HOW-TO: 2006 Explorer Rear Gate Handle Sluggish | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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HOW-TO: 2006 Explorer Rear Gate Handle Sluggish


Well-Known Member
May 14, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Central MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
2006 Limited V8
When I was away with the family on vacation over the summer, my 2006 Explorer rear door would not open. I'd hear it unlock/lock with the key fob, but when I pulled the handle, I'd hear it sound like it went back into the 'locked' position and the door did not open. I google'd and saw a Mountaineer example where the person popped off the interior panel through the glass and moved the lever by hand. That first time, I tore up my left forearm pretty decently on the hard plastic, but it was worth it to get the kids' wagon out. I'd left the panel partially popped out since then.

When I had it in to the dealer under the ESP recently, I mentioned that my rear door handle was not returning to its normal position. This particular dealer had been really good in the past about covering a couple of things I was surprised to learn were covered. Anyway, they came back saying it was $220 to install a new handle. Of course, I said (nicely) "fat chance" and took it home. They, of course, put the panel back on fully which meant I had to go through the pain of prying the panel away again just to open it once after the dealer trip. Fast forward a couple weeks of manually moving the bar by hand and I decided to pull things apart and see what was going on.

While the dealer had said it was the handle, if they did not take it apart, it could have been the handle or the lock etc. so I was looking at it from an investigatory standpoint more than a "search and destroy" (the sluggish handle). It did, however, turn out to be the handle so credit to the dealer on that.

On to the "HOW TO"!

8mm socket to remove the interior door handle which resides at the bottom of the interior trim. The same 8mm is used to remove the exterior door handle as well. The screws pictured are from the exterior handle which is why they are rusted.

This is the latch side of where the rod which connects from the handle to the latch goes. I used a key to pop the green part open. Thankfully, it did not break. The bar just popped out once it was open. FWIW, the rod was originally at nearly the exact midpoint of its threading.

When the handle was disconnected, I moved the latch by hand. It returned without issue. This suggested the issue was with the handle itself.

Door handle removed...

Now that the handle was out, I moved it by hand and it continued to have resistance when resetting to normal. I sprayed it with a liberal amount of white lithium grease and worked it for a couple of minutes. By the end, it was easily moving and easily resetting itself.

I closed the door for the first time, with the threads in the center and tried to open it. It opened at the full pull of the handle. Did it a couple more times, still opened. I think this was a problem waiting to happen, so I pulled the rod out again and moved it so it would release the latch sooner as shown below.

I expect the earlier release may cause the handle to break due to the added stress on the plastic, but I will try to be careful about that. I do wonder if it was originally in a similar position to where I have it now and maybe it jumped a thread or two inside the door causing it to finally not work anymore.

Lastly, given the green clip adjustment that I made. I don't think I needed to grease the handle to make this work. For the last several months I'd been manually resetting the handle with my hand from the outside. The problem was that it was no longer pulling far enough to release the latch.

Hope this helps someone.