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How to Open a Car Door with Broken Door Handles

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How to Open a Car Door with Broken Door Handles

Created on: 2019-05-24

Sometimes, unusual problems call for creative solutions. Find out how to open a stuck door when the handle won't work!

  1. step 1 :Removing the Front Seat
    • Because the door is stuck shut, you need to move the front seat to remove the door panel to access the latch mechanism.
    • Disconnect the negative battery terminal with a 10 mm wrench or socket
    • Remove the trim panel from the driver side rear leg
    • Remove the bolt cover from the passenger side rear leg
    • Remove the 14 mm mounting bolts from each rear leg
    • Climb over the front seat to access the front legs
    • Remove the bolt cover from the passenger side front leg
    • Remove the 14 mm bolts from the two front legs
    • Disconnect the electrical connections under the seat
    • Push the seat towards the rear to get it out of your way
  2. step 2 :Removing the Door Panel Without Opening the Door
    • Remove the bolt cover behind the door handle
    • Remove the 10 mm bolt behind the door handle
    • Remove the door pull trim
    • Remove the two 10 mm bolts from the door pull
    • Pry off the top of the door panel enough to see down to the door latch
  3. step 3 :Activating the Door Latch From the Inside
    • Break open the plastic casing of the latch to access the internal mechanism
    • Pry at the lock and latch mechanisms to release the latch
    • Open the Door
    • The latch mechanism and outer door handle will need to be replaced
  4. step 4 :How to Record Video With Your Phone
    • When recording video with your phone, hold it sideways to ensure proper fitment with computer and TV screens.

Tools needed for replacement

  • General Tools


  • Ratchets & Related

    Socket Extensions


  • Screwdrivers & Related

    Flat Blade Screwdriver

    Pry Bar

  • Sockets - Metric

    14mm Socket

    10mm Socket

Installation Video
Watch video

Sue: Hey everyone. Sue here from 1A Auto and today I have a 2012 Nissan Titan in the shop and the problem is the passenger front door is stuck shut. It will not open. In the process they actually broke the outside handle trying to pry it so hard so we're going to have to get that, replace that. But first things first, I got to get the door open.

So basically what's going on here is this door panel has to come off and in order to get that panel off so that I can access the latch that's inside this doorjamb, I got to take the front seat out. So I'll give you a quickly little view on that and we'll go from there.

So first thing we have to do to take the seat out is disconnect the negative battery. So it's a 10 millimeter wrench or socket and I'm going to take that negative cable right off because underneath that passenger seat is the body control module and an airbag connector, and you want no voltage going to it. So make sure that sets aside. You don't want to set it here like this and watch it connect, because if it makes a connection like that it is still enough ground to cause some damage. So make sure it's stuck nice and out of the way.

So now I've just got to the backseat here and I'm going to go down and disconnect the seat from the floor. Pull your carpet back. This is going to be pretty much on any vehicle you have. There should be carpet covering it. If there's not, it's pretty out in the open. This one has a plastic cover, as most vehicles will, and they usually just pop right off. Pop off with just a little force and they just have little clips on them. Set that aside. In this particular vehicle, it has a 14 millimeter socket and I'm just going to take that bolt off. Once that's out you can do the same thing to this side. It has a little cover so you can use your fingernail to pop that up. 14 millimeter socket.

Now to get to the front ones, can't open the door so you got to kind of do a Dukes of Hazard. I'm just going to crawl right over into the front. When you get to the front you're going to have the same things down here. A little cover, pop that up and let's see on this side. Yup, no cover. 14 millimeter socket, remove those two bolts. Once they're out of the way you'll see those connectors down there. You're going to have to disconnect all of them and then the seat will fold right back. Get it out of your way and then we can pull that panel off.

You're going to have to remove... there's a little clip right there, let's see if I can get to it. There it is. Take that clip off, there's a bolt behind it. Remove this piece and there's two bolts in here, one here and one there. All three bolts are a 10 millimeter socket so then you can start pulling the door off. The seat won't be in the way here so we'll have access.

All right you can see here that what I did was I took my hands and I popped the top of the door panel off all the way across. So I've got it opened enough so that I can see down in the doorjamb. There is the door latch right there. So now I need to take the plastic casing off of that doorjamb and see if I can access the latch itself and get this door open. All the cables seem to move good, the lock seems to move, but that puppy is jammed on that striker. So I'm going film pieces as I go, so I'm going to take that cover right off of that box right there, and I'm going to go from there.

All right so I took a big pry bar to the cover, and you can see the cover now has a hole in it right there, and that gear is the actual lock. So I'm manually moving the cable so know that that's not the problem and then I have to keep chipping away. I was hoping to find that that was stripped and I could manually pry on it and unlock this vehicle so the door would open. That to me looks like it's working just fine.

So I finally got all the plastic cover off the latch and that's what we're looking at. All the mechanisms inside, levers and now I need to put my hand in there with a screwdriver and see if I can pry up on these levers and get this door open. With the casing off I just grabbed this lever right underneath here. I could get it from here but it wasn't working, so I think it was a combination of two of them at the same time and I just worked it with a screwdriver and then the door popped open. So now all I have to do, is I have a new replacement. I'll disconnect these three mounting bolts, take the latch right out of there, and go from there.

So here's the door open. It was kind of an easy process, it just took some thinking. Basically I had to take the seat out, get it out of the way. Here's the new latch, get that out of the way. So removed the passenger seat because it's a passenger door. Four bolts hold it down. One here, one there, two in the back. One right there and then one right there. 14 millimeter socket. Now there's a lot of the control modules that are mounted under the seat so always make sure you disconnect your negative battery cable so you can undo all those connectors and one of them is an airbag, because it's yellow, so you don't want any voltage going to that when you disconnect it or plug it in.

So take the seat out and you can see it's in the back. Then I was capable of taking the panel all the way off. So with the seat out of the way, to get the panel off there's three mounting bolts. There's one here right underneath the inside handle, then on the grip handle there's a hole there and a hole there. So there's three bolts and they're all 10 millimeter socket. Then I took out the window switch so I could unplug it and not do any damage to that. Then I just grabbed it while it was in the car and I popped all the way across by the window and then all the way down below and I was able to get the door out. So there's no hooks on this panel. Some Fords have hooks, this was just like a typical door. It's got all the clips that go all the way around and that's all the process is there.

Once I had that out I unbolted the latch which were the three torx bits right there. It's a T30 and it mounts right there. Then I took a hammer to the back of that, took all the plastic out of the way in the mechanisms and that I could take a screwdriver and just grab that one little lever and undo the latch. Got it out in that process, door opened, so now all I have to do is reinstall the new one. It comes with three cables. Hope this helps. I know it's a real kicker when the door doesn't open and there's no way to get to it. So just remove the seat. Hopefully it's as easy on any vehicle that happens to you, and take that route. Good luck and have fun.

Thanks for watching. Visit for quality auto parts shipped to your door. The place for DIY auto repair and if you enjoy this video please click the subscribe button.

So the door's all done, latch is in and it works great. Oh jeez!

When you're recording on your phone like this, turn it.

Oh, nice.

You teach me about cars I'll teach you about video.


Tools needed for replacement:

    General Tools

  • Hammer

  • Ratchets & Related

  • Socket Extensions
  • Ratchet

  • Screwdrivers & Related

  • Flat Blade Screwdriver
  • Pry Bar

  • Sockets - Metric

  • 14mm Socket
  • 10mm Socket

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