How to Remove the Door Panel on a 2003 Ford Escape


Ford Motor Company entered the compact SUV market in the 2001 model year with the Ford Escape. The first generation of the Escape lasted until 2007, when Ford redesigned their smallest SUV for the 2008 model year. Ford offered the 2003 Escape in several trim levels -- the XLS, XLT and Limited -- each of which used door panels to hide the inner door components and house window and lock switches. In order to perform any repairs on the interior door components, first remove the door panel.

Things You'll Need

  • Trim tool
  • Socket wrench
  • 8-mm socket
  • Lower the window in the door in question. Pry the small trim plug out of the inner door handle bezel with the tip of the trim tool to expose a hex-head door panel retaining screw. Pry the trim plug from the center of the leading edge of the door panel with the trim tool to expose a second retaining screw.

  • Remove the four door-panel retaining screws with the socket wrench and 8-mm socket. There is one screw on the trailing edge of the panel, one in the inner door pull cup and the two exposed in Step 1.

  • Pry the door panel from the door using the trim tool. Five trim pins that anchor into holes in the inner door skin hold the door panel to the door. Pry each trim pin out separately with the trim tool.

  • Lift the door panel up and off the door by hand. Unplug the wiring connector from the window and lock switch assembly. Move the panel away from the door to complete the removal process.

  • Replace the panel by lowering it onto the door, ensuring the upper lip of the panel slides into the window well. Align the eight trim pins with the trim pin anchor holes in the inner door skin and push the pins into the door skin to seat the door panel.

  • Reinstall the four hex-head door panel retaining screws with the socket and wrench. Push the two trim covers back into place to complete the door panel reinstallation.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you break a trim pin, purchase more for a low price at your local auto parts store.


  • "Ford Escape & Mazda Tribute 2001 thru 2007: Haynes Manual"; Ken Freund; 2007
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