How-To: retrofit minivan door lock actuator on 3rd gen **Save big $$$**
I recently had the all too familiar issue with my driver side front door where I could open it from the inside but not the outside. After some research I found that the door lock actuator went bad. The cheapest replacement part I could find was $75.00 online and no wreckers around my area had 3rd gen rams available. However, they had an abundance of Chrysler/Dodge minvans. This is how I fixed it for $6.00.
After searching the wrecking yard for an hour without finding one 3rd gen Ram I decided to start looking at Durangos and Minivans. Surprisingly I found a lock actuator from a 2003 Chrysler Town & Country that looked almost identical. With a few minor mods with a dremmel tool I was able to swap the actuator and only paid $6.00 for it.
Remove door panel from door.
Remove lock actuator from Ram. To do this you unbolt the three fasteners holding on the door latch. Pull back plastic barrier on door and unhook all 4 rods going into the actuator. (Unfortunately I didnt take pics while doing this but you will get the idea from the pics below) Then just pull the actuator out from the door.
Take both actuators to a work bench and take some time to look over both. You'll see the only difference is there is an arm with a weight on the T&C actuator, where as the ram has no weight, a shorter arm and a spring. (You have to cut the weight off from the T&C actuator and transfer the spring to and its ready to go)
Here are some pics to compare the two:
ram lock 2 by zxsix, on Flickr
ram lock 1 by zxsix, on Flickr
Town and Country:
minivan lock 1 by zxsix, on Flickr
As you can see the electrical connectors and the rest of the actuator are identical.
I took a metal cutting wheel on the dremmel and cut the arm on the T&C to match the Ram actuator and then just transferred over the spring.
Also I should note that when you get to the spring its easiest to just cut off the whole arm on the Ram actuator to get the spring off (Its already broken so why not)
On the new actuator theres a collar that holds the spring in place. Youll have to grind two of the edges down to slide the spring over, just dont grind the whole thing because it still needs to hold the spring.
Reinstall the new actuator. Install is reverse of removal.
Nice find I'm sure it will help someone
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