My sliding door handle broke and wouldn't open the door at all while I was on my trip last summer. I ended up using the driver's door instead, which the dog adapted to quickly. With research, mostly on Sprinter-source.com, I found it is a fairly common problem. The plastic inside handle is prone to breakage at the crucial lever point. I did this fix last fall but didn't document it then. I haven't yet looked for a replacement part, but I should ...
Here's what I did to fix the sliding door handle using the trick here: http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16718 : (many thanks!)
First thing was to find the screw covers and pop them off. Then remove the 2 large screws. It took me a little while fiddling with it to find how the latch mechanism works. and I had to remove the panel to see the other end where the door latches.
Getting the panel off the door proved to be rather difficult. It is held with plastic grippers that snap in and pull out, with some difficulty. The access to the rear end of the door was very tight because of the cabinet that sits half way in the doorway and that made it hard to pull the grippers out. I had to resort to using a flat pry bar.
|Remove the 2 screws to remove the handle|
Close examination of the plastic door handle revealed a break at the base of the levers that engage the lock lever thus rendering it too weak to push the lock lever. This problem seems to be fairly common and I found a patch procedure someone on Sprinter-source.com forum used to fix it. I used my Dremel to pare a couple of surface bolt flats so they didn't extend past the plastic levers, then glued them to the outside to strengthen the levers using Gorilla glue. I then drilled a hole and used wire to loop around the base of the lever and hold it firmly to the body of the handle. A little Gorilla glue into the break and clamp the thing together to dry. I had to do a little pruning with the Dremel to make the wires clear the latch movement.
Once it was all dry, I put it back in place on the door and tested it. Unfortunately, it still kept getting stuck. I ended up doing some more research on the how the mechanism worked and removed the panel on the rear door to see how a lock that wasn't broken worked. That was only marginally helpful because the sliding door mechanism stretches from one side of the door to the other and no other door on the van does that.
|Lock mechanism under the inside handle|
I also lubed all the moving mechanisms on the handle side of the door.
|Rear locking mechanism in place.|
It engages the stationary bar on the van.
|Rear locking mechanism shown as it faces the rear of the door|
|Cable tie to keep the cable from shifting out of position|