Exterior Door Handle Buyer's Guide
- Exterior door serves as your access to a car’s cabin and incorporates locking mechanism for security
- A door handle has a latch, hook, and lever.
- Types of exterior car door handle are pull up, pull out and trigger
- Exterior door handles are made of plastic and metal.
- It typically costs around $24 to $830.
- You can avoid stuck doors by replacing a failing door handle.
Car doors are the gates between you and the cabin of your car. In able for you to sit inside the car, you need to open your door using the exterior door handle. A car door handle is specifically designed to make car ingress and egress possible.
What is an exterior car door handle?
Exterior car door handles are your access to your car’s cabin. For better understanding, car doors feature latch systems that secure them shut to the frame of the car. The latch system needs a trigger to hook and unhook, which is where the car door handle enters the frame. Exterior door handles are mounted on the door panel, often near where the hook and latch area is located.
Each door has its respective door handle but you might notice some cars without any rear door handles on the door panel. That’s because designs vary and some manufacturers conceal door handles by integrating them to the pillars. These are known as hidden or concealed door handles.
How does a car’s exterior door handle work?
Exterior door handles come in various shapes and styles but the operation is generally the same; pull the lever out to release the hook from the vehicle frame’s latch. You can get a good idea of your door mechanism by opening your car door. Here are the parts needed for your car door handle to work.
The latch is located along the center pillar jamb facing north of your car. It often comes in the form of a U-shaped bent metal rod that is screwed on the jamb. This is where the car door is anchored for it to remain shut.
The hook is seen on the inner edge of the door. The hook or clamp is found through a hollow space or slit along the inner edge of your car door. This hollow space is where the latch slides in to engage with the hook.
If you take the mechanism out, you’ll see a lever on the opposite side of the clamp that’s triggered by pulling the car door handle. The clamp embraces the latch upon contact when closing the door. The lever connected to your door handle releases the clamp from the latch effectively opening your car door.
Types of exterior car door handles
Not all cars are fitted with the same door handle; some have handles that pull up, some have levers that pull down, while some feature a trigger mechanism. In that regard, here are some types of OE replacement exterior car door handles you could get.
Pull up door handles are prevalent to cars in the ‘90s, although you could still see it equipped on a few vehicles today. It is often a two-part piece: a frame that houses the keyhole and the pull-up handle. There is a carved section at the bottom to allow your fingers to slip up and behind the handle. Once you’ve grabbed the handle, pull it upwards to swing the door open.
Like pull-up door handles, pull out types of door handles feature a concave carving where your fingers can fit to grab the handle⸺like a telephone. Instead of pulling it up, you pull it towards yourself to release the clamp from the latch. Pull-out door handles are sometimes integrated with keyless entry features.
Trigger door handles were introduced around the ‘70s. It works the same manner as with a gun; there is a trigger on the inner side of the handle that you need to pull to release the clamps from the latch.
What are exterior door handles made of?
There are two main materials used in manufacturing exterior door handles—plastic and metal. Material boils down to personal preference. If you want your exterior door handles to last longer, go for the metal door handles. If you’re concerned about the price, choose the plastic made door handles because they are relatively inexpensive.
Both materials come with different finishes, such as smooth black, textured, chrome and primed. Textured handles offer better grip even when wet, smooth black and chrome blends with the color of your car. Primed handles are ready-to-paint pieces, which are perfect if you want to match your vehicle’s unique color.
How much does an exterior door handle cost?
Prices for exterior car door handles vary from material to the quantity being sold. Plastic car door handles are priced around $30 to $500 regardless of quantity, while metal parts come around $32 to $830. Individual OE replacement door handles (regardless of material) range from $30 to $600, while a set of two could cost you around $50 to $520. There are also OE replacement car door handles that are sold in kits. They come with interior handles, as well. You can purchase OE replacement door handle kits for around $24 to $200.
Why do you need to replace a failing car door handle?
You’ll know your car door handles are failing when there’s looseness in the lever’s motion. There will be times when the lever can get stuck after pulling it up as you open the door. Ignoring these symptoms could result in a stuck door that won’t open from the outside. You could also face a failing latch system where handle disconnects from the lever that releases the clamp from the latch. Failing door handles are a risk, especially during emergencies.