View Full Version : Noisy/loose hatch repair

02-13-2012, 08:38 PM
The other day I noticed there was a bit more noise coming from the back of my 94 Sport than usual.
It sounded like the rear hatch wasn't latched properly.
Upon closer inspection I fount this:


The factory reinforcment plate for the latch was rusted away. And by the looks of it, the latch had done a bit of damage.
The white you see is the gelcoat for the fiberglass.
The rusty bits you see are whats left of the factory reinforcement plate.
I had to make a repair panel before it fails completely.

Thought I would share it with you

Have to remove the hatch interior panel to access the latch.
Using a T-27 bit, carefully remove the three retaining screws - OR- in my case use the T-27 and a vise grip as I rounded out the TORX on one of the screws.
Squeezing the white plastic arm (upper) will allow the latch to be worked free from the hatches "button"


There is also TWO wires attatched to the latch, these are for the interior light. Betcha didn't know that...most times the switch inside the latch assembly is so rusted they stop working altogether.

After latch is removed I have this.


Now for the repair panel.
The original was sheet metal. I have to go this route as there is a very thin area between the hatch and the jam.
I opted to use 20ga sheet metal. I happen to have a small piece left over from a rocker panel replacement.
The piece was a section from the door sill area. It has a 3/4" lip on one side that I kept which will allow a few extra rivet points.


Since my metal was already primered (+) black, I needed to spray a bit of white paint on it so I could see my tracing.
I pressed the reapir panel against the hatch and traced the opening and the (rough) holes with a black Sharpie


Cutting out the opening with tin snips and dressing it up with an angle grinder. And having to line-up the holes just right for drilling.. I used a drill bit that was slightly bigger than the screw diameter.
NOTE: You can see my messed up screw. (TOP)
Make sure you clean up ALL the edges because flesh and sharp metal don't mix.


Not bad.


Only problem is the heads of these screws need to be flush.
But they aren't flat head (tapered), actually the bottoms of the heads are flat.
So the area around the holes need to be indented.

I placed the clamp of my flaring tool in my bench vise and placed the messed up screw through one of the holes and smacked it a few times with a hammer, flipped it over and placed a 3/4 socket over the backside and bang. Perfectly indented. The same effect can be accomplished with a socket in the vise if you dont have the flaring tool clamp.

Last fit and attachment with 1/8" pop rivets. Don't forget that upper lip.
After its all secured, I lightly tapped around the edges with my hammer to make everything flat and tight.
I am going to be getting a replacement screw for the messed up one, so the next couple of pics you will only see TWO of the three mounting screws.
I had to really tighten them screws so there would be no interference when I close the hatch.

NOTE: I did take my utility knife and trimmed the outside edge of the door sill plastic by the striker bolt just to give me a little leeway.


Paint it up. Luckily, ACE hardware's Utility Equipment RED is almost a perfect match.
I know...runny. Cut me some slack it is only 19*F out here.

All assembled and looking good AND working the way it should


I did order up another latch assembly w/switch from TeamCherokee.com $26 +shipping so I should have the interior light working with the opening of the hatch...woohoo!!

XJ Wheeler
02-13-2012, 11:16 PM
Nice job, good ingenuity. A jeeper always finds a way.

02-14-2012, 07:46 PM
Nice Job! I have a low rpm rattle coming from my rear hatch. I think its from worn rubber bumpers but I will def look at my latch more closely.