AMC Broken Door Handle: Concord, Eagle, Gremlin, Hornet, Spirit

 

Is your door handle breaking on your AMC? If you simply changed the handle you are not correcting the problem that caused it to break. I found this out 2 different times, one with my 82 Eagle, the other with 88 Eagle. To eliminate the 'possibility' of handle breaking again, even if new handle, you have to twist the vertical bar to the latch back into shape. You will have to remove door panel, and roll up window. Once done, remove the lower window vertical track the glass slides in, there is a bolt that holds it in place at bottom of door, very easy, then slide out the felt covered metal track. This will give you direct access to the flat, metal bar that is causing the problem because it has twisted thru time.....or someone has 'forced' the door handle open.

 
The culprit is the Z SHAPED FLAT METAL PIECE THAT IS CONNECTED TO THE LATCH. Nothing more. (See illustration)

 

When I say 'forced' this means that you simply could be trying to open your door normally, and the door handle paddle is 'tight' or 'won't pull completely back to open and unlock the door' and suddenly you get limp paddle because you just broke the pot metal handle in back due to stress.
 
The stress is when you try to force open the door it twists the thin, flat metal bar on the latch. So if you want, you can continually replace door handles over and over again until you fix this. Take it from someone who replaced THREE driver side door handles on one car before discovering what problem was.
 
So while you have door panel off and new or used door handle installed, hook up the rod and watch the vertical rod (the problem!) as you slowly pull handle. The rod on the latch should be parallel to door and take a set of vice grips and twist the rod back 1/4 inch or less, in other words, the oppisite way of which it tries to turn when you are attempting to pull handle.
 
Once done, put clips and rods all back with braces, and I *highly recommend* to get a new set of my door handle gaskets ($10 a set + shipping) for your new door exterior handle. 

I also *highly recommend* to slather grease inside the latch while back there, also window regulator, inside spring in your new handle also. Use it liberally....LOTS of it. The original white lithium grease AMC used long since gone, and these parts need LOTS of grease, especially in areas of country with higher humidity. You will thank me 50 years from now when you have not had to replace another door handle because of this.

 
On one of my Eagles, the white 82 with 210,000 miles, I have not had to replace a door handle in many years since that incident with 3 door handles in one month. And none of my other "small handle" AMCs have had any issues with breakage.
 
The photos here are from the AMC Dealer Workshop Manual 1984-86 and have left the photos sort of large to show detail on vertical bar you need to twist and fix, and also the door handle seals I sell, of which those seal your handle to door and if your original ones are brittle or gone, creates stress which leads to bent rod which leads to breakage! Good luck with your small handled AMC. Eddie Stakes