Beetle Door Panel Replacement
Beetle Door Panel Replacement
By Jim Thompson
Question from Customer: Is there any particular dos or don’ts in replacing my Beetle Door Panels?
Answer: The skill level for doing this job on your own requires paying attention to certain details when removing and re-installing a Beetle Door Panel.
While the Door Interior Panels are basically the same on Beetles up through the end of production, there are certain year periods that you must pay attention to.
Up through the middle of 1972, the Armrest remains attached to the panel. On Late 1972 through 1979 the Armrest is removed prior to removing the panel. There are exposed bolts underneath the late style Armrest that can be accessed for this.
On models through 1964, remove the chrome Door Handle and the Window Crank Handle. This can be done by pressing the panel inwards to expose the knurled pin that holds the handles in place on their respective splined shafts. Using a proper drift tool, simply drive the pins out. Then remove the handles and the plastic buffer collars between the handles and the panel.
On 1965 thru 1967 models, remove the chrome Window Crank handle by pressing the panel inwards to expose the knurled pin that holds the handle in place on its respective splined shaft. Using a proper drift tool, simply drive the pin out. Then remove the handle and the plastic buffer collar between the handle and the panel.
On 1965 thru 1979 models, remove the Finger Guard in the Inside Door Handle Escutcheon Trimplate carefully with a flat blade screwdriver. Remove the screws that hold the trimplate onto the handle mechanism then remove. Do not remove the bolts that hold the mechanism to the door.
On 1968 thru 1969 models with the original chrome and black Window Crank Handle, to remove the retaining screw in the middle of the handle disk, pry up the black handle center strip from the disc to expose the screw and remove, along with the plastic buffer disc - note the circular ribs and in which direction they go when reinstalled. Note: If your 1968 thru 1969 model has black handles, see next paragraph.
On 1970 thru 1979 models with the black Window Crank Handle, to remove the retaining screw in the middle of the handle disk, pry up the plastic cover of the handle disc to expose the screw and remove, along with the plastic buffer disc - note the circular ribs and in which direction they go when reinstalled.
Using a small wooden or plastic wedge, pry the panel incrementally from the door all the way around. On models thru Early 1972 grab the Armrest, pull slightly up to disengage the Armrest Retainer Bracket and pull away from the door. On models from Late 1972 onwards simply pull the panel away. Note the placement of the coil springs for the window crank handles and on models thru 1964 the coil springs for the chrome door handles as well. If you’re re-using the panel or pulling it off to service the glass, window regulator and other door components, place the panel in a safe place until it is time for re-installation.
There should be a plastic sheet glued to the door body. Check to make sure it is in good condition and not ripped. This helps prevent moisture from deteriorating the panel composition. If it is in bad shape or missing altogether, then replace it. A good replacement is to obtain plastic paint drop cloth material from a local paint supply or hardware store. Use a spray-on adhesive to glue it into place, making holes for the Inside Door Handle spindles or mechanism, Window Crank spindles and for the Armrest Bracket Retainer.
On Late 1972 thru 1979 models check the plastic expanding nut the Armrest bolt screwed into. These are located on the door body. If they’re in poor shape, brittle and breaking apart, replace them. Order from Airhead Parts part number 803-867-199. There are two per Armrest.
Replace any broken or missing Door Panel Clips. Order from Airhead Parts part number N143893. It is always best to replace all of the Panel Clip Boots so that they’re fresh and will provide the best sealing against any moisture. Order from Airhead Parts part number 113-857-219 A.
If replacing the panel, on models thru Early 1972 remove the Armrest and the retaining bracket from the old and reinstall on the new panel.
Install the clip onto the door panel then install the boot onto the clip. With all clips and clip boots in place, place the panel back onto the door, carefully placing the coil springs for the handles back in place behind their respective holes - the small side of the coiled spring goes towards the handle, the large side towards the door body. On models thru 1972 slightly lift and place the retainer bracket in place on the door. With the palm of your hand start aligning and pushing the panel clips thru their holes (you may need to rotate the clip/boot on the panel to properly align with the holes in the door. If you encounter a stubborn clip, you can GENTLY use a rubber mallet to tap the clip into its hole. Do this around the outer portion of the entire panel.
On Late 1972 thru 1979 models, bolt the Armrests back into place thru the Door Panel and into the plastic retaining nuts on the door body.
Reinstall the Inside Door Handles (thru 1964), Window Crank Handles along with their plastic buffers collars - position the Window Crank Handles with the Knob facing towards the front of the vehicle with the Door Window closed. On models thru 1964 simply drive the retaining pin back into place.
On models 1968 thru 1979, place the retaining screw in the center of the handle disc - place a dab of Loctite ® Blue on the threads to keep the screw from loosening up - hand tighten the screw, do not over tighten!