A door handle is used for opening and closing car doors. It is found on both the exterior as well as interior sides of automobile doors, although they are used differently on each panel. The one on the outside is pulled for opening the car door, while the inside door handle is used for releasing the door latch before you can push the door to let yourself out.
Some car door
handles can be found protruding from the exterior side while some might be
built into the fascia of the vehicles so that they seem to follow the contour
of the car’s body. They are generally made of steel, but doors of more
expensive cars feature chrome door handles. Luxury automobiles are even decked
with an electronic entry pad that needs you to either enter a numerical code or
have your thumb scanned so you can open the car door.
In regular door handles, a toothed wheel at the side panel of the door, known as a rotor, helps to do the job. The rotor rotates and turns its teeth so to latch as well as unlatch with the striker when you open and close the car door. Although the door handle is probably one of the least complicated parts of your vehicle, it is just as important as any other part because it’s the one that gives you entry and exit to your car. If it isn’t working well, you would obviously be trapped inside your car or might be denied access to your own car which would be a misfortune. A car door handle can lead you to a lot of inconveniences if it isn’t working properly, so it should not be taken for granted.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Exterior Car Door Handle
If your car’s exterior door handle feels loose or you cannot open or close the door, you might have to replace an exterior door handle.
Usually, bad or failing door handles will produce a few symptoms that can cause the driver a potential problem.
1. Loose door handle
One of the first symptoms of a problem with an exterior door handle will be a loose door handle. A worn or damaged exterior door handle can sometimes become quite loose in the door. The handle might hang noticeably loose when it is pulled on and will be needing more force than normal to open the door
2. The door will not open
Another one of the common symptoms of a problem with the exterior door handle is a door that is not opening. If the door handle breaks, either internally or externally, or any of the linkage rods or clips break, it can lead to problems with opening the door. The handle might require additional force to open the door or will have no resistance when pulled on if broken.
3. The Door does not shut or has trouble staying shut
Another common symptom of a problem with the exterior door handle is a door that does not shut, or is having trouble staying shut. If the door handle or any of the linkage components break, they can lead to problems related to door latch mechanism when closing the door. A broken latch might require slamming the door, or multiple tries to close, or will not stay latched when shut.
How to Replace an Exterior Car Door Handle
Exterior car door handles can sometimes fail. Door handles have to be replaced if they become loose or stay locked.
The process for handle replacement varies from car to car, and some even require dismantling the interior of the door. But it can be easily changed from outside the door with just a few procedures.
Replacing a car door handle
- Painter’s tape
- Phillips screwdriver
- Replacement door handle
- Socket wrench set (1/4 drive)
- Torx bit set
Step 1- Shop for the new door handle.
• It’s a good idea to have another door handle in your hands before you start to dismantle anything. This makes it possible for analyzing the handle and gaining a little insight into how it’s attached. There might be fasteners on one or both ends.
• If your car has automatic door locks, there can be little levers that have to be connected or even electrical connections if the car is equipped with a security system.
• By looking at how the fasteners are installed, you can tell if they can be removed from the exterior of the door, or if it’s necessary to work from the inside of the door.
• If the handle comes with a lock cylinder, you need to decide if you want to have a separate key to operate this door or you still want to use your old key.
• In most cases, you can order the cylinder to be keyed to your existing key through providing the serial number of the car, but this usually takes longer to deliver than a handle having its own lock and a pair of keys.
• If the lock cylinder is in good condition, it’s possible to switch the old lock for the new.
Step 2- Locate the fasteners.
• In most cases, there is a fastener found in the door jamb just around the corner from the door handle. Sometimes it’s out there in plain view or often it’s hidden behind a plastic plug or a piece of weather-strip.
• In many cases, only the fastener is in use. In others, there might be a screw which is at the front end. You can tell by looking at the new handle.
Step 3- Apply painter’s tape.
• Before you are about to go any further, it’s time to put a little painter’s tape around the door handle. This will help you in doing the job without scratching the paint. Use a good quality tape, usually one that can be removed easily to protect the finish.
• Next step is to break out your screwdriver, socket set, or Torx driver to take out the bolt(s). Once removed, the handle can be moved fore and aft (front and rear).
Step 4- Remove the door handle.
• Slide the door handle towards the front of the car so that the rear of the handle can be tilted out of the door.
• When this is done, the front of the handle will be free to move and can also be slid out of the door in a similar manner.
• Any of the mechanisms that have to be disconnected will be apparent at this point.
• There might be a small pair of wires for the alarm or a plastic rod which is attached to an automatic door lock. In most of the cases, these can just be popped off with the fingers.
Step 5- Switching the lock cylinder.
• If you’ve decided to switch out your old lock cylinder, this will be the best time to do it. Put the key in the lock and un-clip the fastener at the end that is holding it in place. There might be a clock spring and other devices attached.
• Carefully withdraw the cylinder with the key in place and then replace it in the new handle.
Warning: Do not remove the key till the lock is in place – if you do, tiny parts and springs can shoot out all over the room.
Step 5- Install the door handle.
• Ensure any rubber gaskets are in place, and slide the small end (front) of the door handle into the slot first and then start inserting the large end.
• Reconnect any links or electrical connections and then, guide the handle into the slot.
• Looking into the hole, you would be able to see whatever mechanism the handle has to engage, it might be necessary to operate the lock or the trigger to get the latch to engage the mechanism while you are inserting the handle.
Step 6- Install the fasteners.
• Put the fastener in the door jamb but do not tighten it yet. First, check and make sure the handle is seated well against the door. If there is a fastener on the front, you need to install it right now, but make sure you don’t tighten it just yet.
• Tighten the fastener at the door jamb first, then you can easily tighten any other fasteners.
• Try out the door handle, test the lock, and check the alarm to make sure you have correctly hooked up everything. Once you’re sure the job is done, make sure to put back the plastic plugs that covered up the holes.