DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Detailed descriptions of how to do things to your Liberty.

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby Scorpex » Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:16 pm

Thank you to all posters on this topic. I found by chance that my front passenger lock actuator wasn't working one afternoon. I forgot to lock it manually after fiddling and that very night the car was broken into. Fortunately not a lot was taken. I had to fix it as I can't bear to see my girlfriend standing in the rain while I manually unlock her door :D

My tips:
1. Use an impact driver to get the three screws out of the lock assembly - easy peasy.
2. Take out the electrical plug (push the tab DOWN) and the outer door handle connecting rod. Push the cap back over the outer door handle connecting rod socket. The lock unit can then be turned and moved out past the window glass channel....just.
3. Use a narrow blade chisel (5mm) to crack open the motor and cog casing assembly.
4. Drill down the channel in the plastic above the motor casing tabs with a 4mm drill bit and let it drill into the plastic beside the tab a little. This allows a stronger screwdriver to get in behind the tab.
5. The tab metal is tough. I broke off the tab on one side, and then managed to get the plastic top off the motor by pulling it up and out from under the other tab.
6. My motor had grease etc inside, as others have described, but the real issue was that the carbon brush on one side had completely worn down. It only went fitfully after cleaning and reassembly. A new motor and a spare are on the way from mopselectric on eBay.
7. There is a dimple in one side of the casing that is almost designed to be a screw thread. I nipped the top off this, drilled a hole opposite it in the other side of the casing and screwed a screw through the hole and into the dimple to hold the casing together.

$23 fix compared with $350+ from dealer....thanks everyone!
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:35 pm
Car: Gen 4 Outback

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby Scorpex » Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:42 pm

Just a little more here from my post above. As it will be a while before a new actuator motor arrives, I decided to switch the left rear actuator to the left front (the faulty one on my car) as the front door is used much more. I didn't put the faulty actuator back in the left rear door, thinking I'd leave it out until the new motor arrives, and then put it back in. When I shut the rear door I found it was locked and couldn't be unlocked from inside the car.

By winding down the window I managed to create enough room to lever the top of the inner trim off the window channel. I then undid the screws behind the door catch and handle and moved the trim away from the door. There was just enough room to get an arm in the door and flick up the lock lever on the door catch assembly. The door could then be opened. However, I then found that I could not lock the door!

It gradually dawned on me that the central locking actuator assembly has to be in position for the inner door lock snib to work as the lever on the actuator links the inner lock to the door catch assembly. I put the actuator casing back in, minus motor, and the problem was solved. The actuator casing will stay in until the new motor arrives and I will have operating central locking on all five doors. Yay!
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:35 pm
Car: Gen 4 Outback

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby Daniel33 » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:11 am

Hi All.

I am new here, but have been working on a few subies for a while.

I recently bought a 2006 Forester for my daughter, and a 2004 Outback for my son.

I also picked up a 2001 Outback for parts.

So, the '06 had an issue with the driver's door window. The motor had burnt out. It is a control issue I will be searching for a solution to later.

The window mechanism in the 2001 model is different, BUT, the motor, brush block and even the drive cog and bush were all interchangeable. So, I have three more spares.

Also, the drive motors for the lock actuators are also interchangeable. Not the armature, as the shaft is different from '01 to '04, but the brush block was identical. There was a slight difference, in that the newer motor has a small cooling pad added to the power side, but that is all. I simply put a little conductive grease under the contact surface to assist in the connection.

I used a medium burring tool, (or an engraving bit) on a Dremmel to carve out some of the plastic behind the tab so I could get a small screwdriver to engage the tab. A hot 1.25 welding rod would also do it, or, at a pinch, a small drill.

Watch out if you use a drill though, spin it by hand or use a press. The nature of this plastic is that it will grab a drill bit and pull it in like a screw. That will end the use-ability of the motor. Upon re-assembly, after cleaning, I used a tiny amount of silicon grease where the shaft goes through the plastic, and on the housing end. I know there is little use in lubricating these brass end bushes as they are self lubricating, but I figured, with the different housing and shaft, it might help them to bed in together. Everything works again.

Hope this helps someone.
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:41 am
Car: Subaru Brumby
Real name: Daniel

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby teK-- » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:36 pm

Great to see this thread still going after so many years :D

If anyone needs a replacement motor for their lock actuator, I have a couple brand new ones spare kicking around that I never ended up using.
MY04 2.5i Safety 5MT Sedan "Project Locomotive"
..: JDM Subaru-AVO-Whiteline-Bilstein-Swift Springs-Cusco-Rallitek-GT Brakes-Remsa-K4RT30Y-Blitz-Philips-Défi-STI-Sabelt-Redline-Alpine-Polk Audio-Kenwood-Dynamat :..
User avatar
Posts: 4060
Joined: Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:02 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby Deus_Ex_Machina » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:44 pm

Hey Guys, Does anyone have a link to a motor they used that had the correct polarity? I ordered one off Ebay and used the old commutator in the new housing to get the 20mm shaft. ... 2749.l2649

Runs backwards though and I since killed the motor taking the commutator back out lol. I know I can probably get another and invert the power supply wiring to it but I'd rather just a direct replacement.
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:08 pm
Car: Outback 2004
Real name: Clinton Allen

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby Pak75 » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:39 am

I had a problem with passenger side rear door snib not moving at all, either manually or automatically so could not lock this door. Gen 4 Liberty 2.5i now 10 years old.
Followed great detailed explanation by Tek.
Took apart motor and there was no black gunk inside motor and grease on worm was a white colour and still intact.
After reassembling and checking motor was working, the door thankfully worked again.
Don't know why....
I would suggest if you can at all avoid taking apart motor if shaft spins freely then avoid it, putting this back together is by far the most difficult part.
Pleased to have avoided $$ at Subaru dealer for an hour's work.
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:32 am
Car: MY08 Liberty 2.5i
Real name: Stephen

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby Mercury260 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:50 am

I had supposedly ordered a 20 mm d shaft from eBay however they were only a circular shaft when they arrived. The seller couldn't understand what I was talking about so I couldn't be bothered sending them back to China for more cost than I bought all 4 for.

So I used a grinder to flatten off one side of the shaft to make it a d shape. Took about 30 seconds and works perfectly. The new motor is a massive difference in power compared to my older cleaned version.
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:06 pm
Location: SE suburbs, Melbourne
Car: 06 tbsti wagon auto

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby Mercury260 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:41 pm

Took me a while to work out for the drivers door you have to unclip the lock connector from the back of the key barrel up near the handle. Hope it saves someone else half an hour.
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:06 pm
Location: SE suburbs, Melbourne
Car: 06 tbsti wagon auto

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby yongski » Sat May 05, 2018 6:48 pm

My car's rear left door lock has started acting up a few months ago. It has become slow to lock and unlock. At times, it fails to totally lock and unlock the door and I have to press the key fob twice.

I have been reading this post for a long time now and today I finally was able to find time to get to it. If not for this post, I never would have gotten the courage to fix it myself. I followed the instructions carefully. One thing i did differently is that I did not open up the motor to clean the excess grease, but sprayed brake cleaner generously into the holes at the top and sides of the motor using a small straw (I used the straw from my WD40 and attached it to the nozel of the brake cleaner). The straw will fit into the opening at the top of the motor, and it can slide down past the armature to get near the brush part -- where I assumed there would be lots black gunk. Sure enough, a dark coloured liquid started oozing out of the motor. I then let it dry out in the sun for about an hour.

I followed someone's advice when putting it back together by drilling a hole into a dimple on one side of the plastic casing of the actuator through the the other side. I then put glue on the mating surfaces for good measure and ran a bolt through the casing and tightened it with a nut on the other side (sandwiched by 2 thin metal plates to have a wider force to bind it together).

The rear left door is now as snappy as all the other ones!

Big thanks to the OP and to all of you guys!
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:27 pm
Car: 2005 Subaru Liberty 2.5i

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby DbLH3liX » Thu Feb 04, 2021 4:27 am

Hi all :)

After reading all these posts I'm starting to see a pattern here: first lock on the Liberty to go dodgy is the rear passenger and then the driver door :angry2:

My driver door lock symptoms started off oddly in that if I'm in my home town (very hot & dry) and drive two hours away where it's cooler & humid my key won't open my door (won't turn in either direction) and yet return home it worked again. Four weeks later and my door has to be unlocked from the passenger side and IF the key turns in the driver lock, it only locks my door not all five (tailgate as well). I've noticed tho, that if I unlock my (driver) door from the inside, the lock lever will be stuck half way, as if the release handle is blocking it from opening. Are these also signs that I need to replace/repair the actuator in the driver's door? (And yes, my rear passenger door went dodgy first but no-one ever uses that seat anyway so I didn't bother with it.)

Maddeningly if the car is unlocked from the driver's door (inside) the boot sometimes stays locked. Summer has not been kind to my poor door locks :(

Suggestions appreciated :)
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2021 4:02 am
Car: 1990 Subaru Liberty BF

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby TitanB4 » Sat Aug 28, 2021 9:07 pm

None of the actuators on the doors of my newly purchased Liberty 3.0R worked and so I found these on Aliexpress: ... 4c4dtJhVCk

Each set of 2 cost $34 Australian, which is pretty fair. Fast postage (got here in under 2 weeks) from China.
Removed door cards today and installed, works perfectly. Saved me having to crack open the old ones.
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2021 11:49 am
Car: 2004 Subaru Liberty 3.0R

Re: DIY: Repair central locking actuator

Postby bigBADbenny » Tue Aug 31, 2021 5:24 pm

That’s probably more affordable than spending half a day at the self serve wreckers, and definitely less wallet dangerous :P
User avatar
Posts: 10006
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:36 pm
Location: Collingwood, Melbourne
Car: MY07 GT-B 6MT OBP Wagon
Real name: Ben Richards
Profile URL:


Return to Reference material & Walkthroughs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest