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Liftgate/tailgate won't open

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by yooperdetective, December 27, 2009.

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    1. yooperdetective

      yooperdetective New Member

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      2000 Ford Explorer XLT 2wd 4 liter SOHC here. 329K on the body, on its second engine and needing a third transmission. Yeah, yeah, wow, lots of miles. Pfffft. Everything's breaking and it sucks.

      The latest issue: My lift gate door will not open. The lift window will but the key doesn't turn nicely and the button gets stuck, so I'm always leery of messing with that. The release handle on the lift gate just flops with no tension when I pull it back, failing utterly at doing its job of opening the back door.

      I've read all the posts on here about fixing the problem and they all require removing the rear door panel, which sounds like fun when you can't open the rear door. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

      However, I noted that there are two plastic "plugs" on the trim panel, one on the hump that covers the latch assembly for the lift window. This appears to provide excellent access if, say, the key thingy doesn't open the lift glass.

      Next to this hump on the top of the rear door trim, right under the window is a second, smaller plug which provides access to a hole that goes I know not where. I was wondering: If I stuck something down there, like the thing that lets me lower the spare tire, can I push on something that would unlatch the rear lift gate?

      That makes perfect sense to me: an emergency release mechanism with the tools at hand. Of course, I'm not a Ford engineer. I must clear my mind of all logic before trying to solve one of these problems.

      Case in point: If you can't open the rear lift gate, you can't lower your spare tire. WTF? Couldn't they have put a little notch in the bottom of the door to give you access to the crank access hole? Or put the crank access hole lower, like in the bumper by the license plate like GM does?

      Sorry, I'll try to put logic aside. I will assume the little plug thing on the top of the door is for greasing the tail light bearings. And that they didn't put the crank access hole someplace accessible if the liftgate doesn't open because it's unsafe for a mere mortal like me to lower my spare tire without dealer assistance.

      Sorry for the sarcasm. It's late, I want my freaking brand new spare tire off so I can replace a balding older one, and I want to be able to get to my toolbox without climbing over the back seat. Just grumpy.

      So what IS that cap-covered hole for in the trim on the back door? And do I HAVE to replace whatever part broke on the lift gate assembly, or is there a way to jury rig something, even with some bailing wire and duct tape? After all, at 329K, any "new" parts automatically double the value of the vehicle.

      Any ideas? Feel free to be sarcastic.

      Jim the Yooper
       
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    3. my pos mounty

      my pos mounty Well-Known Member

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      Beats me, My hatch has been stuck like this for a year. I have my spare in the back, thankfully, so it doesnt bother me too much, but would be nice to fix that one day. (perhaps I should research this?? NAHHHH)
      Subscribed to this thread to see what (if anything) happens.

      And thanks for reminding me, I have to go check my tail light bearings and order the right handed kaniffer pin while i am at it.
       
    4. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Elite Explorer

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      I know on the earlier gen II's, there used to be a lock/unlock indicator button like on the other doors, and when they did away with that, they just capped the hole... Maybe that's it?
       
    5. dogfriend

      dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid Elite Explorer

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      You know that Ford was expecting it to rust out before it hit 150k, why would they engineer the body to last 300k? :p:
       
    6. yooperdetective

      yooperdetective New Member

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      Ha ha

      Okay, less sarcasm, more answers.

      I am curious if it was a Gen II hangover. But it's RIGHT above a hole in the door steel, as if you're supposed to stick something down there. If it wasn't blizzarding in the UP right now, I'd go out there and stick something in the hole.

      Heck with it, I'll give it a try anyway.

      Jim da Yooper
       
    7. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Elite Explorer

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      I don't think so, but I must use that as my new sig line... :D
       
    8. dogfriend

      dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid Elite Explorer

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      I think, theoretically, you might be able to remove the hatch trim panel without opening the door. You need to remove the two screws that attach the inside pull strap and then another screw under the cover for the door lock push button. Then unsnap the panel at the top and push it up to remove.

      This is theoretical, I did it by opening the hatch first. Good luck.
       
    9. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Elite Explorer

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      It is possible, the top section of your ex has push in tension clips, but the bottom of the trim panel slides off. You'll have to remove the 2 screws holding the pull handle on the inside of the door...

      You can pry the top "ring" of the trim forward, let it hang forward/down, and slide the bottom of the trim assembly up towards the roof to unhook it.

      This is what the clips look like on the bottom, they just slide into cutouts:

      [​IMG]
       
    10. yooperdetective

      yooperdetective New Member

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      What's the hole for, then?

      Yo, Joe:

      So if you look at the top of your pic but keep going up, you find that hump for the rear lift glass window latch assembly. On the top of that hump is a plastic plug that pulls out of the trim panel. To the left of that hump, looking toward the front of the vehicle, is a second, smaller plug. When the trim is in place, if you pull the plug, you look down on a hole in the top of the door frame.

      What's it for? Do you have a pic of the door without the trim panel in place? I still think it accesses an actuator of some sort.

      Jim
       
    11. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Elite Explorer

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      The one off to the side used to be a hole where a lock indicator came out, kind of like the buttons that pop up out of the tops of your door trim panels on the doors to tell you if your doors are locked or not.

      There was a single screw in there to hold the panel also. The newer Ex's did not have the lock indicator, and had a plug there instead. I do not know if there is an actuator in there on the later gen II Ex, as I haven't been inside many of those hatch's.

      I found this thread which may be helpful: CLICK ME
       
    12. yooperdetective

      yooperdetective New Member

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      Excellent link

      Thanks Joe, great link I hadn't found in the open search process. I'm so looking forward to ripping my car apart.

      Jim the Yooper
       
    13. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Elite Explorer

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      sometimes you fall into them. I found that one on google when searching for a pic of the rear trim! :D
       
    14. chezoom

      chezoom Active Member

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      is this job the same for my 03 explorer sport. the tail gate broke a month ago and ford wants your first born. I offerd arm and leg but they like babies.
       
    15. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Elite Explorer

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      Yes, they have a similar trim piece...
       
    16. chezoom

      chezoom Active Member

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      Well I just fixed my tail gate. it took about 30-45 min

      very easy. actually.
      great thread!
      :thumbsup:
       
    17. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Elite Explorer

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      Glad you got 'er fixed chezoom!
       
    18. jrowe6

      jrowe6 Active Member

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      if you cant open your rear hatch because your door lock motor for the hatch doesnt work anymore i know how you can unlock it without taking off the rear panel. its quite easy actually.

      people could actually break into your truck really easy if they knew this trick so dont tell anyone!

      anyways, go to the back of your truck, on the outiside. look at your license plate. two white lights that illuminate the plate so the 50 can read your plates in the dark! well unscrew the light on the drivers side. now....with your trusty flat head screw driver and your flash light to guide it. push that bar going left to right, i believe it has a yellow plastic end on it. thats where the actuator motor connects to the locking mechanism! i forget which way you have to push, left or right. but yea....it works. i left the car running and got locked out one time....in the driveway luckly. having taken off the rear panel to get to the actuator motor i realised the close proximity to that little light and decided to give it a try before i put my trusty coat hanger into my door......it worked like a charm. if you guys cant figure it out i'll make a video of it or something.



      *i had to do this the other day bc the lock on my drivers door froze, and my other locks dont work at all ever. so i did this again and realised what i said the first time was not exactly right. when you look up in there you can see the actual locking mechanism up to the right, i used a wrench and pushed up on the actual level the lock actuator was hooked to, its hard to move the actuator its self so just pushing on that lever is much easier and works the same.

      sorry if i am terrible at explaining this. its hard to put into words
       
      Last edited: January 30, 2010
    19. imc

      imc New Member

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      Most likely because of the yellow plastic retainer that connects the rod to the handle broke. Just replaced mine today. The Stealer wanted $4 for that piece of plastic.
       
    20. chezoom

      chezoom Active Member

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      it is a worthless pece of plastic. mine has broke for times and is currently broken. its not rocket science on how to fix it! am i doing something wrong???
      :roll:
       
    21. ugexe

      ugexe Active Member

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      Try adjusting how much of the rod you are putting into the clip. The more rod you give it the more pressure the clip receives. You could also use plastic epoxy or super glue on where the clip swivels and clips if that doesn't help (don't get glue on the rod).

      Those clips can be purchased at Advance Auto in a variety pack for like $2. You only get 1 of those yellow ones in each pack.
       
    22. imc

      imc New Member

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      Ford cheap and bad design is the problem.
       
    23. silverstang07

      silverstang07 New Member

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      not sure if mine is the same problem but lets see when i hit the button for all the doors to unlock it does unlock all the doors but yet still can not open the rear gate now even though its unlocked she will not budge i basically have to apply pressure over the emblem on outside of the door to get it to open would this be the same problem
       
    24. tamip

      tamip New Member

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      Much Love!

      Every time my poor Nellie (2k Mountaineer with 200k miles) has an issue, all I have to do is search here and I find the miracle solution!!

      Mechanics in my area are unable to charge one less gal an arm and a leg for doing something I can do myself if I have instructions :D

      Thanks so much!!!

      Tami
       
    25. mlgskg

      mlgskg New Member

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      2001 Ford Explorer Rear Hatch Access

      My handle does not work to open the rear hatch to my 2001 Ford Explorer. Any ideas on how to get access to the panel to repair the handle? Anyone have some advice?
       
    26. koda2000

      koda2000 Well-Known Member

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      this subject has been covered here numerous times. try searching this site, although the search function doesn't work very well. if that doesn't get you what you need try using Google to search. it should lead you back here to multiple threads. i could tell you how to get it open, but it's a lot of typing and i don't have the time right now. later i'll see if i can find you a link.

      ok, i have more time now. what usually happens is that the yellow plastic clip that connects the exterior lift-gate handle to the rod which operates the latch breaks or pulls out of the handle. this happens because, over time, the latches and other moving parts wear and need to be lubricated. the stress caused by lack of lubrication is what pulls the plastic clip out.

      to get the lift-gate open you need to get access to the part the handle is supposed to pull on. this can be accomplished by removing the interior trim panel completely, or by carefully prying the panel over the window latch. before trying this be sure to remove the pull handle (2 Phillips screws) and the single Phillips screw found under the small plastic plug to the left of the larger center plug by the widow latch. the bottom portion of the interior panel hooks to the bottom of the lift-gate with 8-10 plastic hooks. lifting the panel will give you a little more play to get it over the window latch. if you want to remove the interior panel completely, there are a series of metal clips (1 or 2 on each side and 3 or 4 across the top of the rear window). these clips are best located and popped out with an interior panel trim removal tool. insert the tool between the plastic and the metal door and slide it along until it hits a clip. once the metal clips are released, the trim panel will lift off completely.

      using a good flashlight, look straight down inside the lift-gate in the area of the window latch. you should see 2 rods which go out to the left and right lift-gate latches. using a long screw driver, press down on the pivot point for the rods. one side (left?) moves down and the other moves up to release the latches. open the lift-gate.

      remove the plastic weather shield from the lift-gate to gain access to the internals. you'll probably find the rod that used to be attached to the exterior handle is now just flopping around inside the lift-gate. on the end of the rod will be the yellow clip that you now have to replace. make note of where it is located on the rod (usually around the center of the ribbed section). the clips are available from Ford for around $3.00. you might be temped to reuse your old clip, but don't. i have the part number somewhere if you need it.

      be sure to lubricate all the moving parts (including the exterior handle pivot points). install the new yellow clip and snap it on to the exterior handle. reassemble the lift-gate in reverse order of dis-assembly. use some pieces of masking tape to hold the plastic weather shield in place while you reattach the trim panel.
       
      Last edited: May 10, 2014

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