CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

How to replace door latch

Anyone tell me or point me to instructions, video or procedure for replacing the door latch assembly? Door has been sagging for years and I can’t replace it myself. Yesterday the latch inside my driver’s side door shattered, and sunk into / disappeared inside the door. The result is now the door will not close (and of course not lock), and I have been driving around holding it as shut as possible with my right hand (which I also have to shift with). Loads of fun. Rain coming. The part is insanely expensive. I am assuming the whole interior door panel has to be removed because the tiny hole that no longer lines up with the striker is too small to do anything. Ideas? It’s a 2-door and the door is huge and weighs a ton - which is why I haven’t tried to replace the hinge myself. And also why making right turns means that I can barely hold onto it as it tries to fly open.

You should have got the hinge pin’s changed when the door first started sagging I don’t know what the price’s are where you are at when my truck door started sagging it cost me 35$ part’s and labor. You are right that is not a one person job now you have to take the door apart to fix and if you don’t fix the hinge the latch will not last and you will be right back where you started.

1 Like

If your Cavalier is a common color, and you live in an area where rust is not a problem, a used door from a junkyard is probably the best option. You will, of course, need another man to assist while you remove the door from the junkyard car, and while you install it on your car. The only thing you’d need to swap is the lock cylinder so your key can open the door.

2 Likes

Like @bcohen2010 said. But please think about another measure to keep your door closed other than your right hand. Sounds dangerous.

1 Like

So…no answers to my question. Hmmm. I’d really like to have some idea about how those rods connect to the handle and latch once I get everything off. I am afraid that I will get everything off - the panel, the window crank, the latch screws, etc…and then be unable to see or feel how the rods are supposed to come off and then get back on the clips on both the handle and the new latch.

You don’t say what year your Cadavalier is but construction has been pretty consistent for a while now. Usually, the rods go through a plastic coupler that then clips over the rod to hold it in place. It will be fairly obvious once you see it. The hazard is, if they are really cold, you run the risk of breaking them so be careful there. It doesn’t make much sense to replace the latch if you leave the hinge alone. Two people make the door manageable but I’ve done them alone with some creative thinking along the lines of the ancient Egyptians. Prop the door up using stuff under it. Remove the hinge and slide the door away to replace the hinge. Then slide it back into position. No need to lift it away or to drop it to the ground. 2x4s screwed together in a strategic shape will work…

1 Like

Unless the hinge is in really bad shape there should be no reason to replace the hinge just the pin’s and bushing’s.

This 2001 Cavalier is well past it’s replacement date . Plus with all the threads you have about this thing and you hit a curb with it why are you not looking for a replacement . It seems that you will just have one problem after another .

Some steps may/may not be required.

Tester

VOLVO -

I will never - as long as I live - understand why you feel the need to respond with the same, unhelpful non-answer every time. I saw, read and understood your opinion the first time you wrote it - which was one non-answer too many times. I ask a specific question once every year or so - and your only response is always “get rid of the car”. That is the exact opposite of the purpose of asking a question on a repair forum. I hope you get some sort of satisfaction from repeating yourself over and over and over. In my world - if I don’t have the answer to a question someone asks, I don’t reply. Try it sometime.

1 Like

Can’t replace just the pins on the 2001 cavalier. Wish it were that easy.

Twin Turbo. Thank you for your help. That is useful info.

The procedure is rather obvious… You can surely see the fasteners that hold the latch to the inside of the door. Remove your door panel completely and you will see whats going on…remove latch fasteners…and proceed to change out the latch. Its not a difficult job.

But if you need new door hinges it gets a bit more difficult…still not that hard to do. You will need to gather your parts…find some time and start wrenching. I’m sure you will be able to pull it off.

@DJ44. Like so many confounding problems on automobiles re reassembling pieces you have the benefit of the opposite side door being a mirror image assembly. But if you don’t repair the hinges you’ll be wasting your time repairing the latch and honestly I would be surprised if your hinges are in any condition to be repaired with new bushings. It is quite likely that the hinge bushings have been totally worn out resulting in the hole wearing out. But like they say “a stitch in time saves nine.”

1 Like

I had s similar problem.with my 1978 Oldsmobile when it was 22 years old. One independent body shop would fix the door if I would find the hinge.
I went to the Oldsmobile dealer who also had a body shop. The woman who managed the shop told me that the hinge was no longer available. I told her how disappointed I was and that when I bought the car new from the agency that the dealer would always be there for parts and service. She then replied that they didn’t expect me to keep the car and drive it 225,000 miles. She then said she would see what she could do. She disappeared back into the body shop and came back with a technician. The technician loosened the hinge bolts, put a big pin against the bottom of the hinge and pounded it with a sledgehammer. He then tightened the bolts and the door worked perfectly. When I asked about the charge, the technician laughed and said “No charge. We guarantee these babies 25 years or 250,000 miles”.

1 Like

That is awesome. The last time I took my car to the Chevrolet dealer, they put in a faulty starter relay and my car caught on fire 30 minutes later. Had to have it towed, smelled like smoke for 1 month, had breathing and lung problems ever since. Went back to the dealer and they wouldn’t do a damn thing. Told me to talk to their corporate lawyers. Never went back to any GM dealership after that.

I learned to despise the GM door hinge during ownership of my first vehicle… an 80’ Camaro. That particular GM vehicle had doors that must have been almost 4 ft long and weighed about as much as a VW bug. The poor door hinges never had any chance in hell of supporting that thing and before long…door sag a plenty.

I cant be sure but I have a notion that GM is still trying to use up the billions of rear drum brake components they stamped out in the 60’s… along with the same number of those damn door hinges…I swear almost every vehicle seemed to use the same exact hinge…and they all failed the same way.

In the case of my Camaro, they would have had to use something of a bank vault hinge to keep that long, heavy door from sagging. Well, they didn’t and…it sagged…badly. Replacing them wasn’t fun and watching them sag again was less fun. Ugh…

A cherry picker and 20 feet of tow strap make it painfully possible for me to replace hinge pins on the 2 door GM vehicles like Transmaros and Monte Carlos. That Camaro door was extremely long while the distance from the top to the bottom hinge was short which meant that the top hinge was very near the bottom of the door and severely stressed. I have repaired the hinges on those long doors and found cabinet handles bolted to the bottom edge of the door so the driver could lift up on the door when closing and often the outer door latch handles were broken from lifting when closing.

1 Like

Here’s how to fix that sagging door.

Tester

And if you have some pants that need hemming up a couple of inches that genius would recommend wearing platform shoes.

1 Like