How to: - How To: Drivers Exterior Door Handle Replacement | Page 4 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

How to: How To: Drivers Exterior Door Handle Replacement

Prefix for threads which are instructional.
I just got done replacing my passenger handle since one end cracked off at back of handle. I was lucky that my SportTrac is black so the can of Ford Black and Clear coat touch up spray from Advance Auto parts worked perfect. The clear coat leveled itself to a factory finish after laying on good - two clear coats over two black.

I used a smaller nail punch hitting rivet pin from the handle side with multiple 3-6 quick heavy blows. This popped the pin inside the door and the rest is getting those ears broken off on the inside and punching again to the exterior.

Don't forget about letting the window down a little or you'll be fighting to get the handle out.

I used these Stainless screws in the photo below to prevent getting rusted. I ALSO recommend lifting the handle and placing a thin cardboard beneath the edge of the raised handle. This allows you to let it rest on your allen wrench and not get scratched while you're working to get the nut on from the inside. Once the nuts get threaded, a socket and extension (prepared in pocket) will just slip onto the nuts from the slight angle - no swivel needed.


Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

A big thank you to sean 99 and Barn Owl for their insight into the problem of inoperative door locks. I too suffered same and thought floppy door handle was the cause. Before installing, I took time to review comments in the Forum and discovered their posts. Had I not, I would have never figured out what the real problem was. And what a chore it was! I used the original spring with a new bend. It works, I just hope it lasts. All that work just because of failure of a couple of cheap springs! Who to blame? Ford? Or its suppliers? Sometimes I feel the American auto industry deserves what ever it gets. End of sermon!

Needed both handle (floppy) and latch (unlocking problems) in driver's door. Dealer wanted around $300 to fix.

Instead, had repair performed by a local body repair shop. Price was $150 including parts, labor, and painting.

im going to check this out next time my old lady is around

inspect4all@hot thanks man you really helped.. Just bought these items and just finished putting in my new handle on my 97 Mountaineer...

Inside door handle broken too

I hope this thread will help my husband and his buddy fix this problem ... BUT the issue on my truck is a little more complicated - the inside door handle is broken as well - (they removed it) and now they can't get the door unlatched or open. :( - will this still help or is there something else they will need to do in addition? THANK YOU!! I am sooooo tired of climbing over the passenger seat to get in my truck (which I love and refuse to abandon at 190k miles! :)


Hi - Lots of great info in this thread!

So - my driver's side outside door handle stopped working - and my door lock was stuck in the 'lock' position. I had to hit 'unlock' like 50 times to get it to unlock!

So for awhile I couldn't get out of my truck unless the door was unlocked.

One day, I broke the inside door handle too after I tried to hard to open the door.

So, now - the only way to get into my truck is from the outside door handle, and the door has to be unlocked.

Here are pics of the inside of my door. Can anyone tell specifically what happened? Even more specifically, I need to know which parts to order from my local Ford dealership.


(Photos were lost)

The springs in the door handle and the spring in the latch mechanism are both can put new bends in the springs to fix the problem or buy a new handle and mechanism....all of the info is in this thread.


So I spent a few hours tinkering with the explorer.

So I installed a new Inside Door Handle on the Drivers Side Door. The one that was in there WAS broke (I broke it, like mentioned). So that is out of the way.

Here is where Im at: When the Door is UNLOCKED, everything works perfectly now (including the exterior door handle - which is not broke).

The problem comes when I lock the door - I can't get it unlocked unless I hit the unlock button multiple times - eventually it unlocks.

What's wierd now - is after I installed the inside door handle, if the door is locked - I can actually open the door from the inside, but only after I tug on it a few times - but the door does open from the inside.

When I had the door apart today (when I was installing the inside door handle) I noticed that the metal linkage had come disconnected from the door lock itself (the part where you insert the key).

I removed the C washer, and was able to hook the linkage back up. I thought for sure this would fix my problems, but it didn't. For some reason its just not unlocking properly.

So where it stands now - I guess the problem lays in the Door Latch itself, because from what I can tell, its not allow the door to unlock, probably because of a broken spring.

So tomorrow I will try and get the latch out (it looks like it will be very difficult with the power window guide being right in front)

Am I on the right track here?

Try applying slight upward pressure on the door handle rod. If that solves your unlocking problem add a small spring to that rod.....

You can add the spring to your lock rod instead of replacing your lock mechanism spring. I fixed my explorer this way and it opens every time :) Use a spring that is strong enough to hold the rod up but not unlock the door....

You can add the spring to your lock rod instead of replacing your lock mechanism spring. I fixed my explorer this way and it opens every time :) Use a spring that is strong enough to hold the rod up but not unlock the door....

ok cool. Im gonna bust open the door panel again tomorrow and pull the latch out. I found a walkthrough on here - hopefully its not too much of a pain!

lol. I cant believe I finally get the Latch Assembly out, and now your pictures aren't loading

O.K. here are some pictures of the fix. First is the latch from Ford, NAPA did not carry it it cost me $45 plus tax.


If you elect to fix it your self here is the step by step.
The spring, the coils are about 3/4 inch, the tail is about 1.5 inches long.

The top of the latch box is where this is conected, the green laser marks the whole.


Do your self a favor and use a nice pair of heavy forcepts, the hole where the spring goes is pretty small and a pair of neddle nose juse will not fit.

if you are trying to bend the old spring use as little of the shaft as possible, the longer the better. Bend as shown.


Hook the short side up around the body of the latch that was highlighted by the laser, using the forcepts. Then using a dental pick hook the bottom around the tab that the pencil is pointing to in the next photo. note that you can see the top of the spring hooked around the top of the latch body.


This is what the finished spring placement will look like. If you can find a new spring, it will not be so stretched. The mechanism worked fine and is ready for install.

Hope this is helpfull, it was a principle thing for me that I could not see paying ford $300 bucks for something that should have been recalled.

Hope you got the pics loaded, there are some pretty specific actuations that all have to work in conjunction to unlock the door. Sounds like it could be the spring but if not here is another area you can look at; the automatic lock/unlock actuator is located underneath the main latch and is fastened by a single rivet (once again briliant engineering). It has a small gear motor and a push rod type arm with a protective rubber boot over the rod. My passenger side door lock just started acting up last weekend so I took the door apart planning to fix the spring on that side as well. Got it most of the way apart and discovered that the actuator had sheared off it's rivet, so it was just hanging by the push rod. The force of the rod pushing was sometimes enough to get it to unlock. So I drilled the remnant of the rivet and installed a 1/4 20 panhead scerw and it worked like a charm. Another $300 buck saved for mere pennies! I totally forgot to take pics of the fix but here is a pic of the finished look and location of the rivet in question.

The thing that made me think of this was the fact that you said that it would unlock after pushing the button a bunch of times. From my experience when it is a broken spring it will not unlock no matter how many times the button is pushed but if the actuator is just hanging, there is a possibility that if could unlock if the dangling mechanism bounces just the right way. Hope you fix it with out having to pay a bunch to ford.

your problem there might be that the locking acuator for your power locks came undone from its mount. i had this problem before and all it takes is a new bolt and a lot of time.

Pop up door lock button fixed!

I have had my 2000 XLT 4.0 SOHC Explorer about a month. It had a non-op drivers door lock button when I got it. 5 or 6 jiggles on the inside door handle and a hit or two on the unlock button would usually open it. If I was outside, I had to open the back door and reach in and find the inside door handle blind and do the jiggling thing... I was not diggin' it. So, reading this post and others on this outstanding forum, I have fixed my button! Here's what I did:
1. Remove the inside door panel. I splurged and bought a door panel removal tool, about $10. I like it! But not necessary if you have something else that works and you know what you’re doing. Carefully fold back the weatherseal foam sheet.

2. Find the yellow connector block, lift it a little and verify that it is the problem. It was. I bought a Help! throttle return spring and used some zip ties to hook everything up. Make sure that whatever you use to "respring" that yellow block does not interfere with the window up/down travel. And, it does not require much upward spring force on the connector. The outside door handle moves the rod going to the connector downward when you lift the handle, and you don’t want to interfere with that. You just need a little lift on that rod/connector to allow the pop-up button mechanism to do its thing. Note: I looked but did not find any broken spring in the bottom of the door or anywhere else. I could tell someone had taken off the door panel before me, probably trying to fix this problem.

3. I attached the new spring to the backside of a peel rivet that secures the outside door handle. It was in a good position above the yellow block, and would be out of the way of the window glass up/down travel. I used needle nose pliers to carefully pry one "wing" of a rivet away from the door panel a little bit, hooked the spring loop over it, and used a big flat blade screwdriver to push the wing back against the door panel to hold the spring in place.

I used a ziptie which I lassoed around the yellow connector and tightened down and trimmed, and put another ziptie through it which I looped through the bottom of the new throttle return spring and tightened just enough to put a little "lift" from the spring on the yellow block. Tried the lock mechanism to test it- It worked! Tried it with the key in the lock also, and the unlock/lock button on the door, and the remote fob. Cycled it at least 30 times. Worked every time! Also ran the window up and down to confirm no interference. Did my Touchdown/ End zone victory dance in the driveway. Re-assembled my door panel. My total costs: $10 tool, $3 springs, zipties I've had laying around since 1980 $0,time: about 45 minutes.
Picture of how My fix looks:


Quick Fix

For a quick fix similar to above....
I constantly replaced the little spring that keeps the mechanism up to allow the door to unlock till it snapped time and time again.
My quick fix which has become permanent is to loop a piece of elastic from my wife's sewing box around the the door lock cylinder (you can fell the upward movement part with your hand) and up around the manual door lock lever so it is just tight enough to hold up the part the spring was used for and tie it up.
It was a temporary fix months ago and have no plans now to do anything else with it:)

Can this latch be the problem if all else is ok?

Glad we could help julio, this is exactly why I added to an already detailed fix, I nearly punched the guy behind the counter when he told me that it would be $300 to fix it. What got me so mad was the fact that he wanted to charge me $100 bucks for the initial diagnosis. WHAT!! they had it for all of five minutes!, but ford has a base fee for all service work just to look at it. This is where the principle thing came in, I know that ford sees this problem every day, I gathered that from how fast they ascertained the problem, and was not about to pay $100 for a diagnosis that 50 people before me had already paid for. But since it is not a "safety" issue they will not recall it. They prefer to just make money hand over fist fixing every explorer out there. My hope is that more and more people can use this fix. Sorry I climbed on such a soap box, sheesh:confused:

I put a new plastic clip in because it was broke and (everything else seems to be working properly) I cannot enter from outside door handle. I have to reach inside to open the door. I thought for sure the yellow clip was going to solve the problem on this Explorer I recently bought from a guy I have never been able to talk to. Anyways could this latch be the culprit and if so how much of a pain is it to replace? Thanks for your time. I love this site it has saved me a bundle already. :D

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

I have a 97 Mountaineer and the driver's door works from both sides but won't lock (even with the door lock tab depressed). Passenger front can only be opened from the inside. Passenger Rear door won't open from inside or outside and Driver's rear door only opens from outside. I hate this crap its always the same with these Explorers/Mountaineers (at least this generation). Also, this riveted handle BS has got to go; thinking about using some flush mount allen key bolts and some nylon washers or fiber washers, then use some locking nuts on the backside. Either way it looks like I am in for some serious work because the body shop wants to charge me $100 per door to do the work (not including parts). Btw, is there a method I can use that will allow me to reuse the existing external handles as they are body matched and I know it would cost a fortune and take forever to get body matched handles in at my small town Ford Dealer.