Alright guys, I finally got around to this last night. Sorry about the delays, but its been busy at work lately and with the sun setting earlier every night, I don’t always get a chance to get dirty before the sun goes down. Last night was one of those nights, but I was sick of having a working handle sitting in my living room and not on my car door.
Anyway, let’s kick this off…
Things you will need:
(1) Door handle from Subarupartsonline.com or anywhere else you can find one
(1) Flat-head screwdriver
(1) Philips-head screwdriver
(1) 10mm wrench
(1) ¼” ratchet
(1) 10mm ¼”-drive socket
(1-2) hours depending on your skill level, willingness to pull apart your door, and luck taking the handle out.
Step 0: Get familiar with your shiny new handle!
The first thing I did was make sure the color lined up with my car. It’s close, but no cigar. You may ask yourself, “What are you going to do about it?”. The answer, compadres, is nothing! The color is close enough for me, especially with a darker color like RBP.
Now that we’ve seen the front, let’s examine the back.
Ok. Done. Not so quick… you’ll want to remember the orange-circled tabs for later. Also, the red bar on top—that’s why you bought a new handle to begin with!
Step 1: Remove door panel screws.
First things first, we’re going to take the door panel off. This will require you to take your flat-head screwdriver and pop off the cover plate behind the chrome handle. This is located in the green circle.
After the plate has been removed, you will need your Philips-head to remove the screw underneath the plate. This screw along with the other two are outlined in red.
Twist off the black handle (don’t be afraid, just twist and it will eventually pop off) to expose two more screws. The screw on top faces north while the screw on the bottom faces south. Remove these with your Philips-head.
Step 2: Remove door panel.
Remove the door panel by gently pulling around the weather-stripping around the window and toward the rear of the door. The ones I can see in the picture are outlined in orange. There are somewhere around 11 or 12 plastic pop-its that will simply “pop” out and expose the inside of your door. These pop-its won’t come apart from your door panel, so you don’t have to worry about chasing them, unlike the ones under your hood.
Gently pull on the plastic toward the top-rear of your door to expose your broken door handle. I believe it is a tar-based substance which holds this in place. It’s not really anything nasty, but can leave a small residue
Step 3: Inspect your old handle.
The reason (most likely) that your handle is broken is that the plastic bar is missing where the green outline is. When you pull the handle, it pushes the bar, which rotates the gold lever, which pulls on the cord, which pulls the door latch. Without this bar, nothing is accomplished.
To begin, remove the cord where the pink arrows are pointing. You’ll have to slide it out of the metal hook on the right, then remove the end from the green hook on the left.
Once this is removed, you can start by removing the two bolts in red. Even though there is an “8” stamped on it, it is a 10mm hex head. The bolt on the right will be accessible with your ¼” ratchet, while the bolt on the left you will have to be patient with since only a small wrench will fit in there. If you have a ratcheting wrench, more power to you! Otherwise you will only be able to manage perhaps a quarter-turn at a time.
Now, remember back to when you inspected your new handle? Remember those tabs that were circled in orange? Those are the little devils you will be cursing for the next however-long-it-takes-you. The OEM handle uses metal tabs, and the Subarupartsonline uses plastic tabs, FWIW. My method? Pull from the outside of the handle while using your wrench to push up on one tab at a time. It worked but was frustrating. Another method I thought of after the fact, is to either snip off the tabs or to push up using your flat-head screwdriver. By all means, do not… I repeat DO.NOT. try to stick anything between your exterior panel and your handle. You WILL put a small dimple in your door.
Step 4: Check vacation pics to see if you’re missing anything.
Nope. You’re not. The vacation pics (in this case) are useless to removing the tabs.
Step 5: Install new handle.
Take everything you learned, and put everything back the way you found it with the new handle.
1. Insert new handle from outside inside.
2. Insert 10mm bolts, turn wrench/ratchet.
3. Re-install the cord.
4. Re-apply the plastic tightly against your door.
5. Pop your door panel in place.
6. Find your 3 Philips-head screws and put those back.
7. Pop the plastic guard back in place.
8. Put the black interior door handle back in.
9. Admire your work.
10. Close the door and re-open it (with your keys in your pocket).
11. Listen to the nice sound it makes when you open it and how it feels (it really does feel and sound like a better handle than OEM. It makes a nice solid noise when you open the door that you will only find in German cars. Not the chintzy “tick-tack” that the OEM handles do. Opening the door feels more buttery-smooth and solid than OEM too.)
12. Remember that you can open the door again without having to do the reach-around or climb through the other side to open it.
TOTAL COST: $108.59*
Door Handle: $42.06
Paint & Labor: $66.53*
*Your cost may vary, because I called the local dealership to have it painted, and was quoted $65 over the phone. I went into the dealership to drop off the handle, and was told it would be >$120. When I told the body shop manager that I was quoted $65 over the phone, he said "hmmm, half price... ok. Your new price is going to be $68.01 after tax". When I went to pick it up, I ended up paying $66.53. In essence, your final price will be different depending on how much your local dealership wants in their pockets.