I looked all over this forum for a how-to on this topic because I needed to replace my driverís door handle keyless-entry button because it stopped working. I eventually pieced together part of a plan on how to do this (with information on this forum provided by all you fine folks), and figured out the rest of it on my own. So, now that Iíve done it, Iíll share it with all of you! This is mostly written from the perspective of the driverís door, but Iíd guess that most of this is relevant to the passenger door, too.
Hereís a step-by-step on how to replace an exterior door handle (with or without a keyless-entry button), and, in the process, explain how to completely disassemble a door.
Estimated skill level: 6/10
Disclaimer: Canít believe I feel obligated to write this... These instructions are meant merely as a guide. This is how it worked for me, and this procedure worked pretty well. If you break your car, Iím not responsible for that.
OK, Iím gonna do this Choose Your Own Adventure
-style depending on whether or not you have keyless entry, so look at the relevant sections for your door(s).
I have a 2010 GC with keyless entry and two replacement handles, one from a 2010 and one from a 2011.
START HERE if your car DOES NOT have the keyless entry button:
Tools youíll need:
-Trim and molding tool set (found these at Harbor Freight: 5 Piece Auto Trim and Molding Tool Set
-metric socket set (youíll use the 8mm socket if I remember the size correctly; feel free to correct me if Iím wrong)
-very small Torx/star-bit screwdriver
Step 1: Open the door. Find the small black gasket along the rear door jamb on the door at the same height as the door handle
Step 2: Use your trim puller to pry it out. This reveals a black bolt.
Step 3: Use your 8mm socket and ratchet to undo the bolt (BE VERY CAREFUL not to drop the socket or the bolt down into the door. If you did this, like I did, youíre gonna have to take apart the door; refer to the instructions below and get ready for an hour or so of work)
Step 4: Once the bolt is out, pull to remove the lock portion of the door handle (the rear portion on the passenger side)
Step 5: Grab the handle and pull firmly toward the rear of the car; the handle should pop backwards and off the car. Fish it out of the hole itís in.
For the replacement handle, if you want to change out the colored part of the handle to reuse your old handleís colored piece, go to the section below called To reuse your old handleís colored piece
Step 6: Put the new handle in by doing the reverse of the procedure that you used to yank it out
Skip below to the section called Handle Reinstallation for reassembly instructions
START HERE if you car DOES have a keyless entry button:
Tools youíll need:
-All the tools listed above, plus...
-metric socket set (8mm and 10 mm and maybe another one if I remember the sizes correctly)
-a few hours free if this is your first time
Snoopyís video does a great job explaining how to remove the interior door panel, so hereís a link to it:
Brief summary of video, if you canít watch it:
Step 1: Open the door
Step 2: Remove rubber insert in interior door armrest bin to get at screw underneath, then remove screw
Step 3: Pop out panel behind interior door handle and remove screw behind it
Step 4: Grab and pull on the small triangle of plastic at the mirrorís attachment point; itíll come right off. Grab door panel, lift up and pull gently out
Step 5: Disconnect all wires by pushing on releases and pulling
Step 7: Set aside door panel
Now, to remove the silver panel with the window motor in the door:
Step 8: Gently pull off the interior rubber seal next to the window at the top of the door panel. Set aside.
Step 9: Pop open the upper rubber gaskets in the silver door panel. These reveal the bolts that hold the window glass.
Step 10: Unscrew bolts slowly, glass will drop slightly when you do this. Just unscrew the front bolt enough to loosen the glass. Iíll explain why later.
Step 11: Gently lift the window glass up and out of the door, keeping in mind that the rear of the glass has a plastic bracket attached to it. Leave that bracket in place and set aside the glass (preferably lay it down on the ground on something soft. I laid it down on top of my door panel that I set aside)
Step 12: Remove all 10 bolts around the outside edge of the silver panel
Step 13: Pull gently to unstick the seal around the silver panel from the door itself.
Step 14: Once unstuck, lift the door panel up at the front end and angle that end out. Push the panel forward gently to release the rear of the panel. Wires are still attached to the panel, so set it vertically along the seat between the door frame to get it out of the way.
Step 15: Bend over and look up into the door at the rear end to find the plug for the exterior door handleís keyless entry button. Unplug the plug.
To remove the exterior door handle of the car:
Step 16: Find the small black gasket along the rear door jamb on the door at the same height as the door handle
Step 17: Use your trim puller to pry it out. This reveals a black bolt.
Step 18: Use your 8mm socket and ratchet to undo the bolt
Step 19: Once the bolt is out, pull gently (then harder if it wonít budge) to remove the lock portion of the door handle (the rear portion on the passenger side)
Step 20: Grab the handle and pull firmly toward the rear of the car; the handle should pop backwards and off the car.
Step 21: Gently pull the wire out of the door (be mindful that the black plastic gasket may come with it. You can either reuse this gasket or use the one from your replacement door handle. Your choice.)
To reuse your old handleís colored piece
This depends on 2010 or 2011-and-beyond handle (do this to both your old and replacement handles):
Step 1: Unscrew the small Torx/star-bit screw at the rear end of the handle.
Step 2: Gently pry the colored piece down and off the black plastic piece with your fingers, starting from the rear end of the handle. A flathead screwdriver can be helpful to get it started, but be careful not to scratch the colored handle.
Step 3: Once the rear end has come off, gently pry the front end off too, but take care to not flex the colored portion too much because you donít want to snap it in half
Pretty much the same procedure as above (including preventing the snapping-in-half, part), except that you have to remove a screw that holds the front part of the handle on. Itís in the back of the handle towards the front of the car (the part that connects to the door) and its a small silver Philips head. This handle seems to be more brittle than the 2010ís handle (ask me how I know!), so be EXTREMELY FREAKINí CAREFUL
when prying off the colored part of that handle because it can snap in half (ask me how I know!)
Next step for either year handle:
Step 4: Now, take your colored portion and snap it onto the replacement black plastic handle, starting from the front end (keyless-entry: make sure the wires are sitting as they should be inside the handle)
Step 5: Screw in the small Torx/star bit into the rear of the handle to hold the colored portion to the black plastic handle.
Step 20 million (nah, Step 22): Put the handle back into the hole in the same fashion you pulled it out. Insert the front first, making sure itís sitting in there correctly, then push the rear down into the hole until you hear a thunk or a snap, ensuring the handle has linked up with the metal door-release mechanism arm inside the door. Pull the handle like youíre getting into the car to make sure it works.
Step, um, 23: Take your lock and push it into its slot slowly, ensuring the flattened end of the rod mates up with the unlock mechanism receiver again (mine was green plastic).
Step 24: Put the bolt that holds in the lock back into the hole in the door jamb and tighten it snug, but donít kill the bolt, it could strip out the plastic threads in the plastic housing)
Step 25: Reinsert the round black plastic gasket.
Step 25.5 (for keyless entry): Go into the interior side of the door and plug in the buttonís wire.
Make sure it works by putting the key fob within range of the door handle and push the button. If your car makes its irritated long beeeeeeep, it works! SUCCESS!
Door Panel Reinstallation
Step 26: Take silver panel and place it back into the door, making sure the front and rear silver posts sit into their holes properly. Insert all the bolts around the outside and tighten, but donít kill the bolts, donít wanna strip the threads out.
Step 27: Reinsert window glass. Lower it into the channel, ensuring that it goes far enough forward to sit inside the front rubber gasket aft of the rearview mirror mount.
Step 28: Remember how I said to leave the front windowís bolt in? Now snug up the bolt and tighten it just lightly, but donít tighten just yet, thereís a lot of adjusting and aligning of the glass in your future.
Step 29: Look into the bolt hole for the rear of the glass. Align the hole in the center and lift the glass a little, then insert the bolt and tighten, and tighten the front bolt too, but be gentle to ensure you donít crack the glass.
Step 30: Close the door and check the window for alignment at the top and rear with the weather stripping. I just copied the alignment from my passenger-side window. This takes a bunch of checking and adjusting and tightening, so take your time and be as anal retentive or as lax as you like, but just make sure its a good, tight seal with the weather stripping, otherwise water might get in.
Step 31: Put back the interior strip of weather stripping, ensuring the felt cloth piece faces the window.
Step 32: Bring over the interior door panel and replug all the wires. Check everything to make sure it works. Then, reattach the panel by hanging the top of the panel on the door first, then pressing all the pop fasteners back into place.
Step 33: Put a screw into its spot behind the interior door handle and put back the plastic panel over it. Put the other screw back into its spot in the door armrest bin and put back the rubber liner.
Step 34: Press on and reattach the triangle of plastic near the mirror mount.
Step 35: DONE! WHOO!
2010 door handle, keyless, disassembled
2011 door handle, keyless, disassembled
2010 door handle, keyless, disassembled
2011 door handle, keyless, disassembled
Mirror bolts and wire loom
Wire looms at the front of the door
Inside the door looking forward at the rear of the door woofer
Inside the door looking rearward at the lower part of the door
Another view of the front inside of the door speaker woofer and wiring
Another view of the rear of the door woofer
The rear of the silver panel, with window raise/lower mechanism
Front window support on up/down track
Front window support, up close
Front window support, up close, taken apart