Well, shortly after posting about the door lock problems we were having with our Toyota Highlander, I figured out the cause. It seems that the lock on the rear driver’s side had stopped working and needed to be replaced.
I don’t use the back seat very much, so I never connected the status of the lock on that door with the intermittent problems we were having. But the kids use the back seat enough (entering mostly through the passenger side, but sometimes exiting the driver’s side) that the door would sometimes end up locked and sometimes it would be unlocked.
Here’s what was happening:
When the rear door was locked, everything would behave as expected. When I’d hit the lock button on the key fob, or touch the front of the door handle, the doors would all lock and the Highlander would beep. But…
If the rear door was unlocked, all the other doors would lock, but that one door would stay unlocked. Because the “locked” beep only happens if every door lock is engaged, the Highlander would thus fail to beep.
So… Once I figured this out, I set up a service appointment at our local Toyota dealer. They were able to fit me and confirm the problem that afternoon, but they had to order the lock mechanism. The part arrived the next day, they installed it, and everything is back to normal.
Care to guess how much a repair like that costs?
Well, since it was covered under warranty, it was free for us. But I caught a glimpse of the paperwork showing how much Toyota would be paying the dealer to cover the cost of the fix. The answer? $350.
I’m sure that’s less than you or I would pay, as I doubt Toyota pays their dealers retail prices when they make repairs. But even this amount was a little surprising. The lock mechanism itself was right around $300, with the other $50 being labor for the installation.
According to the service rep, the lock itself, the actuator, etc. used to be separate parts that could be repaired/replaced individually. But, apparently, that’s no longer the case. Now, when some part of the lock goes out, they have to swap out the entire mechanism.
P.S. Yes, this means that whenever our Highlander failed to beep, the rear driver’s side door was left unlocked. Fortunately, we live in a low crime area, and I never had problems with anyone entering the vehicle.