Repairing Your Imperial's Electric Door Locks


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Tip from Randy (after-market electric door locks):

On the day after Christmas I had the pleasure of installing an after-market key-fob actuated power door lock system on my 16 year-old son's daily driver, a 1967 T-Bird ForDoor Landau. I got the system components from a local stereo shop. I was told that it could be purchased as a kit, but they could sell me the components of the kit for less. I purchased the radio receiver unit with two key fobs, two relays, and four motors for the door locks in each door to replace the original vacuum actuated lock motors. The total cost for the system was $125.00, tax included. The receiver unit came with a small booklet that had good instructions and circuit diagrams, although they were somewhat directed towards technicians that install these units on a daily basis. It took my son and I about 10 hours to install the system, but a large amount of the time was spent removing and re-installing the interior. Most of the interior had to be removed since the doors on this car open in suicide fashion. Therefore, the complete rear seat area had to be removed in order to route the wiring back up toward the dash. If I can help anyone with specific questions, please let me know. It was a pretty simple and enjoyable job and it was a great excuse to spend some quality wrench time with my son.

Question from Tony (1959):

I need 2 power door lock actuators for my 1959 2 door. Are they rebuildable? If so, who does it? Are they available new?


From Dick:

Isn't this a simple solenoid? If so, and the continuity of the coil is OK, all it should need is cleaning and lubrication. If the coil is open, you'll need to find the break and repair it, but even that shouldn't be too hard.

From Elijah:

I haven't actually worked with the power door locks on a '59, so I can't be sure that my advice will be correct. However, the ones on my '65 are just simple two way electric solenoids. What usually happens is that they get water in them, which corrodes their innards and causes them to "seize." If you work with one until it breaks looses, it will usually work after that.

However, the solenoids on my '71 parts car were the same, so I just did a swap. If the solenoids for '59 are of the same style, then virtually any year should be a good replacement. But again, I've never worked with '59, so I don't know for sure if this is the case. 

Question from Bill (1965):

I recently replaced the battery in my '66.  As soon as I hooked it up, sparks flew and the rear door lock buttons popped up. I thought maybe there was a short in my "renewed" control panel, so I disconnected the door lock connector.  No change, so I disconnected the passenger side door lock switch too and still the rear locks popped up. Somehow the rear locks are "hot-wired".

My FSM indicates door lock relays on the wiring diagram, but that's it, no mention of them anywhere else, ESPECIALLY where the heck they are. I can only hear the circuit breaker (I think) kick in for a few seconds, which relaxes the locks, then they go into unlock mode. Guess I know why the battery was dead. My fear is that the front lock solenoids may have been weaker than the rears and are "toast" and that is why only the rears are working. After looking around, I think the passenger side lock switch is bad, it may have been stuck "closed", causing a relay contact to fuse.

Does anyone have the whole skinny on these lock systems? Are there separate relays for front and rear?

Reply from Randy:

I have a 1965 Crown 4DHT that I just finished restoring and the door locks presented quite a challenge (in fact they still react strangely sometimes.)

There are two circuit breakers in this wiring system. One is for "lock" the other is for "unlock". In 1965 they were located in the passenger side footwell and I assume they are located there on the 1964's as well. You can see them most easily by removing the glove box liner. They are the two circuit breakers that are attached by a steel mounting strap that grounds the negative terminals of both relays to the car body.

On my car the buttons don't always fully retract when I am trying to lock the doors. If one of the door buttons gets stuck, the inside lights flash on and off very quickly while the relay buzzes in a very un-imperial-like fashion. I remedy this situation by manually pressing the partially locked button on the offending door (usually the passenger's door).

Another thing to check is this: It almost sounds as if you have a naked wire that is grounding out against the body. Inspect your wiring looms carefully on the master switch panels that you removed for cleaning and make sure that your wiring insulation is intact. This grounding situation could also be resulting from left over liquid reside in the switches that is causing a partial electrical path between contacts on or in the switches that you have cleaned.

Question from Simo (1967-1968):

My '67 did not originally come with power door locks but I'm currently installing them. I see in the 67 Service manual, page 23-21 Fig.45  ('68 Manual page 23-19) a section about the Door lock switch. This switch is inside the door fastened to the latch and will function with the door lock mechanism. In point of fact it looks like there are two different switches.  What are these? Does the original power locks function by turning the key or pushing or pulling the lock knob? I didn't see these switches on wiring diagram?


From Michael:

For the 1967 and 68, there are switches on both front doors to control all locks. Neither the door lock cylinder nor the lock buttons on each door have any electrical connections. These only control the individual door as any other mechanical lock.

From Paul:

Those switches that the manual shows that are attached to the door button are found on the New Yorkers, Dodge Monaco's etc with power locks.

From Chris:

Actually, you could be seeing a diagram of an elusive feature on mid-60's Imperials. The 1966 brochure speaks about the power door locks thusly, "With power door locks, a twist of your key in either front door (or the flick of either interior switch) automatically locks all the doors." The 1966 Parts Manual refers to this feature in section 23-18-103, "SWITCH, Elec. Frt. Door Lock, Key Activated, part # 2631 078-9." Most intriguing. Perhaps this was a optional dealer-installed upgrade. Or maybe it is a phantom part - contemplated, but withdrawn at the last moment, after the brochures and parts manual were printed (although mine is a March 1967 updated version.) Happened before in the 1964 Parts Manual with all its references to the lowline interior for the never-produced Imperial Custom. Then again, maybe not. The plot thickens. A while back I was excited to discover part# 2631 078 listed in Len Dawson's catalog. It was for the passenger side door lock. Although not as useful as the driver's side, I immediately ordered it anyway. Alas, it had already been sold. Or did it ever really exist - the listing being in error? The 2600 000 level part number would imply the part was introduced in 1966. Since the 1967 shop manual was being printed in 1966, the key activated electric door lock switch may still have been part of the plan at that moment.

From Chris:

The power door locks operate ONLY from the power door lock switches, which go at the topmost position on each of the front door armrest extensions (above the power vent window controls). Using any of the keyholes or lock plungers in any door operates only that door's manual lock. All central locking happens via the two power switches.

From Bob:

I believe you are talking about the latch assembly that is bolted to inside of door shell. One latch is for the electric solenoid and one is for the key lock assembly.  This set up is so you can lock and unlock your car with key or electric switch on master switch on drivers door.

Question from John (1969):

In my 69 the locks will unlock but will not lock. I downloaded the factory repair manual that I found on this web sight. The voltage all checks out per the manual. I wired the one solenoid backwards in one door. I can now get that solenoid to lock but not unlock. So, I think my solenoids are all working and in proper adjustment. Voltmeter check shows I am only getting power to the normal unlock side of the solenoids. I found the double relay on the right side in front of the passenger door. I can hear both the lock and unlock relays "ping" when I push or pull the lock button. My guess is that the "lock" relay is bad. I saw that these two relays are joined together. What are the possibilities of finding a factory style replacement? How about any aftermarket relays that would work? Is there a way to "repair" this one bad solenoid?

Reply from John:

The part you need is #2926386. It fits all 69-73 full size Mopars. This should be an easy find.

Question from Oscar (1972):

 What other Chryslers used the Power Window/Power Door lock switches used on the 1972?  I need the driver's door no vents. 

Reply from Elijah:

I know the same assembly is used from '70 to '73, and I think that '69 also used the same switches. The only difference will be in the woodgrain overlay on the switch panel. A little trick on the vent window switches: If you find a set that has the vent window switches, and you don't want them -- just take them off! First, remove the woodgrained panel which covers the assembly -- it's held on by four screws. Then you can remove individual switch toggles by taking a small screwdriver and pressing in the little clips on the center of the toggles you want removed. After you have taken out the two vent window toggles, then just place your original woodgrain panel over the assembly, and voila! Be sure to hang on to the toggles that you remove, as you may need them later if one of the others breaks. These little toggles are all interchangeable, except for the window-lock toggle.      

Tip from Ken:

My door will unlock by itself on my '67 convertible.  The reason it does this (like so many of the little problems on my cars) is due to something I did! The last time I had my door panel off of the driver's door, I apparently re-installed it incorrectly. I'm not sure just what I did, but the door panel does not seat entirely, meaning that the top of the door panel is slightly higher than it should be. There is some "give" if I push the door panel down, but it will eventually work itself upward a little. Now, when I lock the door, the door lock plunger pulls the door panel down enough for the locking mechanism to engage, but over a period of time, the slight upward pressure from the panel will move the plunger up just enough to unlock the door. I temporarily fixed (so many things are "temporarily" fixed on my cars!) the problem by unscrewing the door lock plunger a little to make it longer.

Question from John (1976):

My '76 NYB has power door locks that don't work. Nothing at all happens when you push the switch on either door. I read in the owners manual that these have circuit breakers on them, but it doesn't say where the little devils are. The car recently had some electical problems, so it seems likely that the circuit breakers blew. Any idea where I can find them?


From Brad:

I am not aware of any circuit breakers in the power lock system. There are however, two relays under the right kick panel. The relays are energized by the door mounted switch and they in turn then energize the door lock solenoid.

To test, you can apply power to the relays directly to see if it energizes the door lock solenoids or not. If it does, there is a problem with the switch or the power to the switch or even the wiring in that area. I can only assume that you've checked the fuses.

From Dick:

Circuit breakers in cars automatically reset themselves, so the owner would have no need to find them - therefore their location is not always given in manuals, the way fuses are. Most likely, the power source to the breaker has burned out or become disconnected. If you have the service manual for the car, it should include a wiring diagram. That will show where the power door lock circuit gets its power. Go there and make sure all is OK. Find the wire (the manual will tell you the size and color) and follow it to the breakers (they are probably in the left kick panel). Inspect the breakers and all the connections involved with a test light (available at your local auto parts store for a few bucks) and you will find what is not making contact.

Follow-up from Brad:

There is a breaker on the block that holds the hazard flasher and a few other relays etc. That block is up under the dash to the left of the fuse panel.

From George:

If the circuit is protected by circuit breakers they should reset by them selves once they cool down. You cannot reset them like your house circuit breakers. You need to see if you are getting power to the switches wich control the door locks.

Question and Tip from Ed (1981-1983):

Well, I FINALLY got around to installing that Left Outside Beltline weatherstrip that I got from Brad's NOS. This job certainly is time-consuming! I already had the inner door panel off of my 81, and I had replaced the power door lock switch on it, and also added a "homemade" brace to support the door-mounted power control console, where the OEM plastic support had broken away. In addition to removing the inner door panel, you must remove the window from its support structure to access the screws that attach the weatherstrip to the door. (You do not have to remove the window from the door, just place it down in the bottom of the inner door, out of the way.)

On inspecting the Brad's NOS part , I found that it had been manufactured by Chrysler quite recently; the date of manufacture was stamped on the inside of the part, June 22, 1997. This turned out to be one of those jobs that seemed to hit a snag at each turn, as so many jobs do! The part fit perfectly, except I found that the forward-most hole drilled in the door structure was really down too low, which would explain why the original weatherstrip did not sit quite right on the trim molding at the front. After numerous frustrating attempts at making it fit (#&*@!), I redrilled a new hole a bit higher, and the other eight or nine holes lined up perfectly. Of course, if you are like me when working in a tight space in the door in a 100-degree garage, you will drop at least two or three of the tiny screws two or three times and have to dig for them in the bottom of the door!

Anyway, the part went in very nicely. I did not use any cement, as the original did not have any, and it is such a secure fit, it does not appear that any is necessary. I neglected to mark the window attach points where they had been, thinking that there would be enough dirt buildup to serve as a marker when reinstalling the window. I was wrong. So after some experimenting, I got the window lined up nicely, as best as i can tell. Lesson to me and others: Mark the window frame with chalk before removing the bolts! 

Finally, you must reinstall the door panel. I used caulk strip to hold the plastic door liner in place while reattaching the door panel. Of course, it was at this point that I discovered that the bracket I had added to the power control consol was "kind of" in the way, but I managed to get it all back together. 

One more important point for whenever you have the door panel off of these cars: Take some CRC Electric Contact Cleaner, and spray it into the illuminated entry switch thoroughly. I find that these switches often get gunked-up, rendering the illuminated entry inoperative. All it takes is a good spraying of cleaner to get the contacts cleaned up, and the system works fine again. So that is it. Now for the RIGHT side. I am waiting on that part from Brad's NOS, as it is on backorder.

Reply from Leo:

I think this is the problem with my intermittent buzzing associated with my Illuminated Entry Relay.  I think the Illuminated Entry Switches might be the source of my problem. I have tried two other relays and it doesn't seem to go away. ?

Question from Dan (1981 -1983):

The power locks in my '83 Imperial are barely strong enough to lock/unlock. I have to hit the button three or four times for them to work. I've lubed everything that I can see with white grease and it didn't help.

Do I need new lock motors, or is there something else I can do? I do notice that if the car is running, they seem to work a LITTLE better.

Reply from Dick:

Probably you are going to have to clean out all the 20 year old congealed grease in the mechanism, and re-lube it with modern white grease (called brake grease or lithium grease in many brands). This is pretty thin, but won't run. The fact that the locks work better when the voltage is higher is a dead give away that the mechanism is just too loaded up with goop to snap to attention like they did when they were new. These are just simple solenoids, with no internal moving parts other than the armature itself, so there is no reason to replace the electrical parts, just clean them up and lube everything.

This is a very common situation with these cars - all 4 of mine exhibited this symptom at one time or another. They are also quite a bit less likely to work in cold weather or if the car isn't driven for a while - it's just congealed grease.

Tip from Rob (1981-1983):

I found one shop that had the gear kit for my power windows selling at $15, but it was closed, so I scrounged up whatever I could. I tried the Home Depot washers, but the ones I tried were too too big, I ended up using some round, wooden game pieces that my father had lying around. (2 red, 1 green, Two chiefs and an Indian, I think he said. I stuck them in w/lithium based wheel bearing grease & presto my window works. Hopefully it will last, but I may get the gear kit in case I feel like taking the door apart again anytime soon.

Tip from Kerry:

One of the handiest things I have is a collection of various gauge and length wires with small alligator clips on each end. REALLY handy when you want to test electric things like a specific light bulb, window motor, door lock, etc. Just run the wires, attach them to the battery and then to the device in question. Finally got smart and made some red ones and black ones. Costs next to nothing.

Question from Phil (1957): 

Where can I find a driver's side switch for the power locks?



From Ed:


Try the famous Imperial Heaven... and Czar of Imperials...Bob Hoffmiester.


From Arran:


With regard to the door switches it has been my experience, through years of repairing old radio, that there may be nothing wrong with the switch other than dirty contacts. The easy way to tell is by a continuity test with an ohmmeter.  If the switch is making contact there will be little or no resistance when you push the switch. If there is no contact the meter will give a reading of infinite resistance or the needle won't move. These switches are normally three position jobs so you will want to push the lever up as well as down and test for continuity across the nuts on the back. If you don't get any contact give the switch a soak in some mineral spirits and the some alcohol after that and let it dry overnight. If it still doesn't give any continuity when depressed then it has a mechanical fault which can sometimes be repaired if you're handy with such things and sometimes not. The point being that many things, such as switches or window motors, from that era tend to be overbuilt and can often be cleaned and made to work or can be taken apart and repaired.

From Kerry:

The easiest way to check the motors is to make a couple "jumper" cables with alligator clips, hook them to the battery and try putting 12v directly on the motor leads. If the motor is good, you should hear the motor run or strain. If no movement, reverse the leads. Also, I fought my new switches for hours on my 73 only to FINALLY realize that there was a 'window lock' switch that was enabled. That switch disabled all other window controls except the drivers door control.

Question from Steven (1981-1983): 

The power door locks don't work when the switch is activated they seem like they want to go down or up but it seems like it don't have enough push to lock or unlock them. The illuminated entry system don't work (lock cylinders and key light don't work).

Reply from Dick:

The non-operating power door locks are also SOP for these cars. If you take the door panels off and lubricate the mechanisms, they will work reliably for as long as you drive the car at least once a week. If you park it for a month, they will quit again. Sorry about that.

This page last updated June 10, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club