Sunday, September 6, 2015

2003 to 2015 Chevy Express Manual Window Handle Fix

Chevrolet has gotten a lot of mileage out of the 1997 design of their full-sized van. They restyled the front sheet metal and interior in 2003 to look more like the trucks at the time. In 2008, the dashboard was revised to be a bit more functional. Chevy/GMC (the vans are practically identical) have revised the passenger side airbag, changed the engines and stopped making the 1500 model and the V-6 as of 2014. As of right now they are the only American style vans still made except for arguably the Nissan NV series. Even though the space is limited and the fuel economy is about 13 to 14 miles to the gallon, they are tough, reliable and plentiful especially on the used market for a good price. They ride great in spite of Michigan's potholed and cratered roads and can still be running north of 200,000 miles with basic maintenance.

However, the one gripe with these vans are the inside door panels. They are made of thin plastic and break easily.  What's worse is that these cost over $300 a side even if you just break the handle. Another problem are the window regulators on manual models. I imagine this is across the board on all GM and even on other makes, but EVERYTHING is built into one unit. When I had to turn my work truck around to do a U turn, I placed my knee up against the panel and promptly busted off the capstan (It looks like a capstan to me, and if you know the proper name leave a comment below) holding the window crank. Taking apart the door revealed that the lock, window regulator, all the mechanisms were riveted into a very large assembly that was also riveted to the door. This was $600 at the dealer; nice job GM! 

The replacement I got at a junkyard was less than complete and hacked of everything save the window regulator. The capstan that the window crank would affix to was unmolested, but held on with three crimp joints. I started by drilling these out with a bit just big enough to remove the broken part from the van. The retainer came off and so did the capstan along with some plastic parts that were also unbroken. Then I did the same to the mangled replacement part. A trip to the hardware store produced three Allen headed machine screws and stop nuts (I would use regular nuts and Locktite, but hindsight is also 20/20) to get this attached through the holes left by the drilled out crimp connections. You have to reach inside the door to get these on, so wear gloves and sleeves. Roll the window up and down before you button the door up. Lastly make sure the window crank is pointed toward the front when the window is rolled up to help prevent this from happening again. Maranatha! 

No comments: