How to Replace Door Pins and Bushings in a 2002 Cavalier

by Richard Rowe

Being a fighter pilot isn't all barrel rolls, lining up the crosshairs and pulling 8G turns over the top; in fact, most of the job consists of paperwork and tedious waiting that you don't often see in the movies. This is one of those jobs. But repairing a sagging door on a GM car like the Cavalier carries its own rewards, in terms of making your car feel new and fresh. Just start early, put some good music on, pop a frosty beverage and enjoy the weather while you and your assistant attempt to juggle four cats in a three-foot-diameter mine shaft.

1

Spray the door hinge pins liberally with penetrating oil, and open and close the door several time to work the oil in. Re-spray, repeat, and allow five minutes for the oil to work fully into the bushings. Open the door, and raise your hydraulic floor jack up to support the back-bottom edge of the door. Keep your assistant on hand to stead the door. Slide a screwdriver under the C-clip retainer on top of the top pin, pop the clip up and pull it out with a pair of pliers; repeat on the bottom side of the bottom pin. Be careful not to damage the clips while removing.

2

Open the door as far as it will go, and use a large screwdriver to pop the door spring outward toward you. The spring is held in by tension, and should pop free with a bit of levering force. Be very careful; the spring can pop out and fly straight toward you, so eye protection is a good idea here.

3

Place the flat portion of a very large screwdriver or pry-bar on top of the protruding top pin. You want to hold the screwdriver or pry bar horizontally, and then hit it as close to the pin as possible with a large hammer. The goal here is to drive the pin downward so that the top of the pin is flush with the hinge. Repeat on the bottom pin, this time driving the pin upward from the bottom. You may find that lying on your back under the door gives you the best vantage point here. Re-spray the bushings with penetrating oil, and open and close the door a few times to work it in.

4

Using the end of a long 1/4-inch extension or some other suitable tool, drive the top pin downward all the way through the top portion of the pin until it falls through into the open space in the hinge. Using a pair of locking pliers or channel-lock pliers, grasp the bottom of the pin firmly. Hit the top of your pliers with a hammer to drive the pin downward and fully out of the bushing. You may find that twisting the pin and applying more penetrating oil helps here. Have your assistant get a good grip on the door after you get the top pin out, and repeat with the bottom pin, driving it upward and out.

5

Have your assistant very carefully pull the door away from the car. Slide a small screwdriver into the top chassis-side hinge bushings from the top and the bottom bushings from the bottom, and pry the bushings out of the hinge. Prepare your new bushings by smearing the insides of the bushing bores with grease;; this will ease installation and keep the hinge operating smoothly for years to come. Identify your new bushings -- you'll have a larger one, and a smaller one. The larger bushing goes on the side of the hinge closest to the pin head. So, the larger goes in the bottom of the top bracket, and the top of the bottom one.

6

Place the appropriate bushings on the chassis-side of their respective hinge holes. Use your screwdriver/prybar and hammer to drive the bushings into the hinge bracket holes, and keep hitting them until they're flush with the bracket. The bushings are now installed. Grease the contact points in the hinge, and your new pins. Have your assistant move the door inward while you align the holes in the hinge brackets. Align the bottom hinge first, and drive the new pin down through the hinge and the bushings until the pin-head sets on the hinge. Repeat with the top. Set the C-clip retainers in place on the pins, and use a 9 mm or 10 mm deep-well socket to drive them downward or upward into the locking groove on the new hinge pins.

7

Compress the door spring. GM makes a special compressor tool for this, but you can make your own with three heavy-duty zip-ties. First, loop three zip-ties through the middle of the spring, and tighten them so that they're locked at the 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock positions on the spring. Now, put the spring in a vice, and insert a large screwdriver vertically between the spring and the vice jaws so that you're not squeezing down on the ties. Compress the spring fully with the vice, and tighten the zip-ties. Release the vice, and you have a spring compressed and held with zip-ties.

8

Insert the spring as you took it out, orienting it so that the large "dead space" between the 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock zip-ties faces the top-front of the car. You want this side facing top-front, because that's the side that you won't be able to access after the spring is installed. After you get the spring back in its original position, close the door slightly to hold it in place. Use a razor to start cutting the zip ties, releasing pressure in the spring. You should be able to get to all three, but if you can't get to the last one, then just open and close the door repeatedly. The last one will eventually snap. Pull the zip-tie pieces out with a pair of pliers, and enjoy your newly sag-free door.

Items you will need

About the Author

Richard Rowe has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in automotive topics. He has worked as a tractor-trailer driver and mechanic, a rigger at a fire engine factory and as a race-car driver and builder. Rowe studied engineering, philosophy and American literature at Central Florida Community College.