On pretty much every car door there is both an inside and an outside door handle. They are each connected to the door latch by either a rod or a cable.
They can fail in a number of ways. Sometimes the plastic parts of the handle itself will break, or the plastic retainers that hold the lock rods can break, or springs can break. Cables can break as well, and are sometimes replaced only as a part of the door handle assembly.
Replacing an inner door handle usually involves pulling a trim panel that covers the bolt or screw holding it to the door frame, then taking the housing/handle assembly loose. Sometimes the cable or rod that extends to the latch can be detached at the housing, other times the interior door panel needs to be removed to get access.
Replacing an outside door handle involves removing the inner door panel to access the door handle attachments inside the door. The door handle assembly is then unbolted, the connecting rod to the latch unhooked, then the handle can be removed. If there is a lock cylinder in the handle it will usually be transferred to a new handle.
What’s the Cost of a Car Door Handle Replacement?
On average for most vehicles, it costs about $170 to replace an outside door handle, and about $80 to replace an inside door handle.
For some specific costs to replace the outside door handle on some common vehicles, using $100 an hour as a labor rate:
|Car Model||Labor Time & Cost||Aftermarket Outside Door Handle Cost (Excl. Labor)||Factory Outside Door Handle Cost (Excl. Labor)
|2006 Dodge Dakota||$130 (1.3 hrs)||Dorman handle costs about $30||$60|
|2003 Honda Accord||$100 (1 hr)||Needa handle costs about $15||$60|
|2010 Toyota RAV4||$100 (1 hr)||Needa handle costs about $75||$135|
One thing that comes up sometimes is that many OE outside door handles are painted to match the vehicle, while replacement parts usually come in a flat paintable black. There would be additional paint-shop charges to paint it to match if that were desired. One aftermarket option to get around paint costs is to purchase a chromed part, which is available for many models at about the same cost.
For the costs of replacing the inside car door handle of some of the common vehicles, using $100 an hour as a labor rate:
|Car Model||Labor Time & Cost||Aftermarket Inside Door Handle Cost (Excl. Labor)||Factory Inside Door Handle Cost (Excl. Labor)
|2006 Dakota||$50 (0.5 hrs)||Dorman handle costs about $60||$67|
|2003 Honda Accord||$50 (0.5 hrs)||Needa handle costs about $6||$20|
|2010 Toyota RAV4||$50 (0.5 hrs)||$20||$56|
A little more than an hour for an outside handle, and about a half hour for an inside handle usually.
Probably not an outside handle, as access is typically very restricted and it’s necessary on many to work on parts and fasteners you can’t see. But for an inside handle – maybe. They’re often fairly simple, and if a model-specific guide to the job is available it could probably be done with basic tools.
More often than not it’s cost-cutting or inadequate engineering rather than being too rough with it. Door handles break very commonly on some vehicle models, and rarely if ever on other models.