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Car Door Repair


Door Adjustments and Tips

Car doors tend to get out of adjustment because they get lots of use, especially if they are abused by constant slamming. If a car door does not latch fully without slamming, it needs adjustment.

Weatherstripping becomes compressed with age, sometimes to the point where it no longer seals the opening. That also calls for adjustment.
Door rattles caused by a latch that is too loose can be identified by grabbing the door handle with the door closed and shaking it all around. A slight, silent movement is all right. Anything more calls for repairs.

Not all rattling doors, though, call for an adjustment. The cause of the rattle may be loose glass channels or spare parts that have fallen into the door bottom. Open the door and shake it. Slap it at the bottom several times with your open hand. If you hear a rattle, it is caused by something in side the door. To remove the object, you must take off the trim panel.

Striker. A loose or noisy latch means that the striker, which holds the door closed and keeps it from moving up and down, is out too far. A door that must be slammed shut has its striker set in too far.

Considerable striker adjustment is provided by enlarged mounting holes.
To adjust the striker, loosen the mounting screw or screws. You may need an off set Phillips screwdriver with No. 3 and No. 4 heads. Recent Ford products call for a special tool to loosen the post-type striker; pliers will do in a pinch. Late model GM car strikers can be loosened with large-hex set-screw wrenches. Some early-model cars used clutch-head screws; you need a clutch-head screwdriver for those.

Loosen the screws just enough so that you can shift the striker by tapping it with a hammer. Snug up the screws and close the door to check progress. Move and check until you get the striker where you want it. If you are adjusting the striker in or out, try not to disturb the up-down adjustment, and vice-versa.
Up-down. For this alignment, close the door slowly while you depress the door button or otherwise hold the latch open. The door should close straight in and align correctly, with no binding, as the free-moving latch contacts the striker. Raise or lower’the striker as necessary. In a few hardtops and convertibles and some Chrysler cars, the striker is supposed to give a slight lift to the door as it closes; that helps the window glass seal at the top. If you are in doubt, check your car’s specifications.

In-out. If the door closure is too loose or too tight, adjust the in-out alignment. Loosen the striker and tap it in or out until you can close the door tightly with out slamming.
Fore-aft. Besides the up-down and in- out adjustments, a door striker can be moved fore or aft to align with the latch. To check fore-aft alignment, put a lump of modeling clay or putty in the door latch opening. Close the door on the putty just enough to get an impression of the striker. (If you completely close the door, you will have a mess to clean out.) Open the door and inspect the putty impression. Bolt- type striker shoulders should be centered in the latch opening. Plate-type strikers, as used on Chrysler cars, should be nearly centered on the latch cog.

The putty method does not work with bear-hug latches such as those in some Ford products. To check their fore-and-aft alignment, coat the latch contacts with dark grease. Close the door and reopen it.
For all fore-aft adjustments, add or remove shims beneath the striker base; you can buy shims from your car dealer. When the striker is where you want it, tighten the screws. Test again to be sure.

Before you leave the striker-setting job, see that the safety catch is working. That feature stops the door at half-latch, preventing it from flying open if it should be unlatched accidentally. To test, push the door in until it is almost latched. Then, try to open it without using the button. The door should be held by the safety latch. If it opens, suspect either an incorrect striker setting or a worn or sticking latch mechanism. The cure may be a shop job.

A striker should never be set to pull the door into alignment. That adjustment is made to the hinges.