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Aerostar Forum The Ford Aerostar shares a lot of common parts with the Ford Explorer. Besides that a lot of our members own an Aerostar and an Explorer.

How To: Replace a defective sliding door latch.

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Old 01-26-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
BrooklynBay
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How To: Replace a defective sliding door latch.

The latch that locks the sliding door is the same on all of the Aerostar vans as far as I know. The spring on my 95 van's latch broke. Tuckman (a member on this site from Canada ) was nice enough to send me one from his Aerostar. This is a diagram from my Ford CD:

This is the description:

The software has the following instructions:

Body: side sliding door (Aerostar).

Removal and Installation.

1. Remove sliding door trim panel, watershield, and access hole cover plates.

2. Unlatch the sliding door.

3. Remove latch actuator rod retainer from center door retainer hole.

4. Disconnect the rear door latch actuator rod from the remote control assembly by opening the clip.

5. Open the door sufficiently to gain access to the three bolts attaching the rear latch to the sliding door. Remove bolts.

6. Remove the sliding door rear latch with the remote control actuator rod attached to the latch, from the sliding door.

For installation, follow removal procedures in reverse order. The three latch retainer bolts must not be tightened more than 9-14 N-m (6-10 lb-ft) when installed.

Some things are not so straight forward such as removing the 3 bolts. The vehicle come with T-30 bolts, and not hex head bolts as the shown in the description. The second thing that I wanted to mention is that it's not necessary to remove the inner panel. It's a lot of extra work which isn't necessary. I was able to replace the latch after removing the 3 bolts. The latch has a bushing which holds the linkage. The next part of this thread will go into more detail about replacing the latch, and how to get around the difficulty of removing seized torx bolts, and broken left over studs.
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Old 01-26-2010, 08:30 PM   #2
BrooklynBay
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The broken latch is being removed:

Notice the top part hanging down. The spring inside of it broke. Lets begin with the removal of the old latch.

I started with the bottom bolt because Tuckman said that it was the easiest one to remove. It was easy on mine as well. He had a difficult time with the 2 upper bolts, and had to grind the heads off. The middle bolt on mine was very stiff, but it eventually came off. I was not so lucky with the top bolt. My torx socket broke, and my spare socket was not budging it either. I hammered a bolt out socket from S-K tools onto the top of the bolt, and attempted to turn it. The top part of the bolt snapped off.

A propane torch was used to heat the broken stud, and the inner nut:

The bolt turned very easily to my surprise as long as it was hot. It was gradually getting stiff as it cooled down, and was very difficult to turn in less than a minute (it's cold outside). New bolts with a hex head were purchased from Autozone since I didn't want to reuse the torx bolts, and I was missing one bolt anyway:
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Old 01-26-2010, 08:48 PM   #3
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This is the replacement latch:

The rod inside of the door connects into it:

The 3 holes in the sliding door have 6 MM nuts for the 3 bolts in the latch:


Installation:
Connect the rod from the inside of the door to the new latch, insert the three 6 MM bolts, and tighten the bolts 9-14 N-m (6-10 lb-ft), and that's it. Here is the final picture with the latch installed:
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Old 01-26-2010, 10:28 PM   #4
tuckman
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Looks very good at its new home. Did you use any lock tite on the install?
As you can see I could not avoid hitting the latch a few times with the cutting disk (green areas on the latch). I even tried a flexible attachment on the rotary tool but still had a bugger of a time getting the heads off of the top 2.
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Old 01-26-2010, 10:48 PM   #5
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I used green touch up paint on those areas to prevent rust. I didn't use any locktite on the bolts. The bolts have a threaded area which stops right under the latch. I made the bolts tight, so the non threaded area is pressing against the inner nut. It's very tight, and I doubt that they will get loose. I thought about using lock washers under the heads of the bolts, but I don't think it's necessary. They could always be added.
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:12 PM   #6
Malk67
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Yet another project I'll be undertaking in the next few weeks. I'll let ya know how it turns out.
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:32 PM   #7
savagefan
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Nice but what do you do if you can't open the sliding door? (My current dilemma)




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Old 06-14-2010, 09:34 PM   #8
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Another member had the same problem, and removed the inside panel to get to the latch.
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Old 06-15-2010, 05:07 AM   #9
Malk67
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That was part of my problem, I had to remove the inside panel and manipulate it in order to get to the latch assembly. If your latch isn't completely shot (like mine was), opening the door shouldn't be too hard.
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Old 06-21-2010, 04:55 PM   #10
savagefan
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Steady pressure gave way to putting the boots to the door and slamming the disconnected link at the same time but she popped. All good now thanx.




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Old 06-21-2010, 05:06 PM   #11
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Thanks for the update! Did the latch get broken in the process of trying to open the door?
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Old 06-28-2010, 05:49 PM   #12
savagefan
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No, everything is fine, cleaned and lubed latch, tracks and rollers and showed the wife how easy it is to close the door without slamming it.




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Old 11-03-2010, 03:49 AM   #13
heirw
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Hi guys, newbie here. I just bought a 97 Aerostar. The latch is toast. Where can I find a replacement?

=D
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:00 AM   #14
tuckman
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You could try a Ford dealership and see what the price is like. If not you are most likely going to have to hit up the junk yards or post in the want to buy section here.

Good luck and welcome to the site!
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:46 AM   #15
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Welcome to this forum! Contact some of the vendors on this site, and send them a link to this thread so they will see what you need. Let us know who has it, and how much they cost.
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Old 11-03-2010, 01:45 PM   #16
Malk67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heirw View Post
Hi guys, newbie here. I just bought a 97 Aerostar. The latch is toast. Where can I find a replacement?

=D
I'd personaly recomend going to the dealer, the parts weren't that expensive when I purchased mine plus this way you know it's new.
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Old 08-02-2011, 10:52 AM   #17
rv4fun
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My problem is the latch won't release. The rod which should trigger the latch feels like it slips right past the release point. I've tried pushing in on the door to take the pressure off the latch while trying to open the door and still it won't trigger the latch.

I think I'll end-up using a saws-all to cut the stud off the latch captures to get the door open. I can't think of any other way to get the latch to let go of the stud.

I was working great after I found the forward-most anchor for the roller channel was broken (on both of my Aerostars!). It kept the door from pulling in far enough to latch properly without really slamming it. After I pulled in back into position, thing where working great - for about a week. Then the latch began acting up and refuses to open.

Any advice would be very welcome - I hate to take the saws-all to it but I see no other way. I hope someone else has a better idea.

Update - 8/16
(I've been trying to get back on this now that the heat wave has broken but I've had too much catching up to do.)

I'll respond when I get back on this. This van had its interior gutted and tool boxes run along both walls. I've been doing my my access through the back door.

Last edited by rv4fun; 08-16-2011 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:11 AM   #18
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Remove the door panel, and grab the release arm directly on the latch (the part where the rod connects). You could remove the nut on the upper roller guide to give yourself more room to work (the door will disconnect from the top track).
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:30 PM   #19
rv4fun
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Thumbs up I finally got it open!

This van has been gutted and panels have been removed making it easier to work on the door. I was able to grab the release rod from the beginning but it wouldn't trip the latch. I cut a hole in the inside sheet metal big enough to force my hand all the way back to the latch so I could move the release lever and the door popped open - what a relief! It wasn't easy getting all the way back to the latch's lever. With the door closed, it's well protected.

The grommet on the latch's release lever to keep the rod from rattling must have been slipping on the rod's bends and not moving the release lever. I could feel the rod push on the lever and then slip. It would stay extended till I pulled it back - I tried pulling it back several times and pushing it again without any luck. I'm still not sure why it was slipping but I put another (used) latch on and carefully slipped the rod onto the release lever. Anyway, it's working as good as ever again.
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Old 11-28-2011, 11:45 PM   #20
pdknz
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OK, so I'm not the only one with a door latch problem. I got the sliding door latch off not just once but twice. The first time I welded some hex nuts to the Torx bolts after they stripped out, then did some fancy grinding to make new bolt heads when I put them back. That worked for a few weeks, then the latch jammed again. It seems to be some internal interference that keeps one of the jaws from releasing, and it means that about once every ten cycles or so it refuses to open. I got the latch to release by manhandling the push rod while, uhh, applying the mechanic's secret words and prying on the back edge of the door. No, I'm not proud of that technique...

I've been through the parts threads, and it looks like I need a junk yard part, but junk yards are kinda hard to come by around here. I guess I will do some calling around, but meanwhile, I think I'm gonna take that latch apart and see how much fixing I can do on it.

I have a couple of bungee cords from the passenger seat back to the door, and it's almost better than new--just pull the door open, shove the g'kids under the bungee, and let it slam back shut. The arrangement is a bit more hillbilly than I might prefer, but better than having it stuck shut.
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