Documenting Problems That Were Difficult To Find The Answer To

Nissan Primera P12 2.0 Driver’s Door Locking Problem

The Problem

I had a scare this evening. I parked my car – and I closed my door at the same time as I pressed “lock” on my car key fob.

Locking a Nissan Primera using a Key Fob

Locking a Nissan Primera using a Key Fob

Because I’m a paranoid person I always double check the door is actually locked – and I pulled on my driver’s door handle and the door opened (and the car began to emit a high pitch tone from within the cabin until I pressed the “unlock” button on my key fob).

I thought, “okay, that happens”, and I closed my driver’s side car door again, and pressed “lock” on my key fob.

Again, I tried pulling on the driver’s side door handle, expecting the door to be locked, but it opened! And the cabin emitted the high pitch tone again until I pressed “unlock” on the key fob.

I repeated this process several times until I realised the driver’s side door simply was not going to lock.

I tried the process with my spare key (which had a fresh battery in comparison). Still no luck.

With the driver’s door open I tried locking and unlocking several times with the key fob. Each time I heard the mechanical “thud” that one expects when the door locks – so I was puzzled – the door sounded like it was mechanically locking.

In summary the problem was (for search engine purposes):

  • driver’s door won’t lock
  • driver’s door wouldn’t lock
  • driver’s door would not lock

The Solution

Time to try something more drastic. I unlocked the car and jumped in the driver’s seat. I started the engine and left it idling in neutral (my Primera is a manual 2.0L P12). I opened the driver’s side door window using the electric switch.

I pressed the centre console (between the front driver’s and front passenger’s seats, just below the gear stick) lock switch. Then I reached out the driver’s window and pulled on the door handle – the door opened – drat!

I shut the driver’s door again, pressed the “lock” switch in the centre console again (engine still running), reached out the window, and tried opening the door – I couldn’t! It was locked this time! Success!

So I tried unlocking from the centre console, reached out the window, and the door opened! Shut the door again, pressed “lock” on the centre console, and reached out the window – door wouldn’t open, it was locked! Okay – everything good now.

I closed the window, turned off the engine, got out of the car, closed the door. Then I pressed “lock” on my key fob. Finally yanked on the door handle – it was locked. Tried pressing “unlock” and yanked on the door handle – it was unlocked. Pressed “lock” on the key fob and yanked on the door handle – it was locked. Problem appears to be solved.

So I think the following caused the issue:

  • Closing the door while attempting to lock using the key fob simultaneously (car computer got confused?)

I think the following is the solution:

  • Get in the car
  • Close the door
  • Start the engine
  • Wind down the driver’s door window
  • Lock using the centre console (next to the gear lever)
  • Reach out the window, try and open from outside
  • — is door locked? No? Close the door, press unlock and lock on the central console, and repeat
  • Door is now locked, wind up window, turn off engine, get out
  • Test to ensure key fob successfully locks/unlocks


Turns out the door lock was faulty. It seems to fail maybe 1 out of every 5 attempts to lock. Well, not surprising, given that the driver’s door is typically the only one that unlocks when you first press the “unlock” button on the key fob (you have to press unlock a second time to unlock the other doors and boot). I got a quote from the local Nissan dealer and it will cost me around £210 to have the driver’s door mechanism replaced (parts and labour).

Update (2014-12-23): please note I’ve moved the diagnostic tips to this page.

One response to “Nissan Primera P12 2.0 Driver’s Door Locking Problem

  1. the crop December 1, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Thanks for the info on re-programming new key fobs. Really helped.

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