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Thanks for the great writeup

BBTKD,

I really appreciate the writeup. My passenger front door lock exhibited the same symptoms. I couldn't find an aftermarket part so I just shed out 184.87 at the dealership for the part that is not in stock.

When it arrives this week, I'll try to get back and let you know how the install goes.

Thanks again.
 

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Already have had two fail - driver rear and passenger front. Bought both, replaced the driver rear first since it's a pain to reach - after that ordeal, hesitant toward tackling the passenger front until I have another surplus of ambition and free time.

Really tics me off failing so early. 'Made in Mexico' said it all. Wasn't happy to see all the plastic clips and what not involved with the assembly.

Paid $166 for one and $176 for the other - not sure which was which.

Love the car as a whole, but hate the reliability of some pieces-parts. So far - two power door lock assemblies, one power mirror switch, and one evaporative purge solenoid. Begs the question of what rate of failure will be experienced down the road?
 

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Common Problem

Thanks for the info bbtkd. I have the same problem. Right rear door actuator went out at 30,000 miles, repaired under warranty. Now the left rear has gone out at 40,000 miles. No longer under warranty, so I will attempt to fix it myself. Having serious reservations about GM products. Also had electrical problems with 2001 Impala.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Thanks for the info bbtkd. I have the same problem. Right rear door actuator went out at 30,000 miles, repaired under warranty. Now the left rear has gone out at 40,000 miles. No longer under warranty, so I will attempt to fix it myself. Having serious reservations about GM products. Also had electrical problems with 2001 Impala.
I just picked up the actuator for the left rear and will be installing it in two weeks when my daughter is home. Then I'll do the right front later.
 

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Thanks for the help!

I'm new to the forum and found it by searching for door lock actuator replacement. I just wanted to thank bbtkd for the detailed instructions on how to replace. It was a great help. I do appreciate it very much! Saved me some $$$
 

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Wow dont pay that. You can get a universal set of 2 for around 25-40 bucks depending on brand. And those are really reliable.

Dont replace a faulty design with a faulty design. I'm having to fix this on my moms. The rear door handles are also not working.
 

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I used the GM actuator. Very pricey but the lock is and the cable for the inside handle is mounted to it and I couldn't figure out how to mount a universal. You might want to go to a GM dealer and look at one before you try the universal.
 

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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
I used the GM actuator. Very pricey but the lock is and the cable for the inside handle is mounted to it and I couldn't figure out how to mount a universal. You might want to go to a GM dealer and look at one before you try the universal.
Amen to that - DO NOT GO UNIVERSAL. If they are under $160, they are universal. Yes the originals are crap, but a kludge will be no better. Before you take a chance on it I'd wait for someone to report complete success - working 100% and with all of the internal and external latches and locks.

In regards to the universal ones maybe being better - I suspect that the original actuators themselves are not the problem. After seeing the convoluted inside lock rod, I suspect that the actuator gets tired from fighting that rod as it hangs up on the door, the door panel, and everything else. If that's the case, a universal - if you can make it work - would fare no better. Perhaps the newer factory ones have been revised with a stronger actuator. They'd want to do that if they're replacing a lot under warranty.

In another post above, someone said they are hesitant to tackle the front passenger one. I have not done one yet (that's next) but the way the door is designed I suspect it is much easier to get to the lock mechanism so easier to get in and out. The rear doors come to a point at the back and you have to reach way up into that pinched spot, while the front doors are more square.
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
Did second one - in an hour

OK – just did the second one, left rear. I still had the tools set aside from the first time, and it took us about an hour (mostly my son). I have made a lot of changes to the process, though the original will get you there. Wasn’t in the mood to take pictures, sorry. If you need pictures, then maybe you shouldn’t tackle this yourself…hmmmm? When you buy the lock mechanism, it may be worth buying a couple of the retaining clips – we busted two this time out. Note that these directions PROBABLY work for all years of this generation of the Impala, though ours is a 2008. Note that the door latch part apparently does differ in some years.


  1. Read these instructions first and decide if you really want to proceed. We had almost no guidance but did get it, but if you are not mechanically inclined, take it to the Chevy dealer. By now they ought to be able to do these in their sleep.
  2. Tools needed; T30 torx socket (a driver won't work on some of the bolts), pry tool (got one that looks like a screwdriver but with a curved claw for pulling nails), decent small flashlight (I have a 900 lumen LED), worklight, small straight blade screwdriver, ratchet, short extension, a couple of smaller metric sockets (sorry didn't note the size), and mechanics gloves could be handy to minimize cuts. A mirror and a magnetic pickup are always helpful. Lastly, while one person can do it, two makes observing and manipulating (and fetching beer and tools and beer) so much easier.
  3. Roll the window up. This cannot be done with it down.
  4. Behind the inside door latch, remove the plastic access plate, then the torx bolt.
  5. Remove the rubber pad from the bottom of the door grip where you grab to close the door, and remove the two unnecessarily long torx bolts under it.
  6. On the lower rear side of the door, remove the plastic access door and the small hex bolt behind it.
  7. Above the door panel to the rear there is a triangular plastic trim panel, pop this off.
  8. Now you need to pop loose about four retaining clips - no nice way to do this and you do risk ruining one. Start working the pry tool between the lower door panel and the door and give it a sudden jerk, and you should pop the first retainer loose. Then work your way around the lower door panel and get the rest.
  9. When the retainers are all popped out, the panel will stick out at the bottom. Grasp the panel and lift up. This will unhook it from the lip at the top, then lift the panel off the lock knob. The panel will now be loose.
  10. Pop the window switch loose after gently releasing the tabs on each side.
  11. Release the latch cable from the lever by grasping the plastic collar at the end of the cable and pulling it back towards the back of the car using a pliers, then out of the metal clip. Then lift the ball at the end of the cable out of the back of the lever. This description sucks, I know - but you should be able to figure it out.
  12. Now the door panel is off, so set it aside.
  13. Peel back the white plastic moisture barrier (from the top rear) to gain access to the big cutout in the metal.
  14. Take a black magic marker/sharpie and mark the rod that the door lock knob screws onto so you know how far to screw it back on. Unscrew the door lock plastic knob from the rod. Unscrew it about the number of times you figure would be required, then you are only about 25% of the way there so keep going.
  15. There is a plastic piece through which the lock rod goes, pop that off.
  16. Towards the back of the door, inside the door is a window track that guides the window. There is a bolt holding this in place, remove the bolt.
  17. Two cutouts towards the back of the door are covered in black tape. Pull back the tape from the bottom of each as you need to look and work through those holes.
  18. Now, look up inside the door to the back find the bolt that retains the outside door handle and remove that bolt. This may not be necessary but we figured it would make things easier. You may be able to reach this bolt through one of the holes uncovered in the previous step, or use a small ratchet and just reach up inside like we did.
  19. There are two retaining clips holding the wires - squeeze them gently with a pliers and push them through, popping them loose.
  20. Now - take a look at where everything is and remember it. For instance note that the wires going to the lock actuator are closest to the inside, then the lock rod, then the window guide. It is possible to put it together wrong, and it might work for a while - but if the lock rod hangs up on the wires then the actuator will struggle before again failing.
  21. Remove the three T30 bolts holding the lock mechanism in. Note how tight they are - couldn't easily do this with a torx driver.
  22. Now - we are at the point of no return. If you proceed, you better have a replacement lock mechanism handy because this next step is destructive. The outside door lever hooks to a rod/shaft that goes into a yellow locking plastic clip on the door lock mechanism (see it on your new lock mechanism?). We could not figure out how to easily release this while reaching up inside the door one handed, so we finally just cut it with a side cutters then crushed it with a vice grips. If you can figure a better way, good luck.
  23. OK, now there is no real easy way to tell you how to get the old lock mechanism out other than to manipulate it - and a major barrier will be the lock shaft. Don't worry, it's a pain going pack in too. In general, the lock drops down, and then out.
  24. When you have the lock mechanism out, remove the wires by first sliding the red retaining clip, and also remove the lock rod.
  25. Put the lock rod on the new lock mechanism, but leave the wires off because it is easier to put the lock mechanism back in without it.
  26. Now put the new lock mechanism back in place, but do not bolt it in yet. Make sure that the wires end up running between the lock rod and the door. Reconnect the wires, then bolt the lock mechanism in place tightly. Hold off on locking the outside lock shaft into the plastic clip as it is irreversible.
  27. When you have the lock in place, the inside lock rod in place, the plastic collar back in place around the inside lock rod, and the wires connected, try your new lock using power door locks and manually. Hopefully it works. Make sure to put the wire retainer clips back in.
  28. Recover those access holes with the tape.
  29. Once the window track is bolted back in place and the outside door handle bolt is back in place - and everything seems to be correct - then you can insert the outside lock shaft into the plastic retainer on your new lock mechanism. Remember that yellow clip we crushed on the old one? Now that you are 100% ready to commit, make sure the threaded rod is in the clip, and make sure you’re not pulling the lever on the lock (needs to be in it’s natural home position) - and clamp the plastic retainer. It may take some fiddling but you'll get it.
  30. Put the inside lock knob back on by turning it until you reach the mark you made on the rod. I didn’t do this and the rod cut through the top of the knob. If you do this too, just back it out a half inch or so.
  31. Before putting the door panel back on, make sure the door is unlocked, close it and be sure the outside latch works. You can also unlatch it by pulling on the ball at the end of the inside cable.
  32. Reopen the door, and make an attempt to put the vapor barrier back into place – won’t be perfect.
  33. Grab the door panel. Replace any broken clips if you bought any, if you broke any, and if you really care. We broke two and it really does not seem to matter as the others and three screws hold it in place. Slide the power window switch into place until the clips lock. Then reconnect the inside door latch by inserting the ball at the end of the cable into the hole at the end of the lever then slide the plastic collar back up the cable, maneuver the bare cable through the slot, and then release the collar so it slides into the hole provided. It should lock in place.
  34. Slide the door panel over the lock knob, and the lip of the panel over the lip on the door. When you think you have it compare it to another door to be sure.
  35. Make sure that when the door is locked that enough of the lock knob protrudes through the door panel to allow you to unlock it manually.
  36. Now you’re ready to snap the bottom of the door panel in place. Note that when putting the lower door panel back on you should look in from the side to be sure the first couple of retaining clips line up with their respective holes. Might need to pop them with your palm or fist to get them in.
  37. Then reinsert the bolt behind the inside door latch, and the plastic cover.
  38. Reinsert the two longish bolts inside the door grip, and then put the rubber back in place.
  39. Reinsert the short screw in the lower rear of the panel, and snap the cap back in place.
  40. Snap the triangular trim piece back onto the top rear of the door.
 

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bbtkd - finally got around to replacing the passenger front. Much, much easier than the driver rear, whether it be due to the easier, more open access, or the experience gained from the prior changeout.

Thanks for the write-up. Gonna have to file that for future reference.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
bbtkd - finally got around to replacing the passenger front. Much, much easier than the driver rear, whether it be due to the easier, more open access, or the experience gained from the prior changeout.

Thanks for the write-up. Gonna have to file that for future reference.
I just did the front passenger actuator today. It took me under an hour. As you say, the access is much easier. Also on this one you have access to that yellow clip that had to be destroyed on the back doors - and I now know how to open it. Probably could open a back one now - hoping I won't have to do another. Still - the drivers door is the only original now....

For those tackling the front door, you can pretty much follow the directions for the back, with these exceptions;


  • Rather than being under a panel, the one screw is under the reflector.
  • All of the switches in the door go through one large connector, so unplug that rather than the separate window and lock cables.
  • The white insulation panel should be peeled down from the top. You only need access to about the top half, so fold it down and secure it to the door with duct tape to keep it out of the way.
  • You won't have to unbolt the outside latch handle.
  • You won't have to uncover any additional taped over holes (are none).
  • You don't have to unbolt the window track.
  • To get the actuator out work it back around the window track once you have the wires and the inside and outside rods disconnected. Goes back in the same way.
  • You need less beer, but that's up to you. This is only a two or three beer door in my opinion. The back ones are a six pack the first time, and four the second.
 

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If all 3 door locks went out at once (all 3 except driver door) is it less likely to be the actuators and more likely to be wiring or needing a return to factory settings or something? The locks went out after trying to unlock the emergency brake and pressing some buttons. Then again the interior toggle switch doesn't unlock those doors either.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
If all 3 door locks went out at once (all 3 except driver door) is it less likely to be the actuators and more likely to be wiring or needing a return to factory settings or something? The locks went out after trying to unlock the emergency brake and pressing some buttons. Then again the interior toggle switch doesn't unlock those doors either.
Sure sounds fishy for three to go out at once. We noted that two had gone out, replaced them, then noted a third was intermittent. But three all at once... Could be a surge overloaded all three, but more likely it is a wiring problem.
 

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With the warmer weather, I have started to have intermittent issues with both driver side door locks (2008 LS, 134k miles). They always work at night when it's cooler but during the heat of the day sometimes one or both don't work. I can hear them pop, but no actual movement.

So is this the same actuator issue that everyone else has been having? And why the resistance to universal replacements? Don't wanna throw the big $ on something like door locks.
 

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FWIW - I programmed the DIC so that only the driver door automatically locks and unlocks with the transmission shifter. Since I'm usually the only one in the vehicle, figure less wear-n-tear on the other three.

Once again, love the car, hate the reliability.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
With the warmer weather, I have started to have intermittent issues with both driver side door locks (2008 LS, 134k miles). They always work at night when it's cooler but during the heat of the day sometimes one or both don't work. I can hear them pop, but no actual movement.

So is this the same actuator issue that everyone else has been having? And why the resistance to universal replacements? Don't wanna throw the big $ on something like door locks.
Go for it on the universals if you're good at that kind of thing. I never even considered it since it looked to be pretty custom. It's not clear whether GM used crappy actuators or whether the convoluted lock mechanism strained them too much. If you can use a universal, you sure should save a ton of money, whether it lasts longer or not. You could probably start a side business selling rebuilt ones! I'd bet that a lot of Impalas are left unlocked because owners never get around to, or can't afford, replacing actuators.
 

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FWIW - I programmed the DIC so that only the driver door automatically locks and unlocks with the transmission shifter. Since I'm usually the only one in the vehicle, figure less wear-n-tear on the other three.

Once again, love the car, hate the reliability.
that is a really good tip! anybody out of warranty should take your advice.
 
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