Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Puget Sound
Car 1: 1987 L Sedan
iTrader Score: 0 reviews
86-87 Driver's outside door handle replacement
Step by step, here's what I did. If you've got big hands, this is NOT a job you want to try.
First, make sure your window is rolled up.
You might want to put masking tape around your door handle to protect the door paint. Most manuals recommend taking the negative cable off the battery before doing this, but I didn't bother to (since I figured I'd have to be taking it on and off a few times to test things).
Tools needed: rachet, 6" extension (or longer), 10mm socket, needlenose pliers or ViseGrips, screwdrivers for prying, Phillips screwdriver, lubricant for lock (silicon/graphite), maybe electrical grease if you're very fastidious. (If there's a tool to remove the lock cylinder, as indicated down in step 11, that would be VERY useful.)
1) Unscrew all the screws holding the door panel on. This includes the three around the top of the door handle/armrest. It's VERY helpful to try to keep track of which screw goes where, because in an hour you might forget.
2) Pop off the triangular power mirror cover.
3) Before I pulled the door panel off, I lay on the ground looking up at the bottom of the door, and swung the panel out so I could see the wiring connections.
4) Disconnect (and remember which one goes where, which isn't too hard) the following: power window master switch (2 plugs), power trunk, door courtesy light, lock courtesy light (it's at the bottom of the door frame, not the panel--look for it on your new handle to see what it looks like), and door speaker.
5) To remove the panel, push it straight up from the bottom. It might take some taps to get it loose. The panel uses metal clips to fasten to the door frame, right at the inside bottom of the window. Watch out, those clips (and the frame there) are sharp!
6) Peel back the plastic to expose the handle area. Try not to rip it.
7) There are two rods attached to the handle--the door latch rod and the lock rod. The lower rod (lock rod) pops out of the lock cylinder cam. You might need to pry it. Yes, it's a pain. Don't bend the actuator cam. Also, take a look at the cylinder cam. Make a note of what direction it points, because if for some reason you end up taking it off, you will want to put it on the same way. You shouldn't have to actually take the cam off the lock (it uses a C-clip) to get it out of the handle later.
8) The upper rod (latch rod) has a plastic clip that swivels around the end. Note that the latch rod tip is threaded, and has a barrel nut on it that you will be popping out of the handle--you might want to mark the location of that nut, or just be careful not to turn it up or down or lose it. Unclip the plastic clip (push hard), then swing it up out of the way and pop the end of the rod out of the handle.
9) The two bolts that hold the handle to the doorframe are 10mm (like nearly everything else!). Take them off now (a 6 extension is ideal), and be careful not to drop them down the doorframe. Trace the electrical cable (it's the lock courtesy light, apparently) from the handle down to two clips on the door frame, and unclip it from the frame. The lower one is easy, but you might have to mangle the other.
10) work the handle out. You will have to tilt or pivot it. You will have to work the electrical cable on the handle out, also. Before you do, look carefully at its location. It will have to go IN the same place it came OUT--around the window frame, and not binding either of the rods.
11) Now for the lock cylinder--note that the lock cylinder itself is inside a metal tube on the handle that has two holes. You will need to find a way (or get the tool) to depress the clips you can see inside the two holes so you can remove the cylinder. Or, do it the brute way and take a hacksaw to the tube (if your handle is broken, like mine, and will be junked anyway...)
12) Now that the lock cylinder is out, this is an excellent time to lubricate that thing. It's probably a bit corroded, like mine was.
--putting it all back together--
13) Re-assembly time! Slide the lock cylinder into the handle tube--it will only go one way, and one direction, and it will click into the tube.
14) Put the handle back into the door frame. Put the two 10mm bolts in loosely, to hold it in place but give you some wiggle room.
15) Snap the two rods back into place on the handle. You did put the right rod on the right lever, right? Don't bend the handle pieces they snap into. Snap on the plastic latch handle clip. Don't bend the metal lever that the rod pops into, or else the handle will not "catch" on that rod lever, and your door won't open.
16) This is the IDEAL time to test your door. Close it, and open it. Try locking it and unlocking it. If everything works, you're good to go on. Otherwise, you probably bent a rod or a metal piece somewhere.
17) Now to thread the handle electrical cable back down. Don't forget to follow the same path as the cable you removed--go AROUND the window track, and don't wrap it around the rods. It's a VERY tight fit behind the track, unless you loosen the bottom of the window track (another 10mm bolt) to give you some room to work the plug around. Clip it back to the door frame, and plug the connector back in to the door wiring. Don't forget to bolt that window frame back into place.
18) Tighten the 10mm door handle bolts. Check your door again--open, close, unlock, etc.
19) Put the door panel back on--angle it on at the bottom of the window, and snap it down--work it on, and take your time. Be sure the lock plunger is sticking up through its hole.
20) Lie on the ground again, and reconnect all your wiring plugs.
21) Test your wiring--power windows, power locks, stereo, trunk release, door courtesy light. Test the door handle again. Test the lock plunger.
22) Fasten the panel back on. Hopefully, you won't have any extra or missing screws!
23) Close the door and test it. Test it from the outside, too.
That's it. Took me about 2 hours total.
It would have been shorter, but I wasted 20 minutes trying to get the lock cylinder out, then had to take the old handle to a place to hacksaw the lock cylinder tube apart, and then it took me a good 20 minutes to figure out how to thread the handle electric connection back around the window track.
The Pacific Northwest--Home of Legendary Mountains and Legendary Cars