Had to replace both right side doors on my daughter's '96 due to some brain fade damage, so picked up two the same color as her car from a guy I know who was parting out a car. Got the doors on Saturday, put them on Sunday. This job is not hard but takes some time.
So here we go. . .
The guy who sold me the doors had pulled the wiring out of the front door rather than just undo the connector between the hinges, so I had to pull the wiring harness out of my old doors. Sigh. Hopefully you’ll just be able to undo the big connector to the body. It has a slightly fragile plastic clip that holds it together. Gently lift the end of the clip one on top and one on the bottom (that you can’t see) and pull it backwards. When it’s out the connector is undone and just pulls out.
If you have to pull the harness out of the door, note that the connectors can be hard to separate. The largest of the gray connectors has three thin wires that go up to the door handle. You have to take this connector apart (study it for a minute and you’ll see how to fits together) so you’ll be able to get the door handle and lock off your old door. Just mark the connector so you know where the wires go, then tape the three wires together for easy handling and threading. I’m not sure, but I think that even if you know how to remove the lock cylinder from the door handle (which I don’t) you’ll still have to know how to deal with reinstalling the door handle.
The exterior door handle.
This was the real interesting part because it's not obvious how to get it to fit so that the electric locks will work properly. The whole electric lock mechanism is a bit of a Rube Goldberg setup that all makes sense, but you really wonder what the designer was thinking about. But I guess when the 9K was designed there weren’t a lot of other ways to do this.
So. On the inside of the handle there’s a horizontal arm with a plastic roller that fits over a vertical metal tab on the lock mechanism inside the door. When you pull on the outside door handle the arm pulls the metal tab outwards and releases the latch. On the inside part of the handle there's also a little rod about 3" long that has a plastic fitting on each end. The top end of the fitting pops onto a little ball-ended pin on the inside of the door lock cylinder. (The pin is on a fitting that rotates about 25 degrees when you turn the key, unlatching the door.) The plastic fitting on the bottom of the rod goes onto another ball-ended pin on the part of the linkage that connects to the actuator. The plastic fittings each have a little tab that lets you open them up so you can get them off and on the ball ends of the pins. The other piece is the 18”-long white wire that connects to the wiring harness inside the door.
The problem is that it’s not at all obvious how to get this all to connect when you’re holding the door handle in your hand. And the space for your hands inside the door panel is ahhh, shall we say, limited.
Here’s what to do:
Remove the black plastic window track guide that’s on the rear end of the door. There are two 10mm bolts on rear edge of door. Undo those and the guide comes free and you can access the bottom ball-ended pin more easily. There's also a notch in the window guide for the white wire that theoretically keeps it out of the way of the window. The window guide only goes on one way.
Now put the little rod with the plastic ends on the pin on the inside of the door handle. On my car the light colored end goes on the top, the black end goes on the bottom pin. Now along with the white wire, slip the little rod inside the door and put the door handle on the door about an inch or so forward of its normal position. Now pull the inside door handle all the way back and hold it while you push the outside handle BACKWARDS to its normal position. Here's what's happening: By pulling the inner handle back you are moving the vertical metal tab inside the door toward the outside of the door. When you push the outer handle backwards, the arm with the plastic roller slips behind the tab—right where it’s supposed to be. The little arm with the plastic ends will now be hanging loose inside the door and you’ll be able to snap the black end onto the ball-ended pin in the latch linkage. Put the plastic window guide in place (with the white wire safely in its notch) and you should be OK. It may take a couple tries to get this right and have the white wire running down the back end of the door.
Be sure to lube all the moving parts while you’re in there. I just used a drop of 3-in-One oil on the moving parts. Nothing was rusty or corroded, so 3-in-1 seemed fine for the job.
Remounting the doors is a pain when done solo. Get help if you can! You need a floor jack, a 13mm wrench, a 13mm socket/ratchet and patience. Lots of patience. The doors I bought were removed from a car that was missing its front fender, so both the door-side and body-side hinges were attached to the used door. This is OK, except that the four bolts that let you adjust the doors are the body-side ones, and to get these back on the car you need to remove or partially remove the front fender. (There just isn’t enough clearance for normal wrenches, and even if there were, you can’t apply enough torque to really tighten the hinges properly.) Anyway, removing the fender isn’t hard, just remember to get to the bottom bolt which is under the plastic rocker panel cladding. You’ll also remove a few pieces of foam which will likely fall out before you can tell where they came from. Pull back or remove the fender and mark the general position of the body-side hinges on the car body. I didn’t know to do this as it was my first time on this job, which made the reinstall harder.
These marks give you general alignment knowledge, but you may still be futzing with this for a while. I was doing this solo, so I used the jack to hold up and give me basic vertical positioning of the door while bolting it in place. There’s a thin stainless steel plate behind each hinge which is there to prevent the hinge and the body from rusting together. It also makes adjusting the door a bit smoother. You’ll develop your own feel for doing this. I got it so the door aligned correctly vertically and would close, then tightened the body-side bolts. It involved some hit and miss, and some adjusting of the strike post on the B-pillar, but it all worked and the door closes OK. The guys who do this for a living probably develop a sixth sense for this.
The rear door was also lacking its harness and this one was harder because of the way the harness is configured. You have to take the power window switch off its connector, but it just pulls off. Only goes on one way, too. If you happen to be able to pull the rear door off a car yourself, you DO NOT have to pull the wires. Undo the grommet that goes into the B-pillar. About 2-3” in you’ll find a black plastic connector with all the wires in it. Unplug them there and life will be easier. It’s easier to align the back door because the hinges are more accessible with the front door open and you can more easily mark how the hinges were positioned.
This all takes a few hours but is not all that hard. It’s really nice to have help when aligning the doors. Good luck.
->Posting last edited on Wed, 24 Oct 2012 05:43:40.
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