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Dear Members,

I drove the Spider around quite a bit this past weekend - taking people for rides with the top down on the first sunny days in Portland this year - and all was well...

This evening, however, I noticed that the door handle/latch on the passenger side was misbehaving. The inside door handle doesn't seem to want to spring back to it's middle position (forward to lock, back to open - middle being the 'at rest position).

I also noticed that the door is not closing tightly and smartly - and there is some 'play' in the door when it's fully closed.

Any thoughts from the wisened group before I tear the door apart and wreak further unpseakable damage? Any obvious fix to this problem? Is there some 'springy' mechanism that's seized up, perhaps? All thoughts/ideas appreciated!!

Aaron Pratt
[email protected]
 

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You're actual door handle might be stripping slowly. The handle is made of a soft material (dont know what), and the mechanism that the handle is on, is a hard metal. My handle was slowly stripping, and it would hold the latch half way open and my door would not close right, i'd have do the returning of the handle manually. Then a week later the handle was done.

Take the handle off and see if all the teeth are intact. If they are, it's probably something inside.
 

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Hopefully it's just a gummed up return spring. Got to expect that kind of thing in a 30 year old car.

Time to take the inside door panel off and clean and lube the mechanism.

Be real careful when you remove the door and window handles. The little set screws in there may be corroded and not withstand much abuse. Be sure to use the correct size screwdriver. Also, when you remove the inside door panel go real slow, and wedge out the friction fit fasteners on the sides of the panel. Use some duct tape to protect the painted finish of the metal. The top plastic trim slides UP to free it from the pinch fasteners and keep in mind that it's probably a bit fragile also due to age. Don't be surprised if the cardboard backing of the vinyl panel is in poor condition. Mine was so warped that I had to strip the vinyl part off the cardboard and discard the thin foam backing. I then made a new backer out of thin composition board (sprayed with a water sealer) and new foam all glued together, along with a new plastic sheet water shield. Total cost was about $10, vice $180 for a new set of door panels.

Sounds like the striker mechanism may not be going all the way to the full closed lock. Again probably just gummed up. Clean it first, then see if it needs adjusting. Also, while you're inside the door, clean everything out and re-grease the window roll mechanism, pulley wheels, etc. Try not to disturb the adjustment of the window channels unless they need adjusting also. If you must, and the window is currently adjusted correctly, try and mark the exact position on the adjuster plates so you can put back in the same position. Clean out the dirt, etc that has accumulated in the bottom of the door and also the weep holes. If you see any rust, do something about it now.
 
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