Most people don’t even know how the car door handles work internally or how to fix them if they break.
Each car door has two handles; one on the interior and one on the exterior. An additional handle is located at the rear of the vehicle and is used to operate the trunk or hatchback.
But you may be surprised to know that some types of cars don’t have any handles at all!
What’s the Cost of a New Car Door Handle?
The broken car door handle repair cost will depend on what kind of car it’s made for, the brand of the door handle, whether it’s an interior or exterior handle, and the purchase location.
Some manufacturers also make door handles in a variety of custom designs and using different types of metal. Such customized handles can cost upwards of $500. Handles that are made of chrome have the highest price tags and range from $600 to $700.
The price of a car door handle replacement ranges from $80 to $730.
In all cases, the exterior handle costs much more than the interior handle. The inside handles are also almost always made of plastic while the outside ones may have metallic elements mixed in. The majority of door handles whether interior or exterior cost $10 to $40.
Perhaps a car door handle’s low price can be attributed to the fact that many companies heavily invest in the manufacturing process. These parts are small and easy to construct and the demand is high. Here are some of the many brands that you can choose from when picking out a replacement door handle:
- All American Billet
- ABD (American Brother Designs)
- ACC (American Car Craft)
- Clayton Machine Works
- Dashes Direct
- Professional Parts Sweden
The total cost of replacement will not only depend on the price of the part but also on the labor charge for a mechanic or auto technician to perform the work.
Replacing a car door handle is really easy though. So if you’ve got a few mechanical tools lying around the garage, it’s recommended to perform the labor yourself.
Where to Have Your Car Door Handle Serviced?
If you’d like to have exact replacement parts for your vehicle type, the best place to visit is a dealership in your local area.
You’ll have to pay a higher price but at least you can be assured of the quality of the work performed. Dealerships usually have websites that can help you locate the nearest store in your city.
If bringing your vehicle to a dealership isn’t in the cards for you, independent local auto workshops are a fine alternative. JiffyLube and NTB are two examples of good repair shops that employ professional mechanics and stock many different parts. Their services usually cost less than they would at a dealership and have a good number of stores so you won’t need to travel far.
The labor charge of auto centers will always vary depending on factors such as the mechanic’s hourly wage, your vehicle type, the store location, and the type of door handle that your car needs replaced.
Based on the sources gathered from various auto centers and experts in the field, we’ve calculated that the cost of labor to replace a car door handle comes out to around $70 on average.
Different Types of Car Door Handles
Car door handles can be made of high-quality plastic, metal or a combination of both. Additional alloys typically used in their construction include magnesium alloy, zinc alloy, and aluminum alloy. Newer-model vehicles use steel and chrome for the door handle material.
They aren’t created purely as a mechanism to open the door. Many manufacturers have aesthetics in mind when designing door handles, given their location on the exterior where they’re easily seen.
If you’re a regular car user, chances are that you’ve got a vehicle with one of the two most common types of car door handles today – the ‘pull-up’ and the ‘pull-out’ which obviously describe how they are being operated.
Almost every automobile manufacturer today has a car model which uses one or both of these door handle types.
Cars which were built prior to the 1930s used door handles that heavily resembled door handles in houses. These were a ‘lever’ type of door handle that was turned up or down in order to open the door.
The 1930s to the 1950s introduced a ‘swing-out’ type of handle which was used in the construction of early-model Volkswagens and other European car types.
In between, somewhere in the 1940s, a ‘pop-out’ door handle was created for certain flashy and exotic vehicle models.
You’d usually have to push a small button in order to make the door handle slide out, after which it could be pulled to open the door. It was seen on some Cisitalia car models in the ‘40s as well as some modern Tesla-powered models.
During the 1950s up until the 1970s, many American car models were built using a ‘push-button’ type of door handle. This looked like a regular car door handle but with a square or circular button on one end which needed to be pushed in order to unlatch the door.
These types of handles were phased out due to safety regulations as the button could be hit by an external object during a spinout which would open the door and cause additional risk to the passengers.
The 1970s to 1990s introduced a new type of handle – the ‘trigger-type’, as manufacturers exercised their creativity in making automobiles more interesting for consumers.
This type of car door handle, as its name suggests, featured a type of trigger that needed to be pulled in order to swing the door open. It was mostly seen on different Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi cars.
The ‘squeeze-handle’ became prominent in the 1980s among manufacturers and was a favorite of Asian brands such as Honda. From the outside, it resembled a pull-up type except that you’d need to use your fingers to squeeze a large button on the inside which traversed the length of the handle.
Another type of car door handle used by car manufacturers in the US and the UK was the ‘flap-type’. This looked quite similar to the interior door handles that we see on most automobiles today but was simply a straight flap. You’d have to pull the flap outwards in order to release the latch. It was a favorite of AMC as well as Lotus in the 1970s.
‘Finger-type’ car door handles are similar to a push-button type but the difference is that the button is indented further inside the handle and can’t be pushed by anything except a finger. It’s an extremely uncommon type of door handle and was mostly only seen on the North American Mazda Miata.
There are some types of handles that are exclusive to certain car models. The ‘push-down’ type of handle, for example, is almost only seen on Chevy Corvettes and Dodge Vipers.
And finally, there was a point in time when cars didn’t have door handles at all. A separate type of ‘button’ was used to open some 1940 Lincolns and modern-day McLarens. This was simply a button which, when pressed, would release the latch allowing the door to pop open. There wasn’t any handle to pull on.
How Does a Car Door Handle Work?
Although many different varieties of car door handles may be seen on different cars, they all operate pretty much the same when it comes to the internal mechanism. Both the interior and exterior handle serve to release a latch on the assembly which is keeping the door closed. The latch hooks onto a strike plate which is located on the door frame. Some handles protrude from the car door while others have a more built-in and seamless integration.
Most modern car handles will also have a lock cylinder built into one side which is used to unlock the car door using a key. Some luxury automobiles come equipped with an electronic keypad on the exterior handle which can be used to enter a code which will unlock the door instead of using a key (although they might still have a keyhole).
Both inner and outer handles are bolted on the car door and connected to a rod inside the door panel. This rod acts as a link between the handle and a lever, which when moved, moves the door latch into the open position and unhooks the prongs from the strike plate. All car doors use this type of internal mechanism to open and close.
Symptoms of a Broken Car Door Handle
If the door handles on your vehicle are experiencing issues, they’ll usually show a few tell-tale signs that can alert you.
One of the most obvious signs is a loose door handle. When attempting to open or close the door, you might notice that the handle sort of hangs down when you pull on it. It will still work properly in unlatching the prongs but it might take a couple of tries.
You might not even be able to open the door using either handle. If any component of the handle that connects to the latch assembly breaks, the door will no longer open from the outside or inside.
Another symptom that is commonly experienced is where you can open the door using the interior handle, but it takes more effort and you frequently have to pull hard on it.
How to Keep Your Car Door Handles from Breaking?
Besides the actual handle itself, other components that are prone to breakage are the internal parts inside the door panel.
These include the linkage rod that allows the latch to do its job, a lever attached the assembly, and various other connecting pieces. In order to keep the entire operation running smoothly and in sync, care must be taken when operating the car door handles.
Be gentle when opening or closing the doors. It usually doesn’t take much grip force to pull up or out, so don’t squeeze your fingers like you’re having an arm-wrestling competition.
If you frequently have passengers or children in the car, remind them to never play with the handles and to release them gently when exiting the vehicle.
The good news is that car door handles rarely have problems related to jamming. If you own a newer-model vehicle, this issue virtually never happens.
It’s more likely that the handle will become broken during a collision while driving. If another vehicle or an object collides with the door handle, one or more internal components may become damaged which will prevent the handle from functioning.