View Full Version : Help I Can't Get In!, or How to Fix a Broken Car Door Handle
Ok, so while my boy was visiting me this weekend his driver side door handle decided it no longer felt like working. We were getting in to leave a restaurant and...it just wouldn't work. It opens from the inside, though, so he's taken to opening the passenger side first and having whoever is with him lean over to open it.
But is there a way he could fix this himself? It's a '97 Firebird if that helps.
(And yes, he decided to finally take advantage of the ties have have to webforums to ask for help...Imagine that, a guy asking for help....:smallwink: )
11-14-2007, 04:10 PM
/Machoman Randy Savage on
Snap into a slim jim!
/Machoman Randy Savage off
Seriously though. You can probably use a slim jim (the tool, not the jerky) to open the... wait... I misunderstood the problem. I was giving to a solution to a locked door.
Yeah, take it to an autobody shop. I know, I know... that costs money. But honestly, unless he knows how to take the door apart and put it back together already, I think that sort of fix is a tad complicated to just do it yourself.
11-14-2007, 04:51 PM
We had that problem once...you'll have to open the door from the inside (undo the screws on the plastic panel, and make sure the window is up) to see what the damage is. Could just be something became unhinged, could be the latch broke and the entire handle needs to be replaced.
11-14-2007, 06:08 PM
you'd probably have to take apart the door...
Thanks. :smallsmile: I passed the info on to him and we'll probably try taking the door apart over Thanksgiving and see if it's something we can get at a local car shop. Hopefully it won't be too hard. We want to try and do it ourselves (and learn other stuff about making the car work) so we don't have to depend on shops and the like, or at least know what they are talking about.
11-14-2007, 09:51 PM
I can't find the piece online, else I'd link it...but I'm sure you could get one if you went to an auto parts store and asked. They'll probably have to order it though...
11-15-2007, 05:01 PM
I'd wager that the plastic clip that holds one of the control rods (a thin piece of metal that moves when the handle is lifted) either cracked apart or slid off. If it's cracked, you can easily get that at a junkyard. If it just slid off, well it's as easy as putting the rod back into place and clipping the plastic piece around it. Also, I'd run some tape around the plastic clip if this is the case, to help keep it in place.
Certainly there must be a place around you area that sells used auto parts like a junkyard?
And from my experiences with firebirds, keep the window up when you open the door.
Start by pulling the panel of the door off. There are plastic tabs that will pull out from just a bit of pressure applied to them, and probably screws around the armrest and handle to unscrew. If you break any of the plastic tabs that hold the door panel in place - they sell those at most auto parts stores for fairly cheap (or again can be found at a junyard, though most of them there are broken due to others taking the panels of doors not caring about the tabs so much.). After the door panel is off, there is plastic that can be ripped right off. It's used for noise reduction, but some duct tape is all you need to put it back together again.
Once the panel is off, you should see that small metal bar either hanging from the handle or floating freely off the latch. If the plastic clips are there, you should be able to insert the metal bar (the end will be bent like an L) right back into place.
If the clips aren't there, you'll have to get them.
If the metal part of the handle that holds the clip is broke, then you have to remove the handle and replace it. There's two nuts that hold the handle in place, get a wrench around those and the handle should pop right out.
If the handle is broken - well best solution - go to a junkyard!
If there's a place that will allow you to take the handle of a car in the lot by yourself, go there (they are usually cheaper and it would give you a diagram of how the handle is setup in the firstplace, therefore allowing you to diagnose the problem much easier!). Plus, most places will include the plastic clips without an extra charge.
Replace the part and put it back together. The good news is if you forget how it all goes together, simply pop of the panel to the passenger door and use that as a guide.
I recommend having a plastic cup or something to hold all the screws removed when taking the panel off. Those are too easy to lose, and if they aren't put back you'll have an irritating rattle.
Hope this helps.
On another forum it was suggested we pick up the Haynes Repair manual for the Firebird, which I think we should probably do in any case.
But that's actually really helpful. I'll let you guys know how it goes after we attempt our surgery. ;)
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