2004 Dodge Grand Caravan rear door will not latch!
If, when closing the rear hatch, it hits "hard" just before it reaches the closed position; it is very likely that the latch mechanism in the hatch is "stuck" in the latched or closed position already. This is a fairly common occurrence and takes less than a few minutes to fix. Literally.
In order to allow the latch to close around the mating piece on the car body, it will need to be opened first. To open a closed latch mechanism, you will need to simulate opening the hatch from its normal closed position. With the hatch open, look at the latch mechanism. It will align with the bar on the opening of the car. Adjust the hatch / your view to see how the mechanism would be wrapped around the bar on the body - keeping the hatch securely shut. Once you see an opening in the mechanism described above, slip the shaft of a sturdy screwdriver into the opening. Apply a pulling pressure outward - away from the latch on the screwdriver with one hand, and with the other hand (or with the help of an assistant), operate the handle / lock of the hatch the way you did when the hatch was closed. Immediately upon operating the handle / lock, the latch mechanism will unlock, and the pulling pressure of the screwdriver simulates the hatch being pulled away from the bar on the car - and seemingly magically - open allowing the screwdriver to be pulled out.
Next, you'll need to determine and correct the cause of the latch being in the wrong position. It could be something as simple as someone pushing the mechanism shut when the hatch was open; or it may be caused by a poorly lubricated mechanism that is not snapping into a fully open position. When this happens, it is likely the the closing motion of the hatch actually snaps the mechanism shut when it is stuck on the leading edge of the latch - instead of in the "throat" of the latch (where the screwdriver was). A liberal amount of a dry lubricant such as silicone or graphite applied to the mechanism and "worked in" through repeated opening and closing motions of the hatch would be a good start. Resist the temptation of using a wet lubricant like oil, grease, WD-40, etc. as these attract dirt and dust - which can interfere with a nice, fluid movement of the these latching parts. If there is already a lot of dirt, dust or rust, build up on the latch mechanism, it should be cleaned as good as possible before applying lubricant. Use an electrical contact type cleaner as these clean, degrease, dry quickly and leave no residue.
If you are unable to to get the latch to work - have your mechanic or auto servicer look at it. They should be able to quickly diagnose and free the latch. Most will not even bother to charge you to do this - if this is the cause of the problem.
I hope this helps & good luck!
Jul 17, 2012 |
2004 Dodge Grand Caravan