How to Repair Sagging Door Hinges
Over time, the bushings and pins that hold the door hinge together wear out. It is a common issue, and why so many older vehicles have misaligned doors that don’t close well. This does not have to be the case. You could replace the sagging door hinges on older vehicles, but newer cars and truck door hinges are actually glued to the body, so you can’t replace them (not easily anyway). Rebuilding the hinges is fairly simple, though it does require some effort, a few tools, and in some cases, removing the door itself.
We recently went through the door hinge rebuild process on a 1981 Chevrolet truck, however GM has used the same basic hinge design for nearly fifty years, so this process covers just about every domestic truck, and many of the cars on the road today. On the truck we chose, the lower hinge does not require the door to be removed, but the upper does. The tools you need are a ratchet and socket set, hammer, and drift punch. If you have air tools, an air hammer with a hammer head makes this job go quickly.
First, you need to determine if your door needs to come off. If the hinge pin is a single full length piece, you need to check to see if it will come out in one piece without hitting the door itself. We picked up a set of door pins and bushings in a kit from our local NAPA Auto Parts Store, there are several available for most common models in the NAPA Solutions section.
If you have an assistant, the job will be easier and you won’t have to fight the door moving around. Our door had to come off, so we unbolted it from the door itself (as opposed to removing the hinge from the body). This door has no electronics in it, so it could be just set aside. If it had power locks and windows, we would have to make a stand to support it. Pro tip: before removing the door, mark the position of the bolt heads on the door and the position of the hinge on the door. This will help you get the door aligned faster during reinstallation.
If your hinge has a spring loaded hinge, you need to remove the spring. This can be done with a spring removal tool.
Removing The Door Hinge Pins
Using our NAPA punch set, we selected a drift pin that fit the hinge pin and drove it up with a a few blows with a hammer. Be careful not to hit the body while you do this. If you have an air hammer, you can use it to drive the pin out. Once the pin moves about a half inch, it should be removable by hand. Some vehicles are easier to work with if you cut the pin.
Assessing The Situation
Once the pin is out, you can look at the hinge pin hole. Usually, the hole is in bad shape and possibly even oval shaped. Sometimes the original bushing is still there, sometimes it is gone. Our vehicle had one of each. If the original bushing is in the hinge, you have to remove it. This is done by knocking it out or breaking it with the punch. We had to break all of the original bushings.
Select the bushing that fits. We used the smaller bushing, which is the correct one for this vehicle. The bushing may drop right in if the hole is really bad, but usually, the bushing must be driven in place with a hammer. The top bushing goes in from the top, the bottom goes in from the bottom.
Prepping For The New Bushings
The original knurlings on the outer hinge plates tend to make fitting the new pins more difficult, to nearly impossible. We selected a drill bit that was the size as the hole, 23/32” in this case, and just buzzed it through the hole. This cleans up the old knurling and allows the pin to be driven in without bending the hinge plates.
Installing New Bushings
Putting It All Back Together
With the new bushings in place, the hinge was reassembled in the correct orientation, and then the new pin was installed. The new pin requires a heavier hand to drive the pin fully seated. Just be careful not to bend the hinge. The drill trick makes this much easier, but it still requires some effort. The air hammer is a real help here.
The last step is to reinstall the door and make any adjustments to the door/hinge position. In most cases, there is not much adjustment on the outer door hinge mount.
Before this job, the door had to be slammed to get it to latch. Now, the door shuts smooth as butter, which is nice for a vehicle that is 37 years old. The biggest trick of this job is having all the right parts on hand BEFORE starting it. It is a good idea to buy several kits just in case you need extra parts, you can always return the unopened kits.
Check out all the body & accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on fixing sagging door hinges, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.