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How To: Fix Outer Door Handles That Fail To Open Door

36949 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  DubberDewski
I've been having an annoying issue with the car ever since I've owned that has gotten worse over the past 6 years. When you pull the outer handle, often times the door doesn't open and you have to yank it a few times for it to pop. Nothing classier than going on a date and being a gentleman to get the door...and having to yank on it 5 times.

The pics in here can also serve as a guide to remove the front door panels on any 00-04 as well as removing the outer door handles for panting.

Tools Needed:
  • T20 Bit
  • T30 Bit
  • Assorted Flathead Drivers
  • 1/4 (6.5mm) Socket

The procedure is the same for both the driver's and passenger side, only varying if you have power mirrors as the controls are in the sail panel on the driver's side.

First lower the window. Then, remove the plug in the center of the door pull surround with a small flat-head and remove the T20 screw:

The surround then pops out after you get it around the handle. Use a small flathead to depress the tabs on the electrical connectors and wedge them free.

Next remove the sail panel. You can leave it supported by the wire harness. Pull the edge near the window towards the outside of the car and then pull the side facing the driver towards the inside of the car. It will make sense when you see the clips.

Now remove part of the grab handle. There is a notch cut to get behind the cover:

Now remove the two bolts. They are 1/4" head or 6.5mm.

Now remove the 8 T20 screws along the outside of the door panel:

Pull the door panel out from the bottom and then slide it off the top of the door.

Now pull back the vapor barrier, remove the plug on the far left take off any crash foam on the door:

Now, put the window up. For the windows to work, BOTH plugs must be plugged in.

These two T20 screws need to be removed in order to remove the outer handle and the inner lock mechanism. One is behind the plug and one is in plain sight:

This one is accessed through the plug:

This one is very easy to see and get to:

After they are removed, you can remove the lock bezel from the outside. Then grab the door handle and pull it towards the outside of the door, pull it out and then off.

Also remove the plastic plug that sits near the pivot. It slides out of a groove on the door and is held in by the shorter of the two screws already removed:

Now remove the inner handle from the door. The center pulls straight off and the back hinges off the door:

If you have power locks, remove the plug at the bottom of the latch. The tab is facing the outside of the door and needs to be depressed:

Now remove the 3 T30 screws that hold the latch to the door:

Now, maneuver the entire assembly out of the door. I found it easiest to turn it towards the car, slide it forward in the door and then remove it from the large cutout in the door turned 90*.

Mechanism out:

Now, to make the outer pulls work again, it's just a simple adjustment. This small plastic pin needs to be removed. It's brittle so take care. Do not pry it out, it needs to be pressed from the right side with a punch or small screw driver.


Now remove the lock arm:

I unscrewed it one full turn and that was enough. Too much and the door won't latch. Too little and the outer handles may still not work so it takes some experimenting.

Now...put everything back together and test it. When putting the pin in, start it in the plastic top of the lock arm, put the lock arm in place and press it in the rest of the way by hand.

When tightening any of the torx bits or bolts, do not use much force at all or you'll strip threads/snap plastic. I use a nut driver for everything, especially the two screws for the outer door handle.

When installing the latch, line it up in the door and use the three T30 bolts to loosely hold it in place while you get the outer handle on.

Don't forget to put the window back down when installing the door panel as well.

That's it! And tell your friends not to yank on your door when it's locked or you'll be doing this again.
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Sweet, great how to.
1 - 1 of 12 Posts
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