Defeat the Miata's Unlocking Door

by Jeff Anderson

janderso@erols.com

The requirement to hold the Miata's door handle out to keep the door from unlocking when closing it can be defeated. This can be done without taking anything apart, by bending forward a black colored metal lever on the latch mechanism inside the door. The procedure is outlined below.

Items needed:

Lay the wire on a hard surface and flatten (about 1/2 inch long) its center section by striking it several times with a hammer. After flattening, hold the flattened section with a long noise pliers and bend the wire in half (about 18 inches long after folding) leaving a 1/2 inch wide flat opening in the loop to use as a hook to catch the black metal unlocking lever. When bending the wire in half, don't bend it a full 90 degrees. Instead, bend the wire so that when the flattened section is vertical both ends of the wire run about 45 degrees upward.

The black metal unlocking lever is inside the door, at the rear, mounted on the door's latching mechanism. It can be seen by putting the window glass all the way down and then looking downward into the door cavity. Use a light to shine down into the cavity and, if necessary, use a stick to wedge the glass window out of the way, towards the outside of the door. The black lever can not be seen very well by looking straight down into the door's cavity -- move a foot or so towards the front of the car and look back. You'll know when you've spotted the correct lever because on its visible end there is a small foot (a 90 degree forward bend at its end) that's about 1/8 inch long. You can see it move horizontally in unison with movement of the outside door handle. It's located just below a larger copper color metal lever that also moves in unison with the door handle. Make sure to identify the proper lever.

To defeat the automatic door unlocking, the visible end of the black metal unlocking lever needs to be moved (bent) about 1/4 inch towards the front of the car. About mid way, front to back of the door, insert the wire loop rearward into the door cavity down into the area between the inside edge of the door and the door glass. Catch the wire's loop around the foot end of the black lever. Catching the lever is made easier by positioning the wire's loop at the end of the lever and holding it steady with two hands while your helper pulls the door handle to bring the foot end of the lever through the wire's loop you're holding.

Once you observe the geometry involved, you may need to remove the wire and slightly re-form the wire's loop to enable the lever to pass through it. Clamp the vice grip pliers on the open ends of the wire so the pliers can be used as a handle to give the wire a good strong pull. Reposition the wire's loop and have your helper pull the door handle so the black lever passes through the wire's loop, then hold the door handle all the way out.

Give the wire a good strong pull towards the front of the car to bend the lever. Try the door lock to see that it now stays locked when the door is closed. If the door continues to unlock upon closing, bend the lever a little further towards the front of the car.

Next, do the other door and then enjoy the convenience of locking your door on your way out and just closing it behind you as you leave. But be careful, now and in the future, that you don't lock your keys in the car -- you've just eliminated the built-in idiot protection designed to protect you from yourself.

Jeff


Alternate method from Billy Young

I had decided I wanted to do the door lock defeat that Jeff Anderson had written up for the garage section of Miata.net.

I had also seen a few threads on Miata.net related to this, with some members expressing difficulty of bending the tab once you had it hooked with the wire. Since I needed to have door panels off for some other work, I decided to see if I could come up with an alternative method. The results were good. For me it was easier/faster to pull/replace the door panel than to use the wire fishing and pulling method.

The steps below are my modified version of Jeff's instructions, often blatantly plagiarized. Kudos' to Jeff for the original write up!

First step. Remove the door panel. I will not describe that process here, because there are different details depending on the year and feature of your car, but it is not difficult on any Miata, and there are a variety of instructions in the garage under the window repair articles. You do not need to remove the weather proofing plastic and get into the goop; removal of the panel is only for better visibility from the top of the door down and a bit of working room. I should take a careful worker less than two minutes, once you have done one the first time.

Second step. Locate the black metal unlocking lever. It is inside the door, at the rear, mounted on the door's latching mechanism. It can be seen by putting the window glass all the way down and then looking downward into the door cavity. Use a light to shine down into the cavity and, if necessary, use a stick to wedge the glass window out of the way, towards the outside of the door. The black lever can not be seen very well by looking straight down into the door's cavity -- move a foot or so towards the front of the car and look back. You'll know when you've spotted the correct lever because on its visible end there is a small foot (a 90 degree forward bend at its end) that's about 1/8 inch long. You can see it move horizontally in unison with movement of the outside door handle. It's located just below a larger copper color metal lever that also moves in unison with the door handle. Make sure to identify the proper lever.

Third step. To defeat the automatic door unlocking, the visible end of the black metal unlocking lever needs to be moved (bent) about 1/4 inch towards the front of the car. I used a 16" straight screwdriver, thin shank, and found the blade would slip right behind the tab, straight down the edge of the door. Then I simply gave the screwdriver a twist and a bit of a lean towards the front of the car, and the bending was done.

Check point. Try the door lock to see that it now stays locked when the door is closed. If the door continues to unlock upon closing, bend the lever a little further towards the front of the car.

Fourth step. Reinstall your door panel.

Billy Young (aka toyluvr)



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