It happens to the best of us – accidents, shopping carts, the dings and weathering of time take their toll on your car door and soon you may find yourself shopping for a new one. The kind of car door you buy is dependent upon the condition of your existing door. If a crash has rendered the entire door unusable, you’re going to need a door shell. This is the entire door – minus guts and window – ready to paint, or already painted.

If only the outside of your door is damaged, maybe you had a few too many scrapes against cement poles or someone bumped the door hard enough to dent the outer layer, regardless you could purchase just the door skin. This is the outer part of the door, without the inside layer to which the trim and all the lock and window mechanisms attach. When you decide on just the door skin it will require more labor than when you buy the entire shell because you will have to either apply to the inside panel yourself, or pay someone to do it for you. Once you decide on an option, it’s time to start shopping.

Tips to make sure you’re getting a good quality door:

  • Buy OEM: Aftermarket body parts are infamous for poor fits. You don’t want to drive around with a door that announces to the world “I’m a cheap replacement”. You want a door that looks like it came on your vehicle, with smooth lines and a perfectly matched paint job.

  • Get everything you need at once: If the internal parts of your old door were unsalvageable, order all the lock, window, and other trim accoutrements that your door had, while you’re ordering the new door from the manufacturer.

  • Research installers and make sure they have a reputation for quality: If you’re not going to do the work yourself, you want the door installed by someone who knows what they’re doing and will make your car look just like new.

It’s no fun having to replace a car door, but if you get a quality OEM replacement your ride should be back to its former glory in no time.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy Good Quality Doors and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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