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How to Fix or Replace a Door Handle on a Toyota Corolla

I'm a marketing professional with 13+ years experience. Also, I write about stuff and help people fix problems.

This is a new, after market Toyota Corolla 1998 - 2002 door handle.

This is a new, after market Toyota Corolla 1998 - 2002 door handle.

Repairing an Interior Car Door Handle Is Actually a Pretty Simple Fix

After a good ten years of use, thousands of door opens, or a brother with ogre-strength, the chances of those flimsy plastic door handles failing, or breaking is pretty high. Fortunately for you, for having found this article, it is a pretty simple thing to fix.

We'll talk about the basics on what to do, and I'll provide links to Amazon where you can sift through a plethora of after-market car door handles, both interior and exterior. The focus of this article is a 1998 Toyota Corolla, with broken interior car door handles, and exactly how to replace them. Be sure to check the comment section below. While this article has worked for nearly everyone, there are tiny problems some people ran into, and those are addressed pretty well in the comments. Thanks, everyone!

Difficulty level: Easy

What Tools, Experience, and Amount of Time Do You Need?

Tools Needed (recommended)

  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver(s)
  • Utility Knife (or sharp pocket knife)

Materials Needed

  • Replacement Car Door Handles
  • The old screw from each door handle, or,
  • replacement screws of similar size

Experience & Time Requirements

  • Very little to no experience needed
  • Each door handle will take about 20 - 30 minutes (at first)

First, you need to order replacement car-door handles. You could go through the dealer, but I've found with a quick search or two on Amazon, I was able to find exactly what I needed. Just remember: sometimes the front handles are different than the back, and that the left-hand (LH) side handles are different from the right-hand (RH) side handles. The rest of this article assumes you have the replacement, interior car door handles.

Here's How to Replace the Broken Car Door Handle

You're going to need to remove the interior door panel. There will be a few screws that you need to remove, but this panel is primarily secure by a series of plastic "snaps". The Toyota Corolla '98 door panel is secure by three screws in addition to the snaps: 1 in the handle casing, and 2 underneath the rubber arm pad in the middle of the panel. I recommend doing it in this order.

  1. Open the door, and prop it open. Lock the door manually.
  2. Unscrew the broken door handle. Set screw aside. If you can, remove the broken piece entirely. If it is still connected to the opening mechanism and will not come free, don't worry. We'll handle this later.
  3. Remove rubber arm pad in the middle of the door panel. This piece snaps off. You may need to jam a flat-head screwdriver underneath the panel to get the leverage. Pull hard, with constant, even pressure, and it will snap off straight up.
  4. Removing the rubber arm pad will reveal two screws. Unscrew them. Set screws aside.
  5. Now you're ready to remove the door panel. If driver-side, look at the left side of the door panel and you'll find a small plastic screw. Unscrew it slightly. (this piece is not needed. You will most likely end up forcing it out. If it goes back in, great, if not, no worries.)
  6. Start at the bottom left or right of the door panel. Put your fingers under the plastic and pull out towards you with firm, even pressure. You will hear a snap, and that section will pull free.
  7. Work your way around the edges of the door panel snapping each section free.
  8. Once the entire panel is free, lift it directly up and over the locking mechanism. Support it with your legs. Do not let it fall to the ground. If you have power windows and locks, there will be some power cords and wires coming from the door into the panel. This will restrict how far you can move the panel from the door. Do not touch, fuss, or otherwise disturb these wires.
  9. You'll see a metal arm, with an L-shape at the end extending out towards where the door handle should be. The tip of the metal arm is to be inserted into the receiving hole on the replacement door handle. There is a piece of plastic that acts as a buffer that may still be connected to the piece of metal. Your new door handles will already have this piece of plastic in the hole. Use whichever one works the best.
  10. Attach the metal arm to the door handle (with the door handle inserted into its proper place in the door panel. (You may need to snap the metal arm into place inside the door handle. Use the pliers for this)
  11. Now you're ready to attach the door handle (now in the door panel) to the door itself. There are three arms extending from the back of the door handle. Two of them (top and bottom) are L-shaped, and one it a pole, or cylinder. You will see matching receiving pieces in the door frame. Line these up as you realign the door panel.
  12. When realigning the door panel remember to lift it up and over the locking mechanism before you lower it into position.
  13. The door handle will slide into place into the door, and you'll then have to slide it to one side (to bring the screw hole into alignment with the screwhole in the door). If the handle simply will not slide into place (like something is blocking it) see the tip below (after list).
  14. Once everything is lined up, begin snapping the door back into place. This is done simply by applying firm pressure up against the panel. It will snap into place.
  15. Once everything is snapped back into place, close the door and test the handle. It should work beautifully! Screw back in the three screws you removed, and return the rubber arm pad to its original location (it snaps back into place).
  16. You're done.

Looks like a long list, but it is actually a pretty quick process. I explained it a little more thoroughly than is probably necessary for the benefit of those who might prefer a more detailed explanation.

Common Tips and Trouble Spots

The damn door handle does NOT fit into the door. It fits in the panel, but will NOT fit into the damn door! (insert growl of anger)

  • This happened to me, and I can reason it would happen to others. The middle pole-like piece coming from the back of the door handle is a hair too big to fit into the receiving slot in the door. Take the utility knife and gingerly shave off some of the plastic on this piece (effectively making the diameter of the pole a tiny bit smaller).

One of the plastic snappy-things fell out of the door when I pried it loose!? What do I do?

  • Don't panic. Pick up the piece and look at the inside of your panel. You will see how the other pieces fit into place and will be able to find where this one fell free from and reattach it. If you're having trouble finding the location on the door panel, look at the actual door. You will see a hole in the metal that is meant to receive this piece.

If you have any other question, just leave a comment.

Really Annoying Video (Not Mine) But Does Provide a Visual Display of What I'm Talking About

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 Time Spiral


Greeshma on January 24, 2015:

より:My brother redemmonced I would possibly like this website.He used to be totally right. This publish actually made my day.You cann't believe simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

carla adkins on December 28, 2013:

great instructions and video. thanks, need any other advice ill look u up again thanks again time spiral

stan on September 15, 2012:

Thanks for your instructions and this site. I will be using it to repair my broken door handle.

ix on March 09, 2012:

And what if the handle is fine but it is not catching the other end? @String,

It is possible that the handle is connected to the lever properly, but the lever is no longer connected to the door release mechanism properly......

Exactly. I need directions on what I need to do to fix the OTHER END.

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on December 29, 2011:

@Dennis, thank you for the contribution! That's an excellent tip that I'm sure will help many people.

Dennis Alexander on December 28, 2011:

Thanks for this EXCELLENT tutorial. It took me less than 10 minutes to replace the driver's side interior handle on a 99 Chevy Prizm (a Corolla clone). As instructed by other commenters, I did not remove the entire door panel; I was able to replace the handle (ordered from Amazon) through the hole where the handle sits. One tricky part, and I'd like to offer a suggestion, is that the L-shaped metal part might slip down and away from the area. I suggest that a string be tied to this L-shaped metal rod before removing it from its hole on the broken handle. The string will (1) prevent the rod from falling away; (2) allow the rod to be easily removed from the hole/receptacle on the broken handle, of course after unclipping the retaining clip. This removal can be done by pulling upward on the string, while at the same time having a finger push upward on the bottom of the L-shaped rod inside the receptacle/hole on the broken handle.

The appropriate portion of the L-shaped rod is then inserted into the receptacle of the new handle, the retaining clip is replaced/clipped, then the string is removed, since the L-rod is now attached and cannot fall away. All that's left is the re-insert the new handle into the opening in the door panel, and rescrewing it back into position.

Again, thanks for the EXCELLENT tutorial.

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on December 01, 2011:


This article will help most people in replacing the car door handle for their old corolla, or similar vehicle.

If you're having trouble with the directions provided, or are unsure that you'll be able to complete the project in a safe, or satisfactory way, I recommend that you contact a local mechanic.

I know, calling a pro sucks, but I'm not going to advise that you try anything you're not comfortable with. Good luck!

onlineanne5 on December 01, 2011:

The old broken door handle does not pry out. Don't want to break anything. Please advise.

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on November 28, 2011:

Wow. That's a tough one! You may want to try unscrewing the handle and seeing if you can fiddle around with it on the inside. It is likely that the lever connected to the handle got jammed by pulling the handle too far out of position.

As a last resort, if ALL ELSE fails, purposefully break the handle so you can remove it and gain access to the inside of the door, where you should be able to free the the lever and the locking mechanism. You will then have to replace the handle, of course.

Brad on November 28, 2011:

I have a slightly different situation and am not sure if this method would work, please let me know what you think. My handle is not broken per se, but it is stuck in the "open" position. Complicating things is that the door is locked (the final cause of this problem is a friend tried to pull open the door after they had accidentally pushed down the lock with their arm). So the handle is stuck open, the door is locked, and I am unable to unlock the door either from the inside or the outside using the key. As a result, I can't get the door open.

Any suggestions?

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on November 02, 2011:

Nigel, I do not know the name of the part.

I recommend visiting your local junk yard and asking if you can harvest that piece from one of the cars there of a similar model year.

Did you break yours?

Nigel on November 02, 2011:

Do you have any idea where I could find the metal arm you talk of in step 9? Or what the official name of that part is?

tony C on October 22, 2011:

Many thanks for the instructions and video.You give confidence to change mine an hour ago.

Emdad on October 12, 2011:

Very helpful, Thanks a lot.

RobertCAshford from UK on October 10, 2011:

Toyota Corolla is a very famous car and most of the people prefer it due to its cheap maintenance. The tips you have mentioned is very nice and very helpful for me because i have to make some changes and repairing.

Thomas Ziegler on October 06, 2011:

Thank you for the information. Very helpful

Keeper on October 05, 2011:

If you are having problems locating door handles, eBay is an excellent place to look. Much cheaper than Amazon! I've picked up replacement door handles, bumpers, and all kinds of other parts.

Robert on October 02, 2011:

There is absolutely no need to remove the door panel. In fact, in my experience that just opens up the potential to screw the whole thing up. I started out following these instructions, got the door panel off, and then had a heck of a hard time getting it back on. Things kept jamming and snapping and not going back in, and it frustrated the heck out of me.

My wife came out to help me, and said, "Why did you have to take the panel off? Couldn't you just do it all through the hole where the handle goes?"

She then proceeded to replace the other three handles by herself in a matter of minutes, by just taking off the old handle and putting on the new one using a screwdriver to reach inside and get the L-shaped bar in place.

After scrolling through the comments, it looks like other people have already discovered this. I only wish I had read the comments before I tried to go through all the instructions!

Melissa on September 25, 2011:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This worked like a dream (a frustrating dream, but a dream nonetheless.)


jitrulz on September 24, 2011:

nice and helpful thanks for sharing

Steve D on September 19, 2011:

Drivers door took 30 min. PAX door took 10. Great instructions and video. MANY THANKS

string on August 24, 2011:

Thanks for your willingness to help. You got me farther than I could have on my own. I will try removing the whole panel and repost.

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on August 22, 2011:


It is possible that the handle is connected to the lever properly, but the lever is no longer connected to the door release mechanism properly. If you are comfortable with the steps I described, I recommend fully removing the panel so you can verify that all parts of the door handle assembly are connected properly.

If you are not comfortable with that process, or perform that process and still cannot figure it out, I recommend bringing in the assistance of a professional.

Good luck!

String on August 19, 2011:

Yes I am sure I did that correctly. I am wondering if something else needs to be adjusted. It sounds like it is close to opening?

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on August 19, 2011:


Can you verify that you hooked the new handles latch into the metal lever behind the panel? That is what actually opens the door. See step (9) again. Let me know. I'll help if I can.

String on August 18, 2011:

Ok, I was able to replace the handle without removing the panel, it took me a minute to figure it all out and based on your description I know I put the new handle back in place securely but I am still unable to open the door. I pull on the handle as far as I feel I can without breaking it and I feel tension but the door is still not opening.

Do you have any ideas?????

Angie on August 16, 2011:

Thank you sooo much. That helped a ton!! We were having to roll the windows down and open the door from the outside. :)

John on July 26, 2011:

I accidently submitted the prior post before finishing it. You do NOT NOT NOT have to remove the padding to do this easy job. Follow these basic steps:

1. Unscrew old handle (save screw)

2. Use needle-nosed plyers and a snipping tool of some sort (e.g. wire-cutters) to remove any plastic from the metal arm. The plastic comes from the old handle.

3. Pull metal arm forward (don't force it too hard) and insert the L-shaped part into the donut-shaped plastic part that is located on the back side of the door handle.

4. Rotate the plastic "holder" from the door handle toward the straight part of the metal harm and snap it in place. It's OK if you don't hear a snapping sound. Just stick it on there such that it is holding the arm.

5. Put the door handle back in place and secure it with a screw.

That's it.

John on July 25, 2011:

I just replaced mine in eight minutes. It took five minutes to remove the broken plastic pieces from the old handle that were stuck to the metal arm. It took three minutes to put the L-shaped part of the arm into the donut-shaped plastic part on the new handle and to snap the holder from the handle onto the long part of the metal arm (i.e. not the L-shaped part). Someone wanted to charge me 60 bucks for this simple job. What a complete joke.

You do NOT have to remove the padding to fix the handle. The

Boots on July 11, 2011:

Thanks! Very helpful and saved me lots of time/aggravation.

μεταχειρισμενα αυτοκινητα on July 10, 2011:

I had a second hand car (?????????????? ??????????)which after years had to replace it's door handle and i'm having a hard time and so i just went to into repairing shop but reading your hub perhaps gives me idea and next time I'll do it on my own.

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on April 27, 2011:


Sorry, but I did not make that video. I put it here for visual reference. My instructions (the actual article) will walk you through the whole process. Let me know if you're still having trouble.


Steve on April 27, 2011:

just did my 95 Corolla without removing the armrest or panel; while removing the broken one, I grabbed the L arm with needle nose pliers so as not to "lose" it, then with the free hand inserted the new assembly. It all popped into place; again, 10 minutes. Thanks!

joe on April 26, 2011:

the only thing you show is taking off the door panel..you don't even show how you change the door handle...

Ravindra on February 26, 2011:

I changed my 1998 toyota corrola interiar handle in just 10 min. hurray ... Thanks for all the helping steps and video

Painter Penfield from Tampa Bay area Florida on February 18, 2011:

Well, I'm in league with the previous poster (batting eyelashes) as my neighbor is The Hulk and both passenger side doors on my Nissan Altima have snapped off on the OUTSIDE of my car. So... the deal... er wants $260 to fix it. I snort internally upon hearing the quote. Begin google and amazon search for parts and scour the internet for additional how-to videos for replacing exterior door handles...

Is there help out there for us?

My vehicle will eventually become an art car anyway. Perhaps I can devise my own rhinestone studded handles to attach with super epoxy from my Amazon affiliate site store. Sheesh!

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on January 26, 2011:


Your best bet for something like that is going to be a local junk yard, or salvage that specializing in automobiles. You can typically find one in your phone book or by searching online and then call. As them if they have a make and model vehicle similar to yours. If they do they will likely allow you to drive out there and extract the part your need for a small fee.

I don't think you're going to find a seller on Amazon for such an obscure part, but you might.

Good luck!

Martin Ubaldo on January 25, 2011:

hey i just broke the lil yellow plastic pulley that holds the metal lever, where can i buy that item?

Jack on January 25, 2011:

Excellent video, and step-by-step directions!

Kristin on January 22, 2011:

Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I am not the slightest bit mechanical, but it was so detailed that I ordered a door handle from Amazon and did it! What a sense of empowerment!

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on January 19, 2011:

Thanks again to everyone who left kind comments!

AJ_2011 on January 08, 2011:

I just replaced the passengers door handle of my girlfriend's 2001 Corolla I happened to snap off accidentally when trying to open the door from driver's side for my 90 year old my grandmother.

First, a BIG thanks to Time Spiral for this article. Like most everyone else who has commented, it saved me time and big bucks in getting this done.

Second, the suggestion of having a putty knife by Fred was a great one. I happened to have a masonic trowel (used for concrete) that worked really well and was very sturdy for prying the door panel off. It also has a pointed tip, making it easier to get under the panel.

Third, taking off the rubber arm pad proved to be the most difficult task of all the steps, as it has heavy duty plastic pins (with reinforcing metal in the middle of each pin). Prying this up took more muscle than I expected. Of course I was trying not to break any of the pins as I pried it up (cracked one a little, but not so bad that it didn't still hold when putting it back together). I used a flat head screwdriver, as suggested, but it was probably a little too short for the job. One about 8 inches or even longer would do better than the one I had. Prying this piece as straight up as possible is key to not breaking anything.

Fourth, without ever doing this or knowing how the door handle actually sets into the door, I think, after replacing it the way the author suggested, it would have been quite hard to do so without removing the door panel. Amateurs like me don't even realize until near the end of the job that the L-shaped pieces holding the handle in place require you to shift the handle assembly toward the end of the door(assuming it is still attached, as was the case for me), even though I see now that this was stated by the author in step 13. Either way, similar to about 1/2 the world, I'm a very visual person and have to see how something comes out before I know how to put a new one back in.

As mentioned, however, if the handle assembly was already missing or only a small portion remained, I can see how it would not be necessary to remove the entire panel. But I only get that now because I did it the author's way.

Maybe in the future, a diagram could be shown of how this all fits together, giving a visual of how the door handle assembly actually fits in the door, letting the person doing the repair decide if it's necessary to remove the panel or not based on that additional information.

Thanks again!

Drew on January 03, 2011:

I was able to replace the handle without taking off the door panel. It took about 10 minutes to finish the job, maybe less.

Fred on January 02, 2011:

Thank you so much for your detailed description and including that really annoying video (it's excellent with the volume shut off). The metal handle rod disconnected from the inner rods that actually allow the door to open, so I had to go into the door farther. It took me several hours and a fair amount of cursing, but it cost me $0.00 to fix.

I should add that a 1" wide metal putty knife and wearing lightweight leather gloves were also very helpful getting the door apart.

Fred on January 02, 2011:

Thank you so much for your detailed description and including that really annoying video (it's excellent with the volume shut off). The metal handle rod disconnected from the inner rods that actually allow the door to open, so I had to go into the door farther. It took me several hours and a fair amount of cursing, but it cost me $0.00 to fix.

Auto Repair How to on November 21, 2010:

I think that you should write more articles like this because it really is useful for readers. The common tips and trouble spots is greatly appreciated since it's based from your own experience.

More power to you sir time spiral,we hope to read more articles like this.

Jenn on October 22, 2010:

Great instructions! Was able to order door handles off Amazon.com and replace them myself my following this simple steps. The details are great and easy to do. Saved a lot of money by not having to go through the dealership! Thanks!

CW on September 18, 2010:

My thoughts exactly Matt.

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on August 05, 2010:


Thanks for the clarification! I've included that step to cover the likely scenario where the door handle has been badly damaged or is no longer present, in which case the lever may not be accessible through the tiny door handle opening.

It may not be required, and for those savvy enough to try it Matt's way, I'm glad he's contributed to this article, however, for everyone else, you can easily follow the instructions above to get the job done.

Thanks to everyone who is helping make this article such a success!

Prashant on August 04, 2010:

About Matt's comment. The Author seems to have misunderstood him. Matt meant - we don't need to even unscrew the door panel. I exactly followed as he asked and I didn't have to touch the door panel at all. All I did was take off the bad door handle and put the new door handle with little effort.

Thanks both of you.

Teena on July 27, 2010:

Very interesting post. Toyota Corolla is the best car in its segment and much better in comparison to its rivals. Planning to buy it soon in white shade.

Autoaficianado from California on July 26, 2010:

You're a great writer. I thought the introduction was wonderful as well as the rest of the hub. There's good info. here.

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on July 07, 2010:

About MATT's post (above) - I don't think he actually read my instructions, or understood them correctly. I do not instruct, or suggest that you completely remove the door panel. If you see this comment, Matt, read Step (8) again.

Good luck, guys!

Matt on July 06, 2010:

You do NOT have to remove the interior door panel to do this. Just undo the one screw and pull off the door linkage - replace and put the screw back in. Even easier if you already have one of the plastic bushings to replace the old one. You will have to push the assembly to the rear a little when seating the new one. DO NOT GO THRU THE HASSLE OF REMOVING THE INTERIOR DOOR PANEL -= IT IS NOT NECESSARY

Tony on June 16, 2010:

Add me to the list of sucessful outcomes. I probably would not have even tried to do it myself had I not found such a detailed article. Total cost: $16.03 and about 30 minutes of my time. The instructions were sooooooooooo well written. Many thanks to you for taking the time share your experience.

hawa on June 14, 2010:

Very nice!!!!!!!!!!!1

Well done!!


Time Spiral (author) from Florida on May 18, 2010:

@Amy, While I can't resist a batting eye-lash, there are currently no plans on that type of article :/ Forgive me?

amy on May 17, 2010:

Hi! I found this site two weeks ago and have ordered the parts and am hesitantly looking forward to trying to fix this myself. HOWEVER, just this morning, my EXTERIOR driver's side door handle snapped off as well! Luckily, there's still just enough left for me to still open the door. Any chance you might do a hub on replacing an exterior handle as well? *bats eyelashes*

Time Spiral (author) from Florida on May 17, 2010:

For everyone who has extended thanks, you are very welcome. I'm pleased to learn that this article has helped so many.

Good luck,


Deb on May 16, 2010:

After six months of opening my driver's side door from the outside by opening and reaching out through the rear door, I was VERY pleased to learn that the inside latch is quite easily replaced. Thanks a million for the useful instructions.

ray on April 29, 2010:

tks. very helpful

Muns & Albi on April 17, 2010:

Thanks a lot for this post. This was extremely helpful. We were able to replace the door handles by following the steps. The tips at the end are absolute gems. Thanks again for posting.

Soda on April 13, 2010:

Thank you, very informative!

onicroster from New York on March 15, 2010:

really helpful points..thanks..

MJ on February 28, 2010:

Man this video and instructions were perfect. I didn't think i could do it a first but this helped tremendously. Ended up doing in evening dusk with low light in about 25 minutes.

Dale Mazurek from Canada on February 12, 2010:

Another wonderful hub. You are very talented at not only helping people but also monetizing your sites.

I hope we see a lot more from you.

This hub is also listed on my blog which can be found on my profile page.


scaffolding tower from United Kingdom on February 11, 2010:

You are very thorough! We often takes these for grated - car door handles. Nice to know someone took the time to write a guide. Thanks.

Eessrum on January 16, 2010:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

This post was the only helpful one I could find on the internet. I had watched that annoying video on youtube, too. and the part that I needed the most help with (getting the arm rest thing off) was not helpful at all. except to know what it would look like after I got it off.

anyway, with your excellent instructions and some of the video, I was able to do replace my door handle on my 2000 prizm in about 20 minutes!! (not bad for a female, I think)

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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