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Unread 06-08-2008, 01:58 PM   #1
jeepbro's
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rear hatch won't open

The latch on the rear hatch of my 97 xj won't work anymore. I can't get it open now. How do I go about getting to it so I can open the latch and then fix it. I don't want to destroy the door panel on the hatch, but if it's the only way I guess i'll have to.

Has anybody else dealt with this and how did you fix it?

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Unread 06-08-2008, 02:15 PM   #2
ehall
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If it's not on level ground, drive it to a flat spot and see if it will open
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Unread 06-08-2008, 02:54 PM   #3
jeepbro's
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thats not what it is. The lever to open it feels like it is broken on the inside, it has no resistance to it anymore, it's not because it's on un-even terrain. It's sitting in my garage right now
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Unread 06-08-2008, 02:58 PM   #4
ehall
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Okay the other probability is that the hatch is not fully closed. If it only half closes, the button does nothing. If you drive it around a little bit the body shifting will cause it to release and the hatch will pop open.

Look at the side of the hatch by the tail-light and see if it looks like it is fully closed.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 03:22 PM   #5
AZ Jeff
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This issue has cropped up before, and should the fix (which someone has photographed) probably be made a sticky in the tech. section at the top.

On the 97+, the latch and latch handle are connected by a push/pull rod that is adjustable. Unfortunately, the adjustment clip slips on the rod, resulting in a unlatchable latch. Here is the fix:

1. Working from inside the rear compartment, pop the rear trim panel loose in the area just below the rear window.
2. In the gap between the popped panel and the inside frame of the tailgate, reach you hand down inside and feel around for the push/pull rod that connects the latch and handle. Manipulate the lever at the latch end of this rod until the latch releases, opening the tailgate.
3. Open the gate all the way, and take of the interior trim panel.
4. Observe the push/pull rod, and note it's adjuster on one end. Readjust the rod to properly work when the handle is actuated. Once adjusted, use two "ty-wrap" wire ties around the adjuster connection to insure it does not slip again.
5. Reassemble the rear trim panel, and enjoy a working tailgate latch.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 03:23 PM   #6
AZ Jeff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ehall View Post
Okay the other probability is that the hatch is not fully closed. If it only half closes, the button does nothing. If you drive it around a little bit the body shifting will cause it to release and the hatch will pop open.

Look at the side of the hatch by the tail-light and see if it looks like it is fully closed.
97+ does not use the button type latch. It uses a handle type. What you are describing only applies to before the 97 model year on the older XJ with the fiberglass tailgate.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 03:25 PM   #7
kboyts
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My hatch doesnt always open either. If I exert a little downward pressure on the hatch while lifting the handle with the other hand it will pop right open. Mines a 99 though so it might not help you out on yours.

Last edited by kboyts; 06-08-2008 at 03:48 PM..
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Unread 06-08-2008, 04:11 PM   #8
Steamer98
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Good write up Jeff.

Mine was like kboyts, and I just needed to push down while pulling the handle. Thankfully a liberal greasing took care of the issue.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 05:32 PM   #9
oliron
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I had the same problem, I had to smack the hatch to the right of the latch with the side of my fist as I had the latch pulled open, once it opened I lubed the latch, Still stick once in a while. Mine is also a 97.

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Unread 06-08-2008, 05:50 PM   #10
loosenut
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Here's my solution. I push in right below the handle with my right hand while pulling the handle with my left hand. Works every time. 97 also.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 06:43 PM   #11
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Look under the rear bumper at the bottom side of the cargo area floor. Just under the hatch handle you should see 2 bolts (item #24 in the drawing). If you have a hitch or gas tank skid they may be blocked.

Remove the 2 bolts and the hatch will open. Replace the the catch (item #21) and the 2 bolts.

Clean and lubricate all the lock and latching mechanisms. Re-attach any loose operating rods (usually #18).

Click on the link for a bigger size drawing - http://fototime.com/FB863E3C732E833/orig.jpg .

For 1997 - 2001.

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Unread 06-09-2008, 07:04 AM   #12
Rtbeebe
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Mine use to stick alot and finally wouldn't open. I reached in like it says above and opened it, took off the panel, removed the latch assembly and cleaned/oiled the **it out of it! Works like a new latch and haven't had a bit of trouble since then. I think being on the rear of the jeep it gets alot of crap built up and tends to stick over time.
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Unread 06-09-2008, 09:00 AM   #13
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Mine doesn't seem to like to open when it's hot outside. In cold weather it works perfectly. When I have issues with it, I just pull it extremely hard and it opens. I don't know if this problem is that same as that of what this post is discussing, but I also have a 97 and it makes me think it might be. If it ever gets really stuck to the point where I can't open it, I guess I'll dismember it.
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Unread 06-10-2008, 02:08 PM   #14
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I removed the 2 rear side panels then the hatch struts, allowing access to the screws holding on the tail gate panel. Pry'd the panel away enough to reach in and pull the lever and open the hatch. Once opened I removed the panned completely and realized that the problem is that the rod connecting the handle to the latch slipped though some thus it couldn't pull high enough to open. Mine had been having trouble opening for a while and this makes sense. each time it was slipping more. Re adjusted it then tightened the clamps that hold it. Now it opens better than new!
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Unread 07-04-2008, 06:21 PM   #15
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I just bought a '95 Grand Cherokee (my first jeep), and the rear hatch won't open. It looks like it has been hit lightly - like a parking lot incident, or backing into a wall. There's no damage, just an appearance that the rear bumper guard extension had been pushed. It locks and unlocks, but won't release. It seems as though the mechanism rods have come unhooked from the handle/lock. I was going to take the inside panel off to get to the guts.

Any other recommendation...?

Thanks.

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