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How To: Drivers Exterior Door Handle Replacement

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by cherrybomb, August 20, 2006.

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    1. cherrybomb

      cherrybomb Active Member

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      Okay, just finished this project on my truck.

      I'd discovered that the return springs on my drivers side exterior door handle were broken, and the handle felt "limp" or "loose". I'd read a few other posts about people who'd had this same problem. Some had pulled the handle out, and replaced the spring, others had replaced the whole assembly. I chose to replace the whole assembly.

      I bought the new part from ford for $41.

      Steps:

      Before you begin, you'll want to just barely crack the window open, maybe about an inch or so. For me, with the window all the way up, the bracket that the window lays on interferes with the removal and installation of the door handle. You'll likely need to move the window up and down a few times (I did).

      The first part is to remove the door panel. It's held in by the two screws just above the inside door handle, and about 8 of the plastic anchors. I won't go into great detail on this, since it's covered in a few places, and isn't terribly difficult.

      Once you have the door panel off, you'll want to remove the one bolt which holds in the "outer" window tract and move it out of the way. I layed it in the bottom of the door as per this suggestion. With it still intact, you won't be able to see, or really work with the rod that connects the door handle to the door latch mechanism. You can see the bolt which needs to be removed, highlighted in the image below.

      [​IMG]
      Window Bolt by qwikrex, on Flickr

      With this out of the way, you'll be able to see where the linkage between the door handle and the latch mechanism meet. You'll want to detatch the linkage from the latch mechanism by "unclipping" the yellow fastener that holds them together. You'll want to pull the tab on the fastener toward you. Once it's open, be sure to mark the linkage with a permanent marker indicating where it rests in the fastener. Here's a picture to describe this better. Pull the tab that the arrow points to toward you.

      [​IMG]
      Linkage Fastener Closed by qwikrex, on Flickr

      Now you'll be able to rotate the linkage so that it "unhooks" from the door handle. The following picture should help you visualize this.

      [​IMG]
      Door Latch Hook by qwikrex, on Flickr

      Now, with that linkage disconnected, you'll need to drill out the rivets which fasten the door handle to the door. You can do this by holding the door handle up, and drilling from outside.

      [​IMG]
      Rivets by qwikrex, on Flickr

      Once you've drilled out the front side, you may need to get into the inside of the door, and "finish off" the rivets from the back. The way these are designed, the rivet pulls into a sleeve, and on the inside of the door, it looks like a banana peel. You may need to bend, or cut off the banana peel parts in order to pull the rivets out from the front side of the door. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of this.

      Once the rivets are out completely, you should be able to pull the whole door handle assembly upward, then rotate the bottom of the assembly upward, and pull the handle out.

      You're half way there! The door handle is out!

      Now just reverse that motion with the new door handle to put it in place. You can safely rivet, or bolt the new one in place now. I've heard of many people using bolts, but I chose to replace it with rivets. I had a 1/8 x 5/8 steel rivets, which were deep enough, but the head was too small, so I used two SAE #6 washers to make up the difference. Below is a picture of the rivet assembly I used, and the finished product. You'll probably need someone to help you hold the inside washer, if you go that route. I'm sure there are rivets that are the right size, but I had to use what I had on hand.

      [​IMG]
      Rivet Assembly by qwikrex, on Flickr

      [​IMG]
      Finished Rivets by qwikrex, on Flickr

      Now re-attach the linkage to the door handle, and then to the latch mechanism. I'd test to make sure the door handle works at this point. If it does, you can proceed with assembling the rest of the door.

      Replace the window tract and the bolt you removed at the beginning. Re-stick the door liner to the door, and replace the door panel.

      That's it! You're done!

      =================

      Added by Admin

      Video showing how to remove inner door panel if door cannot be opened from inside or out:

       
      Last edited by a moderator: June 21, 2015
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    3. jfman

      jfman Active Member

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      Mine is like that too !

      Where is that spring that breaks ?
       
    4. MONMIX

      MONMIX I fix dents Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      I have a tip.

      It is WAY easier to drill out the rivit if you use a punch to drive out the center pin first.
       
    5. cherrybomb

      cherrybomb Active Member

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      I'll try to get a picture for you later, but it looks like a coil spring, wrapped around spindles on either side of the door handle. Kinda hard to describe, I'll try to get a pic.
       
    6. ExplorerDMB

      ExplorerDMB Moderator/Technician Moderator Emeritus

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      very good post! :thumbsup:
       
    7. gijoecam

      gijoecam Village Idiot Elite Explorer

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      I'll snap a pic of mine... my new handle has been in the center console for a year and a half now LOL!! Both of the springs let loose, so I can hear the handle flapping in the breeze on teh freeway now. :( I just turn the radio up a notch to compensate. :)
       
    8. parli22

      parli22 Loco en cabeza Elite Explorer

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      just chiming in
       
    9. skoal_mint

      skoal_mint Active Member

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      good post...i know lots of people have this happen to them including me...both of my handles are now like that
       
    10. phs2911

      phs2911 New Member

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      What is the name/part number of that yellow clip? I have a '97, and couldn't get the door open from the outside handle. Only the inside would work. Upon taking the door panel off, I couldn't find any problems with the latch mechanism. I thought that maybe the linkage from the outer door handle to the latch was bent, thus not allowing enough travel to unlatch the door. So I tried to push it ("help" it out) a bit, just to see if that was the problem. Not sure if I broke the yellow clip or it was already broken--but I nee a new one now. Hopefully, once I get the window track out of the way, I can somehow get the rest of the broken clip out of the latch mechanism.

      Anyone know where I can find that clip? Or at least what it's called so I can order one? Thanks...
       
    11. scucci

      scucci Active Member

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      Door Handle Rod Clip
      Ford Part# E83Z-5421952-B
      Dorman HELP! 75473
      Auveco # 17122 (the clip link) 10 for $10.21
      Tip: No need to drill the rivets. Punch out the center with a 1/8" x 6" drift punch. Inside the door there will be three peels ( these are called "Peel" rivets) just use a side cutter or needle nose plier to bend and break the peels off (easy to do). Then use the drift punch to knock out the rivet body from the inside. Replace with 1/4" x 20tpi button head bolts and nylok nuts (all available at your local ace hardware - they even have the chrome button heads).
      Scucci
       
    12. StillKicken

      StillKicken Active Member

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      This is what I love about this site. Good THOROUGH instructions. And advice...and ideas...etc...
       
    13. NC_Xplorer

      NC_Xplorer Active Member

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      Great thread, this is just what I needed to see, I noticed my handle being loose a couple of weeks ago and just didn't have the time to look for the solution on the forums. Thanks for the pics and the advice.
       
    14. spieg16

      spieg16 New Member

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      Hey guys, I need to replace the driver's door handle on my 97 and I was just wondering if you can get them painted from ford or if you had to bring the new handle to a body shop to have that done.

      Thanks, Jason
       
    15. cherrybomb

      cherrybomb Active Member

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      Hey Jason,

      When I bought mine, they had to order it, but it came in the body color of my truck. They'll ask you for the body paint code from your door sticker, and make sure you get a part that matches.
       
    16. JFD

      JFD New Member

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      rod

      Hi!
      I just find out that the rod attach to the latch at one end, and the other end to the key switch is loose.
      Some body got a clue on how to put it in place? Specialy the end that goes to the key swicth...
      Picture will be very much appreciate!!!

      Thanks
      John
       
    17. AERTON

      AERTON Member

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      Great write up, on eBay the door handles are like $25 dollars delivered but if Ford gives it to you painted and my truck is 7 years old I will go with the Ford item.

      I have one more problem, when I open with the key pad the door pin does not pup up all the way, sometimes yes and sometimes not. Will this be fixed once I replace the door handle?
       
    18. williecume

      williecume Active Member

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      the spring on my truck broke also. got to the point the door wouldn't unlock. i ended up finding the spring broken and used a spare spring from the little bin of nicknaks and a zip strip. works like new again.
       
    19. daffy

      daffy Active Member

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      My dealership said they can only order painted-to-match ones for 3 years, so I'm screwed, I had to get the primer one, if you find different, please let me know.

      There are a lot of threads about the lock not going all the way up, mine did that. In my case there is a spring in the door latch itself that broke (look around in there, you may see it loose, I did). I ended up doing a red-neck repair and hooking a spring from that yellow block up to the back of the lock cylinder. It puts just enough upward tension on that rod to help everything move fine.
       
    20. cherrybomb

      cherrybomb Active Member

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      I got my color matched handle directly from Ford when I did this repair in 2006. My truck is a 1999, certainly more than 3 years old.

      Not sure if it was some special circumstance, or a particularly good parts guy, but they seemed to have no problem getting the part for me here in Santa Barbara CA. :)
       
    21. gijoecam

      gijoecam Village Idiot Elite Explorer

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      Ditto. They're full of it. I ordered mine back in '06 for my '98, and it was painted to match. AFAIK, Ford doesn't sell any primered handles. They just weren't trying hard enough.

      E-mail Torrie at www.fastpartsnetwork.com. He can get 'em.

      -Joe
       
    22. blahblah311

      blahblah311 New Member

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      Right on just what i did on my truck i just took it down to ford to get it painted
       
    23. Provokr

      Provokr Active Member

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      *subscribes*
       
    24. tallguy11

      tallguy11 New Member

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      1994 explorer door handel

      will these instructions work for a 1994 explorer xlt. i too have no door handel on the drivers side. my brother and i tried for 3 hours to put the thing in. we got it in but it still wouldn't open the door. the parts in mine look similar to the pics u have but i just want to make sure that it will work before tackling it again.
       
    25. Charlie

      Charlie Well-Known Member

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      This would make a good sticky
       
    26. vroomzoomboom

      vroomzoomboom Elite Canuck STOCK SUCKS! Elite Explorer

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      wanted to add this, if you are using the big rivets (i think they are 1/4) and putting them in with the two handled rivet gun, put a piece of cardboard under the door handle. that way when the rivet pops, and the shaft of the rivet breaks away, the gun won't nick the paint, or worst, side down the door, and i know there are a few of us that have done this before!
       

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