How to Replace a Broken Door Handle on a Toyota or Lexus Sedan (With Videos)
When door handles break, they typically break during the winter, when icy conditions combined with moisture freeze the door in place and the driver yanks, pulls, and jerks on the door handle to get the door to open.
If you are worried that you might break your door handle during the winter while trying to open it, pour warm water around the edges of the door before attempting to open it.
New door handles can be purchased pre-painted on Amazon or eBay and are relatively inexpensive.
This article will show you step-by-step how to replace the driver's-side door handle on a 1997 Lexus ES300. The procedure to replace this door handle applies to other Toyota and Lexus passenger vehicles including the Toyota Camry. Moreover, it applies to the passenger side as well, though there may be minor differences involved in removing the door panel to get to the service ports in the door.
Step by Step: Lexus ES300 (Toyota Camry) Driver's Side Exterior Door Handle Replacement (With Video)
The videos below, with text instructions, will show you step-by-step how to replace the driver's side exterior door handle on a Lexus ES300.
1. Remove the Door Panel
- Remove the screw cover below the radio speaker using a pick tool. Then remove the panel screw.
- Remove the interior door handle screw. Use a pick tool to pop open the door handle screw cover. The cover is hinged so it does not come off. Remove the screw.
- Remove the door-mounted assembly that controls the window and door lock. Use a pry tool and wiggle it between the forward portion of the console lip and console mounting hole. Pushing the pry tool back should compress the hidden locking spring allowing you to pull the control assembly out. This will expose the screw that connects the panel to the door. Remove that screw and disconnect the control assembly electrical connectors.
- Remove the interior door handle bezel. The bezel has two mounting holes that tie the door lock tab (on top) and the door handle (on the bottom). Use a pry tool to separate the door lock tab and door handle from the bezel. Gently pull the bezel out from the back.
- Remove the mini speaker cover on the top corner of the door. Gently pry off with a pry tool.
- Using a pry tool, and starting from the bottom of the door, detach the door panel from the door by pulling on the panel assisted with the pry tool. The push pins should release its tension.
- After pulling off the panel, disconnect any electrical connection going to it.
Video: Door Panel Removal
2. Peel Off the Door Vapor Barrier and Remove the Service Port Panel
- Gently peel off the translucent plastic vapor barrier off of its layer of black semi-adhesive glue. Do not rip it. You'll be re-installing it after the door handle has been replaced.
- If the window is not in the raised position, re-connect the window motor control assembly electrical fitting and raise the window.
- Remove the black service port panel.
Video: Door Vapor Barrier and Service Port Panel Removal
3. Remove the Two Door Handle Bolts and Disconnect the Door Lock and Door Handle Control Rods
- Through the service port holes, remove the two bolts that hold the exterior door handle.
- Disconnect the metal door lock control rod from the door lock. Using a thin tip screw driver through the port hole, pull the plastic rod retainer clip away and off the rod. Using your right hand to hold the rod, use your left hand with the screw driver to pull the rod out of the retainer. Since it's in there pretty tight, some force may have to be used to pull it out.
- Disconnect the metal door handle control rod from the door handle. Using a thin-tipped screw driver through the port hole, pull away the plastic rod retainer clip off the rod. Use the screw driver to pull the rod out of the retainer. Once again, some force may have to be used to pull it out.
Video: Door Handle Bolt Removal, and Door Lock and Door Handle Control Rod Disconnect
4. Remove the Old Door Handle and Transfer the Door Lock Cylinder
- The old door handle can be removed by tilting the top portion out then pull it up.
- Detach the door lock cylinder and transfer it to the new door lock.
Video: Door Handle Removal and Door Lock Cylinder Transfer
5. Install the New Door Handle
- Tilt in the new door handle. The base of the handle has grooves that connect to the bottom of the door handle opening.
- Install the two door handle bolts. I ecommend you place a paper towel between the nut and the installation socket so the nut does not come off.
- Connect the door lock cylinder control rod and the door handle control rod.
- Test that the door handle is working properly along with the door lock cylinder.
Video: New Door Handle Installation
6. Re-install the Service Port Panel, Vapor Barrier, Door Panel and Window Control Assembly
- Bolt on the service port panel.
- Position and press on the vapor barrier on to the semi-adhesive glue.
- Lower the window.
- Clip on any electrical fittings to the door panel.
- Position the window control assembly wires through the door panel.
- Angle the top portion of the door panel over the mounting lip of the door.
- Align the press pins in the door panel with the door and push the door panel against the door.
- Install the speaker cover.
- Screw in the door panel screw in the window control assembly hole.
- Angle in the interior door handle bezel in to the rectangular clip then push the bezel until it clips in with the pivot points on the door handle and door lock tab. Screw in the bezel screw.
- Connect the wire harness to the window control assembly and mount back into the door panel.
- Screw in door panel screw below the door speaker. Install the screw cover.
Video: Service Port Panel, Vapor Barrier, Door Panel and Window Control Assembly Installation
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