I want to fix the door handle on my car

I have a '98 Chevy Prism and the other day, the interior door handle broke as I was opening it. It isn’t very convenient to take it to a mechanic, so I would like to be able to fix it myself, but I don’t want to get into it without clear instructions on how to proceed. I tried looking at Chilton’s manual once and I couldn’t figure out how to remove body panels based on that. Can anyone tell me where to look to find out how to perform this repair? Rolling down the window to open the door is getting to be a pain.

Thanks for your help,

Most car door handles have a clip that holds the handle to the spindle. Push the panel in around the handle and you will see the clip. push or pull the clip away from the spindle and the handle will come off for replacement.

That’s how you would take the window crank off if it is a manual window. From there, you probably have an armrest that will have to come off. If there are not obvious holes in the armrest to acess screws, look for screw covers that will pry off. Getting the door panel off (and back on again) is a PITA. It is probably held on with plastic clips. To get these off, you just pry at the door panel around the edges. If you find a place that doesn’t easily pop off, skip it and move on. It is VERY easy to break these clips and I accept no responsibility if you break your car. If the door panel still is not coming off, look for other things that might be holding it on. For instance, on late model Grand Prix’s, there’s a reflector at the bottom corner of the door panel that conceals a screw.

Once the door panel is off, let us know what’s broke in there to see if its fixable.

Is there anywhere that I can find illustrations of this?


The only place I know where you might get clear instructions and/or diagrams is a factory repair manual - and sometimes even they aren’t terribly helpful.

For the most part, it’s likely to be as described by brewha. First look for any screws. Some of them may be behind a plug or cap that can be pried out/off. Check all around the door. Often the armrest is held on by 2 or 3 screws. Sometimes there’s a screw that points towards the ground in a recess in the armrest.

Usually on Asian cars there’s a plastic insert where the door handle is, either held by a screw or snapped in, that has to be removed. If it’s held by a screw, there may be a cap over the screwhead; if it snaps in, you may have to move it forward or rearward to disengage some prongs. The approach I use is creative wiggling and judiciously applied oomph.

As mentioned, if it has manual windows, the crank may be held with a clip. Press the panel into the door to see and access it. Alternatively, it may be held with a screw, usually hidden behind a removable insert on the crank handle. If it has power windows and/or door locks, often the switches for those need to be removed first. The switch panel usually snaps in.

Sometimes there’s a triangular plastic cover over the outside mirror mounting area that needs to be removed. Usually these snap in.

If the door lock pushbutton is won’t slip through its hole in the door panel, it typically needs to be unscrewed from the rod it sits on.

A few designs only need to be lifted up an inch at this point, but most have snap-in clips inside the panel around the sides and bottom. They’re removed by prying them away from the door. Once they’re free, the panel needs to be lifted up a half inch or so to come out of the channel at the bottom of the window opening next to the glass.

The handle assembly is connected to linkage rods with clever plastic clips. Pop/pry them off of the rods, then slip the rods out of their holes.

Your choices are probably pay someone to do it, find someone knowledgeable to guide you through doing it, or dive in and give it a try. It’s always possible to accidentally break something in attempting to remove it, but it’s unlikely you’ll break anything that is terribly expensive or that has to be fixed before you can use the car.