Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fixing Lock/Latch on 2005 Ford Freestar Minivan

I normally would not have included an auto repair post in this blog. But, wonderful a resource as the internet and You Tube can be on auto repairs, I could not find anything about my particular problem. So, in the spirit of putting the information out on the internet where it perhaps may help someone....

The Problem: One of our vehicles is a 2005 Ford Freestar minivan. Recently, one of the rear sliding doors refused to unlatch or unlock. The lock mechanism was completely jammed and could not be unlocked by either the electronic lock button, or manually pulling up on the lock button. Pulling on the door handles (inside or out) did nothing.

The Issue: Obviously, I did not know this when starting into the repair, but the linkage (essentially a shaped metal rod) that linked the latch handle mechanism (for lack of a better term) with the latch had come loose--probably from passengers slamming the door too hard for too many years)--and fallen out of place, thus preventing the latch from being released. Moreover, it apparently had fallen into just the right position to jam the locking mechanism.

This is the linkage. The end on the left of the picture fits into a lever that is part of the latch/lock control mechanism. The right side, which is coated in black, fits into the latch release.

The Repair: The first step in the repair is to remove the inside door panel. First, unscrew the locking knob (which simply screws onto a rod in the door). This is actually quite long, so it will take a lot of turns to completely remove it.

Second, remove the screw near the door handle.

Remove the circled screw first.
The panel is otherwise attached by clips at various locations along the edge and the middle of the panel which easily pull loose. In fact, you can probably fit your fingers under the panel and start pulling it loose. There are two tricky parts. The upper rear of the panel fits underneath a panel that goes around the window and upper portion of the door. So, this upper panel will need to be pulled loose a bit as well. The other is in the bottom rear corner of the panel, which is attached with a plastic plug. If you have loosened the rest of the panel, you can easily get a large flat head screw driver between the panel and the sheet metal of the door, and pry the plug loose.

With the panel removed, you should see the interior of the door, which will be covered by a water barrier / insulative layer.
Moisture barrier / insulation. You can see the rod to which the knob for the lock attaches.
The moisture barrier is attached with a glue, and easily peeled back. You will need to peel it back from the front of the door, but do not need to completely remove it.

Lock - Latch Mechanism
After removing the moisture barrier, you will see the mechanism above, which operates the locking and latching/unlatching of the door. The cable in the middle goes to the latch of the rear of the door. The yellow block just above the cable is part of the locking mechanism--sliding it back and forth will (normally) lock or unlock the door. The yellow block below the cable is part of the latch mechanism. When the inside or outside handles are pulled, levers in this mechanism will turn. If the door is unlocked, those levers will move another lever that is connected via the linkage to the front latch (under the sheet metal and to the right in the picture). The circled torx screws will eventually need to be removed to into the mechanism to replace the linkage. Unfortunately, there are three other screws that need to be removed first--all around the latch--which means that you have to release the latch and open the door before you can get to the guts of the lock/latch mechanism.

Latch. Three more torx-head screws to be removed.
Before going further, I unlocked the door. After much puzzling over how to do this, I ended up just using a large flat headed screwdriver underneath the lever to which the locking rod attached and simply pried it upward, which unlocked the door (but, of course, the door still did not open).

To unlatch the door, do the following: There are two openings to the left of the mechanism (they would be to the right on the passenger side sliding door), one above the other. Reaching through the upper opening with my arm, I was able to explore around the inside of the latch mechanism with my fingers, finding a part of the latch that I was able to push forward from behind, which sprung the latch and opened the door.

With the door open, I could remove the 6 torx head screws. These screws are in tight, and have a dab of Lok-tite on them, so it is helpful to have torx heads that you can attach to a socket wrench to get them loose.

With the mechanism removed and open to view, it is easy to make the repair. As I noted above, there is a linkage. One end of the linkage will fit into one of the levers/actuators that move when pulling on a door handle. There is a blue plastic ring that fits into lever/actuator and prevents the linkage from moving or wobbling around (and thus falling loose). This plastic ring had come loose and fallen out, which precipitated my problems. So, I started by replacing the blue ring.

Blue ring gone! This is where the uncoated portion of the linkage fits.
Here is the blue ring. Just push it back into the hole.
Here is how the back of the linkage fits in.
I don't know whether it matters which end of the linkage you start with. The rear portion of the linkage fits through the blue ring. It will clip into the black clip in the middle of the photos above, but not yet because you have to hook it to the latch up front.

In the circled area you can see part of the hole that the front of the linkage fits into. The arrow indicates the direction of the pivot.
The front of the linkage fits into a hole on the front latch (see above). I found it easiest to turn the linkage sideways, slip it underneath the piece, and then turn so the tip poked in to the hole circled in the photo above. By the way, where my thumb is pushing is where you have to push to unlatch the door. I pushed forward to unlatch the door using my fingers. However, as you can see, the linkage actually pulls on the piece to cause it to pivot.

Finally, with the linkage in place at the front and back, push the rod into the black plastic clip I had noted above.

And that is it. Put everything back together in the reverse order of disassembly. 


  1. Thank you so much for these instructions and specific pictures. Our van does the exact same thing. I will try this.

    1. My pleasure. I hope it is of assistance.

  2. Mine is doing this also. Thank you i hope this will fix my problem!

  3. This is the exact problem I am having with my 05 Freestar. Here's hoping your instructions guide me well.

    1. Ok, so my problem turned out to be different - a solenoid that was frozen (not extending at all). But these instructions were very helpful in delving into the innards of the door. Thanks.

    2. I think it was a sticking solenoid that caused my problem. In any event, I'm glad that my instructions helped.

  4. Excellent
    Your post helped me alot.
    I was unable to open the screws but with the help of your diagrams it took me 2 hours to get it done.
    Excellent post.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Glad to be of assistance.