If your interior door handle suddenly goes a little limp and refuses to return to original position, you probably have a broken spring. Here’s a video that shows the handle behavior.
This situation has some bad side effects. Primary among them is that when this handle/latch doesn’t fully close, a microswitch in the handle doesn’t press and as a result the interior lights never turn off. They think that the door is still open. (even when it is closed). Not good. Your battery could die by morning. It could also affect the windows, because when the door is opened, the windows sink an inch.
Fortunately this common problem is very easy to repair. Pelicanparts.com has a nice write up about this topic, but I think they mislead you in a few places.
Pelican posts this photo to show you which screws need to be removed. They suggest you remove them in the order: green, purple, yellow, red, and orange. I had some issues getting my red screw removed, but it turns out that you can skip red and orange for this project, despite what pelican says. Remove simply green, purple and yellow. The green screw is hidden behind the AIRBAG plastic emblem. You need to pry it off first to remove the screw. You might want to use a rag or napkin to keep from marring the edge of the emblem as you pry it out with a flat head screwdriver. Behind that emblem is a single screw. For this project you’ll want to have on hand a Torx 25, and 30 head. And a Phillips screwdriver. (should you remove the red screw). Simply remove the green, purple and yellow screws with your Torx drivers. The purple screw is hidden behind a sort of C clamp part of trim. You can likely remove it by hand, but if not, you can pry a little bit from the rear of the top with a screwdriver. The yellow screw is hidden behind the black (on this car’s) trim above the door handle. (Driver’s door shown). That piece of trim has a fragile tab internally that is very easy to break. Tread carefully when removing that piece. Should you break the tab like I did, simply superglue it back in place and cautiously replace the part. It will work just fine.
Once you’ve removed the three screws/bolts, now you can pry the door open. Normally the instruction tell you to fully remove the door interior. This isn’t necessary for a simple spring repair. The spring is one of the topmost parts inside the door. You only need to pry a few clicks on both sides of the door interior to reveal the spring that needs to be repaired. Pelican also has an image that shows where the plastic clips reside inside the door interior.
Pelican says that you should remove every clip, but that’s not true for this task. You only need to remove the top two clips from both sides of the door. That will give you enough slack to pull back the top of the interior door. It slides over the top of the metal, so just carefully pull back the top of the door interior from the metal door. Once you’ve pried open enough of the top, you can see the spring sitting inside the door. Pelican has a photo of the spring as well:
At the top of the photo, you will notice a black felt tube. It is covering the spring in question. You will reuse this black felt tube. Pull the existing spring out (sometimes it helps to have someone point a flashlight down in there for you. And for ease, roll down the window before you do this.
Once the old spring is removed, it will likely look like this one below. Notice the lack of a loop on the right/front side? That’s where the spring broke and why the handle doesn’t return as it should. Some people have described adding a new bend to the existing spring, but I chose to replace the part. It was inexpensive (the part 999.522.015.00 is less than ten bucks)
Remove the black felt tube and slide it over your new spring. The spring has coils on one end and a big long straight piece on the other end. The coil part of the spring will clip in towards the rear of the car. The long straight piece will attach in the silver groove of the interior door handle. You may need a pair of pliers for this step, but it only takes a minute to secure. Here is a picture of my previous broken spring. Still, you can see where the spring part is and the long straight part. Clip them into the rear hole and on the silver door handle part and you’re finished with the task.
Lastly, knock in with the heel of your hand the door clips you’ve released. Then slowly feed the top of the door interior over its metal counterpart. You may want a rag and hammer for this part. Hit softly so you don’t mar the interior. I also recommend moving from the mirror to the outer part of the door. The mirror control assembly may also need to be clipped back into place during this process.
Et voila, you’re done. It might take you a half hour to do this the first time, but it will only take 10 minutes the second try. The good news is that it takes less screws than pelican recommends, the price is low for repair, you only need a few tools, and boom, you have a door handle return not only fixed, but feeling a whole lot like a brand new car. Very stiff. Everyone likes stiff.
If you like ordering from PelicanParts (I do), here’s their page showing the part you need.