Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to remove the door panel on car?

So your window or door locks quit working, or maybe you just want to install some speakers; but you can't figure out how to get into the door.
Well, it isn't because the designers wanted to trick you. The panels are designed for quick assembly. Yes, there are a couple big screws holding the door pull to the door, but much of the panel is actually held in by plastic fasteners. The fasteners look something like this

and they slip into slots in the panel. The assembler then just slips the panel down onto the edge of the window opening and pushes the fasteners into holes in the inner door steel. Then he/she puts the few screws in and voila.
Another popular design is to have hooks built into the panel such that it hooks in as it slides down over the window opening. An example is shown in the photo below.

So, how do you take the panel off? Reverse procedure!!
Find all the screws you can find and remove them. Also remove the window crank, if you have manual windows. A window crank may be held in by a clip behind it. You can remove the clip by fashioning a small hook out of a stiff paper clip to grab and pull the clip out. Here is a photo of what that looks like:

Some panel screws may be hidden under little caps. Carefully remove any caps that might have screws under them. Any caps on the panel may pull straight out with a little prying or they may have 2 or 3 tangs that you need to push in with your screwdriver as you pull the cover out. Lay out all of the screws and parts somewhere in a way that will help you remember how to put it back together.
Be sure to remove any trim parts above the panel that might prevent you from getting the panel up off of the window edge. For example, if the mirror access panel is in the way, it must be removed--not the mirror--just the access cover.
Once you have all of the screws out you can find, start prying gently at the edge of the panel until you can get your hand behind it.

See if you can find the plastic fasteners with your hand and pull out near the fastener to release it from the door. Go around the edge until you have released all of the fasteners. If the door is still held on by something, doublecheck for screws you may have missed or peek behind the panel with a flashlight to see what is holding it. Once the panel will swing out pivoting on the top edge, or if it is of the hook design in the photo above, pull it straight up about an inch to get it off the window edge. Don't pull it out yet, as you still need to disconnect the door lock, opener, and any cables before the panel is free from the door. Look carefully at how any of these things are attached and make a mental note of how they will go back together. Then unclip, unplug, and disconnect everything from the panel. Any connectors will have a catch that you will have to press to release the connection.
Once the panel is off, there is usually a moisture barrier you also need to remove. If you only need access to one area, peel the barrier back. Otherwise, take it all off, but be careful not to rip it.
Now check inside the door and reverse these procedures to reinstall the door panel.
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