Install a Replacement Door Handle on Your Car

A car door handle.

If you are interested in installing a replacement door handle for your car, there are some general hints you should follow. For model-specific instructions on a complicated installation, you may need a detailed breakdown book.

Step 1 - Find a Replacement Handle

You’ll want to have the new door handle ready before you begin disassembling the door. There are no universal door handles for cars. The handle you need will be vehicle-specific.

You may be able to find a replacement handle through a junkyard or auto parts store. Call ahead to be sure they have the correct part. You’ll need to give them the make, model, and year of the car and tell them which door (driver’s side, passenger side, front, or back) for which you need the new handle.

If you’re unable to track one down through a junkyard or an auto parts store, you’ll need to contact the dealer or the manufacturer. Check the website first to see if you can order online. This method is often less expensive than going into the dealer in person.

Step 2 - Remove Inner Door Panel

Check first for any bolts or screws. Often these will have plastic covers over the heads to prevent snagging, so you’ll need to remove those covers.

Often, however, the inner door panel is attached with plastic clips, not screws or bolts, so that it snaps off easily with steady pressure. If you don’t see any bolts, try pulling the panel off with steady pressure.

Use care so that you do not damage the upholstery as you remove the panel.

Step 3 - Remove Waterproofing Paper

Some car models have water deflecting paper surrounding the handle area. While not all models have this paper, those that do need to have it removed in order to work in the area.

Step 4 - Remove Connections

A car door handle.

Remove all connections to the existing door handle. Make note of where they connect so that you can replace them to the same place on the new handle. Using masking tape to label each piece may help when reassembling the handle.

Step 5 - Out With the Old, In With the New

Unbolt the old handle and remove it from the door. Put the replacement handle in the same place and bolt it into place using the same hardware configuration as you found with the previous handle.

Reconnect all the links and latch mechanisms and test the functionality of the handle. Be sure the handle and the latch are both working properly. Testing the door several times is a good idea.

Once you are sure the latch and the handle are functional, replace the interior door panel. Use a towel and a rubber mallet to tap down any clips, and replace any plastic bolt head covers to prevent snags and tears.