The fuel door is an important component of your vehicle that contains the gas cap and the location where you add fuel to your car for it to be able to drive down the road. If the fuel door lock is not working correctly, this door will not be securely shut and the gas cap will be exposed. If this occurs, the average cost for a fuel door lock replacement cost is between $102 and $112, with the labor costs averaging between $36 and $45 and the cost of the parts at around $66.
Fixing the fuel door lock issue before it worsens is crucial to the longevity of your car. To keep your fuel system working correctly, like the fuel lines, gas cap, and fuel tank, you need to make sure that the gas cap itself and the fuel door does not become damaged due to excess wear and tear.
Keeping the fuel door lock working correctly and maintained can help you ensure your fuel system is protected. Let’s see the function of a fuel door lock, how it works, the symptoms of a bad fuel door lock, and the overall price you can expect to pay for the fuel door lock replacement cost.
What is a fuel door lock?
A fuel door lock automatically shuts the covering to your gas cap mechanism. This latch secures itself when closed and opens, and only opens when prompted by the electrical or mechanical release mechanism. When the door is pressed firmly down, the fuel door lock ensures the door stays shut while the vehicle is driving and in motion.
To open the fuel door to refill your gas tank, drivers typically have to find the button or lever located by the driver’s side steering column or door. If you look in the passenger compartment, the button or lever will typically be beneath the steering column to the left, on the door, or on the left-side floor of the driver’s seat.
Some other vehicles that are older or rarer may have a different mechanism that could affect the fuel door lock replacement cost. If you have a car with a manual lock on the fuel door that needs a key to open, this could potentially be less expensive to fix than an electrical switch in the vehicle. Since the price for this will be just a manual key, drivers can expect to pay less for the fuel door lock replacement cost.
How does the fuel door lock work?
As we mentioned before, the mechanics of a fuel door lock and the functioning depends on what kind of lock is used. The fuel door lock can be either mechanical or electrical, meaning it is either operated by a switch or a lock.
If the fuel door lock is controlled by an electrical switch, the car’s computer is in charge of “telling” the fuel door lock when it can open and let the driver put gas into the gas tank. The body control module is the part in charge of communicating with the fuel system that lets the driver successfully fill the tank.
Body Control Module
The body control module is a crucial part of your car’s control system. Without this part, your car’s control system would not function or steer the vehicle. Although it might not control the steering or fuel, the body control module contains various processes that affect how the car performs and handles.
The body control module controls the power windows, power mirrors, immobilizer system, air conditioning, central locking, and other electronically-assisted parts. As you can see, the body control module is in charge of all things electrical and power-controlled – including the fuel door lock. The body control module works together with other computers within the car, helping lock doors and turn on cabin lights.
If you find that the body control module is not sending the correct signal to the fuel door lock, the total fuel door lock replacement cost will be much higher due to the faults in the electrical system. These faults mean drivers have to replace the BCM along with the fuel door lock.
The costs to replace and repair your body control module will depend on what kind of car you have, the dealership or mechanic, and the geographical location in which you live. The typical body control module repair cost comes in between $450 and $1,200 for the replacement. For a body control module repair cost, you can try to find parts for a low price, and then pay an additional $200 to $300 for the labor costs.
If you do not have an electrically-assisted fuel door lock, then there will be a keyed lock on the front of hte fuel door. The driver will have to use the correct key, which is given to them at the time of purchase from a dealership or private owner, and open the fuel door by placing the key in the fuel door lock.
Symptoms of a Faulty Fuel Door Lock
To best understand how much you might spend on the fuel door lock replacement cost, you need to know the signs and symptoms of a failing door lock on your vehicle. Regardless of what kind you have, whether it is mechanical or electrical, the symptoms mostly stay the same when determining if the part is working correctly.
One of the most common symptoms of a faulty fuel door lock in almost all cars on the road is that the fuel door cannot open when you pull or push on the mechanism. In this case, the door might not work at all with an electronically-controlled lock. If it works intermittently or does not secure the latch when the door is pushed shut, this is still something that needs to be fixed by your local mechanic.
If your car has a cable operated lock, the release lever could be hard to push or pull, could not retract all the way after being pushed or pulled, or might be loose and unsteady when trying to secure the door shut. If you have a keyed lock, the key may not turn to secure the fuel door lock when pumping your gas.
How to unlock a fuel door
Since your car will always need gas and fuel to run properly, many car manufacturers have brought to light the concern of being unable to unstick a fuel door lock when the time comes. Installing fuel door locks has become commonplace as an anti-theft device to prevent any fuel from being stolen, but if you do not know how this mechanism works, it can be difficult to open when needed.
You may find it frustrating to break open the fuel door lock when the time comes. However, there is a certain way to unlock a fuel door that will prevent you from having to pay a high fuel door lock replacement cost.
The first step in unlocking a fuel door is to look at the owner’s manual to see if there are specific instructions that are made for your vehicle's make, model, and year. When finding out how to minimize the fuel door lock replacement cost, this is the most valuable step in treating your car correctly.
The second step is to examine and analyze the fuel door from the exterior of the car. If the fuel door lock has a keyhole entrance, then try to use the ignition key to unlock the fuel door lock. If your car does not have the keyhole, then there is most likely an electrical source to open the fuel door when getting gas.
Next, try pushing on the sides of the fuel door to pop it open and free the lock. Since some fuel doors are not actually locking, this method can let you flip open the fuel door by hand without having a lock on hand. If this does not work, continue to the next step to find out how to minimize the fuel door lock replacement cost.
If you can’t open the fuel door by hand or by key, check the electronic key remote fob that you have with your car keys. If you have a button that has a word or symbol with a fuel door, try pressing this button to see if it works with the fuel door. If that does not work, try unlocking all the car doors and then use your hand to open the fuel door mechanically.
If you find that this step still does not unlock the fuel door, check the passenger side to see if there is a fuel door release lever that will open the door. If you have to, look at the manual to see if there is a diagram showing the likely button locations, like the dashboard and the floor between the driver’s seat and the door.
Can I drive with a faulty fuel door lock?
When calculating how much you might spend on the fuel door lock replacement cost, you need to know if it is detrimental or harmful to your vehicle to continue driving around with a damaged fuel door lock. If a fuel door lock cannot close or open properly, then this issue is inconvenient, but not one of the most expensive you'll have in your vehicle’s lifetime.
Since the fuel door lock is typically operated when the car, vehicle, motorcycle, SUV, or truck is low on gas and you need to fill up at a station, a lock that is stuck can result in your car being stranded in an unwanted location at an inopportune moment. Although a vehicle can be driven with a faulty fuel door lock, it could result in you not being able to give enough gas to your car to get to a safe location.
Since running out of fuel is a scary and unwanted occurrence for all drivers, figuring out the fuel door lock replacement cost before this happens is crucial to the safety of you and other drivers.
How often do I have to replace the fuel door lock?
To figure out the total fuel door lock replacement cost, you need to know how often this part must be replaced in your vehicle to keep your car working properly and at a high level. Any fuel door lock should last the entire lifetime of the vehicle. However, excess wear and tear and potential accidents could lead to this part breaking before the car is done running.
Sometimes, car fuel door locks will fail due to abuse, neglect, or common accidents. For example, an actuator pin can get contaminated and dirty over time and can lead to premature car fuel door lock failure. If you continually place excess force on the fuel door when you pump gas and stress the mechanism, this can cause the cable to stretch excessively and break prematurely.
The Bottom Line
Diagnosing and fixing a fuel door lock issue can help you keep your car safely on the road with the right amount of gas. By calculating the fuel door lock replacement before it is too late, you can replace this inexpensive part and prevent running out of gas!