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Old 09-06-2004, 01:13 PM   #1
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Default Trouble removing outer rear door panel on 1997 SL2

Hi, everybody. I'm having a problem with the window in one of the rear doors on my 97 SL2. I think the glass has slipped out of the track that carries it up and down. I want to open the door to check out the power window system.

I've found and removed the "vix" bolts (the ones with the star heads) but it appears that I have to take off the outer handle to get the panel off and I can't figure out how.

Does anyone know the complete procedure for getting this panel off?

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Old 09-06-2004, 03:34 PM   #2
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Well, I guess the solution was "try harder". Here's what I learned in case anyone else needs to know:

If you open the rear door of the SL2 and sit in the back seat, you will see 7 (I think) vix screws around the sides and bottom of the door that hold the outer panel on. The piece of the puzzle that I was missing was that there are also two smaller vix screws on the upper hinge-side of the door that hold on another related piece of trim. If you stand outside the car and look the doors there are two pieces of trim (black in my case), one on each door that are essentially between the windows on the front door and the rear door. Removing this piece of trim was the key.

Once you've removed all the screws, the black piece of trim will slide off. Then remove the door handle by lifting up on it and pulling out the little black plastic stud on the underside. This stud is actually two pieces similar to a drywall anchor. The first piece slides into the whole and then second piece slides inside of the first to expand the first and secure it in place. I completely mangled this piece removing it but I think (hope) will cost be a dollar or two to replace. Once this piece is removed, the handle slips off easily.

So, now that the handle and trim are removed, the door panel and the weatherstripping should pull off. The panel has two little nubbins on the upper edge that let it hang on the door frame. Be careful not to break these off. They seem to be mostly for convenience during installation and shouldn't affect the panel if one gets broken off.

Inside the panel there's a sheet covering the "guts" of the door that is black plastic on one side and a white felt-like material on the inner side. There's a gummy caulk that runs around the perimter. If you just pull the sheet off, it will tear apart leaving the caulk and white felt on the door and the black plastic in your hand. Work around the top and sides of the material to separate it from the door. There was no reason to detach the bottom.

Once the inside of the door is exposed, you will see the power window mechanism, the glass window, etc. Across the bottom of the window is attached an extruded aluminum channel that houses a plastic bushing (for lack of a better term). This bushing attaches to the power window armature and slides back and forth in the channel as the armature tilts up and down. The combination of these motions raises and lowers the window pane. In my case, the plastic bushing has snapped clean in half and the end of the armature was riding back and forth on the aluminum channel. Eventually, the end of the armature slipped out of the channel and the window stopped working. I'm going to the dealership tomorrow to try to replace the channel and the bushing. That appears to be the smallest part you can replace.

Just so you're aware, the end of the armature can slip up past the channel and ride against the glass of the window. I would suspect that this could easily break or scratch the window.

For those of you who don't know, there's a reason to take the outer panel of the door off, rather than the inner panel. The inside of the door is solid metal except (apparently) where the inner door handle, lock and window crank/control feeds through to the passenger compartment. The outer panel came off pretty easily compared to other vehicles I've worked on so this seems like a pretty useful design. It was easy to work on plus it allows you to replace the side panel if it gets damaged without replacing the entire door.

I hope this helps someone else. If you have questions let me know.
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Old 09-06-2004, 07:02 PM   #3
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Thanks KMC,

That info will come in handy if I ever need to get at the inside.
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