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Usually what happens is the rod that goes down from the outside door handle to the latch attaches to an arm. The pivot on this arm freezes and does not allow the locking mechanism to return to the neutral position. When you use either handle it does not engage the latch to open it. It is virtually impossible to get the door open with out pulling the door panel from the inside and going in to undo the latch and it is hard to not destroy the panel trying to get it off with the door closed. You can try and wedge a block in between the glass and the out side widow molding and go in there with a hook tool and try to get the lever returned back up with the rod so that you can unlock and open the door, but it is tough to do. There is a little spring that assist to pull the arm back up with the rod and usually it breaks or is not strong enough to work the arm due to the corrosion.
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It is difficult to visualize what you are saying and the correct course of action to fix the problem. First you said that the handle is connected to the rod to an arm. Where is this lever? Should it be up or down to open the door?
Is there a way you could show me a picture of the lock mechanism and tell me what I need to do to open the door? I have already have the door panel partially removed, can I open it from the inside? If so how? Thanks.
Click the link below And download the file. The exploded views of the pieces in the door is all it is available I do not have a specific picture of the linkage rod and pivot that frees up. Let me know if this helps.
There is a picture of the lock on the last page of that document. My car is a sedan so the lock should be the one on the left.
In that picture, there appears to be a on the left of the lock with a pivot point on the bottom of the lock. Is this the lever you are refering to? That pivot on the rod appears not to be a hole, but a slot. Do I need to push that pivot up the slot in order to open the door?
I am unclear on your desription. The mechanism the the rod from the outer door handle attaches to is the one that needs to be pulled up as the rod goes back up as the door handle is released. I don't know how else to explain it.
The picture is for both sides.