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How to: Remove and replace door latch assembly


teCh0010

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98 Sport
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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RuggedBeastTruck

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2001 Explorer Sport 4X4
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.
 




rontx1

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'98 Limited
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.
 




Gator Jeff

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




impossibles02

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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
 




99SportX

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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.
 




wrigley_1285

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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.
 




eliminator

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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.
 




MHartley101

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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.
 




leroygibbs

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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.
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.
 




belaus

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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...
 




OLDJIMMYBONES

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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...

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




belaus

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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
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.


Good luck
 




StuartT

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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:
 




soopermane

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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...
 




StuartT

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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.
 




soopermane

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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.
 




wmgbarlow

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




wrigley_1285

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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
 


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Explorer Forum has probably saved you that much already, and will continue to save you money as you learn how to diagnose fix problems yourself and learn which modifications work without having to experiment on your own. Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links, can add their own profile photo, upload photo attachments in all forums, and Media Gallery, create and save more private Conversations, and more. Join Today. Your support is greatly appreciated.




Lacky01

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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
 




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