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2002 Sequoia SR5 4WD
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You've all seen the videos/pictures of how to pull apart the back side of the hatch so I'll spare you.

I saw a few "redneck" fixes on YouTube where they hack the back hatch apart (from the outside) with a hammer/crowbar and just pulled the cable through, bypassing the handle altogether. I have to admit the simplicity of the fix appealed to me, but I am not going to beat my vehicle up to accomplish this.

Instead, I pulled off the handle and drilled a 7/32 hole in the lower left hand side and fed the cable through. Seems to work, so I'll try this for awhile and see if its an effective long term fix. Hopefully it helps someone who may be looking to do this and are sick of replacing handles every year.

I've also ordered some new headlights and only one has shown up so far, decided to throw it on while I was out putzing
 

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When i changed my rear hatch, i made sure it was an all metal one, with rigid steel. I also made sure to lube the locking mechanism so it doesn't bind and was easier to operate. I havent had an issue since. The problem with the rear hatch is that when locking mechanism starts binding, the Extra force needed starts to bend that piece that holds and pulls the cable. After a while it either falls out of position so the cable doesn't get pulled, or the metal bends so it's not actuated enough. Get an all metal and ensure to crimp the piece enough so that it holds the cable securely and then lube the locking mechanism with slgyde or some silicone based grease to ensure it doesnt harden or dry out.

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I replaced my handle three years ago with a metal one from Amazon and lube the cord, springs, pins, and catch twice a year with WD40. Haven't had an issue since.
 

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Another bit of advice to keep from breaking the easy to break handles.... I broke a plastic OE style replacement handle recently because I had closed the liftgate against something inside. I had to push the gate really firmly to get it to close because we had too much of whatever was back there and it was interfering with the door closing. But I just shoved a little harder and the door latched closed. Well that put some kind of load on the latch so that it didn't want to open when I needed it to. So I just applied more force to the handle and it broke so easily. I should have pushed the gate in to unload the latch and kicked myself the moment I felt the handle break and realized what I had just done. I keep my latch lubed because I've broken the handle before. This whole assembly was operating perfectly prior to the incident and i still broke it because of how I jammed the liftgate closed.
 
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