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Electrical problems? Automatic door locks failing & parking brake light stays on

(2002 Honda Civic)
in Medford, MA on August 25, 2012
Suddenly, a few weeks ago, my automatic door locks stopped working - I must lock and unlock each door manually. And the dashboard constantly indicates my parking/emergency brake is engaged, even when I'm driving and it is 100% clear that it's not. Any idea what's going on? And is this going to cost me an arm and a leg to get repaired?
Displaying 1 answers & 3 comments
Popular Answer
on August 25, 2012
Brake light - check fluid reservoir level,if not at 'full' line add fluid to proper level. If light still on- unplug fluid level switch at reservoir and see if light goes off. If it does float switch MAY be bad. Would recommend complete system check before replacing switch......For power door locks- is it 2 door or 4 door? do you have 'keyless entry'(dealer accessory add-on for that year) and what trim-line- HX , LX , DX , GX? Have you had ANY body work done -EVEN 5 years ago? If ALL power door locks became inoperative at the same time then it may be a broken wire in the drivers door harness -the part between the door and body- need to remove harness wrap to inspect. There is also a connector on the door side- try pushing harness into the door while at the same time operating the door lock switch.If you have a multi-meter to test wiring continuity and switch operation that would be helpful.Check ALL fuses under hood and under dash.
on August 25, 2012
Hi Ziptie12,

Thanks so much for your thorough answer. The trim is LX and it's a 4-door, with manual transmission. Yes, I have keyless entry, the basic remote clicker device. It still beeps when I click it, but the door locks don't respond to it. And yes, I have definitely had some body work done on the car, something like 3 or 4 times, over the 10 years I've had it. (Though nothing in the past three or four years.)

I'm not mechanically savvy at all, which is why I find it helpful to have a sense of what might be going on before I take my car to a mechanic, so I have some grounding/context, and am less likely to get taken for a ride, so to speak. Which part is the harness? I don't know what a multi-meter is, so safe to say I don't have one.

on August 25, 2012
It sounds like the master switch in the drivers door may be the culprit on your door locks. If the car is responding like you said-the lights flash and horn beeps-from the remote, then your receiver and transmitter are working.It still can be a broken wire in the door harness but it's less likely. As far as your brake light , if your fluid is at or above the minimum level , and you have no other hydraulic failure in the system then it's probably going to be a faulty switch -either parking brake or float level sensor in master cylinder.Whatever shop does the diagnosis and repairs , make sure they know all the symptoms and let them come up with their own diagnosis first. It might help ,if it's had prior damage to the drivers door area , to mention the possibility of wire damage in between the door and body , but again they should be able to test the switch and harness.Finally , I'll stress, I COULD BE WRONG , not seeing the car first -hand I'm just saying what I've seen to be the most common items.Please reply with the actual results after it's fixed , I'm always curious. Thanks..............And it should only cost an arm , you should be able to keep your leg.
on August 25, 2012
Hi Ziptie. I said it may take me a while to take my car in to a mechanic, and well, I didn't disappoint, did I?
So I finally took it in today, and here's what the shop told me. The emergency brake lever switch is to blame for the emergency brake light being on 24/7. Would cost about $175 ($35 for new switch, $140 for labor) to fix, but it poses no danger to me or harm to the car, so I'll skip that repair for now.

Re: the broken automatic door locks, the guy told me they'd have to take apart the doors - all the doors! - to figure out what's going on, AND that it would cost about $250 per door! So I'll just live with it for now. It's an annoyance and an inconvenience, but it's not dangerous, and I'm not going to throw $1,000 at it.

He guesses it's probably the actuator, though that would be actuators plural, right? I asked if it might be a broken wire and he thought it unlikely if all the doors failed at once (if memory serves, they did). But then to my mind the same would apply to the actuators theory.

I forgot to ask him about testing the master switch and harness - would that also require taking the door apart? I don't mind paying for him to take just the driver door apart, as presumably that might resolve the whole issue for all doors. He said he'll call around to some of his colleagues - a guy he knows at the dealer, and some folks at other shops he knows - who presumably know more about this issue - and see if they can shed some light. I'll let you know if we make any progress with it.

Thank you very much for your help, Ziptie. I really appreciate it!

August 25, 2012
Thanks for the laugh, and the additional info. I appreciate your advice.
I hope to take it in sometime next week, or worst case scenario, the following week. I'll keep you posted.
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