TECH TIP Technical Index

Door Handle Replacement

by Mike C. -

Door handles are a pretty forgotten piece on our VWís until they either freeze up or wear out. A VW door handle is a very simple, self-contained piece that integrates the door lock with the open/close mechanism. A turret of sorts with a prong on the end of it activates the lock mechanism in the door to lock and unlock it when you use the key. Normally what happens to the door handle over the years to make it malfunction is a lack of lubrication. The lock itself will quit working when either the key or the plunger pins inside the lock wear out and will not turn when the key is inserted. If any of these things happen, donít fret, Fritz! Door handles are very simple to remove, repair or replace, and reinstall.

You will need:

  • Medium to large phillips screwdriver
  • Plastic hammer or rubber mallet
  • WD-40 or other light lubricating oil
  • Door handle seals
  • Paper Towels

  1. Before you even start this job, roll down at least one of the windows. That way, if you reinstall one of the door handles and you lock the door to test the function and the door wonít open, you wonít risk damaging a seal trying to get in the door, or worse like me, cut a window out to get the door unlocked!
  2. Make sure the lock button is in the unlocked position.
  3. The only screw that holds the handle in the door is located right behind the door frame weather seal, right in line with the door handle. Peel back the weather strip and you will see the large Philips screw.
  4. Undo this screw and pull the handle towards the back of the door and then out. If the handle is stuck on there pretty well, use the plastic hammer and lightly tap it out. Now the handle should come right out, along with the old seals.
  5. Note the way the turret on the handle was facing when you pulled the handle out. It will need to face the same way when you reinstall the handle or the door may not unlock.
  6. If the key inserts into the lock and turns it easily, just spray some WD-40 through the lock in the front and back and work it with the key. Soak up the excess oil with the paper towel. Take some WD-40 and spray it into the lock/latch mechanism inside the door. Spray the mechanisms thoroughly, as they probably are caked with dirt and old grease. Work the mechanism with the lock button, making sure it all moves freely.
  7. Make sure the lock button is in the unlocked position once again.
  8. Insert the new door handle seals on the door handle. These new seals are either not made right or they naturally fit tight from the start. It will take a bit of doing to make them fit right, but they will go.
  9. Now take the door handle and insert it, then push it toward the front of the car, making sure it goes all the way back.
  10. Put the Philips screw back in and tuck in the weatherstrip.
  11. Remember to keep at least one window down for the test!
  12. Lock the door and test to see if you can unlock it with the key. If not, pull the handle back out and check the orientation of the turret. If it had turned around from the position you had it when you first took it out, turn it back around and reinstall the door handle and try again. It should then work.
  13. Repeat the same processes for the other side.

If your lock in the door handle is not working right, it is more economical to replace the door handle unless you are a stickler for originality or you have a rare, unobtainable handle like that of a í67 model. If one door handle was damaged or doesnít work for some other reason, do yourself a favor and get a matched pair of handles with keys. This way, you donít have to fumble with two door handle keys.

Now you can lock and unlock your doors with confidence and not worry about someone stealing your bratwurst burger ingredients you bought at the store!

Your VW maniac and Tech Specialist,
Mike C.

For YOUR door handle parts, check with Danny, Ray, or Mike Glass of Roy Rogers, Memphis