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Old 05-22-2021, 03:48 PM #1
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Post How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures

Introduction
Hello All, I wanted to show how to manually release the door hatch as it was discussed briefly on this form in the past but I could not find proper instructions with pictures. In my scenario, a friend closed the 4runner net in the hatch lock and now the hatch will not open, it makes the electronic release sound but no matter how hard I pull it will not give. It took about 30 minutes start-to-finish as there was limited information online and I suspect It should take under 30 for anybody else... each image should be clickable to open a larger version in Imgur.

There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to remove the hatch panel when the hatch is already opened but it is not as easy closed.

Hopefully this helps everyone in the future who has this problem, if anyone has any questions, please let me know!

Tools
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • 10mm Socket
  • Socket Extension
  • Trim Removal Tool (Optional)

Step 1: Accessing Rear Hatch Panel

To start off you need to figure out a way to the rear hatch from the inside. I put down the rear seats and made my way to the hatch panel. Upon looking at the panel you can see there are 2 covers that need to be popped off, one is in the middle and the other is where the strap is screwed in, using the flathead pop them off.
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures

Next to take off the strap you need the 10mm socket and extension and start taking that off.
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures

Step 2: Removing Rear Hatch Panel

Now that the only bolt is taken out, the panel is held in by the same clips used on most of the panels in the car, they pull straight out but it is tricky at this angle in the car. I grabbed by the middle hole that had the cover, and yanked it back and it popped all of the clips off except the lower right corner. I continued pulling at it and it eventually came off.
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures
Step 3: Disconnecting Power

Now that the panel is off, there is one connection to the motor to the right of the plastic shielding. A clip has to be lifted with a screwdriver to release it and allow to disconnect the power.
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures

Step 4: Accessing the Hatch Motor

The motor is behind the plastic shielding talked about in the previous step in a white case towards the base of inside the door. If you have worked on door panels before, this is the same plastic and adhesive glue. This glue will get everywhere if you are careless. What I did was pulled it from the Right to Left, not all the way just past the motor, and rolled it on itself.

Step 5: Removing Manual Release Lever Cover

Next to remove the cover is somewhat complicated as there is not much wiggle room and it only comes off one way. The good thing is that it is plastic so it does flex and you can maneuver it off incorrectly and it will not break. I disconnected the wire near it from the top of the box to give me a little more clearance. The box is made of 2 pieces, the first holding the motor assembly and the second covering the levers. To remove the smaller cover on the left you need to pinch it near where it connects and wiggle the back side (side closest to the outside) off the plastic arm and then off the arm in the front. Finally tilt it up and it can be removed. I know this might sound complicated so hopefully the pictures will help more.
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with PicturesHow to Manually Release Rear Hatch with PicturesHow to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures


Step 6: Opening the Hatch

Now you can see there are 2 levers visible. Some posts said the smaller one was the only one that needed to pushed but, in my case, it was both. This might depend on what is stuck in the latch or if it just died, but from my observations the smaller on the bottom released the electronic locking mechanism and the big one released the actual lock holding the door shut.
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures


It's important the glass is up in this step as you'll need to push the hatch and don't want to risk breaking the glass. I engaged the small lever and I pushed from the closest I could get to the lock from the inside metal and it took some force but eventually the door released, then I used the big lever and it allowed me to fully open the door.
How to Manually Release Rear Hatch with Pictures

Congrats! You did it, make sure you put it back together in the same order you took it apart and reconnect the power to the hatch, oh, and also make sure you get what is stuck out of the hatch lock.

I hope this helped and Let me know if you have any questions. Now I just have to make sure that never happens again and teach my friends how to close a 4th gen hatch properly.

Last edited by chrisbagnell; 05-22-2021 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 05-23-2021, 08:17 AM #2
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This is good stuff! Thanks for sharing!

Lots of pics, I love seeing it. Even hosted on Imgur with LinkedBBCode, I love it!
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Old 05-26-2021, 03:49 AM #3
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Really nice write up, thanks for sharing!
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Old 05-26-2021, 08:18 AM #4
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you mean "your ex-friend"!
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Old 05-26-2021, 02:00 PM #5
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I attached a piece of cord on the mechanism then put the cover back on. Once the cover was on I taped the cord to the cover. I can manually pull the hatch without too much messing around if needed.
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Old 07-14-2021, 05:28 PM #6
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This morning I slammed the hatch shut in a normal fashion and heard something rattling. Rather than just let it rattle till something serious effed up I found this thread and ten minutes later I had the hatch cover off and found a nut that turned out to hold one of the studs for the "4runner" emblem/license plate light. 5 minutes later I was finished.

Thanks much for posting this!

Note: If you have one of those tool kits with the plastic pry bars for removing trim parts it makes this a breeze.
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Old 02-04-2022, 11:08 PM #7
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Reviving the thread-most helpful chrisbagnell! Excellent photos and details on each step-saving as a Mozilla favorite, just in case this ever comes up. Thanks again sir.
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Old 02-04-2022, 11:25 PM #8
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should this be a sticky?
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Old 01-22-2023, 07:31 PM #9
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Hi, I just completed all the steps and Iím at the two levers by the hatch lock but itís not budging no matter how hard I move the levers. What direction do they need to be pushed in? I have a piece of fabric stuck inside the lock.
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Old 01-23-2023, 06:57 AM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchaffin View Post
Hi, I just completed all the steps and Iím at the two levers by the hatch lock but itís not budging no matter how hard I move the levers. What direction do they need to be pushed in? I have a piece of fabric stuck inside the lock.
Have someone push in on the hatch then pull the levers and then have them pull on the hatch to help toggle the catch, the fabric is probably not letting the motor move the catch.
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