Fixing Broken Mazda 5 Sliding Door Power Locks

I guess faulty power locks are in my blood.  After dealing the issue multiple times with my 2004 Pontiac Vibe (see blog posts), the same issue started with my 2012 Mazda 5 about six months ago.  This time the front door power locks are working fine.  The problem child is the driver side sliding rear door.  For a while it was hit miss and sometimes it would lock and other times not.  Finally, it just quit doing anything when either the key fob lock and unlock  or the internal front door lock and unlock buttons where hit.  While I would try to remember to lock the door manually after getting out my backpack  in and out for work everyday; I often found I left it unlocked.  Not Good.  So today I had a little time and tried to tackle the issue.

I started by googling a video on removing the door panel.  This one is pretty good and matched what I ended up having to do with mine to get the panel off.  On the drivers side, I went way over board and took a lot of parts off that probably could have stayed on while I made the fix.  I also decided to do the passenger side sliding door too, as it was starting to sound a little sketchy.  Here is what I did and what I needed after lessons learned on the drivers side.

Tools and Supplies you will need:

  1. Take the door panel off per the video.  It is easier to disconnect the wire and connector that go to the power window control at this point so you will be able to get the panel completely out of the way while working on the actuator.
  2. Find the plastic milk carton white box that has an actuator rod going to the door lock slider.
  3. On the rear of this actuator body there is the electrical connector and just above that connector is an empty connector that has an open slot into the body of the actuator.  Locate this empty electrical connector slot.
  4. Take a rag or paper towels and stuff them up under the actuator to catch the overflow of electrical cleaner spray.
  5. Insert the tube coming from the can of electrical cleaner spray in the open slot of the empty electrical connector and spray an abundance of the cleaner.  Wait about two minutes and repeat spraying cleaner into the slot.
  6. Try the lock and unlock button on the key fob or the lock button on one of the front doors to see if the power lock is working.  If the power lock does not operate on the door in question, repeat step 5.  If you have time, you may want to leave the door panel off for a while to allow the electrical cleaner to evaporate or you may have the strong smell of the cleaner riding around with you for a few days.
  7. If step 6 is successful, make sure any of the snaps that held the door panel in place are on the back of the door panel and not stuck in the inside of the door.  If there are any snaps stuck to the door side, those will have to be popped of with the popper tool and inserted into the slots on the back of the door panel.  You will not get the panel to re-seat correctly if you leave the snaps that are in the metal door.
  8. Make sure the connector and cable that goes to the power window is fed out the hole where the door handle connects before starting to reinstall the panel.  Take the panel and align the lower edge of the window just above where the panel would normally sit.  Then push the top of the panel over the metal ledge at the bottom of the window and slide it down until the panel is hanging on the metal ledge.
  9. Check to see if the screw holes line up around the door handle.  If they do, go ahead and start the screws, but don’t tighten them.  Now use your hand to apply pressure on the door panel where you know there are snaps that need to go into the metal side of the door.  Make sure all of the snaps engage and  screw in the screws completely at this point.
  10. Finally reattach the shroud that goes around the door handle and the vertical window trim piece.
  11. Enjoy working power locks again.

What I have learned, after dealing with this issue on two vehicles, is either the grease being used in the actuators is migrating to the bottom of the actuator case and causing an electrical contact problem or the motor is getting gunked up to prevent actuation.  I did test the connector to the power door lock actuator on the driver’s side and could see voltage when the actuator should see a signal from the lock/unlock button or key fob.  So I knew it was not a wiring or electrical issue outside of the actuator.  The fix is electrical cleaner and I think it would work to remedy either of the potential issues causing the problem.   While I would have liked to reintroduce some grease on the gears in the actuator after the electronics cleaner probably dissolved them away, I did not take the chance to reintroduce another potential electrical contaminate into the mix.  We will see how long the fix lasts, but I suspect they will continue to work until I trade or sell of the car.

Approximate time to complete the whole job on one side: 45 minutes.