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Help needed. '89 T.C. driver's door mechanism won't unlatch.

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If the door opens from the outside handle, open it and remove the door card. The most "likely" culprit will be the rod(s) connecting the interior door handle to the latch assembly. The latch assembly itself can have problems, though.

If the door won't open from either the outside or inside door handles, this will be tougher, but not unsolvable.

If you know someone who is very good with a "slim-jim," they may be able to open the door for you without trying to remove the door card with the door closed. But they need to be very good, or else they can do a lot of damage to wiring inside of the door.

The door card can be removed without opening the door. But, this is not a pleasant job, or for the faint of heart, or large of size. In fact, if you have access to a mechanically inclined twelve-year-old, have them remove the door card.

You will need to move the seat fully to the rear and adjust the height as needed to get behind the bottom edge of the door card. If you have a tilting steering column, tilt it full-up. After this, generally follow the procedure in the service manual, adjusting the procedure as needed for the door being closed. You may need to shear one or more plastic locator and retaining pins to get the door card off, particularly at the front upper edge where the door card is up against the side of the dash board.

You may still end up destroying the door card in the process, so the slim-jim is the better alternative if you can get it to work. However, if you can't open the latch with a slim-jim, taking a chance of needing to replace a door card is preferable to the certainty of damaging sheet metal.

With the door card removed and the latch assembly exposed, you can open the door. If the latch assembly is completely jammed, you will also have "better" options on how to remove it without damaging the door itself.

While it should go without saying, do not close the door after getting it open until the door latch assembly is fixed.

Good luck, and please let us know what you end up doing to fix your door.

Thanks.
 

Old89TC

New member
28
6
3
Thanks a million for your detailed reply, it sounds like a can of worms plus I'm in northern New England winter with no place to work so it will have to go to a repair shop. I must find someone who has done this before to keep the labor cost down. I wonder if a body shop would be better than a general repair garage. All I have is a Chilton manual. What is the door card? There's nothing by that name in the manual.
 
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The "door card" is another name for the "interior door panel," which is going for $150-175 on eBay right now.
A body shop would have a slight advantage over a general garage, but call the more reputable of both in your area. The honest ones will give you some idea of how long the repair will take and what the repair will cost (since the job will be mostly labor.)
______________________________
 

Old89TC

New member
28
6
3
If the door opens from the outside handle, open it and remove the door card. The most "likely" culprit will be the rod(s) connecting the interior door handle to the latch assembly. The latch assembly itself can have problems, though.

If the door won't open from either the outside or inside door handles, this will be tougher, but not unsolvable.

If you know someone who is very good with a "slim-jim," they may be able to open the door for you without trying to remove the door card with the door closed. But they need to be very good, or else they can do a lot of damage to wiring inside of the door.

The door card can be removed without opening the door. But, this is not a pleasant job, or for the faint of heart, or large of size. In fact, if you have access to a mechanically inclined twelve-year-old, have them remove the door card.

You will need to move the seat fully to the rear and adjust the height as needed to get behind the bottom edge of the door card. If you have a tilting steering column, tilt it full-up. After this, generally follow the procedure in the service manual, adjusting the procedure as needed for the door being closed. You may need to shear one or more plastic locator and retaining pins to get the door card off, particularly at the front upper edge where the door card is up against the side of the dash board.

You may still end up destroying the door card in the process, so the slim-jim is the better alternative if you can get it to work. However, if you can't open the latch with a slim-jim, taking a chance of needing to replace a door card is preferable to the certainty of damaging sheet metal.

With the door card removed and the latch assembly exposed, you can open the door. If the latch assembly is completely jammed, you will also have "better" options on how to remove it without damaging the door itself.

While it should go without saying, do not close the door after getting it open until the door latch assembly is fixed.

Good luck, and please let us know what you end up doing to fix your door.

Thanks.
 

Old89TC

New member
28
6
3
When it got a little above freezing the door worked fine. I've dealt with plenty of frozen doors but the symptoms this time faked me out. I just hope that it's not the mechanism inside the door that's freezing.
 
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When it got a little above freezing the door worked fine. I've dealt with plenty of frozen doors but the symptoms this time faked me out. I just hope that it's not the mechanism inside the door that's freezing.
It might be the latch assembly itself freezing up. I don't have the manual for your Town Car so I can't say for certain.

The interior and exterior latch linkages are supposed to work independently of each other even if they attach to the same operating lever on the latch mechanism. So if the outside door handle freezes solid and also prevents you from opening the door from the inside, then you still have something unpleasant going on inside your door that should be fixed before it gets worse.

I suppose that if you really wanted or needed to wait until April to actually fix it, you could open the door and blast the mechanism with WD-40. While WD-40 lubricates, it's more of a water-displacing agent, so you would hopefully displace the moisture in the latch assembly. If the linkages are binding up, this will do nothing to fix that. So, you would have to blast the outside door handle as well.

Does the outside door handle "lift" when you move the inside one? Or does the inside door handle push out when you move the outside one?

Thanks.
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