Swapped my exterior door handles so they open in the other direction (like a CJ/YJ) - JeepForum.com
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Unread 07-17-2010, 07:03 PM   #1
Jason D
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Join Date: Sep 2007
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Swapped my exterior door handles so they open in the other direction (like a CJ/YJ)

I'm still pretty new to jeeps, but since day one the direction of the outside door handles has annoyed me. Today I finally swapped them around so they faced the other direction and made them easier to open.

The modification needed to do it was actually fairly easy. Especially compared to the PIA it was to get the door handles out and then putting everything back together. A GREAT friend of mine, who happens to be an engineer, simply repositioned and bent the rod that connects the door handle to the locking mechanism. (THANKS JASON!!) I didn't take any great pics for a How-To, but here are the ones I have along with some from the Factory Service Manual and some from DailyDrivenTJ.com - Welcome.

Roll the window down. Remove the two screws holding the door sail panel. (phillips screwdriver) Remove the panel by pulling up & out.


Here’s the link I used to remove the door panel: Remove Door Panels On A 2004 Jeep Wrangler

NOTES:
You don't need to remove the inner door handle.
There are 6 clips holding the door panel in place. Another interior removal tool would be nice to have here. I just pulled them out, but I broke a few.


Roll the window up. Pull back the splash shield to gain access to the handle.
Remove the pin holding the rod to the door handle. You’ll have to do this from the access hole in the door. The pic is taken from the top only so it’s easier to see. I used a small pair of right angle needle nose pliers.



Using a flat blade screwdriver, hold back or bend the RETAINER out of the way, then push up on the "gold" KEEPER. This was a huge PIA, and even harder to put back in. Once you swap the handles around the RETAINERS will be upside down so you’ll need to turn them over. Now just push out the handle. It’s a tight fit by the way.




You have to swap the handles around, not only to get them to face the correct way, but also to keep the “action” of the release mechanism still pushing down the rod that runs from the handle, down to the bottom of the door and back up to the door latch. I removed one of the rods and tried to modify it so in this pic, it’s actually squeezed together. Originally, it was more spread out in a “V” shape. As it turned out, you don’t actually need to remove the rod.




Now that everything on the handle is on the other side. (pointing to the rear of the jeep instead of the front) the rod has to be squeezed together, so it lines up with the release mechanism. Also, there is a slight bend at the top of the rod where it is flattened out. Bend it in the other direction until it lines up with the release mechanism and reinsert the pin.

That's it. Put everything back together. The actual changes we made to the jeep were so simple, (swap the handles and bend the rods) we wondered if it was originally intended to be this way, but some safety expert decided they should be turned around.

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Unread 07-17-2010, 07:40 PM   #2
DanZ51
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If I had read this article last year after just getting my TJ, I'd be outside right now swapping these around.

Now, a year later, I'm starting to get used the backward operation. It's still a stupid design.....
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Unread 07-17-2010, 10:59 PM   #3
MattJeep
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This is a great post! The door handles are completely retarded, I still have not gotten used to it. They work against correct leverage.
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Unread 07-17-2010, 11:02 PM   #4
MT_Ranger
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You might think a little differently when you jam them full of mud thrown up by your front tires.
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Unread 07-17-2010, 11:05 PM   #5
DevilDogDoc
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You do realize that Jeep flipped them around bc of issues related to mud being flung back and getting in the latches and people not being able to open them right? This was one of the improvements over the YJ's. Or so I have heard.
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Unread 07-17-2010, 11:06 PM   #6
DevilDogDoc
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Damn I type slow
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Unread 07-17-2010, 11:12 PM   #7
MattJeep
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Nope, never knew that. I guess I can see that, but damn its akward. Just another Jeep quirk
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Unread 07-17-2010, 11:35 PM   #8
MT_Ranger
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Just something that's makes your TJ a tad nicer to drive than a YJ/CJ
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Unread 07-18-2010, 12:06 AM   #9
GMC7000
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Funny I gotz a yj and a tj, never noticed the difference.
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Unread 07-18-2010, 12:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilDogDoc View Post
You do realize that Jeep flipped them around bc of issues related to mud being flung back and getting in the latches and people not being able to open them right? This was one of the improvements over the YJ's. Or so I have heard.
If you ever wheeled at Los Coyotes when it was open, the manzanita that lined both sides of the trail would easily shove branches into the forward facing handles and make bad things happen.

I've had it shove a branch in between the mirror and windshield frame and snap side mirrors off by breaking the aluminum bases.
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Unread 07-18-2010, 12:59 AM   #11
DevilDogDoc
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I never thought about branches and such, much worse than a little mud!
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Unread 07-18-2010, 01:32 AM   #12
2006_Sport
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Honestly the direction of the door handles never bugged me. I guess some people are more OCD about some things than others.


Good write up though!!
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Unread 04-29-2011, 07:26 PM   #13
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switched mine great research mud in door handle never affected my yj go home wash out thanks
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Unread 04-29-2011, 08:02 PM   #14
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Say whatever you want about the TJ handles, but they're a heck of a lot better than the handles on the JK - I hate those crappy pushbutton handles with a passion.
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Unread 01-19-2013, 07:34 PM   #15
rayray71
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I am in desperate need for the door handle keeper retaining clips!! Does anyone know the part number or have a link where I can order them at?? THX IN ADVANCE!!
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