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The liftgate on our 2001 is becoming increasingly flaky in its operation. The manual release works when it feels like it which isn't the end of the world but now, possibly due to the very cold weather, it doesn't always close and latch. This drained the battery today and while fortunately, it happened in the garage, it could have stranded my wife somewhere.
My questions is what is the best way to lubricate the latching assembly and is there any other maintenance that should be done to it?
 

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First, you should know that the system is designed to shut off the automatic operation in extremely cold weather. The service materials don't specify the temperature, but that may be part of what is happening.

Although it is more likely that the latch mechanism is failing and will need to be replaced(which will also prevent operation of the automatic door), you can try lubricating it. I suppose you could spray some lube into the latch from the outside. To get better access, you would need to remove the interior trim from the hatch and then remove the torx bolts that hold the latch in place so you can pull it out.

I replaced my latch about 2 years ago because one of the sensor switches in it had failed-- I think it cost about $115 and is dealer-only. Actually, this is why I think you may have to replace the latch-- it contains a couple of latch state sensors (just little switches that tell the computer if the latch is open, popped or closed. The computer needs these inputs for the manual operation if you only lightly close it and let the computer pull it the rest of the way in. If these have failed or are intermittant, lubrication will not help obviously.
 

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Thanks for the information(although not what I was hoping to hear). I didn't realize there was that much going on in there but I suppose that if I had thought it out, I could have guessed.
 

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If you want to try lube try a Full synthetic grease or a Silicone lube do not use a waterbased lube like wd40 i would never use that crap on anything. .
 

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I use moble 1 Red full synthetic grease in a tube to lube the sliding doors that usualy works for a year untill after winter.
 

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Thanks for the information(although not what I was hoping to hear). I didn't realize there was that much going on in there but I suppose that if I had thought it out, I could have guessed.
A lot of people blame the computer for problems first, but the latch is more likely because it has a lot of mechanical parts that are actuated over and over again through the years. In addition to the switches, the latch also has the cinch motor and, I'm pretty sure, the lock actuator, so it is pretty complicated.

Not that it will help you, but the dealer scan tool has a function where it will attempt to activate the door and then it will tell you the reason why the attempt failed-- that's the only practical way to be sure you've found the faulty component-- unless you want to break out a wiring diagram and back probe the various latch outputs with a meter (which could be done), but as stated above, the latch is a good guess.

Before condemning the latch though, you may want to take a close look at the wiring harness-- especially where it goes from door to body-- to make sure it is not damaged. Does the latch show any signs of life?
 
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