Door Lock - Outer Handle Replacement

Easy to follow step by step guide on how to replace or remove an automotive door lock and outside door handle, though appearances may vary, the process is the same on most vehicles.

Difficulty Level - 5

Tools and Supplies Needed

  • Complete tool set
  • Shop towels
  • Protective eyewear and gloves
  • Replacement door latch
  • Replacement Control Rod Clips
Begin with the vehicle on level ground in park with the emergency brake set, wear protective eyewear and gloves.

Door Lock and Outer Door Handle

Step 1 - Before replacing the door lock or outside door handle, you must remove the inner door panel, please visit our door panel removal guide for further instructions.

Remove Door Panel

Step 2 - Once the door panel has been removed with the window wiring still connected, turn the ignition key to the "ON" position, work the switch so the window is in the most upright position, turn the key "OFF". (Note: It is a good idea to move the passengers side window down to prevent accidental lock out during the job.)

Window Up

Step 3 - Grasp the plastic door liner and gently remove it, the glue used is meant to be reused after the repair is complete.

Remove Inner Plastic Door Liner

Step 4 - While using the access hole in the inner door, locate the main handle control rod and un-clip it. (Note: This clip was broken rendering the handle non operational.)

Door Handle Clip Broken

Step 5 - Locate the lock control rod, using a long pick or screwdriver, un-clip the rod and remove it from the lock arm.

Unclip Lock Rod

Step 6 - Using a socket or wrench remove the inner door handle/lock mounting bolts.

Remove Door Handle Mounting Bolt

Step 7 - Some manufacturers offer a door handle mounting bolt access hole which can aid in the removal.

Access Hole

Step 8 - Once the mounting bolts have been removed, gently grasp the handle/lock assembly and lift up to remove, this can take some jostling, be carful not the scratch the paint. (Note: Masking tape can be used stuck below and around the handle to help avoid paint damage.)

Remove Door Handle - Lock

Step 9 - Using a small screw driver or pick remove the retainer clip that holds the lock in the handle housing.

Remove Lock Retainer Clip

Step 10 - Once the clip has been removed, the lock cylinder will become loose.

Lock Clip Removed

Step 11 - Push the lock tumbler out from the outer door handle.

Lock Tumbler Removed

Step 12 - A new key will be included with the new lock assembly that will be different than your old key. (Note: If the same key is to be used, the lock will need to be taken to a locksmith with the old key.)

New Lock Cylinder - Key

Step 13 - After cleaning the door handle lock housing, gently insert the lock into the door handle.

Insert New Lock Assembly

Step 14 - Grasp the lock clip and slide it into place, some clips can be installed before the lock.

Insert Lock Retainer Clip

Step 15 - Once the door lock has been installed into the handle, inspect and remove broken clips.

Remove Broken Handle Clip

Step 16 - Match the new door handle clip to the old unit, they should match identically.

New Door Handle Clip

Step 17 - Grasp the door handle to insert the new plastic retainer clip.

Insert New Door Handle Clip

Step 18 - Once the handle is ready for installation, gently lower it into position, be careful of the paint and control arms behind the handle.

Installing Door Handle

Step 19 - While holding the handle in place, install the mounting bolts and tighten.

Install Door Handle Mounting Bolts

Step 20 - After the handle mounting bolts are installed and tight, reconnect the control rods to the lock and handle while securing the plastic clips.

Reconnecting Control Rods

Step 21 - Once the control rods are connected, use the key and work the lock to confirm it's proper operation, work the door handle as well.

Check Control Rod Movement

Step 22 - After double checking all bolts and control rods, grasp the plastic liner and reattach to the door body. (Note: Be careful not to leave tools inside the door.)

Reinstall Plastic Door Liner

Step 23 - Reinstall the door panel.

Reinstalling Door Panel

Step 24 - Once the job is complete, check the door lock and handle operation to confirm a proper repair.

Check Lock Operation


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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