How to Replace the Exterior Door Handle on Vehicles

by Contributing WriterUpdated June 12, 2017

Is the outer handle on your Vehicles broken? Maybe you just want to add chrome or painted handles? Changing the handles is not hard, but it is a little involved. You must disassemble the interior of the door to get to the inner workings of the handle. If you are changing to a painted handle or maybe a chrome handle from painted, it can really alter the overall appearance of your Vehicles or add to the theme you have started.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Exterior Door Handle on a Toyota Tercel

Remove the two Phillips screws in the armrest of the door panel. Remove the screw from the cover in front of the inside door handle. Remove the cover concealing the nuts for the outside side view mirror.

Remove the door panel from the door by inserting a common screwdriver between the door panel and the door and prying out all the trim fasteners from their recess in the door on all three side of the door panel. Remove the electrical connectors from the door panel and place the door panel aside.

Remove the two rods from the exterior door handle. They will come out through the access panel in the door, which is now exposed since the door panel is removed. One rod is for the door latch and the other is for the key lock. Remove them at the handle, not the latch. Use needle-nose pliers to unlock the plastic retaining clip on each rod. These retainers are in the hole in the handle where the rod goes, and they have a small extension which is easy to hook onto the rod so the rod will not come out of the hole in the handle. Push the plastic snap off of the rod and remove the rod from the handle.

Remove the 10 mm nuts from the backside of the door handle and remove the handle.

Install the new handle with the plastic gasket beneath it that goes between the handle and the door. Install the retaining nuts on the backside of the door handle. Install the rods in their respective holes and snap the plastic retainers back on the rods. Reinstall the door panel in reverse order of removal.

Items you will need

  • ¼-inch sockets set

  • ¼-inch ratchet

  • Common screwdriver

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Needle-nose pliers

 How to Replace the Exterior Door Handle on a Chevrolet Truck

Remove the door panel before working on the exterior door handle. The door panel removal will differ slightly depending on the truck model, but the basics are the same. Pop off the plastic door lock trim and the cover around the interior door handle with a flat head screwdriver. Remove all the bolts and screws that hold the panel to the door frame using a socket and ratchet. There are bolts under the arm rest, behind the door lock trim and at the bottom of the panel. Remove the triangular plastic trim at the top of the panel, near the side mirror. Move the panel enough to put your hand behind it and disconnect the wiring harness. Then unlock the clips along the perimeter of the door panel with a pry tool and carefully pull off the entire panel. Peel off the plastic cover on the metal door frame.

Use a socket and ratchet set to loosen and remove the bolts that hold the outer door handle in place. You will see the bolts from the inside of the door frame. Reach them through the hole in the door frame.

Pull the old door handle out of the door and locate the latch rod behind it. Pry up the metal tab with a pry tool or a flat head screwdriver. This will release the latch rod from the old handle.

Hold the new exterior door handle and test that the latch rod fits into it. Then attach the latch rod and the top of the new handle to the door.

Push the door lock gently into the new exterior door handle and fit the handle into the door frame. Check if the new handle fits in the hole. From the inside, tighten the fasteners holding the handle to the door.

Glue the plastic cover back onto the door frame but first make sure to spray all the metal moving parts inside the frame with a small amount of lithium grease.

Replace the door panel and reinstall all the parts surrounding the inner door handle. Screw the whole assembly onto the door frame firmly.

Test the door lock to see if the installation was a success. Also check if the door opens and closes smoothly and if the window is functioning properly.

Items you will need

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • Pry tool

  • Socket and ratchet set

  • Glue

  • Lithium grease

 How to Replace the Exterior Door Handle on a Jeep Wrangler


Remove the inner door panel and the vapor barrier on the Jeep's door. Make sure the window is in the up position so that you can access the rods and clips on the back of the handle.

Remove the clip that retains the rod connecting the handle to the lock mechanism, using a pair of pliers. Do not lose the clip; it is small, so find a safe place to put it.

Locate the two keeper pins on either side of the handle assembly, and remove them by driving them up from the bottom. A flat-head screwdriver or similar item will work fine for this. Save these pins, as you will reuse them to reassemble the door.

Disengage the latch release rod from the handle. Separate the handle from the door.


Attach the latch release rod to the door handle. Reinstall the small spring clip that you removed earlier.

Install the gasket and new handle into the door. Make sure you line the gasket up properly so that it seals to keep out air and water.

Slide the keeper pins back into the handle assembly from inside the door. They must slide in from the top of the assembly.

Tap the keeper pins down with a long-handled screwdriver until the tail of the keepers are two to three steps down. If they are not down far enough, they will not hold the handle tight and the assembly will rattle.

Reconnect the inside lock knob on the handle to the latch rod as well as the outside release handle to the latch rod. Replace the vapor barrier and door panel on the inside of the door.

Items you will need

  • Long-handled needle-nose pliers

  • Long flat-head screwdriver

  • Small hammer

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