Sunday, July 21, 2013

Buick Rendezvous Liftgate/Tailgate Switch Fix for under $6 USD

UPDATE!!!! This will only correct a broken switch, which is very common on these vehicles. It will not fix wiring issues or problems with the body control module. I'm in the process of writing an article to fix wiring to doors and liftgates.

A year ago, I told you how to fix the liftgate release button on the Buick Rendezvous. This involves switching the wires terminals to get this operating again. Yesterday, I had two carts of groceries and a carryout waiting. My remote was also dead and after several attempts to open the gate, I had to give up and pile everything into the back seat. Not fun. After getting the groceries home, I took the garnish moldings off the liftgate and sure enough, the switch had failed again. I could  have bought the new switch, which is about $30 to $40 plus wait time. However, this means that it would have the same poor construction as the original. If I were going to keep the car for too long, it would mean a new switch in another year or so. Since the remote is fixed now, this is usually more than adequate. However, there really needs to be a reliable way to open this liftgate without a remote and without buying and installing the subpar parts offered as original equipment on a ten year old car. Eventually, I'd like to replace the car and have already put a ton of time and money into it.

The new switch should fit inside the original niche, for appearance and security reasons. It should be durable, and relatively water resistant. You also want to be able to feel for it and activate it as intuitively as the original. Since there isn't an aftermarket switch that will fit in the same way, you will need to improvise and compromise slightly. Once you get this installed, it will be as easy to use as the original, much more durable and won't look like a redneck repair. You need to remove the bottom garnish molding panel to access the switch. A handful of T-15 screws holds this on the bottom and unsnap the top edge. This is a helluva lot easier than trying to fudge with a universal joint like one article I read. The old switch is also held in with T-15 screws that are now easier to reach with the T-15 screwdriver.

You will need:
  • A starter switch
  • A piece of plastic about 1/8 to 3/16 thick, an old lawn chair or other piece of patio furniture works great as a donor.
  • A pair of wire cutters/strippers, If you don't have a pair, borrow them if you can.
  • Your old switch as a template.
  • Some electrical or foam tape to cover your connections.
  • A hacksaw
  • A drill motor and bits
  • A sharpie marker.
  • A ruler, if desired.
Take your old switch and use it as a guide for cutting out a piece of plastic. You could use metal like aluminum, but it would have to be plate because sheet aluminum would bend. Plastic is much more resilient and easy to work with. I just laid the old switch and used my eyes to plot out holes from two sides to get things accurate. If the plastic is part of a larger piece, drill out your holes first. You will need to get the screws in as well as your starter switch. Use your hacksaw or snips to cut the plastic out. Install your starter switch, making sure that the terminals aren't going to short out on the aluminum liftgate. Depending on the design, you may need to turn them toward the plastic outside panel. Cut off the plug to the old switch and strip the wires. If you solder them, do it. If not, just secure them to the switch, making sure they're tight. Wrap the works in electrical or foam tape and install it in the niche where the old switch was. Install the rubber boot over the switch and test it several times. Reinstall the molding you took off and now you can load those groceries. Maranatha!

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