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Inside Door Latch Repair

The inside door handle actuates the door latch via a stiff belden cable - on one of the 944s I care for this cable snapped (possibly a vibration induced fracture, possibly a manufacturing defect - for sure it wasn't from being pulled too hard) - dealers have to special order the part - got prices from about $17 to $25 depending on who I called. Since I wanted it fixed NOW, I repaired it with piano wire - works well - here's the procedure: 

  1. Remove inside door panel. Unhook cable from inside door handle ("J" shaped hook) and release from retainer near handle 

Note the next bunch of steps are just to get at a "C" clip that holds the other end of the cable to the door latch - maybe with a mirror and a screw driver and some luck you could unclip it directly and avoid all these steps.  

  1. Disconnect the lock and door handle linkages from the outside door handle - these are both "ball" connections - I did this by removing the handle and reaching down through the outside of the door with a screw driver
  2.  Remove two screws with 5 mm Allen heads that hold the door latch to the door - suggest using a socket mounted Allen drive.
  3. Remove the black plastic vent on the edge of the door so you have access to the interior.
  4. If you have electric door locks, disconnect the door lock and unscrew the solenoid to get it out of the way
  5. Later cars have a metal plate to prevent reaching the lock mechanism with a "slim-jim" - remove the metal plate (3 screws with 8 mm heads)
  6. Remove the door lock assembly by dropping it down and then dragging it out of the door.

 Now we can get the C clip off 

  1. Remove "C" clip that holds the cable to the latch assembly.8. snap the cable housing out of its retainer (push towards outside of car)

 Now go where you can work in peace 

  1. Get some piano wire that is around the same diameter as the old wire - stainless wire would be great because it doesn't rust. Make sure the new wire fits through the housing without binding. 
  2. old the old wire with a vise. Heat the end with the "J" until it is a very dull red (not orange or bright red) - I use an acetylene torch, but a gas stove or a propane torch ought to work. The idea is to expand and soften the "J" but not weaken the wire too much.
  3. Once you have the end hot, grab it with pliers and with steady force, slowly pull it off. Don't jerk it or you will break the wire. Put the "J" aside to cool.
  4. Repeat above with the "O" (the part that was attached to the lock with the "C" clip

 Note - if you break the wire, it will now be fairly soft, so you can drill it out with a small drill and a bit of care. 

  1. Clean up the holes in the "J" and "O" pieces with a small drill (preferably the same size as the new wire plus half or one thousandth) and verify that you can slide the new wire into the cleaned up holes.14. cut the new wire to the same length as the old wire
  2. Clean the wire with some fine sand paper and apply a small amount of Cyanoacrilate glue (super glue) to one end of the wire, and slide on the "J". note that the glue will grab almost immediately, so be quick when you start to slide the piece into place.
  3. Insert the wire into the housing, applying some grease as you go (I used waterproof grease because I had it handy, wheel bearing grease should be fine). Make sure you get the "J into the correct end of the cable (the one without the flange that clips to the door latch assembly)
  4. Clean the remaining end, and apply glue and affix the "O".

 Now, reassemble everything and declare victory. Making the cable was really fast - faster in fact than the time it would take me to drive to the dealer and pick up a new one, most of the time was spent messing with the door latch trying to get it out and then back in and connected again. There is very little clearance and it's a real pain. I found that disconnecting the bottom of the rear window channel helped because I could push it around and get a little more working room.

copyright W Noble 2002