Vehicles are machines that rely on many parts and are thus very complex when it comes to their overall operation. But when you sit behind the wheel, your vehicle doesn’t seem to be complex. Especially now that a lot more people are driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. Something that has a lot of components is bound to experience some sort of failure. Be it the engine, or a part as simple as the door handle, you should get it fixed or replaced, depending on what the issue is. Unlike engines, inside car door handles are not that hard to fix.
Although they do not perform a complex task, they are as important as the timing belt or CV joint. But why? Well, because of how simple they are. Sometimes, simplicity is all we need in a vehicle and vehicle door handles do offer that despite most of them having embedded electronic controls. Door handles can wear out as time goes by, or the mechanisms they have behind them can go bad. But replacing them is not that hard despite being a tad more complicated than what they once were.
How to Replace Interior Car Door Handle
What you Need
Alongside a new inner car door handle, you’ll need to have a towel, masking tape, a ratchet, sockets, pliers, and screwdrivers. You should also get a set of trim removal tools to make the process of removing a car interior door handle easier. This way, you won’t damage the interior of the door.
As you would expect, you need to start by removing the door panel screws first. This will give you easier access to the handle. Once you locate all the screws and remove them, you then need to remove the door panel.
Removing the door panel requires using the trim tools to feel around the outer edges. You should feel the front edge, as well as the lower edge, and around the back of the door opening. You will usually find several clips that hold the panel in place. Just insert the trim removal tool between the interior panel and door, and gently pry on the panel to loosen it from the clips.
When you have the door trim panel separated from the retaining clips, push up on it gently from the bottom. The top edge of the panel will pup up and at this point, you should unplug the electrical connectors behind the door panel. Lift the panel out of place by angling it or the door handle assembly so you can pull back the opening in the door panel and then just lift it off.
If needed, you should also remove the plastic vapour barrier, but be careful not to cut it open. Make sure it is intact as you’ll have to put it back again in one piece. Otherwise, it won’t be able to seal the inside controls from moisture.
Once that’s done, you then need to proceed by removing the inner door handle mechanism. To do this, unscrew any of the bolts or nuts that are holding the car interior door handle in place. You’ll find a rod that goes from the inner car door handle to the door latch mechanism. This is usually held by a plastic clip which you need to detach carefully.
With the clips detached, remove the old handle and put in the new one. Put everything back in place, from the clips to the plastic vapour barrier, trim panel and screws. Make sure to test any of the mechanisms you tinkered with when replacing the handle to ensure that they work well. Do this check halfway through so you don’t have to take things apart again if something’s not working the way it should.
Types of Door Handles
The most primitive of door handles were the archaic car door handles which were commonly found on the first-ever automobiles. Vehicles before 1930 were using this type of handle the most.
A trigger handle was common all the way from the 70s to the 90s. They used a trigger on the inside of the handle that you pulled on to open the door.
Although flap handles were used mainly through the 60s and 70s you could see some vehicles using them during the 90s too. To open the door you need to pull back on the flap in the handle which made a vehicle appear more exotic.
The 70s were the end of some of the more stylish car door handles, such as the push button. This door handle required you to push on a button whilst holding the handle to open the door. Because of safety regulations, these handles were removed by many manufacturers.
The most common door handles during both the 80s and 90s were pull up handles. They operated by simply pulling up on the handle and the door would open. Because of their simple design, manufacturers made them in different shapes and sizes. But like push button handles, pull up ones were also removed due to safety regulations.
A handle that makes for a sleek design and smart function is the push down door handle. Instead of pulling on it, you need to do exactly the opposite. These handles are sort of embedded into the door and require one extra step to open the door and that is to pull the handle as it sticks out.
The standard and most commonly used door handle today is the pull out one. These replaced pull up handles since they are not only safe but more affordable and more reliable too. You just pull on them to open the door.
The most sophisticated way to open a car door today is to just touch the handle. The latest manufacturer to use these handles is Tesla, but some other top EV manufacturers are also invested in using these handles on their electric vehicle.