I just finished replacing the inner mechanism of the driver's side exterior door handle. The symptom was that the handle was loose on one side, and it was close to breaking off entirely. I had already previously replaced this interior part on both doors.

The entire operation took a total of three hours including breaks. It was tricky to do, so here is how I got by the hard parts of it:

First remove the door panel as described elsewhere. Basically, there are about 6 bolts around the side rest and at the front of the door inside the main air vent intake, plus a couple of screws along the bottom of the door. The inside handle comes off by removing one screw and sliding the plastic toward the rear and off. The round lock handle comes off by removing the inner piece with a very small flat blade screw driver and removing a nut, then pull it off. The round plastic guard piece itself unscrews and comes off. I left the wires and the panel attached to the door, but supported off to the side.

Next carefully pull back the sheet plastic lining only enough to expose the openings in the back half of the door. Make sure the window is completely closed.

Locate the anti-theft plate that goes next to the locking mechanism. Just loosen the nut and bolt that hold its mounting bracket in place at the bottom front corner. Don't completely undo them. It is designed to slide off once loosened. Now roll down the window all the way. Finish removing the plate by unscrewing two screws: one located in a recess at the top edge of the door and the other at the back side of the door at the top above the door latch. With the window all the way down you can then maneuver the plate out.

Now once again close the window completely. Note you do not at any point have to loosen the window glass nor remove it for this procedure.

Illuminate the inside of the door. Locate the lever attached to the door handle mechanism. Pop it off with a medium sized flat blade screwdriver. At this point if you are a Pigmy brain surgeon you can use an allen wrench to remove the two small bolts with washers that hold the exterior door handle to the inner mechanism and then use a 10 mm wrench to remove the two nuts with washers that hold the inner mechanism in place and replace it. There is some room for adjustment so that the door handle does not rub on the door. Be sure to check this for smooth operation before putting everything else back together.

I chose to remove the door locking mechanism to have better access. To remove it use an allen wrench to remove two bolts that are slightly recessed along the top edge of the door and then remove the two bolts holding the door latch also using an allen wrench. I was then able to reach the lever from the door lock and pop it off of the door locking mechanism with a smaller flat blade screwdriver. The entire door locking mechanism should then be lowered into the door, and you will have a straight shot at the inner door handle mechanism. Replace as described above. Be sure to adjust the door handle so that it doesn't rub against the door.

On reassembly first slide the door lock button back up through its hole. Then reattach the lever from the door lock  to the door locking mechanism. I was able to easily do this by first removing the door lock, which is easy to do. Simply remove the rubber cover and with an allen wrench remove the bolt and washer that hold the lock in place. With the lock held just outside of its hole in the door, using a flat blade screwdriver reaching into the door lock's hole in the door, I was able to press the lever back in place to its connector on the door locking mechanism. At some point reattach the lock in the door with its bolt. I waited until I had the following step done.

The last tricky step is to reattach the lever from the door locking mechanism to the connector on the inner door handle mechanism. Do that from below by pressing it on with a medium sized screwdriver.

Reassemble in the reverse sequence.

With the window all the way down,  position the anti theft plate by sliding the lower bracket onto the lower bolt and loosely secure it with the two screws, one along the top edge of the door and the other  just above the door latch. Then you should  close the window and  tighten the nut and bolt.

Use adhesive spray or contact cement to resecure the sheet plastic and put the door panel back on after checking to see that all the wires are still attached. Reattach the lock knob and various small pieces.
Dan Shapiro
'82 928 5 speed "S package" Chiffon/Brown
Borla exhaust, Custom radiator
'77 Scout SUV