Hitman's Pontiac Trans Am Forum

Trans Am Information => Trans Am Tech => Interior => Topic started by: moonrider1 on June 02, 2006, 11:32:44 PM

Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: moonrider1 on June 02, 2006, 11:32:44 PM
I'm having a problem with the passenger door on my 78.  I can't get the door to open from the outside or from the inside.  In looking at the latch mechanism, I can see that the rods are all connected and are actuating the latch.  The door latch around the striker post won't seem to let go of the striker post.  Is there release some place that's one can use to by pass the rods?  I'v tried using a slim jim but I get the same results.  The latch moves but the catch won't release the striker post.  Anybody ever have this problem before?
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: Tin Indians Rule on June 03, 2006, 12:21:20 AM
Do you have power locks. Have you tried working your lock back and forth with the key while pulling/pushing the knob up and down. Sometimes the door lock will cause that.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: ta78w72 on June 03, 2006, 08:42:13 AM
My 78 has a similar situation with the drivers door.  The smog checker guy couldn't get the drivers door open this smog check or during the check two years ago.  It did happen to me when I first got the car.  You pull the handle and the door is still latched.  I found that I wasn't pulling the interior handle far enough out (although it seemed it should have been far enough).  I don't have the problem with the outside handle as you do though.  

Once you get the door open, check the striker bolt for signs of the latch scraping on it.  If it has those signs, your door is not aligned properly.  When you close the door does is close smoothly or does it have to be slammed shut?  It could be, but hopefully not, your door hinges.

First try lubricating the area.  But from what you described, the latch isn't releasing from the stricker bolt.  Either bad lubrication, handle not pulling the latch open enough or door alignment.  That's the order I'd check.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: moonrider1 on June 03, 2006, 11:06:04 AM
I appreciate the reply's so far.  I have a pretty good idea what the causes are and what the fix will be but I need to get the door open before I can do any of that.  I need some ideas on how to get it opened.

Here's a little background on the car.

I's on the passenger side and the door hasn't been used much and it wasn't sagging at all. The car is on the ground so the body is not flexing.  The driver side is working fine.  Just to give you an idea of the condition of the car.  It's a documented Y-88 with only 23000 miles on it and is in pristine condition. The door was working fine until 2 days ago. I did a search on TAC and saw some material that said to get inside the car and apply pressure to the door by kicking really hard while someone holds the handle up.  (yikes!!  Hate to ruin a really beautiful camel tan door panel)  

Another guy said he took out the rear interior panel and measured the approximate distance to the striker bolt from the bottom and cut a hole in the pinch weld large enough to get a screwdriver through to release the latch.  (gulp!!  drilling holes in the pinch weld...not an appealing option either)

These both seem like drastic approaches that will damage an otherwise pristine car.  I really hate to start kicking on the door panel or cutting metal to get it open.  I'm hoping there is another way.

I can see inside the door with a strong light that I have and the latch is being actuated as it should. The rods are not binding or anything and move freely. The latch just won't release. I called a locksmith and he said there wasn't anything he could do if the latch was being actuated.  

I need to get the door panel off to try to fix it and I don't see how you can get the door panel off without having the door open unless you're willing to trash a door panel.

Other ideas please??
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: Hitman on June 03, 2006, 11:40:28 AM
I have had this happen quite a few times before.  I agree with the earlier post that even though it looks like the latch is moving far enough to open the door, it actually isn't.  It is really a two person job, I usually have one guy on the outside pulling up on the handle and also pulling up enough to raise the door.  And then with me on the inside also pulling to door handle and putting your shoulder into the door to give it a good shove to get the door open.  Now there is a chance that by pulling up on the outside door handle with enough force to also lift the door that it may crack or break.... but the door handles are only $19 to replace so it is not like it is an expensive item to replace.  So, hunker down and put your shoulder into it.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: ta78w72 on June 03, 2006, 11:50:54 AM
I would bring out the rubber mallet and try gently tapping the outside key lock.  If you can get the rear panel off, you could try hitting that area with the mallet too.  Is there anyway to get something on the latch itself and strike it with a mallet?

Another thing to try is to have someone lift the outside handle up (or you could use the inside handle) and put your shoulder on the inside of the door and push.  Make sure the handle is fully open.  

If you open the window all the way, can you see the latch end?

I agree with you.  Don't drill or kick.  

Another thing to try is drive the car over a bumpy road.  That might loosen it up.  

Do you really need the door open right away?  Sometimes things like this will work itself free and then you could replace the latch.

Sorry for the unconnected stream of thinking.

You did try pulling up on the manual lock......I had to ask just in case your door lock solenoid isn't fully deploying.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: moonrider1 on June 03, 2006, 04:51:28 PM
Yes I tried the lock button, manually and with a key.  Nothing seemed to get the door to release.  The lock switch seems to work fine and I can see the lock mechanism from the top of the door moving when I operate it with the key, switch or manually.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: evilways on June 03, 2006, 08:57:02 PM
Have you thought of a smaller diameter striker post? If you could find one or modify one it may work.Just a thought.They're cheap and easy to replace.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: eroc022 on June 03, 2006, 10:28:43 PM
wow i had this problem earlier today...driver side door...wouldnt open...i needed it off to sell it to a tac member....i tried everything kicking pulling pushing lifting.....didnt budge moved the door lock up and down still nothing....so i just kept pulling and pulling took a break went and removed passenger side with no problems went back to driver side pulled the handle and amazingly it fell off....i already had the hinges unbolted....
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: ta78w72 on June 04, 2006, 12:09:47 PM
OK, here's what I would do at this point.  Try spraying penetrating oil through the space between the door and the rear quarterpanel at the latch.  You can get lots of angles on it.  Let it sit and spray it again.  Work the handle when you're spraying and after spraying.  It might take a few days, but that just might help it release.

I'm all out of ideas at this point.  These kinds of problems drive me nuts!
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: Tin Indians Rule on June 04, 2006, 12:29:29 PM
This is just enough to aggravate the pizz out of ya. By chance have you tried to push in on the door from the outside. Maybe take a pillow and  Trade turns bumping from the outside and have someone bumping from the inside. I'm like you... I sure would hate to ruin a door panel or put a dent in the door.

I still think the lock is your trouble.

You can always install the rare torch cut door striker opening.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: moonrider1 on June 04, 2006, 01:28:01 PM
Yes I thought about that too.  Trying to push in on the door a little to take the pressure off the latch.  I thought that might work to release it but it didn't.  I shot some WD 40 into the latch and have been working the lock and the latch.  Hopefully in a day or so it might release.  In the meantime I'll keep working it.  From what everyone is saying, it appears that the latch is just stuck, so maybe with some lube and continued action it will release.  If that fails, then I guess I'll have to try brute force on the door.  This will be my last resort.  Any other suggestions are always welcome.  Thanks for the help so far guys, keep em comin' !!
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: Tin Indians Rule on June 04, 2006, 01:48:03 PM
I was thinking that WD-40 Was solvent based. You might try something more oily/slippery.
Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: whwright on June 04, 2006, 02:25:44 PM
Check out Classic Industries part number G6862 .  The door on my son's 69 Firebird was doing exactly the same thing as your door, and it turned out that this spring was broken.  I know it says "pushbutton spring" but I think the latch gizmo is very similar on first and second gen cars.

On his car, if you drove it around for a while the door would suddenly work -- once.  After replacing the spring (which is a PAIN) it hasn't happened again.

Be careful when removing the latch mechanism.  It is really, really easy to scratch the paint on the door jam.  On my son's beater it was no big deal, but on a pristine car it's another story.

Good luck!

Title: 78 T/A Door Help??
Post by: Eagle 1 on June 04, 2006, 08:40:39 PM
I had the same problem with mine when I first brought it home.  My solution was this.   I rolled down the window and lubed the $%** out of the door latch down inside the window channel with WD40.  Then from the outside of the car, I pulled up on the latch fully with one hand and reached inside with the other hand and hit out on the door just above the latch with my fist.  It took me about 20 minutes of jacking with it until finally it gave up and opened.   So keep trying, it will open.
Most likley, as somebody else said, the hinge pins and bushings are worn and need to be replaced.  Pretty common on these old GM's with the big heavy doors.