Custom order springs

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

The driver's side door of our 1977 Datsun is missing the spring that holds the door ajar. We first noticed the missing part a few weeks ago; it was probably worn out, after having served for thirteen years. Without this spring, the door is now out of alignment--there is a 3/4 inch gap at the top of the door, and the bottom scrapes the body of the car each time it's opened or closed. Is a replacement spring an ordinary item, or does it have to be custom made in Japan? Is it a big job to fix it, and will it cost and arm and a leg?

TOM: You actually have two problems, Margaret. Well, three if we count the fact that you're driving a thirteen year old Datsun.

RAY: The missing spring is not causing your door to be out of alignment. Springs don't hold doors up. Doors are held up by the hinges.

TOM: So if the door is scraping the frame, either a hinge is broken, or the door pillar to which the hinges are attached is rotting away. If the pillar is rotten, it may very well cost an arm and a leg. A body shop will be able to tell you exactly how many arms and how many legs. If it's just a broken hinge, a body shop should be able to fix that in no time.

RAY: The missing spring is a separate problem. The spring was there to keep the door from closing on your leg. Finding a replacement should be easy. Almost every junkyard in the country has these. Just be careful not to leave your Datsun unattended when you go in. It would be easy for someone to mistake your car for "incoming inventory." Good luck, Margaret.

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