Motorhome advice: How to replace the handle on a motorhome habitation door
Words and pictures by Ian Pedley
The external chrome handle had become pitted on the habitation door of our 2015 Swift Rio and looked a little unsightly.
Happily, Swift supplied a replacement handle for free under warranty, but it came too late for our dealer to fit it on our last visit. So instead, I decided to fit it myself.
Studying the door construction, it appeared to be made up of two sections. The main door construction is an internal moulding bonded to the external skin. The door mechanism is housed in a separate covered section with no visible fixings.
Undeterred, I started with the inside grab handle, which came off easily enough by just undoing four screws, but this didn’t expose the hidden fixings I was hoping for.
I then searched the internet for some information or a component drawing and drew a blank.
So I started gently probing the mechanism housing and began to understand that the whole cover appeared to be in one piece and was stuck on somehow from the inside. The question was, how to get it off without damaging it.
I reached for my plastic trim removal tools and soon had the bottom section loose and worked carefully upwards; eventually I was able to work the whole moulded panel loose and manoeuvre it over the rim catches to get it off completely.
It was held on with internal Velcro strips, so there was no wonder I couldn’t see any fixings!
Once the internal cover panel was removed, I was faced with a mass of cables and wires but could see the four internal screws holding/clamping the external catch from inside.
Carefully removing the screws allowed the outside moulding to come away complete with the handle and the lock (no springs fell out, luckily) still attached.
This revealed that the wrong part had been supplied. All was not lost, though, as I realised that I could swap the new handle into the old surround.
I took the liberty of regreasing and spraying all the mechanism with WD-40 while I was in there.
All the internal parts were cleaned of surplus oil and grease and the door surfaces were also cleaned to remove any marks to keep the missus happy.
Step-by-step guide to replacing the handle on a motorhome habitation door
1. Before you get stuck into the stripdown, you’ll need to get a set of trim removal tools – they cost £10 or less online. The tool on the left worked best for this job.
2. The inside view of the habitation door reveals there are no fixings to be seen.
3. The only visible screws are on the grab rail and these two crossheads screws need to be removed.
There are two at the other end that also need removing.
4. This chromed bezel around the inner door handle is attached to the main panel so don’t pry away at it
5. Carefully work a cranked trim removal tool behind the door’s internal mechanism cover. Be very gentle!
6. The trim tool was gently worked around the perimeter and the cover pulled away from the Velcro fastenings
7. The whole cover came away and just need to be worked over the top and bottom door catches to be released completely. With the trim cover removed, it’s easy to see how the door mechanism works.
8. The original handle’s chromed finish had become pitted and looked a little untidy.
9. The new handle assembly had a brushed aluminium style finish and a white surround.
10. Removing the four internal clamping screws on the inside of the door allows the handle to come free.
11. The new handle had a slightly different design to the original, but it could be easily adapted by unbolting the new handle and slotting it into the old handle.
12. The original handle’s lock mechanism needs to slot into cross-shaped housing on the inner section of the lock mechanism.
13. The new handle fitted into the original housing has greatly improved the look of the motorhome!
Tools you need to replace a habitation door handle:
- Cordless screwdriver with cross-head bit
- Plastic trim tools – assorted
- 13mm AF spanner (handle spindle)
- WD-40 spray oil
- White grease spray
- Spray cleaner
- Cleaning cloth
- Clean finishing cloth
This article was first published in the February 2019 edition of MMM magazine. To read it, buy and download a digital issue here. If you found this advice useful, MMM has practical and technical articles every month - subscribe here to make sure your copy is guaranteed.