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HOW TO - Remove and replace door latch assembly

Discussion in 'Body Work & Detailing' started by teCh0010, November 12, 2006.

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    1. teCh0010

      teCh0010 New Member

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      Door latch removal and replacement.

      I encountered this common problem on my 98 explorer and could not find a good how-to online. The symptoms I was experiencing were problems unlocking the door. To unlock the door I had to work the interior door handle while hitting the power button to get the door open. The power actuator on it's own would not unlock the door. The small spring in the latch assembly had broken, I re-bent it once but it broke a 2nd time so I decided to replace the latch assembly. My interior handle also broke leaving me unable to open the door.

      This removal and replacement can be done by the knowledgeable enthusiast, but if you have large hands with fat fingers you may struggle. The following procedure worked on my 98, but your mileage my vary.

      1. Remove the door panel and peel back the liner. If you can't get the door panel off you probably need to stop and seek help. If you are in the same situation as me and can't get the door open because of the broken interior handle you can roll down the window and pop the top of the door panel out of the track at the top with a flat screwdriver. This will allow you to get your arm in and manipulate the rod to open the door.

      2. With the door open roll the window up and remove the window track at the rear edge of the window. There is a bolt at the bottom of the track, remove this bolt and lay the track down in the bottom of the door.

      3. Remove the interior door handle. There are two screws to remove then slide it towards the front of the car and pull. You can then rotate it off of the rod.

      4. Remove the two wiring connectors from the latch assembly. The larger one has a clip, and the smaller one in the upper corner just pulls off.

      5. Locate the rod that goes from the latch assembly to the exterior door handle. Open the clip on the latch end to free the rod and leave it hanging free. Count how many threads are exposed or mark the bar so you can install it in the same place on the new assembly.

      6. Use a large phillips screw driver to remove the three screws holding the latch assembly in place. You may have to use a pair of vice grips on the screw driver handle for leverage.

      7. With the latch assembly free in the door pull it down to free the bar that runs to the lock button from the sheet metal at the top of the door. Leave it hanging from the latch assembly.

      8. Work the end of the bar that runs from the lock assembly to the lock cylinder free of the rubber clips on the arm on the back of the cylinder.

      9. Take the entire assembly and rotate it to free it from the J on the end of the rod from the actuator on the bottom of the door. Work the assembly out of the door with the interior handle rod, door lock button rod, and lock cylinder rod still attached.

      10. Transfer the interior handle rod, door lock button rod, and lock cylinder rod to the new lock assembly. There is a tab in the top corner of of the assembly where the smaller wiring connector slides on, make sure it is bent out perpendicular so you can slide the connector on.

      11. Insert the new assembly into the door and rotate it over the J bend on the end of the rod coming form the lock actuator. Make sure that you are not trapping the wiring or the exterior handle rod behind the assembly.

      12. Hook the lock cylinder rod through the rubber clips on the arm on the back of the cylinder.

      13. Insert the lock button bar through the hole in the sheet metal at the top of the door.

      14. Screw the latch assembly down with the three existing screws through the edge of the door.

      15. Use the plastic clip to attach the exterior door handle rod to the latch assembly.

      16. Connect the two wiring connectors.

      17. Reinstall the interior door handle.

      18. Reinstall the window track. It snaps into place at the top then replace the bolt at the bottom.

      18. Make sure everything works! Don't shut the door yet, just make sure the power lock works, and the dor unlocks when you pull the interior handle. Use a screwdriver to close the latch jaws and make sure the interior handle releases them. You should now be able to shut and reopen the door and make sure the window goes up and down.

      NOTES : During this process a mirror may help you see what is going on. If you need a reference for reassembly take the door panel off of the other door to look at.

      There may be a better way to do this, but this is what I know worked on my 98.
       
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    3. RuggedBeastTruck

      RuggedBeastTruck New Member

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      Hey, thanks for posting this. Your step by step helped me out last weekend. I swapped one out on my girlfriends '01 Sport. Your directions are pretty much dead on.
      I did find that your #8 can be done a little easier. Instead of messing with the plastic clip and possibly snapping it, the rod is held onto the lock cylinder with a simple C-clip. I found it much easier to pop the clip off and remove the rod.
       
    4. rontx1

      rontx1 New Member

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      Thanks for this great help. I was going to add a spring to the latch as described elsewhere rather than replace the latch but in the process of removing the window track I broke the electrical connector off the door latch. The wires to the latch were attached the the window track with a plastic "push-pin" that I had not noticed. In the process of trying to get this push-pin loose I pulled too hard on the wires. I would suggest working this loose before removing the window track bolt. Mine was so tight it broke the "fins" off of the push-pin.
       
    5. Gator Jeff

      Gator Jeff Elite In Memoriam

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      Thanks... I'm going to have to tackle this soon!
       
    6. impossibles02

      impossibles02 New Member

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      Great post. Just followed your guide and had it done in about an hour. I agree though that step 8 is much easier if you just take the the clip (i think it is actually an e clip) off the lock cylinder and remove the rod that way.

      Before I replaced the latch I had to hit the power unlock button and pull the inside door handle at the same time to open the door. And this would only work occasionally. The cheap latch that ford uses is made in China so it is no surprise that premature failure occurred :p: This problem does not seem uncommon at about 100k on 2nd gen explorers http://www.carcomplaints.com/Ford/Explorer/1998/accessories-interior/drivers_door_wont_unlock.shtml

      The source of the failure on mine was the spring that holds a lever in place on the inside part of the latch. Looking around this seems how most of them fail. Thanks again for the great directions. Hopefully the new latch will last a little longer... :D
       
    7. 99SportX

      99SportX Well-Known Member

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      Thank you for writing this. That small spring failed in my drivers latch this winter, and once I purchase a new latch, I am going to tackle this.
       
    8. wrigley_1285

      wrigley_1285 Active Member

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      Thanks for the write up. I didn't want to dig into this blind. Now I've got something to go off of when I get time to fix mine.
       
    9. eliminator

      eliminator New Member

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      Great post. Thanks.

      I had to replace my latch mechanism and inside door handle. The rivet that holds the actuator to the door was broken. I was able to get it out, without drilling and replace it with a nut and bolt. It was a little difficult to put back in but I was able to.
       
    10. MHartley101

      MHartley101 New Member

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      stuck

      So I decided to undertake this project and I'm officially stuck on step 8. The little pink clip doesn't seem to bend at all. Am I doing something wrong or am I looking at the wrong place. Any more insight would be very helpful.
       
    11. leroygibbs

      leroygibbs New Member

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      Just did this today. I found using a small flat head screw driver inserted in the V does the trick. Insert the screwdriver blade flat between the V and then turn it so the blade is perpindicular and pressing on both sides, then wiggle the rod out.
       
    12. belaus

      belaus New Member

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      Thanks!

      Thanks for the excellent instructions. $50 for the part, $6 for the trim tool, and I was all set... I might add a few things for nubes like myself:

      - if any of the white trim fasteners do not pry off and are left on the door once you remove the trim, be sure to remove them manually and put them on the trim before trying to reinstall the trim

      -the window guide had the two wires for the latch attached to it for strain relief, thus you cannot put the guide in the bottom of the door afer removing the screw; just keep it to the side as much as possible

      - i had a bit of a problem getting the door button rod out, and probably bent it a bit trying to getting it low enough to clear the metal whole when pulling down... this is no big deal in that if it bends a little, you can bend it back a bit after installation of the new latch

      Thanks again, this was a great time and money saver...
       
    13. OLDJIMMYBONES

      OLDJIMMYBONES Active Member

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      i have the same prob. where did you get he parts and trim tool from? i looked everywhere online and cant find them.. thanks
       
    14. belaus

      belaus New Member

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      I bought the latch at the local Ford dealership parts store. The part # is FMC6L5Z7821213C. Note, we have a 2000 Explorer Limited. Not sure if this part varies much for the same generation Explorers.

      I bought the trim tool from a local auto parts store, Auto Zone. It's the Powerbuilt 648445 trim tool. I don't see it listed at autozone.com, although there is something similar with part number 25313. It is available via google search, for instance at http://www.centralnevadatool.com/powerbuilt-648545.html .


      Good luck
       
    15. StuartT

      StuartT New Member

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      The correct number is FMC6L5Z7821813C. You had one number typo'd (2 vs. 8). Price I was quoted was $39.95. On my way to pick it up right now. Thanks everyone for your postings. Saved me from heading to the dealer today to spend hundreds instead of $40. :salute:
       
    16. soopermane

      soopermane New Member

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      it's amazing what a simple google search will turn up haha. i had no clue how many people were having the same problem i had. can anyone tell me where they got the latch mechanism from? google search isn't quite as helpful with that one and the dealership wants $90+ for the part...
       
    17. StuartT

      StuartT New Member

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      soopermane: Go to a different dealer. The part number on my receipt is 6L5Z-7821813-C, just as I said in the post above yours. The exact price from the dealer was $39.87 on August 5, 2008. The majority of dealers use FMC's master recommended pricing (MSRP) on parts. If you have a dealer quoting you over $90, and you are sure you were asking for the correct part, you should post the name of that dealer for all to see and avoid.
       
    18. soopermane

      soopermane New Member

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      Stuart: thanks for the response. I called the dealership back and gave them the part number instead of trying to describe to them what I'm looking for this time. Problem solved. He told me he knew exactly what I was talking about and I explained it to him more than once, but I should have known from the beginning that the part number was the way to go. I was just being lazy and not able to get to the part number at the time I called them. Anyway, I picked up the part this weekend and had it installed within a couple of hours of picking it up. ~$60 after taxes and all, but I'm in Hawaii so everything is marked up to make up for the shipping costs. Anyway, thanks Tech for the How-To and thanks Stuart for the part number...stoked to be able enter my vehicle on the correct side again haha.
       
    19. wmgbarlow

      wmgbarlow New Member

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      Thanks, this was exactly what I needed to fix my problem.
       
    20. wrigley_1285

      wrigley_1285 Active Member

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      i had to do this to my truck too. but i also had to replace the inside and out side door handles. The outside handle i sprayed with some black brake paint i had sitting in the garage. Black paint is black paint to me, and it actually matches pretty good. i had to get the outside handle and the latch from the stealership. but the inside handle i got for friend price at the junkyard
       
    21. Lacky01

      Lacky01 Active Member

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      This problem is all too common. mine has been out almost a year! I'll need to replace it soon. thanks for the post, it's gonna be useful
       
    22. wrigley_1285

      wrigley_1285 Active Member

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      mine was broke almost a year also. finally couldn't stand it any more and got it all done in an afternoon.

      I live about a mile away from a body. So i just went to them to rivet my new outside handle on. It only cost me $5 under the table and took all of like 5 minute to do.
       
    23. Hoydog

      Hoydog New Member

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      So I’m not the first poor sucker to endure the Explorer driver’s door that won’t open? I spent approx. 9 months feeling very ghetto while opening the window to release the door from the outside, or climbing over the console to enter and exit from the passenger side. No need to explain how embarrassed the kids were when their friends rode along! Today I woke up early to find and order the interior handle (it broke in a rage trying to force the door). Later today at work I looked out the window to see an Explorer pull into the lot and the driver (6’2” 250lb.) climb over the console to get out. Amen, brother! I immediately googled and found this instruction. I picked up the part after work for $40 at Ford and the job was complete in under 2 hours. Followed your recipe and, voila! I have no mechanical training but I am pretty handy and very cheap about things that fall under the heading of “how hard can it really be?” Thanks for the step-by-step. If anyone is looking for a cheap interior door handle, I found the best price at rockauto.com. $13.33 incl. shipping.
       
    24. hpgrl23

      hpgrl23 New Member

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      Parts

      Okay, someone please explain to me in detail exactly what parts I need to order. I have a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport and I used to have the problem where it took forever to unlock my driver's side door, but after my Dad messed around with it and go a little angry at the door, I now cannot open my door at all and have to crawl through the passenger side. This wouldnt be a major problem I could deal with except I am almost six months pregnant. So, you can see the difficulty. My fiancee is too stubborn to take the car in, and frankly, $200 is a load of bull to have to pay for a problem so common and fixable from home with parts purchased ourselves. We have plenty of friends who have car knowledge, I just need to know exactly how to describe or tell the person at the parts store what I need. The latch inside does not catch at all btw.

      http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/images/icons/icon16.gif
       
    25. Hoydog

      Hoydog New Member

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      Replacing door latch

      To hpgrl123 - The original post at the top of page 1 of this thread (posted by teCh0010) iss an excellent step-by-step for replacing the door latch. The part was about $45. Good luck with the lock and with the baby!
       
    26. scandinavian

      scandinavian New Member

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      I don't have easy access to a Ford dealer, anyone found a latch assembly online that looks like OEM quality?
       

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