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Thursday - May 23, 2024

Dodge Dakota Door Handle Painting


The door handles on our Dakotas, like the rest of the truck are tough, rugged, and built for service. Unfortunately, they are also ugly, black, textured plastic. This article will give step by step instructions on how to remove the handles, properly prepare them for paint, paint, and reinstall them to give your truck a custom, smooth look. There are lots of good products out there for painting plastic and probably just as many preparation procedures. The materials used for the plastic preparation shown here are primarily Bulldog brand from Klean-Strip. Additional info on this product line can be found at These should be available at your local automotive paint supply store or online. Try a google search and pick your favorite vendor. The techniques described here are those used by Versatile Industries, a professional automotive refinishing company with decades of experience. They are continuously tracking the condition of the first set of Dakota handles they have painted. In over two years of service on a daily driven truck there has been no evidence of peeling or cracking of the paint. I personally have had the tailgate handle done over six months ago and it looks as good now as the day it was done. Special Thanks to Kevin at Versatile who laid down Patriot Blue on these handles. If you like to remove your own handles, disassemble them and send them to Versatile for painting, give Kevin a call at 317-894-1345, he’ll fix you up.

OK, That’s the set-up, let’s get started.

Tools Required:

  • Small straight blade screwdriver (1/8”)
  • Regular straight blade screwdriver (1/4”)
  • #2 Phillips screwdriver
  • Torx T-25
  • Torx T-30
  • Cotter key extractor or other hook tool
  • 8mm wrench
  • 8mm socket with ¼” drive ratchet and 6” extension
  • Pliers

The rear doors are slightly simpler, so if this type of work is new to you, I recommend that you start there to get familiar with the procedures. If you don’t have rear doors, read through this section anyway, as it provides some of the basics. The section which follows describes the operations unique to the front doors.

Remove Rear Door Panel

1. Remove the 2 phillips screws at the bottom of the door panel

2. Remove the T-25 Torx screw behind the pull handle

3. Remove cap, and the T-25 Torx screw behind the interior latch handle

4. Now grab the door panel by the pull handle and the bottom and slide straight up about 1”. This will disengage several plastic hooks and you should be able to pull the panel away from the door, about 3-4”. There are a few remaining connections that you will disconnect in the following steps to completely remove panel. Start by disconnecting the rods for the latch and lock handles. Look closely at the plastic connection at the end of the each rod. You will see a small barb holding the rod in the slot. Press up on the barb with your thumb to free the rod, then lift the bent end of the rod up out of the hole. Repeat for the other rod.

5. Disconnect the wiring harness for the window switch by pressing in the tab on the back of the connector and pull it down.

6. Carefully peel back the liner starting at the upper rear corner.

7. Remove the two screws holding the support bracket and remove the bracket.

8. Remove the plastic cover over the access hole. You can use a screwdriver from the outside or reach around and pop it out from the inside of the door.

9. Remove the three T-30 screws that hold the latch mechanism in place and push the latch down out of the way. This should allow you to see through the access hole to the 8mm nut at the upper rear corner of the handle. If your truck is not equipped with power door locks, removal of the latch mechanism may not be necessary.

10. Using a pull hook or other hooked tool reach through the access hole and disengage the latch rod from the exterior handle. The tricky part of this is the fact that the barb faces away from the access hole. Using the hook tool, pull the plastic barb toward you and disengage the rod.


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