Replacing a Door Handle

Sometime during the summer of 2004, the driver's side door handle on Lis's bug broke. After a few misadventures, we discovered that removing the handle is as simple as removing one screw and sliding the handle off. Amazingly, both the driver side handle and the passenger side handle were the exact same part, so we were able to swap them so she could keep using her car. A replacement handle was aquired much later, and in June of 2005 we finally stuck it on the car.

Here's the new handle. It is obviously used and came with a weird looking new-style key. On it you can see the little hook on the left and the screw on the right that hold it in place. The long pin pointing toward the lower-right corner of the picture is what catches the lock mechanism when you turn the key, and the C-shaped piece of metal between that pin and the main body of the handle is what hits the latch strike plate when the handle button is pushed.

And here's the old handle. Note the rubbery-plastic gaskets between the handle and the door - we just reused those same ones by popping them off the old handle.

The handle is amazingly easy to take off. All you need to do is take out the top screw seen here (the one hidden behind the weatherstripping) and slide the handle a half centimeter toward the front of the car. The handle then just pops out and is fully self-contained. So simple! Of course, peeling the weatherstripping back a little makes the screw much easier to get at.

Here's what the door looks like without a handle. You can't really see it in this picture, but the various pieces hanging out of the handle opposite the key in the first picture just slide into gaps in the mechanism inside that the square hole in the door. Nothing hooks or clamps into place; it all just works by pressing on little levers. Again, so simple!

Of course, we couldn't let Lis end up with a different key for each door. To remedy this we just took the key tumbler out of the broken handle and swapped it with the new one. This was accomplished by removing the screw on the back of the tumbler (opposite the key hole) and sliding the pieces out. We found it was a lot easier to put the new tumbler in place if a key was in it to keep the pins out of the way.

Mission accomplished! The new handle looks and acts just like the old one, except that it works. This was a rather easy job in the end, only taking about 30 minutes of fiddling with pieces to get it all done.