Question about 2002 Kia Sedona

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2002 Kia Sedona - How do I replace the latch for the back hatch?

When I attempt to unlock by either means, all I get is a rattling sound like some plastic gears are stripped. So I am not sure if the unlock mech works or if the hatch handle is inop. Any help would be great.

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If you have a Kia Sedona liftgate that won't unlock or gets stuck closed here is how I fixed it in July of 2010:

In our 2002 Sedona, at first the key stopped working and then we heard a grinding sound when we pushed the unlock button on the remote and this stopped working! It wouldn't open at all. The problem is a plastic spiral gear on something called the liftgate lock actuator. The spiral gear runs through the center of a circular gear that meshes with a small electric motor that is activated when you press lock or unlock. It turns one way with lock and the other with unlock. The motor makes the circular gear turn one way or the other which pushes the spiral gear up or down and at the top of the spiral gear is a hole that the lock mechanism connects to. This unlocks or locks the liftgate. In our Sedona, the spiral gear stripped where the circular gear surrounded it, so it got stuck, held the lock mechanism and I couldn't open the liftgate. I took apart my old one to see if there was anything I could do to fix it, I am REALLY cheap I guess, but the gear was stripped beyond repair. If yours doesn't move it probably is stripped also.

Now, the catch-22: you can't properly remove the inside back panel without opening the liftgate, so if you start to have problems, take care of them early, it makes removal of the back panel easier... but there is still hope even if you wait too long.

Your choices:

A) Go to the dealer and tell him you need to have the liftgate lock actuator replaced. They charge ~$100 for the part (that is a quote I got) and I would guess it would take an 1-2hours of labor, so it will cost you $200-$300 to get it fixed this way, YMMV, especially if you wait until you can't get the liftgate open. Is it worth it? Well in our case we couldn't get the liftgate open at all, either with the remote or with the key. But... I'm too cheap to pay this much, so read on...

B) Do it yourself and buy the part online. I only found two places with the part as of 7/20/2010: -> Liftgate -> Lock and hardware -> Actuator - Part #3, $70.41 - OR - Courtesy kia parts, same part name, still Part #3, $62.58. I have no idea the shipping, and it would probably be different for you. But, again, I thought maybe I could find it at a junkyard...

C) And I did, my city where I live I found a junkyard with a 2002 Kia Sedona with this part and an interior that matched! I pulled it off myself and paid $25, plus I got the brake light cover that I broke the tab on (read on) thrown in. I 'tested it' by pulling up and down on the eye of the spiral gear, since it moved freely (the old one did not) I figured I would get some life out of it. I have >150000 miles on the van, so I thought I would take a chance. Maybe you can find one and do it cheaper, good luck! Again, you can buy it online or at the dealer if needed.


1) Pop off the cover over the rear high mounted brake light - careful, you can break the snaps easily, I did. There is one on each side pointing down.

2) Once you get that off, you need to pry off the upper trim around the window. Just go slow and it should pop out, also remove the handle by carefully prying out the two rubber plugs and using a phillips screwdriver to remove the screws.

3) Loosen the two screws, one on each side of the back inside panel that were covered by the upper trim.

4) IF YOU CAN GET THE LIFTGATE OPEN, then unscrew the screws at the bottom of the liftgate panel, I forget how many there were.

5) Either way, slowly pry the inner back panel away from the liftgate. It has plastic pop rivets, but if you are careful you shouldn't break any. IF YOU CAN'T GET THE LIFTGATE OPEN, you can pry it away at the top and the sides, this is what I did.

6) Now, you have a plastic vapor barrier to deal with, slowly pull it away from the gooey black stick-um around the top until you can reach inside without it getting stuck to the hair on your arms 8^(

7) There is a small opening it about the middle, maybe two inches by one inch oval, if you stick your finger inside this oval and push up (or was it down) on the brass colored lever the liftgate should release and you now can properly open it up and take the back panel off the rest of the way, un-plugging the interior light as you pull the back panel loose, don't worry, there is only one way this plug can go back together, and finally loosening the screws at the bottom.

8) Remove the rest of the vapor barrier carefully, if you don't get it stuck to something else, you can press it back into the goo when you put it back together.

9) Now find the actuator - go to the websites above and look at the picture, #3, it is near the bottom of the door and is mounted with 3 bolts to a brass bracket. It is a black box about 3.5" by 2.5" with a rubber boot on the top and a white plastic eye hook poking through the rubber boot. That hook is on the end of the spiral gear.

9) Carefully using some pliers, pull the rubberish tan plastic housing that is wrapped around the bent aluminum rod out of the eye of the spiral gear, you will need it later for re-assembly, I don't know if you get one when you buy a new part.

10) NOTE: If you don't care about the remote unlocking the back door you can save some money and stop here. The key should now work. But, it you want to fix it, keep reading...

11) You now need to loosen the 3 bolts that hold the actuator bracket to the main mounting bracket, Two are easy to get to, the third requires a socket or a thin wrench to clear the frame.

12) Now remove the actuator from its frame by loosening two more bolts, somewhere in here you should unplug it from the wire connector.

13) Replace it with the one you bought and mount it to the bracket and the bracket to the main mounting bracket. Plug it in and make sure it goes back and forth when you press your remote or unlock the car.

14) Now carefully press the locking rod back into the eye and test it again. If it all works the put it back together in the following order...

- Press the vapor barrier back into the goo around the back of the door and feed the interior light connector through it. I don't know if you really need the VB, but mine was still in good shape so it got re-used. Make sure the holes line up with the holes in the frame so that the panel will go back on easily

- Have someone (get your kid to help, they will like to learn some car stuff!) hold up the back panel and connect the interior light and then screw the bottom screws on and any side screws. It has been a couple of weeks, I can't remember how many screws; finally pop the rivets back through the holes.

- Do the last two screws at the upper side of the back panel and put the handle back on. You did save all of the parts, didn't you?

- Now snap the top trim back around the window.

- Finally, snap back on the upper brake light cover and you are done!

Whew, so in summary, I paid $25, took about 2-3 hours total, most of that time was taking it apart and saved $200-$300 I figure. I gutted the old actuator to see how it worked (I'm a design engineer) and called the designer cheap who used a plastic spiral gear.

You can do all or part of this, if you aren't handy get someone who is and is careful taking things apart. I wrote this up to give you some hope if you want to get your Sedona liftgate working again.

I hope you enjoyed reading this even if you didn’t need the help.

WST 7/31/2010

A follow-up... Years later I visited a newer Sedona in the junkyard and this problem had been designed out. Yea, it was a bad design.

Posted on Aug 01, 2010


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