It’s the evening before your big trip, and everything is ready.
Bags packed, plane tickets secured, cat-sitter hired, and the Uber to the airport is scheduled—you’re all ready for your trip. But you reach down to grab your suitcase handle—only to find it stuck or broken, no matter how hard you push that release button.
Don’t let a stuck suitcase handle derail your travel plans. With little more than a screwdriver, you can fix a luggage handle that’s stuck.
A stuck suitcase grip is one of the most frustrating things to happen to a traveler, whether they’re in the middle of a trip or about to leave home.
If this has happened to you, the first thing to do is take a deep breath because it is possible to repair a luggage handle yourself.
But first, a note about warranty: your luggage handle is likely covered under your luggage manufacturer’s lifetime warranty. If you have the time, explore this option first. A replacement from the manufacturer is obviously the ideal way to fix a stuck or broken luggage handle. So make sure you check your warranty first before attempting to fix a broken handle yourself. The manufacturer might even replace luggage wheels.
Fixing a Luggage Handle
If contacting the manufacturer simply isn’t an option, this post will answer all your questions about how to repair your broken suitcase handle yourself.
Can Suitcase Handles Be Repaired?
If for whatever reason you need to repair your stuck luggage handle on your own, don’t worry. Luggage handles are pretty simple mechanisms, which means that while they can easily get stuck—or worse, broken—they are also easily repaired.
Pro tip: if you find that you need new parts for your luggage handle, and you have the time, check sites like eBay or Amazon.com first, where many of those parts will be available at a much cheaper price than if you bought them directly from the manufacturer.
Before we go any further in our guide, let’s define one piece of common terminology related to luggage handles.
How to Fix a Telescoping Handle
A telescoping handle is any kind of luggage or suitcase handle that extends out simply with the push of a button, functioning sort of like a telescope, hence the name. Once extended, the handle locks into place, allowing you to wheel your bag around with one hand.
Here’s a quick look at some other common parts of suitcases:
The next question to ask yourself is, why is my luggage handle stuck?
Identify the Problem
The problem with your luggage handle might be as simple as too much grease on the small retractable clip inside the tube, says Robert Weinberg of UGOBags, a California-based company offering customized luggage options.
“We have found that food-grade silicone spray works wonders to un-stick a retractable handle,” he says. “It won’t stain your clothes, either.”
But there are lots other reasons your luggage handle might be stuck.
To identify what’s wrong with your luggage handle, you may need to remove the handle entirely. That means you’re going to need to remove some screws. In most cases, a Phillips screwdriver is all you need.
Since the handle is stuck, some of the screws might not be accessible. In this case, just give it a little extra oomph to move the handle at least far enough to get at the screws and remove the handle.
Once the handle is removed, two possible reasons your luggage handle is stuck may become clear:
- A piece of the button that releases the handle might have fallen off
- A piece might simply be stuck
If a piece has fallen off, reattach it with superglue. It’s important to make sure you let the superglue set adequately, which can take as long as a half an hour. If you reassemble the handle too soon, you risk gluing the button in place! The only solution to that issue is to Google “luggage repair near me.”
If your luggage handle is stuck in the closed position, or there’s a wedged piece somewhere preventing the button from working properly—congratulations! That’s also an easy problem to repair.
Here’s what to do to fix a luggage handle stuck in the closed position:
- Slide a flathead screwdriver between the back of the frame and the push tab.
- Use the screwdriver to loosen the tab or whatever part of the button is stuck.
It should then become un-stuck, just in time to catch your flight!
These aren’t the only reasons your suitcase handle could be stuck. Here’s how to identify which issue you’re facing.
- First, open the case. Find the sliders, which run down the back of the suitcase. Are they visibly bent or damaged?
- Next, find the pins that lock the handle into place at a certain height. Are they stuck, or do they still have some spring to them?
- Does the handle appear to be stuck in the holder?
- Can you press the tab down on the handle? When you do, does the tab spring back up?
With this information, we’ll move on to the next section and look at what to do if the telescopic handle is stuck in the tube, and how to fix a telescopic handle that’s stuck in the open position.
Repair a Telescoping Handle in the Open Position
If your luggage handle is stuck in the open position, the problem is a bit more complicated to fix.
Telescoping handles get stuck in the open position for a few reasons. The first step in fixing a handle that’s stuck in the open position is to figure out why it’s stuck.
- the pins in the telescoping handle might be getting stuck in their position holes
- the telescopic poles are not touching the trigger mechanism in the handle
What If the Pins Are Stuck in Their Holes?
This process can take a while. So if you’re on the way to the airport, you may need to resort to using a different suitcase and planning to fix this issue when you’re back from your trip.
- First, find the telescopic runners inside the suitcase. To do so, open up the suitcase and find the zipper that runs around the inside of the bottom of the suitcase.
- Push the trigger on the handle and watch what happens next. If your handle is functioning well, the pins should move in and out. But the pins might get stuck in their little holes and cause your luggage handle to get stuck in the open position.
- First, try spraying some lubricant on the pins. Does that help them move smoothly in and out?
- If that doesn’t work, grab your Scotch tape. Cover the hole in which the pin is getting stuck. This will prevent the pin from inserting itself into the hole. The pin on the other side should be sufficient for the handle to then work properly.
Another, more permanent option is to use a drill or file to make the hole just a little bit larger. This can also prevent the pins from getting stuck, returning your handle to normal functionality.
What If the Telescoping Poles Are Not Touching the Trigger Mechanism?
If the internal trigger mechanism in the handle is moving but the handle is stuck, it means the mechanism is no longer touching the telescopic pole. (This is usually only a problem on one side of the handle.)
If this appears to be your problem, don’t worry, because it’s usually a pretty easy fix.
Open up the screws in the handle frame at the bottom of the suitcase. This will expose a wire. Does it move freely or is it stuck in some way? If it’s stuck, try smoothing it with a file before reinserting the wire back into the handle.
If these quick fixes are insufficient, you may need to completely replace your telescoping handle.
How to Replace a Telescoping Suitcase Handle
Repairing a broken telescoping suitcase handle can be pretty easy or quite difficult, depending on how your handle is attached to your suitcase.
Before you start removing the entire broken handle, however, you should know it is possible to just remove the tubes. If they’re screwed into the suitcase, use a Phillips screwdriver to remove them.
If not, you’ll have to do a little more work.
What If Your Handle is Attached With Rivets?
If your handle is attached with rivets, you’ll need to drill through them before replacing the handle. Use a drill bit roughly 0.5 mm larger than the rivet. Drill steadily until the rivet falls out, exposing the screws. Unscrew the screws to remove the handle.
It’s possible the rivets aren’t even attached to the suitcase, however, so make sure to check for that before you drill. Sometimes rivets are just part of the piece of plastic that attaches the handle to the actual suitcase, so there’s no need to remove them.
What If Your Handle is Attached With Screws Fastened With Nuts?
If your handle is attached with screws fastened with nuts, you’re out of luck. Seek professional help or consult your warranty.
But if your handle was attached with rivets, this step is pretty easy. Just put the new tubes in the same hole your old telescopic handle was in.
To get a new telescoping handle for your suitcase, you should ask the manufacturer to send you a new part. That way you can be 100% sure you have the right part. But you can always take your chances on Amazon if you prefer.
How to Fix a Luggage Carry Handle
If you need to replace the carry handles, you’re in luck. That’s a much easier process than replacing the telescoping handle.
One thing to ask yourself with many broken plastic handles is, can this be fixed with just a little bit of superglue? If not, here’s what to do next.
If your suitcase is fully lined on the inside, check for a zipper. If your lining unzips, unzip it and proceed. If it doesn’t unzip, you’ll have to rip it out or cut a hole in it. Is it really worth it?
Most often, the carry handle is attached with a couple of screws. Simply unscrew the screws and replace the handle. Again, a new handle from the manufacturer may be your safest bet, but you can also find replacement handles on Amazon.
If you do decide to source your replacement handle on Amazon or ebay, just make sure it’s as wide as the old handle. You can make a wider handle work by drilling new holes, but that’s going to look a little funky. If that doesn’t bother you though, feel free.
If your carry handle is made from fabric, all you have to do is sew it back together. For the best results, find some thread that matches. Best of all, it’s often an easy enough fix that very little sewing experience is required to get the job done.
It’s possible to fix or replace a stuck or broken luggage handle, sometimes with nothing more than a screwdriver or some superglue.
Good luck, and safe travels!