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2015 4 Runner SR5
4,412 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
You know the pain: you use your FOB to lock the door but the door will not lock. Or unlock. Toyota uses crappy motors in the lock actuators and they fail. Dealers want to run you around $500 per actuator to replace. OEM actuators can be around $250 give or take. Aftermarket actuators are far less expensive and do work, but sometimes the fit is a bit off and you never know how good the motor is going to be.

The culprit is almost always a shot motor, or specifically shot brushes/commutator. And the irony: that motor can be anywhere from $3 - $16 or so. The rest of the actuator is a bunch of plastic, metal, gears, levers and springs.

When my third actuator went out (2009 Camry, two on my 2015 4Runner) I had had enough. Time to get real DIY and fix it without buying the expensive part. You can find the motors on eBay as one example. Most Toyotas use the same motor. I bought this one for my 2015 4Runner:

Door Lock Actuator Motor For 2006-13 Lexus ES300h Toyota Camry Scion xB RK1016

While more expensive ($16.10) than others I found it comes with a 5 year warranty, and I was OK spending a few extra bucks. You may consider buying a 4 pack from a seller to have a few extra around - you will need hem eventually.

Tools needed:

Phillips screwdrivers (#2 and #1)
Two small flat blade screwdrivers
Torx socket (T30 most likely)
Trim/panel tool (Optional)

Remove the door panel on your model. You will probably need the #2 Phillips and can use the trim panel tool to help pop the panel. You will unplug the puddle light (if you have one) and the power connector(s) for the door switches. You will also remove the cables for the handle and manual lock.

Here is a pic of my 4Runner with the panel off:


You will need to pull back the water barrier in the upper corner to get to the actuator assembly. No need to remove the entire barrier, just pull it back enough to give yourself access.

All actuators have a wire harness that plugs into them. In the photo above it is the upper most right corner connector; usually where there is a round hole. Disconnect this wire.


The actuator is held in place by three Torx screws, typically T30.


Remove these and set aside. The actuator assembly tends to be a bit behind the window guide, so you have to shift it around inside the door panel to angle it just right to remove it. It will have two cables attached to it. Also, your door handle will have a rod that runs down and depresses into a section of the actuator, so you need to drop the assembly down a bit to free that rod. Depending on your model you may need to dip the assembly down a bit and twist to get it to come out of the door cavity.

Without this in the door you cannot latch the door closed - be aware of this. If you plan to take a long time you can run a tie down strap or something similar across doors inside to keep it closed.

Here is the actuator assembly out of the door:


On my Camry and the 4Runner you needed to pry open a cover protecting the lock cable, which is the upper cable with the blue. A bit if a PITA as you have to kind of force it open.


Unlike the door handle cable this is a bent rod end that slips into a hole:


To access the motor you need to remove the screws that hold the top of the clam shell to the bottom. On this one there are three:




Remove the screws and set aside. All are vastly different so you should be able to remember where each goes. The smallest needs the #1 Phillips.

(continues in next post)

2015 4 Runner SR5
4,412 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
On this model the is a cover piece you need to pry off:


The crappy part is prying all the tabs a bit to pop open the top of the clam shell. Being plastic you can break them.


I found it best to start with one using a small flat blade screwdriver and walk the open seam. Take your time, go slow, and be gentle and it will work fine.

Eventually you get it free enough to be able to lift the cover up a bit and see the motor:


Pay attention to the orientation and gently remove it from the case (it just pops out) with the worm gear attached. Side by side with the new motor:


Remove the gear (slides off) and place it onto the new motor. It has a square face so can only go on one way. Note that in the photo above we are looking at the TOP of the motors. The bottom has two small indents where it connects to the circuit. Pop it in the same way, aligning the gear to the wheel in the assembly.

Now walk the case back together, put the screws back in, and replace it into the door. Just set it in the door and attach the power switch to see if it works. If you depress the door sensor you can lock the door and unlock it to see if it is doing what it is supposed to. It should!

When you put the assembly back in make sure that the rod from the external door handle rests into the lever on the assembly or the door handle will not open the door. Reattach the panel and the handle cables, the wire connectors for the panel, align the top rail and pop the panel back in.

That's it. You avoided a $500 job (dealer) or $200+ job because of a few dollar part motor.

2015 4 Runner SR5
4,412 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
This is what a typical DC motor looks like:


These lock actuators tend to fail due to the brushes getting worn. Here is my non-functioning motor, disassembled:


You can see the wear on the brush to the left. I do not think it was making enough contact on the commutator. The motor itself:


Other than some darkening on the commutator where I believe the brushes align, the motor itself looked clean and did not smell burned. I will change the brushes to see what happens.

The stator:


Again, clean looking.

I hooked this up to my benchtop DC power supply and set it for constant 12V. When I connected it it pulled around 1.5A but would not turn. I'll get new brushes some day to see if that fixes it as I am curious. If it is easy to replace the brushes (may not be) then an even cheaper fix!

2015 4 Runner SR5
4,412 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I will have to take apart that copper run with the brushes in them and see how they connect, then find the same size brushes I can re-connect to the copper traces. Looking at it from the top it is not clear how they are fixed to the trace. But I do plan to find out and see if I can swap them out, as brushes are even cheaper than the motor.
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