to be done. This would solve the car door won’t shut problem. Now let’s move on to the next probable reason for this problem.

4. The Car Door Mechanism Is Frozen Out

Another reason why the car door won’t shut is probably ice. As you know, in winter, the temperatures are getting really low below freezing.

So, the components inside of the doors are frozen in some cases. The door mechanism simply freezes because ice is forming around the components.

Opening a door in winter could be a real pain because of this situation. But that’s how things are in winter sometimes. The solution for this problem would be to wait some time or to apply heat if you have a heat source. Then the ice deposits will melt and the problem of car door won’t shut will probably be solved.

If this didn’t solve your problem, then you need to check the mechanism itself and see what is going on inside of it. Now let’s move on to the next probable cause for the car door won’t shut.

5. Bad Power Door Lock Motor

Now let’s cover another probable reason why the car door won’t shut and this is probably one of the reasons why your car door won’t shut if you own a Benz or other luxury vehicle that has a soft-close mechanism as an option.

This soft-close mechanism allows you even with a relatively small effort to shut the door. All this is aided by electric motors on all four doors and also in the trunk.

But unfortunately, these electric motors tend to fail on older cars and when this component fails, the car won’t shut problem will occur. So, the only fix for this issue would be to replace the power door lock motor with a new one.

This might be an expensive thing to do. But it is the only way around this problem of car door won’t shut. That’s why if you don’t want to pay for problems like this, your best bet would be to get a cheaper car.

6. Complete Failure In The Car Door Mechanism

A complete failure of the latching mechanism can also happen and cause an issue with the car door won’t shut. This is similar to when the latch is stuck in an open position, which we have covered above. So, these symptoms are basically interchangeable.

The upside with the first cause is that the problem could be fixed if you are persistent and you use some penetrating fluid. While the second issue happens when the mechanism fails completely. It means that you will need a completely new mechanism for your door. And this is your best bet when it comes to solving this problem of car door won’t latch. Now, let’s move on and cover the last cause why this problem can happen.

7. Corrosion In The Latch Mechanism

And the last probable cause that we are going to cover that can cause the car door won’t shut problem is the corrosion buildup inside of the door latch.

This will most often happen if you have a classic car or if you bought a project car that was sitting for years in some field in Nebraska. Water and moisture will get inside of the locking mechanisms and will cause corrosion.

This corrosion that is inside of the mechanism will prevent it from opening and closing properly. The solution for this would probably be to use a penetrating fluid or simply replace the mechanism with a new one. But how you can diagnose a bad door latch? Well, that’s what we are going to cover next.

How To Diagnose The Car Door Won’t Shut?

We have covered all of the symptoms for the problem of car door won’t shut. Now let’s see how to diagnose the issue.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure that the car is properly aligned. By doing this you will make sure that there are no possibilities that the hinges are bad or the car was in a collision.

Just move the door slowly to the striker pin and see where it grips. If the plate or pin is hitting the frame of the door this is not good. Meaning that the door is not aligned and the car door won’t shut. You will be needed to replace the hinges and do some metalwork on the car if the car was in an accident and the metal was pushed.

The next thing is to grab the handle and pull it. At the same time observe the latch mechanism. If the mechanism moves, then this is great news. But if the latch mechanism doesn’t move, then you have a problem with your mechanism.

In this case, depending on the condition of the mechanism, you should react in an appropriate manner. If the tooth is closed, then you should probably persuade it to open.

Spray on some penetrating fluid like WD-40 and see if something changes. If it doesn’t, then using a screwdriver to persuade the latching tooth to open should be a good idea. If this still doesn’t work then your best bet would be to replace the latch with a new OEM unit.

Avoid cheap aftermarket parts when it comes to this, they will often fail and again you will have the car door won’t start problem.

Cost To Fix Car Door Won’t Shut

So, how much to fix the car won’t shut problem? Well, that’s what we are going to elaborate on in this chapter. We will learn how much it is going to cost you to fix this issue.

And the answer really depends much on the cause of the problem itself. If the mechanism is stuck for some silly reason like lack of lube inside or maybe because of rust. The simplest fix is to use a penetrating fluid to remove the contaminants and also lube the mechanism. This will be about $10 for a can of WD-40 or another penetrating fluid of your choice.

If the mechanism is bad inside, you will have to pay about $80 for a new door mechanism. But this price is if you do the work at home. If you replace the mechanism at a shop, you could easily pay $200 or more in some cases for this particular job.

If the door hinges are bad and the door is not sealing properly, then you will probably be needing some new hinges. These you can harvest from your local junkyard if you want to go on the cheap. Or buy them for $50 online.

Car Door Won't Shut

If the door doesn’t close because of body damage if the car was in an accident, then you will be needing to do some framework on your car. And this could be pricey. You can end up paying more than $300 for this work if the rear quarter needs to be pulled a little bit.

Also, electric motors are a bit on the higher side and could cost even $500 to get replaced on some luxury models with soft-close doors. With these cars, the car door won’t shut problem will be quite pricey.

Conclusion To Car Door Won’t Shut

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to a problem with the car door won’t shut. We first learned what this problem is all about and how the door mechanism works in reality. As we say there is the latch and the striker plate that come in contact and make this door closing possible.

Then we covered the possible causes for this problem. As we noted, a bad or gunked-up latching mechanism can cause this problem. Or a mechanism that has completely failed. Lastly, we discussed the costs involved in fixing the issue. Which is relatively inexpensive to do.

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