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Reparing my Sienna rear hatch handle

Life, Repair

Last weekend, while we were at the Peachtree Dekalb Airport Good Neighbor Day Air Show, I tried to open the rear hatch on our 98 Sienna. And a piece in the handle just snapped off. Oh great, another thing to add to the list of things to get done, I thought.

I was thinking about bringing it into the dealership to have it fixed, then I thought I'd try to fix it myself. A Google search brought up this thread. Apparently this is a common problem and is a design flaw with the Sienna. Fortunately, the thread had enough information in it for me to fix it myself. And it saved me several hundred dollars by not having to bring it in.

It took me about a total of one hour to fix it plus 30 minutes to run to the Toyota dealer for the part. Here's how I did it:

There is no easy way to open the hatch if the handle breaks. This site suggests using a hook and sticking it inside the hole, but I could not get a good view to figure out what to do. So, after I folded the rear seats down, I started to dismantle the inside rear hatch plastic cover. There are three bolts holding it in place. Two in the handle and one in the strap. Both have plastic pieces covering them. The strap plastic piece pulls off. The handle plastic piece folds down from the top. Then using a 10mm hex wrench, I took the bolts off. Then I unsnapped the plastic cover off. There are two more 10mm nuts holding the handle/light cover which I took off. Then I was able to get to the handle assembly. I dismantled that and got the broken handle piece and went to the dealer. The dealer didn't just sell the plastic handle, but the entire assembly. So, I had to shell $80 for the assembly (they really do need to stop making auto parts out of precious metals). Then I put the new handle assembly in and tested it. After surprising myself that it worked the first time doing it, I replaced the inside plastic cover.

Some people suggest to repair the plastic handle pieces by drilling them and putting in a screw. I considered that, but it didn't seem to be worth it. It was faster for me to drive to the dealer than to drill, buy a screw, and hope I did it right.

Posted: 2006-06-09 09:45:42


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