This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's book, 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911. The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Porsche 911 owner's collection. See The Official Book Website for more details.
If you are not the original owner of your 911, then chances are that there are quite a few things wrong with your car, and you wonder how they got broken. There probably isn't a place on the car with more gadgets and devices that break than on the door. Not only do you have window glass and seals that leak water, but you have door handles, mirror and window switches, window regulators, door stays, and door panels: all of which are very susceptible to damage and breakage. Even if you work on your car only moderately, there is a very high chance that you will need to dive into the door to fix something that has broken. This project specifically targets the replacement of the outer door handle, but because there are so many moving parts on the door, we'll discuss just about everything else as well.
The first step in fixing anything with the door is to disconnect the battery. There are live electrical connections in the door that can short out if you don't remove the negative ground from the battery. Next, you need to remove the door panel. There are quite a few fasteners and clips holding the panel onto the door: many of them hidden out of view. Door panels changed over the years, and yours may vary slightly from the ones in the photographs, but if you work slowly and don't pull too hard on the panel, you should be able to figure out how to remove it. This project will concentrate primarily on the 911SC door panels, however, the removal procedure for the other year door panels is somewhat similar in nature.
Start by removing the top interior trim piece that runs along the length of the door. This is held on by a few screws, and also secured by the mirror switch plastic retainer. Remove the retainer and the screws, and the top trim piece should lift off. Now would be a good time to replace the mirror switch if you have been experiencing problems with it.
The bottom pocket that runs along the door also needs to be removed. This is held on with a few screws that go through the door panel. On some models, they can be slightly hidden, so you might have to hunt for them. Once you have the bottom pocket removed, gently pry off the speaker panel, if your 911 is equipped with door mounted speakers.
Now, remove the large handle that is attached to the door. This is held on with two bolts on the top, and two on the bottom. The two on the top are clearly visible once you remove the top strip, however, the ones on the bottom are covered by the door handle on later model cars. The door latch handle is attached to the door mechanism by a small rod. Release the door latch handle from the rod in order to gain access to the bolts that hold on the larger door handle. Once you remove these bolts, the large handle should pull off of the door.
Now would be a good time to upgrade to the aftermarket inner door latch handles. The original Porsche ones are manufactured out of plastic, and have a tendency to bend and break after many years of opening the door. The aftermarket door latch handles are manufactured out of anodized or painted black aluminum, and are a lot tougher than the plastic ones. To replace the handles, simply remove the small pin that holds them to the large door handle. A small circlip keeps the pin in place, and should be removed with a pair of needlenose pliers. You may also want to spread just a small bit of white lithium grease on the points where the pin makes contact with the door handle. Be careful not to smear it anywhere near where you might grab the handle with your fingers. I also recommend that you replace the small plastic clips on the door handle rod with new ones: these have a tendency to wear and break from use.
On later models, one overlooked fastener is the door lock knob. Behind a small cap lies a hidden screw that must be removed in order to remove the door panel. Remove this screw and pull off the knob and its corresponding plastic surround. On the early cars, the screw that attaches the window crank arm needs to be removed. Simply pry back the plastic covering and underneath you will find the screw.
The door panel itself is also held onto the door with plastic clips similar to the ones used to hold on the dash pad (Pelican Technical Article: Installing a New Dash Pad). To remove the door panel, simply pry it out from the door. It's a smart idea to use a large screwdriver, and pry right near where the plastic clips are attached to the door. This will minimize the chance that the plastic clips will accidentally pull out of the door panel. It's not a huge travesty if they do pull out of the door panel: you can always glue them back on later.
After you pull the panel off of the door, be aware that the window switches are still attached to the panel. They can be removed by bending back the small little tabs that attach them to the door. Pull them out of the panel towards you, and then disconnect them from the wires. Make sure that you label the wires clearly before you remove them from the switches. Now would be an excellent time to replace the window switches if they have been giving you trouble.
Once you have the door panel off, put it in a very safe place where it won't accidentally get crushed. The inside of the door should now be easily accessible. There should also be a thin layer of plastic lightly glued in back of the door. Carefully remove this plastic and place it with the door panel.
Now, you should have full access to the door. If you are planning on replacing just about anything inside the door (window motor, regulator, door stop) then you will need to remove the door mounted speaker. Lots of 911s have had aftermarket speakers added to them over the years, so the mounting configuration of the speakers is likely to vary from car to car. In most cases though, it's easy to figure out the best method to remove the speaker simply by taking a close look at it.
If you are planning on replacing your broken doorstop, make sure that you look at Pelican Technical Article: Door Stay Replacement and Reinforcement. If you are planning on replacing your window regulator or window glass, Project 78 covers this in detail. For now, we'll assume that you're planning on replacing or rekeying your door handle.
Access to the door handle can be made through one of the large holes in the inside of the door. Make sure that you have the window rolled all the way up, or you won't be able to get at the nuts that secure the door handle to the door. Using a small socket, remove the two nuts that hold the door handle onto the outside of the door. Be careful not to let the nuts fall into the recesses of the door, and also be careful not to let the door handle fall on the ground.
If you are replacing the door handle, then the installation of the new one is straightforward. Simply install it onto the door and secure it with the two nuts on the inside of the door. I recommend replacing the two door handle seals with new ones when reinstalling the door handle. If you are replacing an old door handle, then it might be possible to switch your old lock tumbler with the new one, and avoid adding a new key to your set for the car. If your old door handle didn't match the rest of your car, then it is a good time to rekey the lock. See Project 76 for more details on the lock rekeying procedure.
Reassembling the door is basically the task of reattaching all the parts that you have previously removed. Make sure that you didn't drop anything in the door or leave any tools in there (you've heard of surgeons leaving tools in patient's bodies, right?) or the door will develop an annoying rattle. When reattaching the lower door pocket, make sure that the screws line up with the holes in the door. Make sure that you don't force anything, or you might rip and damage your door panel.
Removal of the 911SC door panel requires the removal of lots of small little parts. In the upper left corner, you will see the mirror switch and a single mounting screw for the front of the door panel. The mirror switch can be removed by unscrewing the small plastic disk around the switch. Use a small screwdriver inserted into one of the holes for this task. In the upper right, is the mount for the top of the handle. This is only visible after you remove the top inner trim piece on the inside of the door. The lower right photo shows a few bolts hidden by the door handle and the door latch. The latch is connected to a small rod that exits out of the door. The photo in the lower left shows the lock knob that hides another screw that holds the door panel on. Early model doors are much simpler and require less effort to remove the door panel.
Once you have the door panel off, it's a good time to replace some electrical switches. The mirror switch and the window switches are both very prone to failure. It's a wise idea to replace them while you have the door apart.
The inner door handle is held in with a small pin that is secured by a small circlip. Remove the circlip, and the pin should slide out. The aftermarket door handles that are made out of aluminum are a great improvement to the flimsy original plastic ones.
Inside the door, there are two nuts which fasten the door handle to the door. When you remove these nuts, make sure that your door handle doesn't fall to the ground and become scratched. Access is tight so a small socket wrench is your best bet here.
Brand new door handles typically are supplied with a new tumbler and a new set of keys. Before you install the door handle, it's a wise idea to rekey it to the rest of your car (See Pelican Technical Article: Rekeying Porsche Locks). Even easier, you can switch the tumbler out of your old door handle and place it in the new one.