8 Common Honda Civic Locking Problems (Solved & Explained)

The Honda Civic is one of the most popular compact cars in history.

Though it’s known for being practical, fun to drive, and reliable, it can suffer from door locking issues over time.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common locking problems Civic owners have reported and look at ways to fix them.

1. Honda Civic Keeps Locking Itself

Many people have wondered why their Honda Civic’s doors keep locking on their own soon after the doors are unlocked.

If you unlock a Civic’s doors but don’t open them, they’ll automatically lock on their own after around 30 seconds. It’s a security feature in case you walk away from the car after unlocking it or if you hit the key fob’s unlock button by mistake.

Modern Honda Civic’s made in the last 20 years or so can also automatically lock their doors whenever you shift out of park or go over 10 mph.

If one or more of the lock actuators are broken and don’t lock properly, the automatic door locks will keep engaging every time you go over 10 mph coming from a stop. 

Here’s how a few people described their issue:

“09 Civic. Whenever I move from a dead stop all the door locks click and seem to cycle. I hear the clicking from the two front doors (not sure about the back).”

2007 Civic Si sedan. Even when I don’t unlock the doors, when I come to a stop then start driving again, I can hear the door locks trying to lock.”

To fix this, you’ll need to replace the faulty door actuator. In many cases, you might have to replace multiple actuators.

Aside from malfunctioning door actuators, other possible reasons why the doors keep locking on their own include:

  • Stuck key fob buttons
  • Wiring harness problems
  • Broken door jamb switch
  • Faulty door lock switch
  • Loose or corroded ground wires
  • Defective MICU (Multiplex Integrated Control Unit), otherwise known as a Body Control Module
  • Aftermarket alarm system

If you’ve already tried several fixes and the issue still persists, take the car back to the dealer so they can scan for errors and narrow down what’s causing it.

If your Civic has a display that controls the vehicle settings, you can also disable the auto locking feature to keep them from cycling on and off until you can get the locks diagnosed and fixed.

In older Civics, disabling the automatic locks requires the following steps:

  1. Open the driver’s door and shift to Park.
  2. Turn the key to the ‘On’ position.
  3. Engage the parking brake.
  4. Hold down the front switch of the master door lock on the driver’s door for 5 seconds or until you hear a click. Keep holding until you hear another click.
  5. Release the switch, wait a few seconds, then turn the key to ‘Lock’ position. 

2. Honda Civic Unlocking Itself

It’s fairly common for older Civics to have door actuator problems which causes one or more doors to unlock by themselves.

A door with a faulty lock actuator will usually unlock itself immediately or a few seconds after it’s locked using either the:

  • Key fob
  • Door switch
  • Manual locks

Lots of Hondas and Acuras suffer from similar door lock issues as their actuators get old and worn out.

This can be easily fixed by taking off the door panel and replacing the door actuator, which are fairly cheap. But you might have to replace several door actuators which can take a couple of hours.

The Honda Civic also automatically unlocks the doors whenever you:

  • Shift into Park
  • Switch off ignition
  • Open the driver’s door

These can be changed and customized in the vehicle’s settings. In older Civics, the process to program this will be similar to how you disable/enable the automatic locks outlined previously, but you’ll have to check the manual for the exact steps.

3. Honda Civic Unlocking Without Touching Handle

Many modern Honda Civics equipped with smart entry might automatically unlock itself every time you get near the door even without touching the handles. 

Normally, the keyless entry system should only unlock the doors if you grab the door handle with the key fob in range.

Here is how one owner on the Honda Tech forum describes the issue:

“I have a 2014 Civic with a weird problem. It has keyless entry and push button start and lately if you have one of the fobs in your pocket and walk within 5ft or so of the passenger side of the car, the car unlocks. It doesn’t do it on the driver’s side. It isn’t waiting for me to touch the door handle for it to unlock.” 

Other Civic owners have also reported being unable to unlock the car while grabbing the outer handle. The car can still be unlocked with the key fob though, and the door handles usually respond if they’re activated within seconds of using the fob.

Here’s how another owner described the problem:

“Got a 2017 Civic hatchback EX. When I approach the vehicle and put my hand on the handle to open the car it does not recognize my hand. However, if I use the lock button once approaching the car it does work.”

In most cases, these problems are caused by a malfunctioning exterior door handle which can be quite expensive to replace.

One solution that’s worked for many is to simply disconnect the negative battery terminal for a minute or two. This should restart the car’s electrical system which often fixes the door handle issues.

Related: 6 Most Common Honda Civic Problems (Explained)

4. Honda Civic Not Locking With Key Fob

Many Honda Civic owners have had issues getting their doors to lock using the key fob.

In a lot of cases, the key fob can still unlock the car but the locking function suddenly stops working.

Here’s one owner’s experience on the CivicX.com forum:

“My key fob recently just quit locking my doors so it also will not remote start. I’m not having any issue unlocking the car with the fob.”

Another owner on CivicForums.com reported the following:

“I have a 2001 honda civic EX 4 dr, and my keyless entry (remote) won’t lock the car. When I press the lock button, nothing happens, the lights don’t flash and the doors won’t lock. But, the unlock works fine, the door open and the lights blink.”

The first thing you can do is check whether all the doors are closed properly. The Civic’s key fob will only lock the doors if all the doors, including the trunk and hood, are properly closed.

If all the doors are closed, one of the door jamb or trunk switches might be broken. The dash and the interior dome lights should tell you whether one of the doors is still open, but a faulty switch might cause it to not light up properly.

The locking problem could also be caused by a faulty key fob. The lock button might just be stuck and needs to be cleaned out. You can also just get a new key fob and have it reprogrammed for your car.

5. Honda Civic Not Unlocking With Key Fob

If the key fob is not unlocking the doors it’s usually caused by a dead key fob or car battery.

This can easily be solved in older Civics because you can still unlock the car using the physical key. 

In newer Civics equipped with smart entry systems, the emergency key is stored inside the key fob. There should be a switch on the fob that you can press so you can get the key out from the top.

If replacing the key fob battery doesn’t fix the issue, check the button on the key fob if it needs to be cleaned or serviced.

If only one of the doors doesn’t unlock, then you might have a bad door lock actuator or a wiring issue.

6. Honda Civic Not Unlocking With Key

If you’re having trouble unlocking the doors using the physical key, you might have a lock cylinder issue.

It’s fairly normal for the key lock cylinder in older cars to wear out over time. But the seventh generation Civic from 2001 to 2005 has the most number of reported issues.

Here’s how one Civic owner described their problem:

“The key lock on my 2003 Honda Civic no longer works. It seems as if a different key is needed to open the door and quite often the key will not go into the lock. When it does go in, the lock is stiff or frozen and will not turn. I originally thought this was a random issue but have encountered 3 other Civic owners with the same problem.”

If it’s getting harder and harder to get the key in and turn it, you can lubricate the cylinder with some graphite or silicone lube.

If it’s too far gone, you’ll have to replace the lock cylinder. You can have it re-keyed so that you’re still using the same key for all the doors and the ignition.

In newer Civics, it’s also common for the linkage from the lock cylinder to the actuator to get disconnected.

Here’s how one owner on the CivicX.com forum described their issue:

“I have a 2017 hatchback sport and my keyfob would not unlock the doors so I tried my key, it did not work either. Luckily the hatch did unlock. When I took it to the dealer they took the door panel off and the door lock was not even hooked up for it to work.”

In some cases, the linkages don’t get connected properly from the factory. It’s just not easy to notice since people use the keyless entry system at all times and have never had a reason to use the emergency key.

Fortunately, this is fairly simple to fix as long as you’re comfortable with taking off the door panel. Otherwise, a locksmith or mechanic should have no trouble getting it sorted out.

Related: Honda Civic Alarm Going Off? (8 Causes & Solutions)

7. Honda Civic Not Beeping When Locking

Honda Civics will beep or honk once when you push the lock button on the key fob twice. This indicates that all the doors are locked and that the alarm has been activated.

The car will also emit several beeps if the keyless entry system has an error. For example, if you walk away too fast for the auto lock feature to work, it will start beeping.

However, some owners have had issues where the car won’t beep at all:

“I’ve had my 2022 civic sedan ex since December 2021, and recently I just noticed that my car no longer beeps and flashes lights when I lock the car with my remote. In addition, my remote engine start no longer works.” 

“Even though the doors lock fine, the car refuses to beep when I hit the lock button on my fob twice. It worked fine up until about 2 weeks ago.”

If the car isn’t beeping, one of the doors might not be locking properly. An open trunk or hood will also prevent the alarm from arming itself so you won’t hear any beeps.

Common causes for the beeping issue include:

  • Faulty door lock actuator
  • Bad door latch micro switch
  • Defective hood or trunk switch
  • Body Control Module issues
  • Jammed locking mechanism

Newer Civics also have an option in their vehicle settings to enable/disable the keyless beep or answer back. If it’s already enabled, try disabling then re-enabling it. 

You can also disconnect the negative battery terminal for a minute or two to reset the car’s electrical system. 

8. Honda Civic Trunk Not Unlocking

Modern Honda Civics use an electronic lock actuator for the trunk or hatch which can fail prematurely and cause it to not open using either the key fob or the trunk release button.

These Civics also don’t have a key hole in the back so you can’t just can’t open the trunk or hatch with a key if the battery dies or the keyless entry stops working.

To manually open the trunk or hatch, use the key to open the driver’s door then go to the back to unlatch the emergency release. This lever is hidden behind a plastic cover on the rear shelf of sedans and on the interior trim piece for the hatchbacks.

Many owners have also had difficulty unlocking or opening the trunk using the trunk release button inside the car. Fortunately, this is usually caused by user error because you have to hold down the button for a couple of seconds before the trunk actually opens.

In older Honda Civics, trunk and hatch unlocking problems can also be caused by:

  • Stuck or misaligned latch
  • Disconnected linkages
  • Broken key cylinder
  • Faulty hatch release handle

Related: Honda Civic Beeping? (9 Common Causes & Solutions)

Resources

https://owners.honda.com/vehicle-information/manuals

https://owners.honda.com/help/customer-relations

https://owners.honda.com/service-maintenance/recalls

Author:

  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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