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Solved Real problem why 1996 Explorer doors won't open....

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by 1996BLKBauer, June 18, 2012.

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    1. 1996BLKBauer

      1996BLKBauer Elite Explorer

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      From the inside that is. After messing with the linkages on both of my back doors for a day, just to make one barely work, and to break another, the same exact issue plagued my drivers door today. After swearing for 45 minutes, I decided to put it back together and take some time and think. while putting the interior handle back in I noticed that it had a white mark on the piece that moves the metal bar for the latch. upon closer inspection, I noticed it was not a mark, but a piece had broken off, and would not let the handle move the bar barely at all.

      So I threw it back together, ran to my local junk yard grabbed a few, and saw that there sure was a piece missing on mine, and that that piece made the bar move enough to un latch the door. I was so happy that I bought 2 handles. went home replaced it and it worked. I also found out them my handle had been replaced with a Chinese one in 2010, by the sticker on it. I checked the rear door that barely worked, and sure enough it was broken, but only slightly, so that it would only work some times, but not always, replaced it, and once again, it works like new. I will take some photos so show every body what I am talking about. I am just so happy that this was all the problem was, and that it only cost $5 and a short trip to the junk yard to fix. :D
       
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    3. Rick

      Rick Pumpkin Pilot Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

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      :chug:
       
    4. Turb

      Turb New Member

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      SO I had this problem as well and look my door apart and of course this was the problem. When I figured out what was wrong I immediately started searching on here to find out what people have done about it.

      Here's the problem, it doesn't look like anyone has come up with anything yet? This seems like a common enough problem and the answer is always to just replace them. But they will just fail again and again.

      So, here are pictures so we can hopefully come together and come up with a cheap and easy fix for this. Hopefully people look at this thread so we can all put our minds together.

      Maybe the best answer is just new from dealer (haven't looked at costs yet) but I hope there is something else we can come up with.
      [​IMG]
      the red circle is where the pieces break off.
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]
       
    5. 1996BLKBauer

      1996BLKBauer Elite Explorer

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      Perfect photos. To be honest I don't think there is a quick fix for this issue, I live maybe 20 minutes away from a junk yard, so that was my solution. there is at any one time 10-30 Explorers there, so that will be my solution for a while, but still, I have not had any problems again with the handles.
       
    6. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      is this the same problem as when the interior handle sticks out and the door won't open from the inside? i have one rear door handle like this, but haven't gotten around to fixing it yet. it's a little hard for me to understand what's missing from your photo (especially as i haven't taken mine apart yet and don't know what it's supposed to look like) but if there's supposed to be a bump or plastic tab piece where the "white line" is, would it be possible to make a new piece out of a piece of flat stock, heat it up and melt it into the plastic? or is there not enough material to work with.
       
    7. Backwoods "X"

      Backwoods "X" Active Member

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      Koda, for the work and the frustration involved, you'd be ahead to simply replace the handle, even though all we can get are the same pieces. The design is faulty from the beginning. My 11 year old son has gotten to be "really" good at changing them out....
       
    8. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      aw com'on, what's the fun in that...
       
    9. 1996BLKBauer

      1996BLKBauer Elite Explorer

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      considering the amount of candy, and stickers in the back of my truck when I first got it, I would not be surprised if that was the reason that both of my rear door handles did not function.
       
    10. Jim_WY

      Jim_WY New Member

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      Root cause of door handles breaking?

      Yes. This is the exact same problem.

      A tooth on what amounts to a sort-of gear breaks off, and then, the gears don't mesh, and the rod that unlatches the door can't be pushed back as you pull out on the lever.

      Once you have the faulty handle assembly out and in your hands, you can play with it all and see exactly what's going wrong.

      For what it's worth, I first bought replacement handles from a seller on EBAY. I replaced the driver's door handle, and all was OK for about six months until it failed in exactly the same manner as the OEM unit.

      This time, I went to a local car parts store and bought one simply because it saved me driving all the way across town to my house where my stash of the EBAY units is. The Autozone price for their version was a bit under ten bucks. It looks different than the ones I'd bought off of EBAY, but I don't have any reason to believe that it'll be any stronger.

      It's just kind of a silly design, relying on a small plastic gear tooth to apply all of the force necessary to unlatch a car door. If the relevant parts were made of machined steel, it'd probably last forever. But then again, you couldn't get one at the car parts store for ten bucks, either!

      This time, I also bought a can of spray lube with white lithium grease in it. So I thoroughly doused the door latch inside and out, and while I was at it, hosed down the door lock/unlock mechanism as well as the scissors mechanism that raises and lowers the power window.

      I'd read horror stories about the electric door lock mechanism on here while searching for a thread about the door latch, and, since I've been lowering the window so I could reach outside and open the door with the outside door handle for a month, while it's been about 20 below around here, I could tell by the sound that the window mechanism needed a little TLC, too.

      The door unlatches MUCH easier now! And high friction while unlatching the door is almost certainly a huge contributing factor in the failure of these door latch handles. So I highly recommend that if you're going to go to the trouble of replacing the door latch handle, you should also lubricate the door latch and door lock mechanisms while you've got things apart. And why not hit up the window mechanism, too?

      I'm hoping this replacement handle will last a lot longer since the door unlatches so much easier now. I'll have to keep an eye on things and try to lube the door latch periodically in the future, too.

      If the door is sagging, or otherwise out of adjustment, that might also contribute to the latch being hard to operate. And anything that makes the latch hard to operate will put more force on the fragile gear tooth, encouraging it to snap off.
       
    11. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      FYI, I ended up replacing the truck and never did fix it, lol.
       
    12. Jim_WY

      Jim_WY New Member

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      Hah!

      I thought I'd post some photos showing a new (non-broken) latch as well as the old (broken) one in case seeing them both helps someone understand what it is that breaks off.

      [​IMG]
      This is the new one. Note the gear tooth is present.


      [​IMG]
      This is the broken one. Note that the tooth is missing, leaving a lighter-colored area in the plastic exposed where it snapped off.


      Here's an animated GIF showing how the unbroken latch handle should work:
      [​IMG]
       
    13. Flash

      Flash Well-Known Member

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      The offending part could be removed and a cast could be taken off it, then a mould made of clay or plaster and poured with pot metal.

      Should last forever.
       
    14. Flash

      Flash Well-Known Member

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      [​IMG]

      This is one of the worst door handles I've seen, it's from an Australian 1979 Falcon.
      That little shiny bit is made of cheese and continuously snaps off.
       
    15. morbid81

      morbid81 Active Member

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      wondering if this could be my issue on my 98. The handle pulls on the bar ever so slightly but the door won't open. But if I pull on the bar it opens right up. It opens fine from the outside as well.
       
    16. MarkZ28

      MarkZ28 New Member

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      I bet molten aluminum could make a good strong gear. Wont have to get so hot to melt. My wife was taking art classes and in her jewelry making classes they make castings using a centrifuge that spun the mold causing the molten metal to be denser. Step above just die casting which would be just fine for this. Theres got to be a harder type plastic that can be used also. Or, if someone here has access to a 3D CNC machine, be even better. Billet gears that will never break.
       
    17. 95hamilton

      95hamilton New Member

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      I've had this problem for so long. I just pulled one and discovered that it is not broken like the picture.how ever it does not open all the way. Maybe about half of what it should. There must be a broken piece I can't see I'm gonna try some from a wrecker.
       
    18. metoymi

      metoymi New Member

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      Rear Door Handle Issue

      '99 Explorer 5.0 2WD
      Hi fellas,
      Just purchased above vehicle 10 days ago. Actually runs decent and interior is in good shape as well. At time of purchase, I had not bothered to check the inside door handles on the rear doors since the outside handles worked fine. But neither inside rear handle works.
      I have read most of the handle related posts here and I thought I just needed to replace my inside handle as most of you suggested. After removing the left rear door panel and handle, it looks to me like the handle is ok; good spring action with no missing gear teeth. So I closed the door and while sitting inside I pulled back on the door rod (handle is removed) as the handle would do and still the door would not open.
      The child safety lock is in the down (not locked) position.
      Currently only working on left rear door. Will attend to right rear after finishing with left.

      Is it likely that I now need to replace the lock actuator?

      I did buy a new handle but I chose not to open the package so I can return it. I do not have any confidence that a new handle will solve my problem.
       
      Last edited: May 13, 2015
    19. swshawaii

      swshawaii Explorer Addict

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      INSIDE handles won't open either rear door? Both childproof locks down? If so, the door latches may
      be bent where the inside handle rods connect. Actuators only operate when power locks are used.
       
    20. Turb

      Turb New Member

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      You should always be able to at least reach your hand into the door(the the interior panel off) and unlock the door that way. If that is not the case then one of the metal rods may be bent or one of the plastic clips at the end of the metal rods may have broken.
      With the door open and the panel off when you pull on the interior door handle do the metal bars move?
      Also, the actuator has nothing to do with manual locking and unlocking motions, only with the keyless and auto lock/unlock action.
      Also, the child proof action could be frozen or broken. I'd play with it up and down while trying to open it from the interior rod. could also spray some white grease in the latch for good measure.
       

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