We are pleased to provide for you our installation instructions for Vette Essentials' custom door handles. We also invite you to review the many other products offered by Vette Essentials, including other custom leather products, as shown on our website: Enjoy!

Disclaimers, etc.

  1. The following are one set of steps that you may use to install the Vette Essentials' custom door handles on a C5 Corvette. Alternatives may exist.
  2. Use these instructions at your own risk and be careful not to damage your new or existing parts.
  3. This entire door handle install will likely take on the order of 60 to 90 minutes.
  4. Neither Vette Essentials nor anyone affiliated with it or the formation of these instructions takes any responsibility for the results or effects achieved by following these instructions.

Specific core information for this project

Many Vette Essentials items require the return of a core item (i.e., the original factory part), so be careful not to damage the part you are replacing because if it is damaged so that it cannot be used by Vette Essentials then you may also owe to Vette Essentials the value of the core. Unless arrangements have been made to the contrary, you are required to return your stock door handles to Vette Essentials. To be an acceptable core, the surface should be free from severe (i.e., deep) cuts or other imperfections that will be evident once the stock surface is covered with Vette Essentials' leather. If your stock parts do not comply with these requirements, please call Vette Essentials to discuss your options.

Printing these instructions

You might find it might helpful to print these instructions so that you can take them out to work on your 'Vette. For most folks, these instructions should print out in a readable form simply by choosing "File" and then "Print" on your web browser. Alternatively, you may save some office supplies and some stress if you print these directions in landscape orientation. For those not familiar with that, at the top of your browser choose "File", then choose "Print." A window opens up with print options, and one option should say "Properties." Choose that "Properties" option, and there now will be several tabs to choose from -- select the one that says "Paper." This will bring up several options about the paper, one of which that is "Orientation." Click on "landscape," click "okay" once which will take you back to the print window, and then hit "okay" again. This should start the printing process.

Viewing larger pictures

If you want to see any of the pictures below in enlarged form, then just single click on the picture. When you're finished looking at an enlarged picture, hit the "Back" button on your browser.

Let's get started

Here's our tools, from left to right:
  1. tiny flat blade screwdriver
  2. two medium size flat blade screwdrivers or other tool that has a thin but wide prying surface (these will be used to pry the door panel -- there is a special tool made for this purpose, but in an effort to reduce your expense these instructions provide an alternative using screwdrivers, where other items such as very study butter knives also may be used)
  3. flat blade screwdriver
  4. size 30 torx screwdriver (or, as shown, size 30 torx bit for use with tool for driving the bit)
  5. size 25 torx screwdriver (or, as shown, size 25 torx bit for use with tool for driving the bit)
  6. tool for driving torx bits -- illustrated is a power screwdriver, used for convenience
  7. Not shown but highly recommended -- two protective cloths
Step 1: The basic stock door handle. Say goodbye, as soon it will be much nicer looking! >
Step 2a: To ease later steps as well as maneuverability of the door, put the window down. Then, using the tiny screwdriver, pry gently in various locations around the elliptical plastic piece behind the interior door handle. See step 2b to further appreciate your goal.
Step 2b: No action taken. The photo demonstrates the elliptical piece from step 2a once it has been removed. Note also in the middle of it that it only has one tab, and during re-installation this tab should be along the bottom, not the top, of the piece.
Step 2c: Having removed the elliptical piece from steps 2a and 2b, you now can see as shown in the photo that the piece hides two size 30 torx screws that are inside the door. Remove these two screws.
Step 3a: No action taken. There are two horizontal slots just above and below the door handle, as shown in the photo. These slots allow you to remove the plastic oval-shaped bezel that surrounds the door handle. See the next step 3b for detail on removing this bezel.
Step 3b: While pulling the door handle forward, insert the regular size screwdriver tip into the bottom of the two slots introduced in step 3a. Your goal here is not to pry against the visible plastic. Instead, push downward at about a 45 degree incline toward the interior of the door, as shown in the photo. As shown in the step 3c photo, below, what you are doing is releasing a tab; once it is free, you should be able to pull the lower portion of the bezel away from the door panel. If the bezel does not pull completely away, then repeat this process for the upper slot, this time pushing the screwdriver tip at an upward 45 degree angle. See also step 3c, below, to further appreciate your goal.
Step 3c: No action taken. The photo illustrates the removed bezel from steps 3a and 3b. I am intentionally holding the bezel so that you can only see a single tab, and it is this tab that you are trying to push downward in the first part of step 3b. Once you have the bezel out, you will see that it actually has a symmetrically located upper tab as well as other tabs around its perimeter. Lastly, when it comes time later to re-install this piece, simply position the bezel around the door handle so the tabs align properly, and then gently tap the bezel toward the door with your hand so that each tab clicks in place.
Step 4a: Wrap a protective cloth around the tip of the regular sized screwdriver, and push the tip into the slot at the bottom of the door reflector. Start with the tip pointing upward and then pivot the screwdriver handle upward slightly toward you which will push the tip into a more horizontal direction into the door, thereby prying the door reflector upward and away from the door panel. You can further appreciate your goal from step 4b, below.
Step 4b: No action taken. The photo illustrates the removed door reflector from its backside. At the bottom, you see the clip against which you were prying in step 4a. At the top, there are two tabs that should be re-inserted into the door first when it later comes time to re-install the reflector. Lastly, once the reflector is removed, you will see a window adjustment nut inside the door. DO NOT adjust or otherwise disturb this nut. As shown below, the purpose of removing the reflector in these steps has nothing to do with this window adjustment nut.
Step 5a: Door panel pin male and females -- no action taken. As introduction, the photo illustrates the door once your later goal is reached and the entire door panel is removed. As shown, there are six pin females around the front, bottom, and rear edges of the door. Your goal in steps 5c through 5i will be to disengage the counterpart male pins at each of these locations.
Step 5b: No action taken. It's always nice to know what you're hunting before you go for the hunt. So, this photo illustrates one of the panel male pins that corresponds to the females shown in step 5a. As you can see, the pin has ridges on it and they simply press fit into the counterpart female. For this reason, below you will see a description of prying and pulling to remove each male from its counterpart female.
Step 5c: Put your hand in the hole created by removing the door reflector, and while holding the door still (e.g., with a helper or your foot) pull the door panel toward you. Your goal is to create a gap between the door panel and the door, as shown in the continuation of step 5c, below.
Step 5c, continued: The photo is taken from the ground looking upward at the bottom edge of the door panel and just below the hole where the door reflector was previously located. You can see that my hand is still through the hole in the panel from where the door reflector was located, and my pulling force has separated the door panel slightly from the door, thereby exposing a male pin located within its female counterpart. You may not be able to get this large of a gap by just pulling, so you also may need to pry as shown below in step 5d.
Step 5d: The photo illustrates a prying technique. Wrap the tip of the medium screwdriver (or other prying tool) fully with the protective cloth, and then push the cloth-protected tip between the door panel and the door. Preferably, insert this combination in whatever gap you are able to achieve by the pulling described in step 5c. Repeat this process with a second cloth-protected screwdriver (not shown). Locate the two screwdrivers so hopefully they are on opposite sides of the door female, where from step 5c you should have a good idea of where the door female is relative to the now-removed door reflector.
Once you have both screwdrivers between the door and panel, pull the screwdriver handles toward you and the door panel should pull slightly away from the door. Once there is enough room, put your fingers in the gap so you that you can pull the panel farther away from the door by using your hand. You may have to give the panel a jerk in order to break the friction fit between the pin male and female, but of course do this starting with a lesser force and working your way to increasing force so that you do not unnecessarily overburden and/or damage the door panel.
Steps 5e-5i: Repeat step 5d for each of the remaining five door panel pins. Work your way from the pin that you already loosened in step 5d. As you do so, you may find that you can achieve the rest of the pin separation with your hands rather than requiring the screwdriver prying technique. No photos are shown for each of these pins since their location should be clear from step 5a.
Step 6: Grab the door handle and lift upward. Your goal here is to lift the top of the door panel off of a ledge that runs along the top of the door. This is a press-fit attachment so there will be moderate resistance. The photo illustrates the top of the door panel just after it has been lifted off of this ledge and only moved a few inches away from the door. It might help to start at the front end of the top of the panel and free it first, then working toward the rear end of the top of the panel. Once you free the panel, there is still an electrical wire attached to the inside of the door panel; thus, do not pull the panel too far away from the door until you release the electrical connection, as described below in step 7.
Step 7: The photo illustrates the electrical connection on the passenger door. Release the plug by pushing on the black tab that I am pushing with my thumb, while at the same time pulling the black plug away from the white counterpart. The driver's side door has a clear-colored plug instead of black, but it separates from the door panel in a similar manner.
Step 8: After you have disconnected the electrical connection of step 7, you can move the door panel to a different area away from the car so that you can change the door handle. Be excited, you're almost there! As part of the preparation for the handle removal, note that the stock door handle has a thumb depression on it, that is, the location where your thumb typically contacts the door when you pull on the handle. Note that the depression is toward the front of the car, as you will want to match this orientation when you select the new custom handle to replace the stock one.
Step 8, continued: From the back side of the panel and as shown in the photo, you will see two size 25 torx screws that pass through a bracket and that retain the door handle in place on the opposite side of the panel. Note also that the holes in the bracket are aligned to accommodate the torx screws you removed much earlier in step 2c. Remove the two size 25 torx screws and the bracket will simply pull away, while at the same time the door handle on the opposite side of the panel also will be freed from the panel.
Step 9: Select the custom door handle to match the stock one you just removed, where you do this by making sure they have the same thumb depression orientation as shown in the photo. Then install the new custom handle by re-installing the bracket and size 25 torx screws removed in step 8.
Step 10: Bring the door panel back to the car, and re-attach the electrical connection from step 7. Then lift the panel so that its upper edge clears the ledge shown in step 6 and fit the upper edge of the door panel so that its rubber seal is immediately next to the rubber seal in the door. This step might be made a bit easier by holding the panel by the new custom handle and pulling the lower portion of the panel slightly away from the door, that is, tilt the bottom portion away from the door as shown in the photo. Also, use the door panel male and female pins at the upper front edge as a guide as to whether you have the panel appropriately aligned forward or rearward with respect to the door. Once properly aligned, push downward along the top of the door panel so that it seats itself next to the now-covered ledge.
Step 11: Looking between the door panel and the door, make sure each panel male pin is aligned with its female counterpart, and then use your hand to give a mild blow to the door panel at each location of a male/female coupling so that each pair is properly seated. No photo is shown for this obvious step.
Steps 12-14: Now reverse the acts in steps 4 through 2, thereby re-installing the door reflector, door handle bezel, size 30 torx screws, and the elliptical plastic piece. See the photos above from steps 4 through 2.
Step 15: Stop and admire your work. Next, ask yourself what else you need from Vette Essentials to further enhance your Vette!!

That's all folks. Peace.

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Reproduction permitted for purposes of installing Vette Essentials' products

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