How to replace the door lock cylinder on a 1983 DeLorean DMC12

A few months back I hade a break-in in my car. They seem to have been able to open the drivers side door without too much trouble, by the looks of it by twisting a screw driver in the driver side door lock. Luckily they don’t seem to have managed to start the car, but the drivers side door lock cylinder was shot. With the excellent service by Arran Jamieson at he actually managed to make a new cylinder matching my spare key, which I sent him. To be able to get such service on a soon 40 year old car is amazing! Now has come the time to actually do the replacement. I haven’t found any instructions online, which is why I write this post, but also probably because it is pretty straight forward. The procedure is basically:

  • Remove the upper and lower door panels (I linked a how-to in this post)
  • Remove the springy washer that holds the cylinder in place
  • remove the door lock rod from the  cylinder
  • take the old cylinder out and insert the new
  • insert the door lock rod in the new cylinder
  • push back the washer
  • re-fit the door panels

Here is a video of the finished work when the new cylinder is in, and I try the lock. Below are all the steps to change cylinder.

Now, dealing with an almost 40 year old car, everything is much more involved and takes much longer than anticipated, and you run into issues you never planned for every single time, all in all I would say this procedure took me about 2-3 hours, and I did it while parked on the street outside my apartment, so a lot of time was spent getting different tools from inside, fabricating tools, at one point loosing the lock washer inside the door, and realising the new cylinder was not a perfect fit and needed to be dremeled down etc etc. But here are pictures I took while doing it, with captions explaining the steps.

01 old cylinder
This is what the lock cylinder looks from from the inside of the car. You basically have two openings to work from, a smaller hole just where the cylinder is, and one where all the lock and latch rods are visible. The cylinder is held in place by a springy washer between the cylinder and the door metal (the washer is the square looking thing you see at the back).
02 insulation
There was some strange deteriorated bag with foamy powder surrounding the wire harness in the rear corner of the door, don’t know what it was, so I completely removed it to better get to the cylinder, wich is behind the black soggy bag in this picture.
03 coat hanger
To be able to pull the washer out from behind the cylinder, you need some sort of long hook. It need to have some length to it to be able to pull from the larger opening in the door. My small picks where to short, so I simply took a coat hanger and bent the top to a small hook. I guess you could perhaps also try and pry it out from the smaller hole right where the cylinder is, but I tried the hook method.
04 coat hanger
Here you see the coat hanger looped through the larger opening in the door, and attached to the cylinder washer. In the bottom you see my bungy boards that hold the door to the striker pin. Now you just need to pull.
05 coat hanger
Here is a close-up of the attached hanger. You need some gentle force when pulling, but beware so that the washer don’t fly off into the door, it can be tricky to find. Mine actually did, and I had to shine a flashlight in to every cavity of the door before I could find it. You could avoid this by making the hook of the coat hanger longer I guess. 
06 lock washer
This is what the washer looks like when pulled out. As you can see, it is bent to provide some spring pressure between the cylinder and the door wall. The two legs run in cut-outs in the cylinder. The small hole is where you pull it out.
07 cylinder coming out
Once you have pulled out the washer, you can start pulling out the actual cylinder. It needs to come out from the outside. The only thing holding it in place now is the lock rod. As you can see, the rod has an “S”-like bend to it at the tip, so you need to get the cylinder half way out to be able to twist it. You could ofcourse also unscrew the rod at one of the adjustment points, but I have a nice working adjusted door lock mechanism, especially on the drivers side, so I did not want to disturb it more than necessary.
08 cyinder coming out
Here you can se how the cylinder is half way out, and then can be twisted, to get the S-shaped rod out. I did this by myself, sitting on the drivers side seat with my feed outside the car, and the door attached to the the lock striker with a bungy cord. With one hand on the outside and one on the inside I managed to trick the cylinder our without too much hassle.
10 both cylinders
Here is the old and the new cylinder from They are pretty much a perfect mach except for one thing. The white grommet through the black plastic wing does not fit the S-shaped rod. It is 90° off as you can see on the following pictures.
11 hole from inside
Here is the hole from the inside. Note that the top and bottom groves are different sizes, which forces the cylinder to go in only one way. In my case that meant the wing holding the lock rod was placed differently (from 2 o’ clock to 6 o’ clock), but it didn’t really matter, no other adjustments had to be done. 
12 rod in old cylinder
Here you can see how the S-shaped rod goes through the original cylinder. It just loops through the hole, not fuzz. 
13 rod in new cyilnder
Here I am trying to fit the lock rod through the new grommet (the white piece of plastic) but it simply will not fit. It only lets the tip of the S-shape go into the hole and snaps it in place, without rotating it 90°. 
14 rod in new cyilnder
Here is another shot of the new cylinder and the S-shaped lock rod. The rod should run parallel to the black wing, not 90° against it. 
15 grommet
Here is the grommet. It snaps in to the black wing on the cylinder, and keeps a rod in place. I think this type is used on other rods in the door, where that orientation is required, but I decided to Dremel mine flat and use it more as a washer. I could have inserted some sort of regular washer in the (quite large) hole in the wing, but I figured I then would have to superglue it in place, and I didn’t trust that hold inside the door, and this is way to important to fail. 
16 dremeling gromet
I started by cutting the top piece off. I kept the grommet pushed into the wing to not cut off too much. 
17 dremeling grommet
Then I trimmed the bottom part off, mainly to be able to rotate the S-shaped rod into place once inserted. The grommet can’t be thicker than the “length” of the S-shape, because then you cant fit it. But don’t take too much off, so that the grommet won’t snap in place inside the wing. 
18 done grommet
This is the finished result. Basically a washer inside the hole.
19 hole from outside
This is just a pic of the hole from the outside. Again, you can clearly see that the top and bottom grooves are not the same size. 
20 rod on its way in
Now you can start twisting in the new cylinder through the hole, and inserting the rod. In this position the rod would have gone no further if I hadn’t cut the grommet down. The whole cylinder assembly need to be rotated onto the rod. This takes a little twisting, be careful so that you don’t risk snapping the wing of the cylinder. 
21 rod in place
Boom! Here it is in place, and as you can see, the rod now runs in parallel with the black wing. Because of the grooves in the door hole, the cylinder can only go in one way (hence there is a drivers side and a passengers side cylinder), which made the new wing a bit differently oriented compared to the original cylinder wing. This wing points at approximately 6 o’ clock, my old one as you can see in the very first image, pointed more at 2 o’ clock, but that didn’t matter at all to me. It did not affect function. 
22 lock washer on magnet
The only thing that remains now is to push the fixing washer between the cylinder and the door. Luckily it is magnetic so I used a magnetic telescope rod to get it in to position, and then utilised the coat hanger with a slightly different bend to push the washer in place. You need to do this through the larger hole in the door. 
23 lock washer in place
Voilá! Everything in position! The washer runs in small cut-outs in the top and bottom notches, that then sits in the grooves in the door hole. Job done!

2 thoughts on “How to replace the door lock cylinder on a 1983 DeLorean DMC12

  1. No more problems with your DeLorean? Or did you sold it? I’m about to buy a DeLorean – and I also live in Stockholm…

    Så hoppas du svarar…. 🙂

    Hälsningar. /Mikael


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