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DISCLAIMER: My first time posting pics so hopefully this works. Also I did this project a few months ago so my memory may be a little rusty :D

I had two problems happening. The rear hatch handle wouldn't return to the home position due to rust on the spring. The lock mechanism wouldn't return to the proper position. I decided to replace the handle and lubricate the lock mechanism. A few months later and both are still working great!

First you will need a new handle, here is the part number:



Here is what the new handle looks like from the back:



You will have to remove the rear hatch lower trim piece. I didn't take any pics of that, sorry. From what I recall you need to take the hand grip piece out, then 4 or 5 push-pin type fasteners that are on the bottom of the hatch. Then you can remove the trim by starting at on of the upper corners and simply pulling it off. There are multiple clips across the piece.
 

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Once you have the trim removed you will see the back of the handle is kind of behind the rear wiper motor mount.



There are only two nuts holding the handle in place. To get better access to them unclip the harness. Here is a pic of the harness off, the cable disconnected from the handle, and the two nuts removed.



Once you have the two nuts off you have to maneouver the plastic rectangular-shaped piece off. After the plastic piece is off you have remove the handle from the outside. Here is a pic of how rusted my handle was.



With the handle out give the whole are a good cleaning to avoid future rust. The installation is basically the reverse. I also added some liquid film to the handle. It is a lubricant that hardens a bit and protects the spring.

Also while you have the trim off it is a good time to change the license plate bulbs. Here is a pic of them from the inside.


You may also want to change the interior liftgate lights as well since they are exposed.

Good luck!
 

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Great Job, excellent post. It appears that Nova Scotia still is using lots of road salt to help clear the snow from the roads
 

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I think this may be in my near future. I was out a little while ago, and my door would not shut! just kept bouncing off the striker, never latching on. I took the panel off and managed to find the latch stuck... been reading the gen 1s have this problem a lot... Ill buy a latch and wait for mine to fail.

Thanks for the How-to!
 

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GREAT DIY post. My rear hatch handle also has a weak spring and I have to manually push the handle back before I shut the trunk - quite annoying.
 

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Awesome post! I need to replace all bulbs and lube the handle as well. Funny how 1 post can describe all my issues. Saved me a post.

Thanks again.

-D
 

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D2Krules said:
Awesome post! I need to replace all bulbs and lube the handle as well. Funny how 1 post can describe all my issues. Saved me a post.

Thanks again.

-D
Thank you, it's encouraging to see MO's like yours with so many miles!
 

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Great project.... took 30 minutes and now I've got my hatch back in order. Thanks. I figured I would add some photots to assist...

Here was my old handle and then of course the new one.
 

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and finally I thought this would be helpful to see how the hand is attached to you can remove it.... those two points are also on the bottom and they just need be be slighly pryed away from the trim and pulled out.

Also the hatch interior lights should be pulled and the harness disconnected prior to removing the trim.
 

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After doing this I reazlied that the hatch latch also needs to be replaced due to corrision which prevents the open/close electrical swtich from working withing the latch. The result is that my MO doesn't know when the hatch is open and therefore the hatch internal lights never work and of course if the hatch is not closed all the way I will not get any warnings.

Another project for another time.
 

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One other side effect, is that if you unlock the MO and only open the hatch it will relock all the doors since the MO didn't sense the hatch was open. A potential lock the key the car gotcha which was why I was thinking of replacing it. World Parts express has the part for $90.

Hatch lock
 

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Wow! Just curious, would it be possible to replace the older model handles with the 2005 or newer which now have rubber electrical puh switch = no rust?
 

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Good question but I doubt it... I think the newer rubber release releases the hatch electronically while the older ones where mechanical. Perhaps someone could confirm.
 
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