it would appear that the slim jim is your only choice. Not knowing what fell off or broke will make it difficult to use the slim jim. below is a post that shows the area you are looking at. the lock **** that stick up out of the door panel sets on top of a long rod that connects to the lock. i assume when you use the key, the lock does not move and the rod does not go up ? ..... as a last resort, you mave have to take a sawzall and cut a 6 inch round hole in the door panel to get inside... hope it dont come to that !
The lock post appears to be stuck in the raised position. When the LOCK button is pressed....it does not go down...but it does move.
Additional Info: The door handle on the outside has no resistance whatsoever. When you pull up (like to open the door)...it just flops...like it is not connected to anything.
The door handle on the inside, when pulled, will not pull all the way out...it's like something is holding it back. And, it will no longer unlock the door when pulled (like it used to do...and like the passenger side still does, if the door is locked).
With this additional info, do you think a slm-jim will open the door ?
i think you would be very very luck to hit it with a slim jim.. Normally the slim jim grabs one of the external rods and does not go to the source... which in your case sounds like a broken handle or attachment rod.
are you sure the key is moving the lock as far as possible. I think i would spray penetrant inside the door key hole and stroke the key 50 times back and forth just to make sure it wont catch something... after that is saw time !!
Before you go nuts on the door with a sawzall... The seat is anchored with 4 bolts, all accessible with the door closed.
Remove the seat and then you have room to remove the door panel.... Philip
Philip makes and excellent point. I just went out to look at my '96 Explorer and saw that I could remove the door panels without removing the seat. I just replaced the actuator in my door this last weekend. What I found helpful was a set of those cheap trim panel tools from HF. They are like a bunch of different pry bars in a variety of configurations. The perimeter of the panel has little plastic push in things that will pop off the panel if you tweak and pull it enough... then the top of the panel comes off by just pushing up a little bit out of a slot per se.
Even when I messed up some of those little plastic push in attachments I was able to straighten them back up... but that is little details. Bottom line, the panel will come off. There are a couple of screws above the inside door handle...
Oh, and on my Explorer the mirror has a connection to undo as well as the courtesy light at the bottom... and the window/lock panel pops/slides out from the backside of the panel.
If removing the seat is not too big a deal, I'll probably end up going that route.
Hopefully, the electrical connection (got power seats) is just a snap-together jack.
If so, I'll just un-bolt and un-plug....slide it out the back, and go from there.
Oddly...this exact same thing happened to my previous Explorer (a 98)....but I could always get the door to open eventually.....or just pulling the handle open (from the INSIDE) would unlock the door right away.
This time....as said above...it's like something is blocking the interior handle from pulling all the way out. These actuators must be a weak point (along with the radio LEDs)