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The other day, when I opened the door on my 1997 Camry, the door handle completely sheared off. I called to get some estimates to get it fixed. And the Toyota dealer said $350. You gotta be kidding. I called a nearby cheapo Latino repair shop, and they said $250. OK, I guess I'll try to fix it myself then.

I found a Camry handle on Ebay for $15 including shipping. The description however failed to say that it required 3 new bolts. Other listings said that they needed new bolts, so I had asked them, but they said it was OEM. Well, it turned out it wasn't. But, no huge deal. I bought three new ones later for $1.50.

I couldn't find anyplace online that could give me directions on how to replace a door handle for my car. The closest I could find was directions for a 93 Camry. And it wasn't too far off, except my interior door handle is different. However, I found this post on how to do it. Once you know how it's attached, it's simple to take off.

Removing the inside panel afterwards was pretty easy. Then you have to peel off part of the inside plastic behind the panel to get to the access holes. There are 3 bolts you need to get off. Two are fairly easy since there are two holes to stick in your tool to unscrew the bolts. However, the third to hold the lock and door handle together is basically almost impossible to get to. I eventually used a long nose locking pliers to reach it and slowly loosened it. With the three bolts off, the handle becomes loose. The only thing attached is the door rod mechanism. There's a clip which is easy to pry off. But the rod was still stuck. According to the directions, it's supposed to slide off, but it was not budging. The only way I could figure out how to remove it was to melt off the plastic holding it. So I used an old soldering iron to melt the plastic and then was able to get it off.

When I tried to put the new handle one, that was when I confirmed that the old bolts would not work with the new handle. So, I ran to Ace hardware to get three bolts.

Getting the handle on is a bit tricky. You have to get the handle in just the right way with the lock mechanism in place. Then you put the lock rod in and snap down the plastic piece on it. Bolting in the top two bolts where the access holes are is pretty easy. But the third bolt to hold the lock is impossible. Why didn't they put a access hole for it like the other two? I tried to squeeze my hand to try to get it in. But, just like I knew I would, I dropped the bolt. So now it's at the bottom interior of the door. So, there's only two bolts now holding on the door handle. Well, at least it's all working for now and I can open the door.

Posted: 2009-01-31 16:52:29

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