Jeep Cherokee/Rear Hatch Won't Open or Won't Close

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PROBLEM: Jeep Cherokee Rear Hatch latch is stuck closed or open. Unable to open or close rear hatch normally.

RESOLUTION:

There are several methods you can try to open a stuck rear hatch:

Method One: Press inwards with the palm of your hand just above the handle at the same time you push in or pull up on the latch mechanism. Sometimes a slap of your hand in the same location works better. This method may help free a sticky latch mechanism. Only a temporary fix...go to Method Three.

Method Two: Note this will not work on latches with the plastic lift handle. Look underneath the Jeep between the bumper and the gas tank. You are now looking at the bottom side of the cargo floor. You should see the two metric 15mm nuts that secure the striker bracket to the floor of the Cherokee. This bracket holds the hatch closed. A tow hitch bracket or gas tank skid plate may block your access to the striker nuts. If you can see the nuts, use a metric socket and socket wrench to remove the nuts securing the striker plate. The hatch should now swing open. You can now reinstall the striker to the floor and retighten the two nuts.

Method Three: For hatches with the plastic handle this problem may occur because of extreme heat. Spray the handle with cold water to cool the area and the hatch will then open.

Method Four: If rear hatch is stuck closed, sit in the cargo area and remove the plastic trim cover on the inside of the rear hatch to access and adjust/repair the latch mechanism. If hatch is unable to be closed remove the plastic trim with hatch raised. The plastic cover on the inside of the rear hatch is attached with four Phillips #2 screws along the inside top and 4 more along the sides (2 each side) and approximately 10 snap fasteners spaced around the inside. The 4 screws at inside top are accessible from inside the vehicle, the 2 screws on either side are not accessible when the hatch is closed.

To remove the plastic cover:

(1) Remove the 4 screws at the top. (2) Along the lower edge of the rear window, using your fingers, gently pry the edge of the plastic cover away until the 4 snap fasteners pop free along the lower edge of the rear window. You will have to pull the plastic about 3 inches from the window before the fasteners release. (3) This will allow you to pry the plastic cover open far enough use a flashlight and examine the latch mechanism. (4) Reach in and down and manually pull the latch lift bar up to release the latch and open the hatch.

Once the hatch is open you can remove the side screws, pry the rest of the snap fasteners free and completely remove of the plastic trim cover on many Cherokees. 1997 thru 2001 Cherokees have an inner hatch grab handle that requires a T30 Torx socket wrench bit to remove. Pry the little rectangular cover off of each end of the grab handle. Use the T30 Torx bit to remove two screws that secure the handle. Once the handle is removed the tailgate plastic trim panel can be fully removed.

Now that you have the hatch open, the plastic trim removed, and can access the working parts, lightly lubricate the hatch handle mechanism and the locking mechanism with some Lithium grease. Inspect both mechanisms for misadjusted or loose connections. Rod connecting latch and handle can be adjusted at this time. Mark where the threaded end of the rod connects to the metal arm moved by the handle. Unclip the retaining clip that attaches the end of the threaded rod to the mechanism. Use a needle nose pliers to pull it out. Now reattach such that the rod has less play, and clip the retaining clip back in place. Apply a small amount of spray lubricant on the external parts of the latch.

Finally, test the tailgate for proper function and reinstall the plastic trim panel and any other parts that were removed.

PROBLEM: Rear hatch won't close because lock mechanism is stuck (sprung) in closed position while hatch is open preventing the closure of the hatch.

RESOLUTION:

This problem usually happens when hatch is slammed shut. The hatch won't close because part of the lock mechanism is stuck in closed position while hatch is actually open. There is an easy fix that doesn't require forcing any of the components of the lock. While holding the rear hatch handle in open position (lift handle up) - use screw driver to lightly push the lock mechanism down (not up). It will reset easily - feather touch. If you don't hold rear hatch handle open (up) - it will not reset. Don't force anything because it may be a different problem that I have described. Template:Yoopernewsman