Here at 924S944.com, we are completing a re-assemble on a 1988 924S that we had repainted. While the outside door handles are not the most pleasant thing to install, it seemed that this time they were the most challenging. The heat and humidity that is Florida “springtime” also didn’t really help much. If you have ever done this task, you know what I mean.
The handles are pretty simple. You pull the trigger to open the door. The trigger pushes a rocker, that then pulls a rod that pulls another rocker that unlatches the door. Simple.
EXCEPT that over time and wear, the connections get stretched and loose, and it takes a longer and longer pull to get the door to open. Some say that this is ‘just an adjustment” that is simple to do. Not so. Since the door rod connected to the handle PUSHES instead of PULLS, the rod adjustment calls for it to be lengthened, not shortened, to make it work properly. To do this, you need to remove and reinstall the door handle, making it not-so-simple.
Another thing that happens is that in trying to extricate the door handle from the car, the lever that holds the rod that pushes down – well, it breaks off. New replacements are available for about $40 each, and they are particular for left or right side. Now that is better than $400 for a new handle, but…just sayin’. And the roll pin that holds that $40 part in place is no longer available, although 2mm x 10mm roll pins are available as general replacements. During this process, they tend to disappear quite easily.
Then there is the door lock mechanism. Again, a plastic part with ball joints at each end connects the key lock with the actual lock mechanism, and it is difficult to reassemble. The white plastic connectors are available, but again are specific left and right pieces.
Clarks-Garage.com has a great article on this entire process, and you can see it here. We thought that we would also share the processes that we find works.
- We have found that for access and light, removal of the door card is the best idea. Also put the window UP before you start to access the inside of the door.
- Use masking tape to cover and protect the paint above and below the handle. One wide strip above is okay, but cover the paint at least six inches below.
- To remove the handle, take out the screw in the end of the door. Work the handle forward and backward to loosen it from the body, then carefully pull it away from the bodywork.
- With a flashlight, take a look inside the door between the handle and the door skin, locating the two plastic connections on their respective ball joints. The lock connector is easy to pop off. The connector to the door latch requires that you use a long thin screwdriver to pop it off. Do not try to twist it off its ball joint by twisting the handle. It will break the tab where the rod is connected to the handle and make this whole thing much more difficult – and expensive.
- Once the two connectors are loose, carefully manipulate the handle to remove it from the door. This is best achieved by rotating the handle carefully DOWN so that the forward end of the handle is facing the ground, then carefully manipulating the inside mechanisms through the hole in the door skin. Slowly remove the handle without using a lot of force.
- Once out, clean and inspect the mechanisms. The rod for the latch has a black plastic end on it that snaps onto the latch ball joint – take a look at it for previous damage, etc. Note its position on the rod – you screw that piece on or off to shorten or lengthen the rod. In most cases, you have to unscrew it a few turns to lengthen it so that the trigger properly unlatches the door.
- In some cases, though, the plastic end is already at the end of its threads, making it impossible to lengthen. In this case, we have used a vice and a little heat from a MAP gas torch to carefully straighten the bends in the rod to make it a little longer. If you decide to do that, remember to remove the plastic end – it will melt! Extend the rod a bit and screw the end back on.
- Installation is also a bag of tricks. Start with the handle vertical, then get the latch rod in the approximate position needed to snap the plastic connector onto the ball joint. The long, thin flat screwdriver helps here.
- Next connect the lock mechanism connector. We have found that connecting it to the ball joint in the door, then snapping it onto the handle is best. Note that these connectors are specific for left and right. One side of the hole in the connector for the ball to snap into is larger to accommodate the ball.
- Once the connections are made, put on new gaskets and align the handle. The front end goes in first, then the back, then the screw to hold it in place.
If the trigger still does not work, take it apart and lengthen the rod more. Repeat as needed. In our most current project, we had to repeat three times on each side to get it right. Lots of time.
As with many of these projects on our cars, it isn’t the cost – it’s the time involved to 1) determine the issue, 2) learn about the affected parts or assemblies and 3) actually doing the job. Time spent on #1 and #2 is time well spent to minimize #3.
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.