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April 26, 2012

Sprinter Sliding Door Handle Fix

See here for an update on the door: that-dang-sprinter-sliding-door I've had a lot of subsequent trouble with it.

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
Once the door was open, I could see how it was constructed.  The door handle moves a lever on the top of the latch which makes a cable pull another lever on the other end of the door which releases the catch on the back of the door.  There are a bunch of wires that control the electric locks.  I identified the black cable that pulls the rear lever.

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 ended up removing the rear end lock mechanism from the door so I could see how it operated.  I finally figured out that the cable end shifted from its correct position and failed to pull the lever to disengage the latch.  I put a small cable tie around it to hold it in place and then it worked properly.  I lubed all the moving parts before reinstalling it.  It was tricky to get it into position and also be able to insert the screws,  I ended up using a screwdriver inserted into a screw hole to hold it.  A helper on the inside to hold it in place would have helped, but the dog doesn't have opposable thumbs.
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


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thank you very much for this post

    I also have an '05 LTV with same problem

    Is the cable where you put the zap stap/cable tie toward the rear of the door...behind the panel?

    Thanks again


    1. Yes, it is the locking mechanism on the rear of the door. It was hard to get the panel off the door because of the tight access between the van wall, cabinet and inside of the door. I had to get a small pry bar and protect the van with some shims. There's also a plug in the middle rear of the door panel. There are 3 bolts that hold the locking mechanism to the rear of the door, accessible from the outside. But be careful, it will drop down once you remove the 3rd bolt. I used a screwdriver to hold it up. Another pair of hands would have been helpful.

  3. Hi, Our 04 Travel Van sliding door will not open now. The plastic part everyone talks about is still in tact. Cannot get door to open from either handle. Feels loose. Took off panel and still can't see how to open door. Did you have to remove cabinet to get the total panel off the door? I can see the solenoid working with the key. It was getting hard to open from the outside before it just won't open at all and felt loose on the handle. Any tips? Thanks for your wonderful pictures.

    1. The only other thing I could think of is to tighten the screws holding the handle to the door and really douse it with lubricant. They seem to need regular lubrication. Mine never felt loose and it was just hard to get the panel off. I didn't remove any cabinets.

  4. 2006 Sprinter. One bolt holds the inside plastic handle on according to the manual, but after taking the bolt out, I can't get the handle out to replace it. What's the trick for removal and re-installation?

    1. Mine is a 2005 and has 2 screws behind nearly invisible covers. Get a flashlight and see if you can see the second cover.

      At present, my outside handle won't work so I have to fix it again.

  5. 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, ... sslidingdoor.blogspot.com

  6. I recently found your blog and have been reading along. I believed I could leave my first comment. I don't know very well what to state except that I've enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I could keep visiting this blog very often..door handles sydney


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