How to fix a loose door handle on Volvo XC90 (2003 – )

by: EdmundIJones


Today I decided to tackle a problem with my car that has annoyed me since I purchased the XC90 (MY2004) 6 months ago. The rear passenger side door handle was a little loose when I got the car but it didn’t worry me, over the past 6 months it’s got progressively worse to the point where the door handle won’t open the door without a little tlc.

This write up demonstrates how to remove the inside door card, remove the sound proofing and what to look for to cure the problem. Here it is in step by step format (allow about 30mins for the job):

1. I disconnected the battery in case my banging on the door could be misinterpreted by the car as an accident, disconnecting the battery has the effect of stopping any SRS warnings or air bags blowing – I have no idea if this is actually required but thought it was prudent. The battery cover in the boot gives directions to disconnect the negative terminal first, then the live terminal. Allow it to settle after also.

2. Here is a photo of the problem area of the door handle where it is loose – marked in red:

the following picture shows the inside door card just for reference.

3. Take a flat blade screw driver and remove the inside door handle cover, I started from the right hand side and worked across, there are two plastic clips in the centre area so work carefully to prevent them from snapping.

4. With the cover removed you can see two star shaped screws exposed that are quite recessed so you’ll need the appropriately size bit and extension to get in – I had to improvise with what I had in my toolbox.

5. After removing the two screws and making sure you have put them somewhere safe (you don’t want them falling into the inner door when you take it apart as you won’t get them back easily. The next step is to use a strong flat piece of metal (not too sharp) and work your way between the door card and metal frame. There are at least 8 plastic poppers that you need to dislodge, after you have pulled one apart the rest come away using your fingers instead of the metal tool – you just need to give it a good tug – working around the door card.

6. As soon as you have worked the door card free don’t just pull it out as you’ll break things, take a moment to look behind and notice the cable for the internal door catch and the power window switch. The door catch cable just popped out of the lock by accident when I did this, that’s not a problem as you just push it back in place with your fingers after. Remove the plug from the electric window switch, mine was firmly in place but by asking one of the kids to hold the door card I was able to pull it out.

7. With the door card fully removed you can take a look at the interior of the door, it’s not that spectacular, the cable in the middle is the lock cable for the interior catch.

8. Pull out the sound proofing foam (the grey area you can see above), it’s stuck in place with lightweight glue.

9. With the foam removed you can look into the inner workings of the door, you can see the back side of the handle and notice the looseness if you wiggle the handle.

See the blue clip highlighted below is on a threaded metal bar?

Use your hand to snap the metal bar out from the clip and position the blue clip further down the bar as shown in the following picture:

That is it, nothing more to tighten or work on, just put the foam back in place, reconnect the window switch, interior latch and bang the door card back into place on it’s plastic clips.


Close the door and see if it opens and that there is no play any more.
Reconnect the battery, live terminal first, put everything back, reset your clock and it’s another job well done.


The instructions in this tutorial will work in the following models / years:

– 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Volvo XC90