Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 30, 2013

Long-time Fox Mustang owners are acutely aware of their Mustang's heavy doors and the weak links that come with them. For those of you just coming into the Fox Mustang scene, or perhaps have been lucky enough (or careful enough) to not have problems until now, we're happy to fill you in on the issues, and more importantly how to fix said issues. From broken outside door handles to missing chunks of body opening gasket, the Fox can easily show its age if you're not being cautious of the '79-'93 Mustang's weaknesses, many of which can be prevented by simply taking an extra step in your routine or changing the way you do simple things—like getting in and out of the car.

The '79-'93 Mustang's doors carry a lot of weight. There's the steel door shell itself, plus the glass window pane, window regulator (and power window motor if equipped), door panel and arm rest, door audio speaker, window run weatherstrip, exterior side mirror, and more. All that weight is supported by the two door hinges at the front and the striker assembly and latch at the rear (when closed). As soon as you open the door and the latch rolls off the striker bushing, the door's weight starts putting stress on the door hinges. Many owners make this stress much worse by using the door frame as an ingress/egress aid by holding onto it as they position their body. These actions wear the door hinge pins, causing slop in the door and issues like the door being hard to close. Keeping your weight off the door (don't lean in the open window with the door open!) and don't leave the door open for extended periods—get in or get out.

Other issues related to the door's weight include striker bushing failure. This plastic bushing absorbs the shock of the door latch closing, as well as the vibrations of the door as the car rolls down the road. Ensuring the latch and striker are in perfect alignment and not slamming the door will improve the longevity of the bushing, but the bushing should still be considered a wear item. Often the bushing is the first thing to go once the hinges get sloppy, as the latch has to move up and over the striker and bushing, causing much stress on the component.

The factory outside door handle is made from plastic and, with age and temperature changes, becomes brittle. There are untold thousands of tales of Old Man Winter coming in and owners grabbing their driver's door handle only to have it come off in pieces. Replacements are available in reproduction form, now made from metal so they last almost indefinitely with a little care. The hardest part of the job is finding the right rivet gun to squeeze down the large body rivets that secure the handle to the door skin (and not damaging the paint).

Lastly, we have the lowly body opening gasket. This extruded section of sponge-like gasket material has the easy task of sealing the door shell to the body when the door is closed. However, getting in and out several times a day means sneakers, high heels, and work boots easily get caught on the soft and fragile gasket, tearing out chunks and causing air and water leaks. Age isn't kind to this gasket either, as the foam compresses and hardens, also causing air and water leaks. The fix is simple: Replace the gasket, but the interior trim removal can be a little daunting for someone who has never messed with them before.

Never fear though, we're going over many of these repair items in our photos so you'll know exactly the steps to take when your door starts rattling, whistling, or leaking (or you plain just can't get into your Mustang due to a broken door handle!). We hit for our parts, as they're acutely aware of the Fox Mustang's issues, and they had everything we needed to get our '90 LX 5.0L hatch back in action with just a few clicks of the mouse.

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