How to fix your car door handle

If you’ve had your car for a long, you probably don’t give your car door handle much thought — until one day you grab it to get in and it seems “odd.” You can’t quite put your finger on it, but something doesn’t feel quite right. Although the handle appears to work, the door appears to be locked.

You try a few times with the key or the remote, but it doesn’t seem to work – you’re locked out of your own car. It works when you try the other door or even the back door. Great! You can get inside your car, but you’ll have to crawl over the center console or even the rear seat! At best, it’s indecent, and at worst, it’s impossible, but at least you can get in the car and drive home.

how to replace your car door handle

The driver’s door handle may not always be the first to go; occasionally it’s the inner door handle, but that’s frequently the case because that’s the door that gets used the most. Most of these handles are constructed of plastic or low-cost cast metal, and after a certain number of operations, the business end, the portion that you can’t see, cracks and snaps off.

After searching the internet for ways to repair a car door handle, I was eventually able to do so without having to pay a mechanic. Cars are complicated machinery, but with a well-organized and systematic approach, repairing them is a piece of cake.

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In this article, you’ll get answers to the following questions:

  • what are the things you need to fix your car door handle?
  • How to fix a car door handle?
  • How to change an exterior car door handle?
  • How to change an interior car door handle?


What are the things you need to fix your car door handle?

I took my car to a nearby auto shop a few minutes when my car handle broke to have it checked and priced. I thanked them, drove away, and began looking for DIY solutions after finding that a single door handle replacement can cost up to a hundred dollars. I spent a few dollars to get these items and get them done myself. The following are the items you’ll need for this guide: ​

New Handle – The replacement handle should be tailored to your unique vehicle.

Screwdrivers – Every car door interior includes screws to undo, and some older models even have visible screws on the interior door handle. A rubber mallet may also be required to tap and reinstall the internal door panel.

Towel — This can be used to collect all of the screws in one location or to provide more cushion to the inside door panel when it is hammered or pinned down for re-installation.

Masking Tape and Marker — If you’re clumsy like me, masking tape might be your best friend when it comes to repairing your car door. It’s simple to disassemble, but reassembling can take a long time if you can’t remember which component goes in which part. Label the pieces you removed using masking tape. ​

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How to fix a car door handle?

The following are the procedure to consider when fixing a car door handle:

  • Get a new door handle
  • Remove the inner panel
  • Remove the water prooving paper
  • Unplug all connections
  • Change the handle
  • Re-assemble the inner panel


Get a new door handle

Make sure you know the specific model, year, and make before looking for a replacement handle. Keep in mind that no car handle is universal or suitable for all types of vehicles. Check with your dealer, resellers, or scrap yards for parts that are similar to your vehicle. If you’re lucky, you might be able to discover a similar car in a scrapyard and grab all of the handles so you don’t have to worry about supplies in the future.

Remove the inner panel

Before removing your door panel, take a close look at it or perhaps snap a photo of it. Remove any plastic cover caps from the bolts and screws and place them on the cloth. Unscrew each item that needs to be removed one at a time, making sure to mark each one. When working with cars that use plastic clips rather than screws, remember to use delicate effort when removing the panel. Because plastics can brittle over time, take care not to break any internal pieces.

Remove the water prooving paper

Some car models have waterproofing paper added to the door handle since it is prone to moisture and water seepage. This substance prevents any possible water seepage from damaging the door panel’s inside latches and components. Remove the material before working to ensure it is in good condition and that it can be easily returned after the handle is replaced.

Unplug all connections

Take a close look at the connections now that the door panel has been removed. If necessary, take a snapshot to check that you can properly reassemble the connections in the correct order. As you remove the connections, pay special attention to marking each rod and linked piece so you don’t have any problems afterward. However, if you were able to obtain a copy of the door handle reassembly manual, use it as a guide.

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Change the handle

Clean the internal edges before inserting the replacement handle. Make sure it’s installed correctly; refer to the photo you took before disassembling it, and carefully reassemble the connections to the new replacement handle. Keep in mind that a single screw can have an impact on the car’s performance and locking mechanism.

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Test the new handle

Check to see that the new mechanism’s locks and hooks are working properly. Before reattaching the inside panel, test it many times to ensure there are no loose mechanisms or broken connections. Not only should you focus on the replacement interior door handle, but you should also check to see if the outer door handles are still functional. We often focus on the problem at hand and overlook the other aspects. Check the exterior and make sure the latch is in perfect alignment with the inside door handle.

Re-assemble the inner panel

It’s time to replace the internal panel of the door once you’ve tested your replacement handle and ensured it’s solid and well connected. To put everything in position, you may need a towel and a rubber mallet, depending on your automobile type. Return all screws, including the rubber covers, that were originally located on the panel surface. If your car has plastic clips instead of screws, use the towel to absorb the impact of the rubber mallet so the interior of the door is not damaged.

Watch the video below to learn how to fix a car door handle:

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How to replace an interior car handle?

When the inside handles on car doors become loose or the doors become difficult to open or will not open at all, they fail. The followings are the steps to replace your car interior handle.

  • Loosen the door panel screws
  • Remove the fasteners from the door panel
  • Remove the door trim panel
  • Remove the plastic vapor barrier
  • Reinstall the inner door panel
  • Fasten all screws and trim pieces


Loosen the door panel screws

Before you begin pulling on the door panel, locate all of the screws. Some screws are visible, while others may be hidden under a thin trim cover. Some can be buried beneath the grab handle or around the door panel’s outside edge.

Remove the fasteners from the door panel

Feel around the outer edge of the door panel with the proper trim panel removal tool. Typically, you’ll want to feel the door opening’s front edge, down along the bottom border, and around the rear. The panel may be held in place by multiple clips. Gently push the door panel off from the clips with the trim panel removal tool inserted between the door and the interior panel. Note: These clips are fragile and should be handled with care.

Remove the door trim panel

Gently press up on the door panel from the bottom once you’ve removed it from the retaining clamps. Along with the window, the top edge of the door panel will come up. Unplug any electrical connectors for the power window/door lock/trunk/fuel door release buttons from under the door panel at this point. To completely lift the door panel out of place, angle the door panel and/or the door handle assembly back through the opening in the door panel.

Remove the plastic vapor barrier

Take care not to cut the vapor barrier open when removing it. Side airbag sensors may rely on pressure changes within the door for side-impact airbags to deploy in some vehicles, so the inner door must remain securely shut. Replace the vapor barrier as quickly as feasible if it is already damaged or becomes damaged during replacement.

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Remove the inner handle mechanism

Remove any nuts or bolts that are securing the door handle. From the inner door handle to the door latch mechanism, there will be a rod held together by plastic clips. Remove the broken handle and replace it with the new one after carefully detaching them.

Reinstall the inner door panel

Before securing anything in place, test both the inner and outside door handles. Reconnect any electrical connectors you removed and snap the door panel back into the holding clips once both have been verified to work. Visit your local auto parts store or dealership for replacements if any were broken during disassembly.

Fasten all screws and trim pieces

Reinstall all screws and trim pieces once the door panel is fixed to the retaining clips. It’s great if they’re hand-tight; there’s no need to over-tighten them.

How to replace an exterior car door handle?

The technique for replacing the handle varies from car to car, and some involve disassembling the interior of the door, while many may be readily changed from the outside with just a few steps. The followings are the materials needed to replace an exterior car door handle:

  • Painter’s tape
  • Phillips’s screwdriver
  • Replacement door handle
  • Socket wrench set (1/4 drive)
  • Torx bit set


How to replace an exterior car door handle  involve the steps below:

  • Get a new door handle
  • Loosen the fasteners
  • Using the Tape
  • Remove the door handle
  • Changing the lock cylinder
  • Install the door handle
  • Tighten the fastener

Get a new door handle

Before you start dismantling anything, make sure you have the replacement door handle in your hands. This allows you to examine the handle and get some insight into how it’s fastened. On one or both ends, fasteners may be installed. If your vehicle has automatic door locks, you may need to connect little levers or even electrical connections if the vehicle is outfitted with a security system.

You can tell if the fasteners can be removed from the outside of the door or if you’ll have to work from the inside by looking at how they’re installed. If it’s necessary to work from the inside out. Ask your parts expert if the handle includes a lock cylinder; if it does, you’ll have to decide whether you want a separate key to operate this door. Do you want to be able to use your old key as well? In most circumstances, by supplying the car’s serial number, you can have the cylinder keyed to your existing key.

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However, compared to a handle with its own lock and keys, this frequently takes longer to arrive. It’s sometimes possible to replace an old lock with a new one if the lock cylinder is in good shape.

Loosen the fasteners

In most cases, a fastener is positioned directly around the corner from the door handle in the door jamb. It’s sometimes there in front of you, other times it’s concealed behind a plastic plug or a piece of weatherstrip, but it’s typically easy to spot. It will be the only fastener in many circumstances; in others, a screw will be used at the forward end. By looking at the replacement handle, you can tell.

Using the Tape

Before you go any farther, wrap a piece of painter’s tape around the handle. This will assist you in completing the task without scratching the paint. To protect the finish, use a good quality tape that can be easily removed. Now it’s time to remove the bolt with your screwdriver, socket set, or Torx driver (s). The handle can be moved fore and aft once it has been removed.

Remove the door handle

Slide the door handle toward the front of the car, then tilt the handle out of the door with the back of the handle. After that, the front of the handle will be free to move and can be slid out of the door in the same manner. At this stage, any mechanisms that need to be disengaged will be visible. A small pair of wires for the alarm or a plastic rod coupled with an automatic door lock are possible options. Most of the time, these may simply be popped off with your fingertips.

Changing the lock cylinder

This is the time to replace your old lock cylinder if you’ve chosen to do so. Place the key in the lock and unclip the fastener that holds it in place at the end. A clock spring and other devices may be added. With the key in position, carefully remove the cylinder and replace it with the new handle. Warning: Do not remove the key before the lock is installed; else, tiny bits and springs will fly around the room!

Install the door handle

Ensure that any rubber gaskets are in place before sliding the tiny end (front) of the door handle into the slot, followed by the large end. Replace any broken links or electrical connections, then slide the handle into the slot. Looking into the hole, you should be able to see whatever mechanism the handle needs to engage; you may need to use the lock or trigger to get the latch to engage the mechanism while inserting the handle.

Tighten the fastener

Place the fastener in the door jamb first, but do not tighten it. Check to see if the handle is securely positioned against the door. Install any front-facing fasteners immediately, but don’t tighten them yet. Tighten the door jamb fastener first, then tighten the rest of the fasteners. Check the door handle, the lock, and the alarm to make sure everything is in working order. When you’re certain the process is finished, replace the plastic plugs that covered the holes.

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In Summary

Replacing a car door handle can be easy and interesting if properly done with the right guide. That is why this post is put together to help DIYers to perform the task and save themself some dollars. Care should be taken during the entire process and ensure every part is perfectly fixed.

I hope you learned a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!