The Toyota Corolla interior door handle is a cheap plastic part that won't last as long as the rest of the car. In this article we'll cover how to replace the part and include some pictures. We'll also discuss why you should consider purchasing a set of four handles instead of the single part for the driver side door.
As some visitors might remember I recommended the Toyota Corolla as a excellent choice for first car. This Toyota has a metal timing chain instead of a belt and an excellent service record. I've actually seen these cars with more than 300,000 miles on the original engine and transmission making it an old, yet reliable car. However, the cheap interior parts like the shifter handle button and the Toyota Corolla interior door handle certainly won't make it that far.
Since the 1999 through 2002 Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling compact cars of all time there are millions of these vehicles requiring the replacement of the interior door release handle. This is good news for car owners, because the aftermarket industry has stepped up and provided cost-effective solutions for replacement parts. This means you don't have to take a trip to the Toyota dealer parts department to find a new handle.
This saves you some money. However, it's the process of installing it yourself that will really save you the big dollars. Most dealerships are charging a minimum one hour labor at the shop labor rate. Depending on where you live this can be $100 or more. Even shops that don't have a minimum charge will still get at least a half hours labor to replace the plastic handle.
Obviously, the reason I support the purchase of four handles, when you only need one, falls into the price and convenience category. Although the driver’s side interior door handle on the Corolla is the one that goes first the other ones are not far behind.
The driver side obviously fails first, because it gets a lot of use. Nevertheless, the main reason for the parts failure is the plastic continues to age poorly. The part that attaches to the rod becomes brittle and disintegrates.
Since the rear doors are used far less than the front doors you can skip the replacement of them for now. With that said, I would go ahead and replace both the driver side and the passenger side Toyota Corolla interior door handles.
Then you can save the remaining two and use them as backups in case the driver side breaks again. Or you'll at least have two on hand to replace the next handle that breaks.
Let me provide an example of what happens when you buy these interior release handles one at a time. I have a customer with a 2002 Toyota Corolla. When the driver side door handle broke they said just get the one, because I plan on replacing this car within a year.
Two years later they came back to get the passenger side handle replaced. Again, the customer said, just get me the one handle, because I'm going to get a new car.
Another two years goes bye and they come back for a second driver
side door handle. Of course I said, "Let me guess, you only want me to
get one replacement interior door handle because you're getting a new
The Corolla owner said, "Yes, just get the one handle, it's time to finally get rid of the car". At this point, we spent about $30 on the three replacement handles, including shipping and tax.
We could've got a set of four for $10. Update: the customer still drives this Toyota Corolla. The car is about to turn 17 years old. The lesson to learn here is despite the intentions of upgrading our automobiles, we often find it necessary to stay behind the wheel longer than we have originally planned.
As far as car repairs go replacing the Toyota Corolla interior door handle is one of the easier jobs you'll run into. In fact, you only need two tools. You'll need a Phillips screwdriver to remove the single retaining screw and maybe a flat head screwdriver to disengage the linkage rod that runs to the door latch.
The best part about the job is you don't even have to remove the door panel to replace the Toyota Corolla interior door handle assembly. However, there's a trick to replacing the plastic release handle on Toyota models from 1998 through 2002. After you remove the Phillips retaining screw you slide the handle assembly towards the front of the vehicle.
There are plastic tabs that engage the door panel and therefore hold that interior handle firmly in place when people pull out on the handle. Once you slide the handle forward you'll be able to pull out word to expose the linkage rod and the nylon retaining clip that holds the rod onto the handle.
Surprisingly, the nylon retainer that snaps around the linkage rod fits extremely tight. It looks like you can take your finger and pull it away, but this is where I use a small flat blade screwdriver to apply a little leverage. The replacement handles come with a new nylon retainer that fits just as snugly.
Note that when you reinstall the interior handle that pushing in against the door panel why sliding it back into place makes re-engaging the retaining tabs easier. Finally, when you install the Phillips head screw don't over tighten it for two reasons. The Phillips head screw threads into the sheet metal panel and it doesn't take much to strip it out. Also if you over tighten it you're going to crack the new plastic interior handle.
We filed this Toyota Corolla interior door handle article in the miscellaneous car repairs section. Take a look over there and see a few other common and easy to complete do-it-yourself auto repairs.