How do electric car door locks work?

I’m very interested in the overlooked features of a car as they tend to cause the most frustration when they stop working. I’m no mechanic, but I’d love to have some basic understanding of how my car really functions. How do electric car door locks work?

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Answer provided by
Chanice Boyd
Answered on Apr 14, 2022
You’re right. This function is often overlooked, and it takes a curious mind to notice. Electric car door locks use one of two systems: a standard system and a computer-controlled lock system.
Simply put, a radio signal sent from the key fob signals the actuator to activate. Then, a command is sent to lock or unlock the door and perform the desired action.
Some cars use a computer-controlled lock system which also uses a radio signal to unlock. The process is a bit different. In this case, the computer-controlled system sends a programming signal to the computer in the car. The programming is read, and the computer applies the proper system command.
The computer-controlled system can perform other functions such as:
  • Remote Start
  • Open windows
  • Turn off the car
  • Open the truck
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