Volkswagen (Seat Alhambra 7n) door locks are total crap

The passenger door of my car (a 7 years old Alhambra, 100000km) recently started to make “clak clak” noise every time my driving speed was about 20km/h. At first I didn’t understand what was going on. Then, I noticed that also the door didn’t lock when I locked the car with the remote and the alarm LED in the door blinked quickly. So, something must be wrong. A bit later I noted that the passenger door was not possible to be opened from the outside.

After some googling I understood finally what was wrong. VW group (VAG) in almost all their cars uses a really low quality electric lock in the Zentralverriegelung system. And that thing simply dies after some years.

Some people in forums on the Internet recommend that you should immediately change the lock once there is the smallest sign of a problem, because else you can end up with a door that is locked and you have no other choice than to cut the door open. So… I decided not to wait but to change the lock. New locks can be found on amazon for less than 40 Eur. Shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

Starting to prepare the actual intervention, I realized that it meant dismantling the door. You need special tools for that in order to remove the plastic. So I ordered the tools. Another 25 Euros, but I never count the investment in tools, it always is less expensive than having somebody else repair for you.

Luckily Youtube exists.
Luckily somebody posted a post to explain how to disassemble a door

Theory look easy. But will it be possible to change the lock afterwards? I was not able to find the answer.

So finally one sunny day I ventured into dismantling the door. All went very well… until I had to open the 2 screws that held the lock in place. VW has used so much screw glue, it was impossible to open them. And of course I didn’t have any reserve screws in that size at home neither. Who has M8 bolts with flat heads that are 15mm long in reserve… so… 1h to go to the local Leroy Merlin and back, and of course they didn’t have them neither, so I bought 30mm long bolts and cut them back with Dremel and sew. Finally ready to attack the glued screws, eventually I managed to get the open by cutting a faint into the head of them and then using a really big screwdriver. The rest was relatively easy and took less than one hour.

What really pisses me off though is that VW knows about this quality problem, and does… nothing ! In France we call that “obsolescence programmé”. I call it “disrespect for your customers”. And for me it will be the reason not to by a VW, Audi, Seat but rather a Mercedes or BMW next time.

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