tailgate latch problem - JeepForum.com
Sign Up   Today's Posts
User: Pass: Remember?
Advertise Here
Jeep Home Jeep Forum Jeep Classifieds Jeep Registry JeepSpace Jeep Reviews Jeep Gallery Jeep Clubs Jeep Groups Jeep Videos Jeep Events Jeep Articles
Go Back JeepForum.com > Models > Jeep Grand Cherokee & Commander Forums > ZJ Grand Cherokee Forum > tailgate latch problem

JKS Grand Cherokee WJ, Adjustable Front Trackbar 1"-6Teraflex JK HD Hinged Carrier & Adjustable Spare Tire FREE, FREE, FREE EVENT!! Save big on Lockers now till Apri

Unread 07-08-2002, 03:10 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3
tailgate latch problem

Last week I went to open the back tailgate and it would not unlatch.

Does anyone know if the latch release on a '97 ZJ is electric like the glass? (I don't think so) but if it were mechanical I would have expected a couple days of warning where the mechanical parts were going bad or I would expect it to feel different than before.

To this day I have not been able to push, pry, hit or wiggle the thing open to try and get to the latch mechanasim and and fix it. If I can't get to it, how am I going to fix it? Any secrets to getting into that lower latch area?

jeep_ivan is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 07-09-2002, 07:50 AM   #2
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 126
i had a similar problem on a '94 i was driving.

does it feel like nothing's happening? what i mean is, does it seem like its locked, and too easy to move the lever? if so:

1) it may just be locked. it locks with the power door locks, and sometimes requires you to hit "unlock" twice before it opens.

2) the mechanism may just be disconnected, hence your lack of warning.

try crawling in the back, and taking the panel off. this should give you access to the mechanism, to see whats wrong.

hope this helps!
Dan, San Bernardino, California

'86 XJ, 2.8 V6 5 spd, 3" lift

"It may be a piece of sh**, but its MY piece of sh**!" -Me
jeepcherokeev6 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 07-09-2002, 03:15 PM   #3
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3
It feels the same as it did before, I have tried many times to use the key or power locks to unlock the door.

I did crawl in the back to try and get into the lock, and started removing some screws and trying to get into the latch area, but so far have not gotten very far. I don't know if I am missing some screws and latches to release the panel, but I don't want to break something. I will take it into Jeep next week I guess.
jeep_ivan is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 07-09-2002, 06:33 PM   #4
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Wisconsin - God's Country
Posts: 61
I don't think you'll be able to remove the liftgate's interior trim panel without having the liftgate open. You won't be able to access many of the screws around the outside edges of the panel. I've been inside my liftgate... very few parts are easily accessible.

It's not difficult to break this latch mechanism... many of the parts are cheap plastic. It's very easy to do this if you don't have the vehicle parked level. The liftgate can become slightly out of line with the liftgate latch on the floor. You shut the liftgate with these parts out of line and these parts will break.

Sorry, but your best bet is to take it to your dealer. I know they had problems with early year liftgate latches on ZJ's and minivans. I believe they had a recall, or at least a TSB on this. It's definitely a safety issue and you may be able to get DC to replace this at no cost, or at least labor only.
Proud V8 ZJ/WJ owner of
1993-1998-1999-2002 model years.
[b]Have you hugged your Jeep today?[/b]
Drafter75 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 07-17-2002, 09:02 AM   #5
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 4
my jeep's in the shop right now (it got broken into, $2500 worth of damage), but one of the things I was having them do was fix the rear latch. Mine totally quit on me a few weeks ago (after being unreliable for several months), and it requires replacement of the striker and latch. If there have been TSBs posted on this, where can I find the info on it, cuz I would really like to save money on this repair if I can.
bocephus is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Unread 07-19-2002, 12:33 PM   #6
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: plymouth, MA usa
Posts: 85
This happened to mine also. I could not open it.
I unscrewed what I could from inside, then pulled the panel out enough to slide my hand down to the latch, from the top middle where the glass latch is. By pulling pushing and wiggling everything I touched, it opened the latch. Once door opened I then unscrewed everything else and took panel off and pulled back the insulation. You can easily see how the latch works by playing around with it. Hook it back up tight and grease it and you will never have a problem again.
I wonder were that dirt road goes?

'89 YJ 4 banger all stock, replacing all the worn out guts first, 97 grand cherokee limited
jmsjeep is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the JeepForum.com forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid e-mail address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools

Suggested Threads

Jeep, Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and other models are copyrighted and trademarked to Jeep/Chrysler Corporation. JeepForum.com is not in any way associated with Jeep or the Chrysler Corp.