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I have a 99 outback wagon with trunk latch stuck. It's not the little spring having come off, it's not rust on the linkage, it's not electrical, both the external link arms are free and move normally.  I've had all those things happen multiple times over the years, and I have always been able to get it open. I am familiar with all the parts that are there and how they work. I now have the interior access panel removed. This is a high mile car with very heavy hatch useage.Every piece of the latch and linkage is clean, lightly lubricated, just very normal in appearance. You cannot move the external lever. I unhooked it and it the lever now moves free. I can move the lock lever on the latch and see the external parts move OK. At some point deep in the mechanism, The latch is jammed, There is a little tab which actuates that internal linkage. I can put pretty hard pressure on it with a screwdriver tip, but it does not disengage. I have unbolted the three bolts that hold the latch assembly to the hatch, but the latch is solidly stuck to the bar below holding the latch shut. I thought I might be able to move it side to side or get a bit of a twist, but no help. I have gotten to the point where I had a very large pry bar under it while trying to pressure the linkage tab with a screwdriver. This also did nothing.

 

I think it's going to be drilled or cut out as a last resort. Has anybody actually had to do this, and what worked?

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nomad327,

 

I feel your pain! Its been many years and three  newer generations of OBW's for me since I had a similar problem on my 97 OBW.

 

For years I've worked on many makes from the restoration and fixit side of things. From your description its a pretty good assumption that the lock mechanism is toast, and you'll need to find a used one at a wreckers.

 

That said, I'd go the route of using a center punch to the rivets of the lock, to make an indentation, and then drill them out. This should allow you to pry the mechanism apart and free up the lock finger that goes around the floor lock bar.

 

I don't know if its possible , even if the bumper cover were off the car, but if the two bolts that hold the lock bar to the floor are long enough and protrude through the floor, ........ you might be able to double nut the bolts and loosen them. Remove the nuts and use a cutting wheel to cut a groove in the bolts, and then insert a small screw driver into the groove and wind them out. Then you'd have the tailgate open and could go after the lock with a vengance.

 

Another approach ... drill out the two bar bolts from under the car and retap the blind nuts for a larger bolt after you get the lock apart and fixed.

 

Good Luck, and keep us posted!

Edited by gbhrps

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I replaced the latch on my 99 OBW a few years back. Mine was just too rusted from salt spray, so that the mechanism would bind. I was able to get it to work a bit by spraying PB Blaster into the latch mechanism. I can't tell from your post as to where you live to know if you live in the rust belt,  but try the PB Blaster spray if your latch is not too beat up from your beating and prying on it. If PB doesn't work, then I would do as you are thinking...........drill or cut into it..........maybe a cutting disk on the end of a drill, or dremell cutting wheel would work. I don't advise using a pry bar, as that may damage the hatch or latch bar.

 

A replacement latch from a dealer is about $30

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I was able to get it apart without any cutting or prying after all! I know at one in the morning it was getting to me, especially when I put my shop manual disc into my new computer and windows 7 insisted on formatting the disc instead of reading the files!! That was actually when I grabbed the pry bar, but today I was able to look at my backup service manual at work, and I saw the lower bar was bolted to the bottom of the opening as gbhrps has since said. The bolt heads were way back under some trim, but I was able to get them out pretty easy but slow with a 12 mm gearwrench slid back into the slot. I don't think you would ever get them out with any other tool. The bolt heads were close to 2" back from the edge of the opening, but I was happy to have a solution. I also had to strip the interior bare and pull the hinged lid over the spare off it's hinges and lay on the spare tire to do do the job, I just needed the extra 1/2" or so of extra low reach to get back into the slot. The bolts were a bit tight, but moved pretty easy once going. It appeared to be better to shift side to side, I did each bolt in about three steps this way, They were about 1/2" long and as I gained ground I could lift the lid slightly which gave a bit more access space. Once they were out the hatch opened right up, and the first lucky break, The lower bar was small enough to pass through the opening in the bottom of the hatch. This made it a bench job to get the two lock halves apart.

 

Even having it out with good light and access, it took about half an hour to get the two pieces dislodged. I never found any problem with it. As I said, the pieces were clean and lubricated. Some little piece broken off inside I suspect. The latch housing is built up inside of a small steel cup of sorts. It's real tough and prying did not work. I ground off the rivet heads, but it would not spread apart. What worked was to crack away the little bits of plastic inside the latch where I could get to it. That seemed to loosen up enough I could get the crescent shaped lock rotor to spin and release the bar. The bar will be reuseable, The latch was not going to be reused even if it did come apart without too much fuss. By the way, the new latch when equipped with electric lock solenoid is $190. Also, thanks for the repair suggestions, this was an odd one and I needed the help.

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nomad327,

 

You'rte my kind of guy! To have the patience to stick with it and come up with another approach that works is sooooo... gratifying. I'm glad it worked out for you, and just the fact that you posted your results here will help someone else down the road. Good Job!!!

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"By the way, the new latch came equipped with electric lock solenoid is
$190."

 

Are you sure you needed the latch equipped with the electric solenoid? When I replaced my latch, it was about $35 with no solenoid. I hate to see you spend too much money, if a replacement solenoid was not needed.

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It's an elaborate thing, and very heavy duty. The price isn't cheap, but it didn't suprise me either. I just called the dealer and that's what they offered. I bought a similar piece for my ford focus in the past, it had all the same functions but was made near 100 percent out of plastic and it was near $100, so I expected this piece to be about $200. I have since recieved the piece, part number is 60320AC001, and included both the operating links and the complete assembly. Cheapest online price I saw was 180, with (probably) no tax, but shipping fee, At the dealer it was 192 with tax no shipping, but had the car back on the road in 2 days, can go on to the next problem now. 

Edited by NOMAD327

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