Just gonna bump this.. It deserves as much credit as the current stickied DIY actuator replacement that involves removing the window/mirror/trim. This definitely is not required.
I just replaced my front driver's actuator assembly. I tried without removing the door handle but I found I just couldn't get my fingers in, in such a way that I could pull the rods off the handle - and I have very slender asian fingers.
3x 10mm bolts later, the handle was loose. GO SLOW HERE
- I was super cautious in removing and replacing these bolts so as line them up perfect, and not to drop them. You need a steady hand (or rest the socket extension on the openings), and a flashlight or good work light shining in there to see.
With the assembly also completely free (4x torx) to move, I was able to pull the handle out and easily work the rods out.
The part that stumped me was physically removing the actuator, because the window track was in the way. Turns out it is held with a single 10mm bolt on the bottom left of the door, and it only goes up to the window sill. You can bend it from there or even slide it up and down along the rubber and successfully get the entire actuator out from the bottom half of the opening.
Anyway, everything was all hunky dory, took me just over an hour (mostly head scratching about the window track and actuator rods.) While I was testing everything, the rear passenger actuator gave up the ghost
Here we go again..
Final note: not sure if it was in the instructions or I just missed them - unplug the battery!!!!
I had all my windows rolling up/down and alarm going off when I went to re-attach everything. ooooops...