This instructable will show you how I saved a ton of money when trouble shooting the rear latch on my Toyota Sequoia. This is a great vehicle, but certain recurring problems with inside door handles and rear hatch handle assemblies constitute a safety hazard in my opinion. If one of these fail, you could be trapped inside your vehicle if the side door handle breaks or a kid could fall out of the vehicle if the rear hatch is not closing properly and remains stuck open when you think it is closed. This should be a passenger safety recall issue. I don't know why Toyota doesn't face up to this problem and fix it before somebody gets injured or killed.
This instructable is meant to help you understand the underlying issues with the rear door latch. Please understand that you are responsible if you try to fix your vehicle and screw something up and someone is injured. You should take your vehicle to a serviceman who knows how to fix this problem, has the appropriate training and factory manuals and is insured by the dealer if he screws something up and you or a passenger or some other person get injured. Don't try to blame me if you try to do the repair yourself and somebody gets hurt! This is definitely a safety issue!
Step 1: Introduction
Toyota Sequoia Rear Hatch Issues:
I own a 2003 Sequoia that I bought new. A couple of months ago, I experienced a failure of the drivers side inside door handle. I took it to the Toyota repair shop and it cost almost $300 to fix the cheapo plastic lever that opens a very heavy driver's side door. I was in a hurry and we had company, so I did not have time to try to troubleshoot this problem myself at the time. So, I was at the mercy of the dreaded Toyota Service Department.
I was moderately upset with the $200 in parts and $95 per hour labor fee. This apparently is a very common type of failure on this vehicle and is definitely a safety problem that should be a recall item. When this lever fails, you CANNOT get out of the vehicle on the drivers side. Very dangerous unsafe situation. I'm surprised that Toyota has not issued a recall to replace the poorly designed door handle.
Then without warning, a few days ago, the rear door latch quit working. I could NOT get the rear door latch to engage the "U" shaped connection on top of the rear bumper. Had to drive home with the rear door open, vibrating and clanging up and down with every bump and irregularity in the highway. Choking on exhaust fumes.
Do not waste any time getting this fixed when it happens to you. And don't try to slam the rear door closed or you will break the latch or even bend the "U" shaped thing on the bumper below that engages this latch!
Never sit in the car unless you are moving with all the windows and the moon roof open. Don't drive in this dangerous condition with passengers, especially young children of infants. Carbon monoxide could fill the cabin and you will get a nice long dirt nap.
Turns out that this rear latch failure problem is ALSO a very big problem. Looking in the Sequoia owners forum, there are over 15,500 hits on a topic dealing with inoperable rear door latches on Sequoias. Another good reason for a recall on safety issues if you ask me.
A kid or the groceries could fall out of the back of the vehicle if the door can't be closed. Dangerous as hell. Plus, you cannot turn the alarm on when the rear hatch is not closed. Poor design and very poor materials.
So, it was with some trepidation that I once again drove on over to the Toyota dealer for an estimate. The service guy told me that he never saw one of these latches broken before. In his next breath, he tells me that when the door latch mechanism breaks, you usually have to replace the windshield wiper and rear window opening mechanisms as well... Must have had "STUPID" stamped on my forehead that day.
Sooooo, he just said he never saw one of these break before... but he is sure that I will have to replace everything but the transmission to get my door to work again. The cost would be between $890 and $1150, so much for parts and so much for labor at a whopping $95 per hour.
I don't think so.