My Exterior Door Handle Fix


Veteran Member
Apr 16, 2004
Gaithersburg, MD
Maybe this will help someone who comes across the same problem I had with my exterior door handle.
I dont know if it is the door handle, the door latch, or the door skin that caused this problem. Probably a combination of all 3 since all are aftermarket parts.
The problem was that I had to pull really hard on the exterior door handle to get the door to open, sometimes I couldnt get it to open at all unless I used the interior door handle. Using the interior door handle the door opens perfectly.
Upon closer inspection it was obvious that the rod that connects the exterior door handle to the latch seemed to be too short, it would not push the latch lever far enough to release the door from the striker. This was happening on both doors. Both had the same aftermarket handles, latches and door skins.

Here is the rod I am talking about

In order to get the rod to push the latch lever down further it needed to be lengthened at the curved section in the center of the rod so I cleaned up that section

And then tacked on about a 1/4 inch of weld

Put the rod back in place and viola! given that the extra length pushes the latch down further the door opens perfectly .

I imagine if you don't have a welder some JB Weld might also work. You could probably put a blob on the striker part instead of the rod.

If your door is hard to open with new/aftermarket parts this may be the answer.



New Member
Dec 14, 2021
I was wondering how this fix has held up.
I have the exact same issue and just posted teh question on possible fix


Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Jul 31, 2001
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
I fixed this in 2 minutes. What happened to mine had nothing to do with the rod. The lever that it pushes down on has got bent down a little. I bent that lever part back up some with a long screwdriver and it closed the space between the rod and the lever that it goes into and rides on. Fixed


Veteran Member
May 19, 2000
Los Angeles
Hmmm... interesting... I may look at this on mine. My driver side door opens just a bit more difficult than the passenger side. The passenger side is still all factory original from '71... the handle, striker, latch mechanism... etc, and it still is silky smooth to open and close.

The driver side has a replacement latch mechanism (back when they still had orginal GM) and a newer exterior handle as well as a new striker bolt. It's not bad per se, but no amount of door or window alignment/adjustment can get it to feel like the passenger side.


New Member
Aug 27, 2015
Providence Village Tx
Rick M, thank you for posting this. I was going to post on this topic but did my due diligence of searching first. Like you I replaced my handles and skins on my 81. I just got it back from being painted and the doors have not had handles on the outside for half a decade. My outside handles kinda worked but I think this is the solution I was looking for. I did try bending the lever on the latch it helped very little. I'm also afraid it will just go back to its original position as it does not have much strength. Many thanks as I think this solution will work well for me.

john Gialanella

Veteran Member
Oct 15, 2008
Bloomfield N.J.
On sort of the same subject will the longer 6 1 /4 inch outside door handle work on 1975-81 Camaro's. The 1970-74 Door are 1/2 inch longer than the 5 3/4-inch ones for 75-81. I have a new pair of OER outside door handles for sale and if they also work for later years there is a better chance to sell them. Plus the shorter ones are crap, they brake or split. it happen to me when I owned several later 1970's Camaro's.


Veteran Member
Jul 15, 2005
Had same issue on the driver's side. It's commom problem on this side with aftermarket handles. I also had to add some weld approx 6mm/ 1/4''.

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