More About DODGE Caravan & Dodge Caravan Lift Gate – Out-of-Synch Liftgate Latch DIY Fix – 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Near Lynn 35575 AL.
DIY fix to reposition the latch disc of an Automatic Liftgate Latch on 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan.
If the remote liftgate won’t close because the latch mechanism was closed while it was in the open position (to tie it down, for example) this shows how to reset the latch position.
NORMAL OPERATION DESCRIPTION. The system appears to be a simple latch that is opened or closed by force applied when the system hydraulics open or close the gate and force the latch on to (off of) the metal ring it locks down on. When the gate opens there is a spring loaded catch that (probably) is electronically released from holding the latch disc in place. The hydraulics and gears then pull the gate up and this forces the latch disc into the open position (with the notch facing the metal loop it would lock on to). When the gate closes the catch is again released and the hydraulics force the gate down and the latch disk onto the metal loop, causing it to turn, hook on to the loop, and then the catch snaps back into place to hold the latch disc closed and on the loop – locking the liftgate.
PROBABLE CAUSE/SITUATION. Some gates (all, on every Dodge Grand Caravan WE’VE ever owned) don’t have a place to attach a string, bungee cord, or other tie down. When people need to tie the gate down they might manually move the disc-like latch into the closed position (the catch will just slide out of place and snap into the next position – partially or fully closed. This happened to me when I went to a drive in and they (politely) asked that we tie the lift gate down a bit so it wouldn’t obstruct the view of others.
Problem is, if the latch is in the closed/locked position when the gate is open, it is out of phase w/the automatic mechanism and the cycle to close the gate and lock it will not work. The spring loaded catch is released to allow the latch disc to turn when it meets the metal loop and force is applied. But since it’s hitting at a closed spot on the latch disc it just bumps into the loop and the system interprets this as something caught in the gate. The automatic mechanism then defaults to manual mode. No amount of button pushing, power cycling, turning ignition on or off, etc. will work. The system just isn’t designed to handle the latch disc being out of position.
DIY FIX. To correct this you need two flat bladed screwdrivers. One needs to be long enough and thin enough to reach up and behind the latch disc to push the spring loaded catch up. At the same time you use the other screwdriver to turn the latch disc to the halfway closed position. This still won’t let you close the gate, though.
Step two is to then use the shorter and thicker of the two screwdrivers to PARTIALLY re-close the latch disc. Don’t completely undo what you just accomplished – just move the latch disc toward the fully closed position a little (say a few degrees of turn or about 1/8″ distance on the disc). This will cause the spring-loaded catch to ride up the latch disc a little and give you a gap that you can get the smaller, longer screwdriver into without damaging the catch. Once there, push the catch out of the way again and turn the latch disc the rest of the way into the open position. Voila – you’re essentially done.
From there you should be able to manually or automatically close the gate, resetting the latch disc into the correct position for the normal liftgate cycle.
An easy fix, but a pain if you don’t know what the system is doing, if it’s dark, or if you don’t happen to have two appropriately sized screwdrivers! I called the Dodge dealership and described my problem and (to their credit) although they said that maybe “resetting the latch” was what was needed, they weren’t able to describe the cause nor the fix and claimed to not see this often enough to know what the issue was. They did offer to have me drive it in, but I was hesitant to spend 2+ hours and possible a $75 labor charge for something that should be DIY-able. I hunted around on the InterWebs and YT and all the liftgate latch stuff was about full blown repairs. So, hopefully this will help someone else!
Out-of-Synch Liftgate Latch DIY Fix – 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, New DODGE Challenger & Dodge Caravan Lift Gate, Lynn 35575 AL.
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