Rear door problem on '97 astrovan

I’ve been having trouble getting the back door to open for the last couple of weeks. It used to be locked with the engine running, then would unlock when you turned off the engine. Lately I’d been having to unlock it with the key.

Anyway, I took the little access panel off and tried to clean and lubricate the mechanism. Now the outside handle just flops, and I can’t get the door to open at all. Help!

You will have to take the access panel off again (from the inside) and see what has become disconnected,these things are about as simple as a mousetrap.

There is no access panel inside the door- it’s on the edge. Already off, but can’t get to it. The inside of the door can’t be removed with the door closed. There’s no inside handle. Any more ideas?

I am not really picturing this and I have fixed dozens of Astro rear doors,you need to get the wide panel that covers the back door that holds the latch off,then its a simple matter of pulling one rod down and one rod up and the door opens, I have done this job many times.

OK. How do you get that panel off? No visible fasteners- how is it held in place?

Put a screwdriver under the edge and pry,see whats holding it on. I remember some were carpeted and the screws were in the carpet

Panel goes under the vinyl all around, no edges accessible. Looks like I’m down to cutting out the panel or destroying the handle assembly.

Is there an illustated parts list of this door online?

Let me take a look on EBESCO (EBESCO is the data base easiest for the public to access without some type of pay subscription)but they come up short on real late model info.

No help from my data base, do you see a way to remove the trim piece around the back window?

Oldschool, that is an excellent website. I’ve never been there until just now. I poked around and it seems like a great reference site. EBSCO. Thanks for sharing.

Yes its a simple matter of finding what’s disconnected. No it aint always easy. Take it to the dealer and have it reconnected. Ask them to lube it up while they’re in there. Odds are the mechanic has done this many times - has the right tools and knows how all the pieces fit together. Should be quick. In any case, it will be less frustrating than trying to do it yourself and probably cheaper. Been there - done that - bad results.

I took it to the dealership, and Joe drilled out the handle bolts. Then he fished around through the opening, had the door open in a couple of minutes. They charged me .40 hours labor.

The little rocker arm (part of the handle assembly) was worn enough to pop off, so I’ll have this completely fixed once I get the new part ($54.96).