Question about Kenmore Elite 45986 Front Load Washer

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Door locking mechanism keeps breaking

I have had my machine for about 7 years. For the third time, the small, narrow, black plastic mechanism that when the door closes locks the door has broken off. Each time, someone has to come and repair it, it is approximately $200. I like my machine, but am getting very frustrated with the delicate device. The newer models have a larger button that doesn't break off as easily. Any advice?

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Just and idea,,,put a little flat rubber or cushion pad between the door and the panel so door dont close so hard,,and tight,,,onthejob

Posted on Jan 20, 2009

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I just fixed this same problem. It happened to me 3 different times in a month so I got good at it. Before you dive into removing your door try this. Pull the door handle and release it letting it snap back several times. The problem is a half open door latch that won't let the door unlock. Do this as aggressively as you can to attempt to get the latch to return to its original position. Check the door lock between flicks.

Ok, if that didn't work, here is how to remove the door.
1. Remove the screw behind the door latch, you will have to pop the plastic cover off first.
2. Remove the rubber insert in the door handle
3. Remove the screw that is now visible
4. Now remove the window/lock control module, the back is free but the front has a plastic lip so lift the back up and pull towards the back of the van.
5. Remove the clips that attach to the lock and to the window controls (these can be a pain)
5. (Optional) Remove the bracket that held the window/lock control module

At this point your door is basically free, it is only held in place with plastic clips that can be easily forced off. If your door were open you would simple pull the bottom of the door out (hinged at the window) and lift it off. But since we can't pull because the door is closed we have to force it out.

From here it is pretty simple. Move the seat all the way back and tip the seat way back. Lift the door panel straight up. You will be breaking 2 plastic clips from the rear part but once you do it just pulls out. This is not that easy because the space is limited but just keep pulling and force the rear end of the door panel past the b-pillar. Once you do this it is free.

Have fun and try to keep the black gook from getting everywhere.

Oh, to fix the door lock just oil/grease it and manually move the mechanism several times.

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I had the same problem and fixed it using the following steps. I am not an expert or even very mechanically inclined, just desperate to get this fixed without spending any money. This was done on a 1996 Dodge Caravan. Similar steps should apply to a number of years of the Caravans and Voyagers. 

Two people will make removing the panel easier. To do this, you'll need a phillips screwdriver, penetrating lubricant, and pliers. 

First, if you cannot open the door at all: There is a small plastic disc plugging a hole just above the latch on the inside. Pop out that disk, and use a screwdriver to lift the latch mechanism. It should not take a great deal of force to move the latch. When the latch moves, push the door and it should open. 

1. Remove the plastic panel on the inside of the van. You need to remove the handle and several screws on the perimeter of the door. 
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3. Looking at the door from the interior, there is a small electronic plunger mechanism on the right side with an "accordion" (this is the electric lock). There is a rod that goes from the to the middle of the door, just above the lock mechanism. Another rod goes from the key lock to the latch. This rod, threaded on one end, snaps into a small bracket on the latch. It may need to be snapped back in. There may also be a rubbery/tar-like sticker near the locking mechanisms that can be removed (it can interfere with some of the moving parts). 
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8. Put your key into the key lock and pull it out several times. 
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12. When reassembling the door panel, remember to plug in the two wiring harnesses for the interior lights. 

I hope this helps!

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