The motors mentioned in the above write up (MABUCHI FC280PC-22125 from eBay, $11) worked fine for me with a slight modification, you may find a perfect match elsewhere but those worked great for me.
I did not need any sort of gear puller, my worm gear came right off. I needed a phillips and a straight screwdriver, a T-30 torx bit, some plastic pry bars and more patience.
Skip right past the window/door lock panel in the door. It's easy to remove but not necessary. Instead look down in the door pull handle and pry up the little carpet pad to find a screw and remove it. Next gently pry the panel behind the door open handle to find a 2nd screw and take that off too. At the top inner corner of the door near the window is a triangular black panel, it prys off. That makes getting the door on and off easier.
Now use your pry bar, start at the bottom of the door and separate the plastic panel from the metal of the door. Several white plastic press-in pins hold the door on. Pry hard at first, it seems to take alot of force to get the first one to pop. The rest come easier. They are all around the edge of the door. Push up once all the pins are free and the plastic panel should be loose.
Try not to let the panel dangle if it seems like it will damage any of the many wires. You should be able to see where the 2 cables (like bike brake cables) run from the interior door handle to inside the metal door frame. Put the window up at this point if it's down. Remove the white power connector that powers the door locks. Use the torx bit to take out the three bolts on the out edge of the door frame. With some serious gyration you can get the actuator assembly out of the hole where the cables lead in.
Use a rag to protect your nice clean door from the greasy actuator. If everythings dangling at this point, prop it up somehow and grab a stool, it's time to crack open the actuator.
You do not need to open the entire actuator! Remove the long black cap around one edge with a screwdriver blade. Look at the actuator and you'll see a bulge on one corner about the size of the little DC motor. Carefully pop up the little tabs holding the actuator together near this corner. You don't need to do them all! Take out the small screw near the center of the actuator too. Just pry apart the corner about 1" and jam something in there to hold it open. You should be able to see the motor. It connects to the power by 2 small metal tabs molded into the plastic. A little nudge with a screwdriver blade will pop the motor off of these and you should be able to remove it. The worm gear should come with it, or might be left inside, fish it out if so. Toss the old motor in the trash and cuss at it.
The motors I got did not have a flat side on their shaft. 30 seconds with the grinder and I gave it a flat side. Slide the worm gear on the new motor and replace it in the actuator. If you were gentle and careful it should click back together nicely. Replace the screw and the plastic cap along the one side. Be sure your cables are still connected to the actuator. Notice the greased yellow plastic hole on one side, that's where the exterior door rod connects. You'll have to fit that rod into that yellow hole blind so feel it a bit so you'll know what you're grabbing in a minute.
Reverse the gyrations you did to get the actuator assembly back in the hole and lined up on the door frame. Don't screw it in yet. Check that you did not pop any of the cables out, either on the actuator or the other end at the door handle. Slide the actuator down about an inch from it's proper place and you should be able to fish that rod from the exterior door handle into that little yellow hole. I know you can't see it, tough, do it anyway.
Once it's ready slide the actuator up a bit and screw in the torx bits outside the frame. Reconnect the white electrical connection to the actuator. Set the plastic panel back on the window opening.
Stick the key in and test things out at this point. If you're as lucky as me you won't get it all right the first time. I had the cable pop off the door handle a bit and that made the door lock "stutter" when I tried it.
Once it's working reassemble the door like you took it apart. Note some of those plastic white pins (that went "pop") might not have come out of the metal door frame. Look around at them all and pry any out if needed. Replace them on the plastic panel before you try to click it all back in place.
I had to do both the front doors and got it done in about an hour. Best of luck to you.
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I had to fix the door locks on my 2006 RX330 and thought I'd do a little DIY.
Welcome to Club Lexus, JamesInJax, and thank you very much for the write up with pictures. Am sure this will come in handy for someone some where down the line as we hold on to our RX's beyond their warranties.
In a PM from 2002RX300 he suggested I come to this 2nd gen RX forum for help with replacing my burned out door lock actuator on my 2004 RX330. I stumbled across your post from the sticky thread on 2nd gen RX DIYs. Great idea!
I bought an extended warranty from Lexus, but they wouldn't honor it to fix my door lock because it had expired only 5 days before. No grace from Big Lex! Their price to fix it: $580 parts & labor. I'm hoping to use your DIY with help from a friend to do the repair myself. Between your DIY on your 2006 and 2002RX300's DIY on his 1st generation, I"m hoping not to screw things up too badly.
Thanks for your efforts on this topic.
Following up on my previous post, my friend and I used JamesInJax's approach to replace the driver's side door lock actuator motor on my 2004 RX330 today. All went pretty much as he had indicated in his DIY, but I wanted to add a few pointers that might help others who attempt this.
First, in taking off the plastic door panel--and putting it back on--a key point was to pull out the bottom of the panel away from the bottom of the door before pushing up to remove it, or pushing down to put it back on. In my model there are plastic pins in the top of the panel that have to come out from the door before the metal clips in the panel can be disengaged from the thin metal frame of the door itself. Our failure to put enough angle between the door and the panel caused one of these pins to break when we removed the panel.
The hardest part of the job for us was fishing out the actuator itself from inside the door. On my 2004 model there is a metal strut about 1/2 inch square that comes down inside the door from top to bottom that interfered with the fishing process. We found by undoing where this strut is fastened via a nut on the bottom of the door we could swing it out of the way and this made getting the actuator out--and back in again--much easier.
As in the original post, we had a stuttering problem when all was back together. We found out that when we were forcing the plastic panel back on the door we had inadvertently popped the two door lock cables out of the slots that hold them in place. Once these were secured back in place, the lock worked fine.
I did invest in the online Chilton's manual but found that it added nothing to the DIY posted here. All-in-all the $6 I spent for the motor (ordered from eBay) was a good investment relative to the $580 the Lexus dealer wanted to charge m
I would also like the ebay source for the motor, and if you needed to modify via grinder. Also, my front passenger door is closed. I assume you did this work with the door open, but can it be done with the door shut? Is there a way to get the door open first? When i unlock the doors, the lock lever clicks, but does not open. Motor? or something else.