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Hit & Run - Rear hatch won't open - 94 Legacy GT

Legacy Hatch Lock Accident

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7 replies to this topic

#1 Red92

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 03:18 PM

So my fiancée has been driving my '94 GT lately... and yesterday she came out of work to find that someone had hit the back of it in the parking lot.  :mad:

 

They didn't leave a note, and while the business has security cameras, they don't cover that part of the parking lot.   We filed a police report, but they can't do anything without any leads... So we're on our own.  :(

 

 

It must have been a truck or SUV, as the impact missed the bumper, but pushed in the metal in the middle of the hatch just to the right of the license plate.  The glass didn't break, but it appears to have pulled back the bottom part of the window seal.  The part where the lock is at is cleary pushed in, maybe an inch and a half or so.   (I would post a photo, but the forum gallery is being reworked...)

 

 

The biggest problem for now is that the hatch no longer opens.  When you pull up on it, it doesn't feel like it is binding... so I think that the problem is with the lock mechanism being unable to release now that it is bent up.  

 

Does anyone know if the plastic cover on the interior of the hatch can be removed while the hatch door is closed?   It's already sprung a bit from the accident, but I'm not entirely sure how it comes off...

 

Thanks. 

 



#2 gbhrps

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 06:38 PM

Yes, you can get at the inner workings of the latch assembly if you pull the interior panel. However, I have no experience with the 94 body style wagon. Some wagons have screws or bolts that need to be removed from the bottom edge of the interior panel, either at each end of thetailgate pull down strap or just inside the handhold pocket under a small cover.

 

The D pillar side panels just pull straight out, and must be removed first, since they overlap the bottom interior panel. There are two clips in each, one up top and one down near the bottom. The large interior panel simply pulls straight out and is held in place by about 10 pop in plugs attached to the panel.

 

Chances are you'll need a new (I'd go used) tailgate as the latch mechanisms, rods, and brackets most likely will never properly line up again , allowing a proper lock and unlocking of the tailgate. In that case, pull the D pillar mouldings and pop the interior panel out and fold it down far enough to allow access to the lock mechanism to open the tailgate. Particularly if you need to replace the tailgate, since used ones typically come with the interior panel already in place. (Be sure to ask for it if you buy used.)

 

If a new tailgate isn't in the works, you'll still need to pull that interior panel out and down to get to the mechanism, which will most likely mess it up pretty badly, if it has those screws or bolts in the bottom of it as I described earlier.

 

I've had one of each of the generations of OBW's, and have had the tailgate interior panels off my 04 and my 07, and while each one was slightly different, they were 98% removed in the same manner. Your 94 SHOULD be similar, but I can't say for sure. Good Luck!



#3 Red92

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:17 PM

Thanks for the help,  gbhrps!

I crawled into the back today, and found that there were three plastic push-clips that held the top of the plastic hatch panel in place - one right at the wiper motor bump, and then one on each side at the base of the window.  With these three removed, the top of the panel could be pulled back.  There were some additional plastic clips inside that just pull apart.

I couldn't fully remove the panel, so there are definitely clips that are only accessible from the bottom with the hatch open.  However, I was able to get far enough by bending the panel to be able to access the latch mechanism.


I disconnected the linkage from the lock, but regardless of which way I swing it at the latch mechanism, the hatch won't open. :(

 

So there must be something binding now with the latch....



#4 gbhrps

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:06 PM

I agree. You have no choice now but to pull the interior panel back far enough, and then prop it open with a short stick. The panel may break, but at this point you really don't have another alternative. That should allow you to get a trouble light or flash liight down inside the bottom to see the latch assembly. Working with large screw drivers or pry bars, you'll have to force the latch hook to unlatch from around the rod loop that is fastened to the bottom opening of the trunk floor, by flicking its end parts that the release cables and rods attach to.

 

The latch itself is bolted to the bottom of the tailgate, so you can't unbolt it. You may simply have to pry the latch assembly forward and backwards, and side to side, hoping to unsieze it and allow the hook mechanism to spring back. You may also be able to grind off the bolt ends and their blind nuts that hold the latch assembly onto the tailgate bottom with a die grinder small enogh to get in there.

 

Regardless, you have a job ahead of you that may force you to do substantial damage to your already damaged tailgate. Luckily, there are enough of your generation wagons in wrecking yards, so finding a replacement, even in the correct colour, may not be all that difficult. Hard to say, but I wish you luck!



#5 Red92

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 03:45 PM

So we tried again today...  I had a helper pushing/pulling on the hatch while working the outside handle.   I was on the inside prying at the "claws" of the latch...  they moved slightly, but I couldn't get it to release.    :(  Swinging the lock mechanism either direction didn't help.

 

I can just barely see the tops of the bolts that hold the loop piece to the car... not sure there is enough space to get a wrench in there and remove them though.

 

I'm a bit hesitant to do anything too destructive - the rear hatch on this one actually is a one-year GT-only piece as far as I know.    :(  If I get the hatch open but can't close it again, then I *really* have problems!



#6 Rooster2

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 04:21 PM

So we tried again today...  I had a helper pushing/pulling on the hatch while working the outside handle.   I was on the inside prying at the "claws" of the latch...  they moved slightly, but I couldn't get it to release.    :(  Swinging the lock mechanism either direction didn't help.

 

I can just barely see the tops of the bolts that hold the loop piece to the car... not sure there is enough space to get a wrench in there and remove them though.

 

I'm a bit hesitant to do anything too destructive - the rear hatch on this one actually is a one-year GT-only piece as far as I know.    :(  If I get the hatch open but can't close it again, then I *really* have problems!

Yea, I was thinking the same thing, if you get the hatch to open, then you are not likely to get it to close again. I replaced the latch on my 99 OBW a few years back, but can't remember much. I do remember removing the plastic inner panel with the hatch up in the air. I think to remove the panel with the hatch closed will probably destroy it, but you may not have a choice to gain access.

 

In all likely hood, your hatch is bent and sprung, so you will need to replace it. Wrecking yard is best, then repaint.

 

I feel your pain and anguish about someone damaging your car, then driving off. I have had that happen a couple of times, and it really made me mad. Gotta be a special place reserved in hell for the bums who do hit and run.



#7 Red92

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 04:33 PM

Yeah, It's a tough call.   A wagon with a stuck hatch is only really useful for commuting, so I have to do *something*.   :(

 

I think if worst came to worst, if I broke the latch mechanism but the loop was still intact, then I could always secure the hatch down from the inside if I also remove the plastic cover part.  

 

I'll have to look again, I might be able to remove the spare tire cover and the spare tire from the trunk floor, and get a little bit more room to see back there and work on the latch.



#8 Rooster2

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 08:42 PM

Yeah, It's a tough call.   A wagon with a stuck hatch is only really useful for commuting, so I have to do *something*.   :(

 

I think if worst came to worst, if I broke the latch mechanism but the loop was still intact, then I could always secure the hatch down from the inside if I also remove the plastic cover part.  

 

I'll have to look again, I might be able to remove the spare tire cover and the spare tire from the trunk floor, and get a little bit more room to see back there and work on the latch.

For what it is worth, I have learned a lot about working on projects like you are involved in with your hatch. I have gone to wrecking yards, where they let you remove parts. There, I have removed what I have wanted to buy, and in so doing, I learn in advance of what and how, I need to do, to disassemble the broken "whatever" that I am working to repair on my car. Sort of a "on the job" training program provided by the wrecking yard.







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