Volvo 240 Door Handle Repairs

Sunken Door Handle

Here is another page on door handles.  What you see above is a left rear handle that has sunken in and its shape has become bowed toward an hourglass form.  There are many possible problems with 240 door handles, but this is a common one caught before the handle needs to be entirely replaced.  In this series I will illustrate a repair of  the door handle return stop and its adjustment, covering disassembly and reassembly.  The example here is a rear door, but the differences between this and a front door are few.

Remove the door panel

Assembled door panelDisassembled door panelOn a front or rear door the armrest, unlock knob, and window control must be removed. 


Armrest screwsPartsPry out the buttons covering the armrest screws and remove them.  There are three on a front door armrest; two on a rear.  They will be Phillips head in the older 240s and I found Torx T-25 to work on this '91.  On the front door armrest, the final attachment is a keyed pin.  With the screws removed and any window switches separated from the armrest, rotate the armrest so it points straight up to align the tabs on the keyed pin and wiggle it free.

Window Control

Window switchUnplug the switch With power windows, slide the switch assembly out of the slot in the armrest.  The driver's front switch module will fit through the panel without disconnecting the plugs, but I found the rear door panel was more comfortable with having the switch unplugged.   Manual window cranks are removed by pulling the plastic trim from the crank handle and removing the retaining screw.  Notice the plastic glide washer has nubs that face the door panel material.


Unsnapping panelPanel inside Fingers are all that is necessary to separate the panel from the door.  Care taken at this stage will keep the door panel from ripping out where the fastener snaps attach.  Experience helps, but if you feel for the buttons and get your fingers directly behind them, they should come out with the panel and not be left in the door.  Unsnap from the bottom up, paying attention to the last two near the top on both sides.  Carefully reach behind and disconnect the speaker wires.  Feed the window switch wires into the door cavity.  With all the buttons released grasp the edges near the top and lift straight up to disengage the upper tabs under the window scraper.  Lift over the door lock and set aside.

Vapor Barrier

You may find (should find) a vapor barrier made of kraft paper or sheet plastic.  The bottom of it should tuck inside the door cavity.  Remove this carefully from the the area of the door handle and pay attention to where it is taped and sealed for reassembly. 

Remove the door handle

Handle backHandle screws Handle looseHandle outWith the panel removed the back side of the door handle is visible.  It is fastened with two screws, either Phillips or as on the '91, Torx T27.  Remove the handle screws and go around to the outside of the door and lift out the handle.

Repair the handle

Stop pin gone With the handle out, many problems may become apparent.  The mechanism can have obvious wear, loose rivets and pins, and bent pieces.  If the handle was usable before doing the repair, most problems can be fixed by reforming bent parts, re-staking rivets and pins, and dressing mushroomed wear surfaces with a file or wheel.  The hourglass shape to the cast body is a common problem if left to worsen will make the handle bind and stick.  I've been able to knock them back in shape with a hammer and block of wood while held end-wise in a vise.  Be careful with this pot metal.

If the handle is beyond repair, there are many good ones in the salvage yards.  They are either right side or left.  Front and rear makes no difference.  The common-sense thinking is rear door handles might be in better shape.

Metal broken Bolt replaces pinRubber cover The return stop is commonly broken.  Either the pin breaks off or the ear of the casting goes with it.  Fortunately there is a hole on the opposite side of the handle casting where a second pin can be added.  The hole was .157 which is ideal for a 10-32 machine screw tap, so that is what replaced the stop pin.  The orginal pin, staked in place, was covered with rubber, so slide a piece of vacuum hose over the repaired pin.

The flat black paint is easy to touch up, and a good cleaning of the gasket surround makes it look like new.  Now add some white lithium grease to the moving parts.

Adjust the linkage

Linkage adjustment Rest depthFree play depth Misadjustment of the linkage can cause the premature wear of the handle.  The stop pin will be stressed if  the linkage is too tight.  Too loose, and handle will wear and stretch from being overextended.  I think of it like a clutch adjustment.  The small spring visible at the top of the linkage is like the clutch pedal spring.  Disconnect that spring and test the free play before the handle engages the latch release.  Compare it with the free play of  the inside handle.  The larger spring inside the latch equates to the heavy spring in a clutch's pressure plate.  Allowing that to act against the handle stop will cause it to fail.  Using the bottom of the linkage, I gauged the free play to be about 1/8 inch.  Tighten the screw firmly and reconnect the small spring.

Re-install the door panel

Tab on door Tab on panelThere are two things that deserve a mention in reassembling the door panel.  First, when hanging it on the door lock, press the scraper close to the window to be sure the reinforced tabs in the panel engage the door tabs.  Second, take the time to feel each panel fastener mate with the holes in the door, especially the first couple at the top. 

Don't forget to reconnect the speaker leads and window wiring.  Hmmm, why did I have to mention that...