The handle broke on our 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan. To open the sliding door, we had to open the front door and reach around to the inside latch. Inconvenient, but we lived with it for a year. Why? The part is impossible to find except at the dealership, and they wanted $90, plus another $300 in labor to install it. Obviously, if it's that expensive, it must be a real hassle to replace, right?
Last week the rear handle also broke. And the dealership wanted another $390 for that one! Stupid plastic parts! But I found a website showing how to bolt the broken piece back together. It also showed exactly how to disassemble the door - only 3 nuts, 5 screws, and a few plastic clips.
A few hours and one trip to the hardware store later, and I had it fixed! Better than new!
"Surely," I said, "the sliding door can't be much harder!" Turns out, it's even easier! A grand total of three screws and one panel held on by plastic clips are all that separate you from a fully functioning handle.
This same procedure should work for any of the Siennas made around the same time.
Step 1: Tools of the Trade
- 10mm socket and wrench, for removing bolts and screws.
- Flat head screwdriver, wrapped in tape to protect the paint, for prying things apart.
- 3/16" (or thereabouts) socket. Size doesn't much matter, it's just a handy way to push out a plastic rivet.
- Flexible retracting grabber thing, for fishing the broken piece and any dropped tools or parts out from inside of the door. A willing 3-year-old accomplice with small hands, or a trained rat, might make this unnecessary.
- Clamp, for holding the pieces until the glue cures.
- Utility knife, for scraping off the excess glue.
- Adhesive. I used Locktite's Sumo glue. You could use Gorilla Glue, JB Weld, or epoxy. Something thick is handy here; super glue probably won't cut it.
- Small rod of some kind. I cut the head off a bolt. A large ringshank nail or even a wooden dowel might suffice.
Step 2: Removing the Panel
Use the 10mm socket to remove the screw inside the cup holder.
Slide the tape-covered flat head screwdriver under the panel and pry. The 10 plastic clips inside will pop out.
Pull down the corner of the sheet of weather-proofing plastic.
Step 3: Remove the Handle Assembly
Pull the cable and link head out of the white plastic piece. Remove the two bolts which hold the handle assembly to the door. Remove the handle assembly.
If you drop the bolts into the door (like I did), fish them out with a magnet on a rod, or enlist the help of someone with small hands.
With the handle assembly removed, you can open the door from the outside by pulling the latch cable.
Step 4: Remove Handle From Assembly
The handle has two fingers which fit around the white plastic piece to open the door. One of these fingers had broken off. I found that piece inside the door (a mirror, flashlight, and the flexible grabber came in handy here).
The other end of the handle pivots on a plastic rivet. Use the small socket to push the three tabs of the rivet in and down simultaneously. Use the flat head screwdriver to pry it out far enough to remove. The handle will now pull free of the assembly.
Step 5: Repair the Handle
The handle and finger are hollow, which allows us to insert a pin into the middle for added strength. Cut your bolt/nail/dowel to length, and dry fit all the pieces to make sure it's short enough. Be careful which way you tip it - the handle is hollow all the way down, and the pin can fall in too far.
Coat the broken finger with glue, insert the pin, and fit them together with the rest of the handle. Clamp for the recommended cure time. Once cured, trim any excess glue.
Step 6: Reassemble
Fit the handle back into the handle assembly, and engage the fingers around the white pivot piece. This part can be a little fiddly, but you'll work it out. Just don't snap anything else in the process!
Insert the plastic hinge pin for the handle. Slide the assembly into place and replace the two screws. Reconnect the cable. Stick the plastic sheet back into place. Snap the panel back on. Replace the screw in the cup holder. Laugh all the way to the bank, knowing you just saved nearly $400 (spend some of that by taking the missus out to dinner, for having put up with the broken handle for so long without nagging you about it).