Jul 5, 2019 update to the Ford E-250 project car

Project Van: Fixing Ford Door Latches

We’re working on turning this $2000 van into a do-it-all machine that can tow a car to the track, then serve as a mobile workshop and hotel room for the weekend.

Things were going great for our van. Then, one day at the track, we went to open the side door… and nothing happened. Turns out that Ford took a page out of VW's playbook, and used biodegradable plastic to make its door latch cable ends. It degrades, then the cables fall out of their holders and the doors stop working. According to the internet, this is a common problem. A quick inspection revealed that yes, the offending door did indeed have a mangled up cable. 


Fortunately, this is one of the most common vehicles ever made. The very next day, we had a $10 set of billet aluminum replacement ends at our door. These are available at Amazon, and permanently fix the factory defect for way less than the cost of new cables. 


We pulled the door apart and replaced/lubed every cable. 





While we were in there, we noticed that every other door of the van had cables with plastic ends, too. So we ordered a bunch more of the aluminum replacements and threw them in the glove box. We'll either find some more time to change them later, or at the very least they're pretty easy to install on the side of the road/track/campground.

Update: Over the following months, we eventually replaced the rest of the cable ends as they broke one-by-one. 

You can order replacement door cable ends at this Amazon.com link.


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View comments on the GRM forums
Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
7/5/19 9:21 a.m.

I think I'll need these for my van as some of the doors are a bit finicky. Fortunately, they're pretty cheap.


CyberEric HalfDork
7/5/19 5:21 p.m.

Love these updates on the van, thank you!

noddaz SuperDork
7/5/19 6:16 p.m.

Nice when the aftermarket comes up with a fix for a factory problem.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
7/5/19 7:20 p.m.
CyberEric said:

Love these updates on the van, thank you!

I agree. It's not frankenferrari, but they're relatable, interesting, and likely a lot more useful to many of us.

Looking forward to more!

kman91 New Reader
7/8/19 8:28 a.m.

This is fantastic timing!  My son has a Ford Ranger from 1999, and the door cables are totally shot.  I had actually made something exactly like this with my metal lathe last year as a prototype and we were just about to make more, but for that price, it's not worth it!  Now we can fix it faster and cheaper!  Thanks GRM!

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