Car Door Repair

How to Fix Sagging Car Doors

Sagging door hinges can often be rebushed in less than 10 minutes for under 10 bucks.

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Late, late, late for work. The clock is ticking, so you sprint from the parking lot to the office building at top speed—and hope you don't lose your shoes. You take one last glance across the lot to check on your car, and see that your driver's door is open. Rats. You double-time to the car and slam the door—which simply bounces back open. A second attempt, mightier than the first, only bounces it back further, right into your knee. Ouch. You try a kinder, gentler slam, and realize the end of the door has sagged a good inch from its original position. The only way to close the door is to use both hands on the handle (chipping a fingernail) and lift the 75-pound door up until the latch matches the height of the door striker, and then bump it with your hip to click it shut. What a pain. Guess what? Your door hinges are worn out.

How Much?

A mechanic, supposedly a good, honest one, had told the driver of this '90s Jeep Grand Cherokee that the door hinges needed to be replaced, and that Jeep didn't make the parts anymore. Used hinges were ordered from a salvage yard, and the bill was estimated to come in at $400 to $500.

We'll give the mechanic some credit (his expertise is in engines, brakes and suspensions, not bodywork) for being honest in his estimate. But we knew better. Cutting out the old hinges and welding in new ones would probably cost about that much, but it wasn't necessary. Why spend a couple of days replacing the hinge when all that's worn out are some simple bushings? A trip to the NAPA auto parts store and a few minutes of browsing the catalogs turned up a Dorman part number specific to our Jeep. And plenty of other vehicles were listed, all the domestics and Asian and European cars as well.

In fact, the dimensions—the inside and outside diameter of the bushings, the pin diameter and the overall length—are listed in the catalog. If there isn't a kit, a clever Saturday Mechanic could probably mix and match enough parts to fix darned near any door. A minute's worth of detective work proved that the pin on our Jeep was 0.372 inches, nominally 3/8 of an inch. And the outer diameter of the bushings was 0.503 inches, a nice press-fit for a half-inch hole. Yours will be similar but probably not the same.

Lipped Oilite bronze bushings are available at industrial supply houses in a dizzying array of sizes. A pair of these and a length of bar stock would let you make almost any car door fit.

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