Tech Tip: How to Fix a Broken Mazda Door Handle
It is important that we start off this Tech Tip noting that it mostly applies to Mazda 3 owners, but also likely applies to 5 and 6 owners as well. Mazda built the doors of all of these cars in a similar way. If you own one of these vehicles (specifically the first generation from 2004-2010 or so depending on the model), you WILL have to deal with this problem at one point or another. At some point your door handle WILL break, and you WILL have to replace it. This will be a 100% failure rate over time and if you fix it early, it will make your life a bit easier.
Quite simply, the door handle mechanism in these cars is shit. The fulcrum for the rod assembly is made of plastic. Due to the unique way it is loaded, it will crack and fail. When it does fail, the latch jams and the door is now stuck shut. Repairing the door is possible without body damage, but it requires skinny arms and a lot of effort. This Tech Tip will show you exactly how to open your door, extract the broken handle, and give a few ideas of how to prevent it from happening again.
Step 1: Curse the gods for sticking with such a mess. First, you will need to pry back the door panel so you can access the inside of the door. The panel can only be removed when the door is opened, but you can pry it back enough to get some working room with the door closed if it is stuck shut. Start by removing the two screws that secure the panel to the door. One is located here in the inner door handle.
The other is located here under the grab handle.
Next, grab a scraper (or ideally a pair of trim pliers) and begin to pop loose the top and backside of the door panel. Pry back as many snaps as you can to give yourself as much working room as possible- you’ll need every inch you can get. Slide the seat back as far as you can so the panel clears. Finally, pop out the tweeter (push it towards the back of the car and it should pop right out) to help free the front of the panel.
This seems a good a time as any to point out everything you see here was found INSIDE the door panel. How does someone lose an iTunes giftcard and part of their lunch INSIDE of a door?
The door has an inner plastic panel bolted to the metal door. This inner panel holds the window, the door handle, the wiring, and the speakers. However, it blocks access to the outer parts of the door and it is sealed in place to act as a vapor barrier. Fortunately, Mazda included a small area with a simple vinyl cover to access the latch mechanism. Peel it away and set it aside. Please note that the door will still be jammed closed at this point, so you’ll be working semi-blind.