Beetle Door Locking Mechanism

Door Locking Mechanism
A customer recently contacted Eric asked that I field the inquiry; it was in Spanish!

Yes, I still can make some head-way in Spanish. And, it just so happened that this customer lives in Colombia, South America—a place where Neva and I lived for 14 years! Like “going home”.

I breathed deeply, then lit into a reply to Padre Santiago, the proud owner of a 1967 Beetle; yes, these trusty little cars are to be found the world over!

The trouble stemmed from a faulty driver’s door locking mechanism. Padre Santiago had purchased a reproduction ’68-and-later door mechanism that is supposed to work for the ’67 door too, “after a slight alteration”. After attempts failed to produce a reliable mechanism, the Padre turned to

I replied, saying that I would do my best to locate a working mechanism and thanked the Padre for his patience in advance. Thus began a journey that would take me in a completely unexpected direction. Join me, if you will.

My first attempt to find the mechanism was to a local shop, known for carrying many door parts. This yielded not a thing. Next, I called my good friends, Dustin and Cassie Carter at Don’s Bug Barn in Athens, Texas.

“Yes,” Dustin told me, “I most certainly can supply the necessary piece!” Great—a hurdle jumped.

When the piece arrived, Dustin already had done a lot of cleaning. I let the piece sit in a bucket of old-school carb cleaner for a couple of hours, retrieved it, washed the piece and dried it thoroughly. Sparkling!

I sat at my work bench operating the mechanism to observe the function. After some lubrication, I had all parts loosened and moving. However, the “claw” which grasps the post on the B pillar would not release.

I spent a couple of 30 minute sessions just operating the mechanism to learn how it works.

VW engineers were tasked with building an almost entirely new mechanism for ’67 Beetles. Whereas for previous years doors had been locked using the inside door handle (pushed forward into the locked position), the new mechanism must have a locking knob (button) at the window sill. To lock the door, a person must push the lock knob down and, while holding the door handle button in, close the door. The door was locked.

But, should the lock knob be depressed and the door shut by itself, the knob would spring up automatically. This was a safety measure designed to keep a person from accidentally locking himself out of the car, perhaps locking the keys inside.

The door handle itself was redesigned and became a one-year-only part.

I found 4 types of springs in the mechanism—each with a separate purpose.

The problem, I determined, was that the handle activated lever on the mechanism could not travel far enough to actuate the pawl release. What to do? I contemplated using a file to remove a tiny bit of the lever stop so that the lever could travel farther. No—this could thwart the door handle making it have to move farther than it was designed to do.

More study revealed a wear mark. Now, I was arriving at the key to the problem. The wear was the result of the release lever’s being brought to bear upon the pawl release—which was under great pressure by one of the springs. I could see that there was about the same amount of wear on the release as there was area needed to clear on the ratchet. Every time the door was closed over the years, that spring caused the pawl lever to snap against the release lever, resulting in an ever-increasing wear spot.

The next time I had opportunity, I sat again to study the mechanism. I discovered a second high-wear area.

Now, I contemplated how to replace the worn metal. The mechanism is firmly factory bradded together—to disassembly would be time-consuming and disastrous. There had to be another way.

I headed to my trusted VW mechanic’s shop to pick his brain. I found him to be completely immersed in engine building. Not to bother an engine builder in such a situation.

I had planned to go to the automotive collision shop next door anyway, so I went there now and found both of my good friends available to examine the mechanism. To speed things along, I explained the situation, pointing to each function—then to the worn points. Mike took the mechanism and began examining it intensely. Soon, he pointed to a third wear area.

The cumulative wear resulted in exactly the amount of distance which the pawl could not travel. Now, we had but to determine a method for restoring that lost metal. And, these two experts agreed that to disassemble the mechanism would not be profitable.

We agreed that there was one key area, which, if it could be altered, showed the most promise. Mike had a suggestion. He and Geoff discussed the possibilities and agreed that it was likely the only recourse. Since the piece could never function as it was, I agreed as well. I have watched these two ply their trade for many years—they know metal and how to work it. I turned the piece over to Mike while Geoff and I examined a 1941 Chevy Pick-up in the shop.

I hardly noticed Mike until he was turning off his torch and had picked up a pair of strong slip-joint pliers. Then, he went to the sink to cool the piece. Voila! The mechanism worked like a charm! I fairly danced a jig right there!

What Mike suggested was that he heat the “claw” of the pawl until he could squeeze it a tad to make up for the loss of metal wear. A cheaper and more efficient method could not be imagined. I was thrilled. Now, I had my working mechanism, which should operate for another-how-many-years! These men know how to use a torch to achieve optimum heating, yet not enough to damage the mechanism.

One caution: remove the pawl-ratchet spring prior to heating. The torch heat is enough to damage the spring tension.

The Padre will have an original German mechanism for his prized ’67 Beetle.

In order to understand how the door latching mechanism operates, follow the sequence of photos below, noting the captions. This will guide the reader to the concluding photo where the pawl is heated, then squeezed to remove the “play” created by wear.

Door Locking MechanismDoor Locking MechanismDoor Locking MechanismDoor Locking MechanismDoor Locking MechanismDoor Locking MechanismDoor Locking MechanismDoor Locking MechanismDoor Locking Mechanism
Dustin and Cassie Carter of Don’s Bug Barn (a Volkswagen salvage yard) in Athens, TX, gave special attention to the removal, cleaning and shipping of the correct ’67 door mechanism for this project.

Geoffrey Lohmann, owner of Christian Brothers Quality Collision Repair of Garland, TX, and his long-time co-worker, Michael Minchew, took time from their busy schedule to diagnose and remedy the non-functioning mechanism.

Technical Information
Driver’s Door Locking Mechanism VW Part#: 111-837-015D Manufactured by Bomoro
Additional stamping inside the mechanism: 247U (unknown significance)

Photography: Neva (Granny) Salser.

Posted by Jay Salser

My wife, Neva, and I have been driving and working on VWs since 1976. In fact, we raised our family in these cars. Now, we are retired and enjoy VWs as a hobby. The ’67 Beetle always has been our favorite year. We own a '67 Beetle and a '68 Karmann Ghia.

  1. Fantastic Article, Jay. You amaze me with your level of effort to the ’67 Beetle community. Your check is in the mail, once again.

  2. Awesome article. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Hello, Sean…Good to hear from you! I just hate the thought of discarding parts from these cars! Every time something is rejuvenated, I get excited. At my age–I may have a heart attack one day from the excitement! LOL Thanks for staying in touch! jay

      1. Another great article for my records – thanks Jay!. My winter project is to remove the chrome trim off the windows of my 1967 convertible and send them off to get rechromed as they are showing 48 years of fun in the sun. Are there any articles in the archives on pulling the windows and then the chrome that may save me some grief?

        1. Norbert, Jay & Eric … this is one of the projects on the “To Do For Wally2” list. Have replacement chrome window trim from WW so we’d be interested in any insights or tips for replacing window trim.

        2. Good evening, Norbert…Thank you for your comments. Your project sounds ambitious to me–a person who has no experience with Convertibles! I cannot recall any articles on the Site dealing with such a task. I suggest that you contact Chuck’s Convertibles ( ). Chuck’s is the foremost Convertible shop in the USA, I believe. They have had just about every experience with Convertibles possible. I see that Donna and Gary also have a similar project in mind. If you are going to have the pieces re-chromed, I suggest that you cast about a bit to find a quality shop to do the work. Good chrome work is costly but, in the long run, much superior to a poor quality job done that soon must be redone. Paul’s in PA is a quality shop but maybe you can find one closer to home
          ( ). Please let us know what you discover. This sounds like the beginning of a relevant article, Norbert! Think about it. Document your process and let Eric help you in the process of a write up! jay

        3. Good evening, Norbert (my first reply failed–here goes again). I do not recall any article(s) on the Site which deal with the process of removal of and re-chroming of the window trim of the Convertible Beetle.

          I see that Donna and Gary have a project of similar proportion (less the chroming) in mind for their Convertible. I suggest that you contact Chuck’s Convertibles–I am certain that they have had experience with this aspect of refurbishing a Convertible ( ). When casting about for a shop to do the chrome work, check for a quality shop which warranties its work. Paul’s in PA is a great shop but maybe you can find one closer to home ( ). This has the sound of a good article, Norbert. Why don’t you keep record or your work, with photographs, and get with Eric. He can direct you in the write-up. Thanks for staying in touch! jay

  3. Thank you very much!
    This will give me the incentive to get mine right.

    1. Hello, George…Yes…these vintage vehicles deserve a little TLC from time to time. I call it “having an intimate occasion with my ’67 Beetle”. Monitoring a car’s health is something like monitoring our own health. I’ve had people to tell me after their engine had blown up…”But…the oil was only a quart low!” That was a sick engine! Thanks for reading, George–let us Readers hear how things are going with you and your Beetle! jay

  4. You did it again Jay. Very informative and well written. The pictures from Neva certainly add to that special touch which makes the article that much more clearer.
    Always enjoy your articles. This one will join the rest in Linda’s folder.

    1. Hello, Larry…I hear that you are having a cool wave there in Ho Chi Minh City presently. Even though it’s an inconvenience, I’m sure that it is preferable to the heat wave that has been plaguing you folks lately. Thanks for reading–I value your comments. My best to Linda! jay

  5. Once again I have found exactly what I had been looking for. I just completed a similar project on my drivers door..on to the passenger side. Excellent documentation on the entire process, including photo’s. Many thanks.

    1. Good job, Frank! This problem had not surfaced in my experience until recently. The usual thing is to toss the part and try to find a good replacement, right?. But, as you know, another used one is going have this problem sooner or later (I think)–the more use, the more the wear. Doesn’t it feel good to have resurrected yet another German part! I know that some would think us vintage people to be crazy–but, it’s a good crazy. LOL Thanks for chiming in, Frank!


  6. Gracias Jaime por el artículo y por ponerse en la tarea de buscar, encontrar y revisar este mecanismo que, estoy seguro, dejará como nuevo mi VW Beetle 1967.

    Padre Santiago

  7. El gusto fue mio, Padre! Ojala que le va a servir por muchos anos mas. Aqui en hacemos lo que podemos. Gracias por su paciencia–se que esto tomo mas tiempo que normalmente. Gracias tambien por ser un Reader fiel de jaime (for those who don’t read Spanish…the locking mechanism of this Article is for the Padre Santiago of this Comment. He is a regular Reader of the Site. The mechanism will be shipped shortly with the hope that it will “heal” the Padre’s ’67 Beetle. jay)

    1. Better you than me, Jay. :)

    2. Hello, Folks! I just received a message from Padre Santiago in Bogota de Santa Fe, Colombia, South America. He received the repaired door locking mechanism and his mechanic installed the piece. Padre Santiago tells me that the lock works as new and he is very proud to have German parts on his cherished 1967 Beetle. Once he has the car restored, he will register it as an antique. He plans to take photos and chronicle the car’s history for us of So…stand by. All in good time, we will have opportunity to see both car and owner and read their story. I am so excited! I did a little dance while telling Neva of this “victory”! jay

      1. Congrats on a job well done! Of course, Gary and I are wondering if a victory dance video will be far behind?

  8. I have several ’67 Beetle acquaintances in the Dallas, TX area. One of these, Cody, came recently to purchase a few odds and ends for his ’67. While here, he told me that he had read this article. Since his door’s locking mechanism had the same problem, he used this method to correct the part. It worked. I love testimonials like this one! It makes all of the work of research worth it all! Thanks for telling me of the repair, Cody! jay

  9. Hey Jay, greetings from Singapore! This just happened to me this morning. Googled the problem and landed right on this page. Amazing stuff again from Will be working on it this weekend!

    1. Hello, Ken…I am glad that the posting will help you! Be sure to remove the spring–the heat will damage it immediately! Focus the heat exactly on the part you want to alter. You won’t have to squeeze the part much–just a couple of millimeters at most usually. Let us know how it goes for you. Keep resurrecting those Volkswagens, Ken! I’m removing and replacing a rear wheel brake cylinder this morning on my ’67 Beetle. Hopefully, I’ll have this done in short order–if I don’t run into anything else. jay

  10. Hello and thanks for the info. My problem is I just got a 67 beetle and the passenger door lock system is entirely stuck. Outside thumb/key doesnt work…Inside door lock does not go up and down…inside door panel latch does not pull out…I locked it today…felt weird but didnt think much of it till trying to open it. A side note…I pulled the outside handle assembly off to detail the outer rubber seals…had a little overspray and put it back into the door…any feedback would be great!

    1. Hello, Tyce…Just thinking here and will continue to think. But, I suggest that you push on the door handle–pushing the door more toward closed position, then try to depress the door handle button and pull. Maybe this will dislodge something. If this fails to produce results, I think that the next line of recourse would be to remove the passenger front seat, remove the interior door pull plastic screw cover in order to remove the interior door pull (one screw with special cone washer). Now, remove the door card (panel). This is going to be difficult with the door closed, unfortunately but once the panel is off, the
      locking mechanism will be revealed. Once you have all of the perimeter keepers loosened, you will need to lift the door card by the arm rest to slide the card up and off its retaining bar. Using a light, see if you can operate the locking mechanism by tripping the pawl “claw” (see Article photo). However, I am hoping that by pushing, then pulling, you will “unstick” the mechanism. Let us know what you discover. jay

  11. This is a fantastic resource. Any hints on how to get the mechanism out of the door?

    1. Hello, Rob—finally getting back to you on removal of the Door Locking Mechanism. The door panel will need to be removed first, of course. Remove the window crank by pushing in on the panel right at the crank. This will reveal a pin which must be driven from the crank so that the crank will come loose from the window regulator mechanism. I use a nail with the pointed end ground off. If you have someone to do the pushing in of the panel, you will have both hands free to remove the pin from the crank. Now, also remove the single screw from the inner door pull. Pull the lever back in order to remove the black cup. Once the cup is removed, the screw and its tiny lock washer will be revealed. Remove the screw, being careful not to lose the tiny lock washer. You also will need to pull the door seal back to reveal the screw
      so that the outer door handle can be removed. Once the outer door handle is removed, you can get to the removal of the window glass. Once the glass has been removed, you can concentrate on the removal of the screws holding the locking mechanism in place. This is not an easy process–once the screws have been removed from the edge of the door, it’s a matter of jiggling here and there until the mechanism is loose. You’ll need to remove the door locking button (at the sill)–unscrew it–it has long threads so do not give up quickly. Then also remove the long pull rod which connects the inner pull and the mechanism. Eventually you’ll be able to remove the mechanism. Complicated process, for sure, but do-able. Think about each process in its order. A methodical approach is best. After the first one, you have become a pro! LOL..jay

  12. Thanks for the Article Jay. I was just trying to help a customer in San Francisco get into their beetle They seemed to think I was a mechanic, which I’m not. Definitely handy and can do a lot, but by no means a mechanic. Anyways this person was asking me about the locking mechanism on this exact car and possibly replacing it. I thought why not just do a quick google search to see if something pops up. I found this, gave them the link and they were ecstatic. Thanks for making me look like an awesome person :)

  13. Tony—You ARE awesome! How many people take the time to research problems with half-century old Beetles? Take credit for your help to the couple–you deserve it. At, we always hope that our research will be helpful and not just an exercise of the computer keyboard. Thank you for making my day! jay

  14. Thanks for the info! Mine is a May 1967 saloon 1500 so it has the round button for the key (UK model): The outside handle is secured from the edge of the door as described. But my issue is that the mechanism has locked so I can not open the the door! I have removed the inside lining.What do I do now please without resorting to a can opener!!! NB I have had this wonderful car for just 52 years!

    1. An Achilles Heel for 67 and older beetles has always been the vent lock. Before getting radical, consider trying to go in that way. Even if it breaks, replacements are available.

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