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Liftgate/tailgate won't open

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Old 12-27-2009, 10:28 PM   #1
yooperdetective
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Liftgate/tailgate won't open

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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Old 12-27-2009, 11:27 PM   #2
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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.




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Old 12-27-2009, 11:37 PM   #3
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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?




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Old 12-27-2009, 11:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by yooperdetective View Post
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.


Feel free to be sarcastic.

Jim the Yooper

You know that Ford was expecting it to rust out before it hit 150k, why would they engineer the body to last 300k?
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Old 12-28-2009, 08:07 AM   #5
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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
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:13 AM   #6
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I don't think so, but I must use that as my new sig line...




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Old 12-28-2009, 10:40 AM   #7
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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.
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Old 12-28-2009, 01:29 PM   #8
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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:





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Old 12-28-2009, 02:36 PM   #9
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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
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:46 PM   #10
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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




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Old 12-28-2009, 06:19 PM   #11
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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
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:04 PM   #12
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sometimes you fall into them. I found that one on google when searching for a pic of the rear trim!




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Old 12-29-2009, 02:52 AM   #13
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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.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:08 PM   #14
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Yes, they have a similar trim piece...




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Old 12-30-2009, 12:19 AM   #15
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Well I just fixed my tail gate. it took about 30-45 min

very easy. actually.
great thread!
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:25 AM   #16
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Glad you got 'er fixed chezoom!




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Old 01-12-2010, 05:50 PM   #17
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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

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Old 09-15-2010, 06:48 AM   #18
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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.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:46 AM   #19
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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.
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???




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Old 09-15-2010, 10:55 AM   #20
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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???
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.
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