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
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