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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you remove the interior trim from the cargo area lift gate, this is what it looks like:

  • To remove this interior trim:
    1)
    The handle has a plastic cover piece on each end, that hinges away from the handle's center, exposing a phillips-head screw at each end of the handle.
    2)
    There are two 7mm screws in the area that holds the First Aid Kit.
    3)
    The trim will now 'snap off', as it is held on with clips.
The locations of the clips, and holes for the screws, are marked on the above photo.

The above photo shows the inside of the plastic lift gate trim piece, and the two 'sound deadening pads'. You can see the black mastic that holds the pads in place on the lift gate when the plastic trim is removed. Here is a view of them, from the other side(sitting on top of the plastic trim):


Here is the inside of the driver's side of the lift gate, with the trim and pads removed:

The top arrow points to some of the mastic from one of the pads.
The lower arrow points to a nut that I found had almost worked its way right off the bolt.

Here is the inside of the passenger's side of the lift gate, with the trim and pads removed:


The reason I removed the trim was to try and diagnose a water leak. Although any leak would be covered by the warranty, based on past experience, I knew that if I took it to the dealer, the leak would refuse to happen while they had the truck ;-)

The symptom of the leak was:
- truck parked on a slight slope from front to back
- truck parked on a slight slope from driver's side to passenger side
- water showed up inside the lift gate, in the passenger side rear corner, on top of the rubber weatherstrip between the lift gate and the body

This is what it looks like when it leaked:


Where the lift gate handle and lock housing attaches to the lift gate, the metal around the opening in the lift gate has a small lip that bends towards the inside of the lift gate. There is water getting into this area, and collecting between the handle/lock plastic housing and the lift gate:




  • What causes the water to show up on top of the rubber lift gate weatherstrip is this:
    1)
    The water collects between the handle/lock plastic housing and the lift gate.
    2)
    When the lift gate is opened, some of that water drops down onto the pad. Either while the lift gate remains open, or when it is closed, some of that water makes its way off/past the pad, and then onto the inside of the plastic trim.
    3)
    When the lift gate is in its closed position, the water on the inside of the plastic trim runs down to the trim's bottom edge, and out, showing up next to, but inside of, the lift gate.
In other words, you only see this problem when the lift gate is used after the handle area of the lift gate gets wet (rain, washing), but before the collected water can drain away or evaporate.

The lift gate has weep holes at the bottom. This photo shows the bottom of the inside of the passenger side of the lift gate:


Once again, it had rained overnight, so when I opened the lift gate today the collected water 'spilled out'. Some of it just dropped to the ground, because I have the pads and trim removed. However, enough landed inside the lift gate that when I closed the lift gate a stream of water ran out of the weep hole below the handle:


Note that the weep holes are there for a reason - to let water that gets inside the lift gate to drain out, to the exterior of the vehicle. Water draining out the weep holes does not enter the cargo area, and does not necessarily indicate a problem.

I'm taking the truck into the dealer next week to show them the problem.
I'll report back with what they have to say about a fix.

(Edited 2006/11/19 to show how the plastic trim attaches, and clarify where the water leak is located)
 

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:clown: -Man, I was about to say "what the hell do I care about the HATCH interior"---

--Then I continued--

--That was a fantastic , step by step, breakdown and PROCEDURE for any future questions about -our- rear access interior and construction---

-----Thankyou dpatton very much !!!

-- :geek: :geek: --JIMBO
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Syndicate said:
You should print your thread and take it to them.
I'm taking a CDROM with the full-sized versions of the photos that show the water leak problem.
 

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Were you getting water on the inside of the cargo area? Whenever I wash my X, I notice that when I open the hatch, then close it, I get water dripping on the top of my bumper right under the handle. I noticed 4 small holes on the bottom of the hatch. I just figured they were drain holes, but I only get water from the bottom passenger side. No leak inside though. I wonder if this is an inherent problem? Maybe I need to pull apart my panels and see if there is water collecting inside. My truck was parked on a slight downhill, nose down. Never mind the water inside question. I just re-read the post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
D-Day said:
Were you getting water on the inside of the cargo area? Whenever I wash my X, I notice that when I open the hatch, then close it, I get water dripping on the top of my bumper right under the handle.
I've updated my posting to better explain/show the leak problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
usmc xterra said:
I'd coat that handle with some marine above and below the water line silicone and re-install it.
MC
At this stage of things, I don't want to "do anything to the handle", because I want the dealership to see the problem "as is".

I wonder if there is a gasket between the handle housing and the lift gate that is either faulty, or installed incorrectly. A gasket that has weep holes, and that can be installed upside down, would do exactly what mine is doing - let water in around the handle housing, but stop it from running out the bottom of the area with the lip.
 

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Great Write up Thanks for the info
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Lift Gate leak

dpatton said:
The reason I removed the trim was to try and diagnose a water leak.

I'm taking the truck into the dealer next week to show them the problem.
I'll report back with what they have to say about a fix.
I showed the technician at the dealership the problem. It had been raining that day, so there was no problem seeing the water inside the lift gate. They have ordered a new handle.

Here is a closeup from one of the above photos, showing where the water was pooling on part of the handle, and then running down:


To remove the handle, use the connector to disconnect the wiring leading to the key switch, disconnect the rod at the key switch(see above photo),
and undo the three nuts. You do not have to disconnect the cable that goes from the handle to the latch:


Here is a closeup where you can just see the color from where the seal around the handle was leaking, The color is from the rain water washing the dirt off my truck :)


You can see in this photo where the handle's seal was leaking, where the water was pooling on the handle, and where it was running down the inside of the handle:


Once the dealership installs a new handle, I won't know if the problem is really fixed unless it leaks again - it's hard to prove a negative :)

Overall, I would say that the design is weak, for two reasons:
1)
What stops water from leaking in around the handle is a thin bead of caulking. I don't know whether it gets applied before the handle is installed(i.e. at the factory or at the dealership), or if it 'comes with the handle'. A better design would have been to have a flat flange around the handle and use a rubber gasket.
2)
The handle is held on by three bolts, with one at the top and two at the bottom. If the pressure from the bolts is going to fail to hold the handle tight to the lift gate, it's going to be along the top edge, because of the single bolt. A better design would have been to use four bolts, or even two on the top and one on the bottom.

Without removing the lift gate interior trim, I would say that the only way to try and tell if your truck has this leak problem would be to check it after it has been raining (doing the check after washing the car might be misleading, because a hose could perhaps force water inside the lift gate). Make sure any water is dried off the lower part of the lift gate, and off the bumper. Open the lift gate. Wait a moment, then close the lift gate. If you now get water running out the lift gate weep holes, then that may indicate that you have this same leak problem.
 

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Nice write up. I don't have that problem, but if I do I have a fix now!

Thanks
 

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good write up, I have to say something thought. There are two bolts at the botom becouse when you open the lift gate the twisting force aplied to the handle in order to open the door, pulls on the bottom not the top, hence the single bolt at the top. to me the design looks pretty good, i would have to say that as with anything you probably just got a lemon. :cat:
 

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dpatton, did you get the new handle installed yet? We just had a little bit of rain here in L.A. and sure enough, I got water draining from the weep hole after I opened and closed the hatch. Same hole right under the handle. Nice little stream of water too. It didn't rain too long or hard and I didn't have any water on the inside of my cargo area. Anyone else notice water draining from the weep hole right under the handle after washing or some rain? You have to open and close the hatch soon after. I opened and closed the hatch the day after also, but no water from the weep hole.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
D-Day said:
dpatton, did you get the new handle installed yet?
No. Haven't heard from the dealership yet, so presumably they don't have the part yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
D-Day said:
dpatton, did you get the new handle installed yet?
The new handle was installed today(Dec 20) by the dealership.
Of course I hope the problem is fixed, but if it leaks again, I'll post about it here.
 

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FYI - When I had my rear hatch plastic off I noticed that mine was leaking a little too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
dpatton said:
The new handle was installed today(Dec 20) by the dealership.
Of course I hope the problem is fixed, but if it leaks again, I'll post about it here.
The new handle DID NOT fix the leak.

Last week I called the dealership to tell them that I didn't think the leak was fixed (now I know it isn't). I also wanted to call them to get it on their records, because I'm moving this month, so any ongoing servicing will be done in another city. Maybe just as well - when they replaced the handle, they didn't re-fasten all of the clips for the interior plastic trim, and they lost a retaining washer and broke one of the 'plastic cover clips' on the handle that is on the inside of the liftgate.

More than ever I'm convinced that there is a design flaw with the liftgate's exterior handle, or at least with the type/amount of sealant they are supplying with the handle.

And it's not an acceptable answer for Nissan to say that it doesn't matter because there are weep holes to allow any water that gets in to drain out:
- the inside surfaces of the liftgate are not protected against rust the same as exterior surfaces are
- various metalic and non-metalic parts inside the liftgate were probably not designed with the expectation of routine exposure to water
- the problem causes water to appear inside the vehicle when the liftgate is opened before any water that is inside the liftgate has drained away or evaporated

Once I have moved I'll meet with the service manager of the dealership in my new location and see if we can come up with a plan to address this problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
dpatton said:
dpatton said:
The new handle was installed today(Dec 20) by the dealership.
Of course I hope the problem is fixed, but if it leaks again, I'll post about it here.
The new handle DID NOT fix the leak.

Last week I called the dealership to tell them that I didn't think the leak was fixed (now I know it isn't). I also wanted to call them to get it on their records, because I'm moving this month...Once I have moved I'll meet with the service manager of the dealership in my new location and see if we can come up with a plan to address this problem.
Well, the dealership in Victoria has had my X in for it's first service, including addressing the lift gate leak problem. They removed the exterior lift gate handle, and reinstalled it with some added sealant. Then, with the lift gate interior trim still removed, they put it under their sprinkler system for 2.5 hours, with no signs of a leak. I've had it back for 5 days, and it rained a couple of times, and so far I don't see any signs of a leak :)
 

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I noticed a very small gap between the handle gasket (for lack of a better description) and the metal. It is in about the same area your original leak occured (note: water marks on the dust). Instead of taking it to the dealer and probably waste my time, I just taped the top area of the handle off and applied some GE clear outdoor window/door silicone sealant. Haven't had water seepage since.
 
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