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Unread 07-08-2002, 02:10 PM   #1
jeep_ivan
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Illinois
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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?

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Unread 07-09-2002, 06:50 AM   #2
jeepcherokeev6
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Join Date: Mar 2002
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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!
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Unread 07-09-2002, 02:15 PM   #3
jeep_ivan
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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.
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Unread 07-09-2002, 05:33 PM   #4
Drafter75
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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.
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Unread 07-17-2002, 08:02 AM   #5
bocephus
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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.
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Unread 07-19-2002, 11:33 AM   #6
jmsjeep
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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.
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