Somewhere near the Orient Rd exit on I-4, the odometer on my 2001 Integra rolled over to 100,000 miles. Problems on a car with this many miles are inescapable, so when my electric trunk release broke ¡ª a common problem on this car ¡ª I went through the usual search engine battle to find a simple solution and avoid paying $165 for a replacement part, but no one seems to have come up with a solution that didn't involve simply buying a new actuator.
So, I got brave and tried my hands at it. There was lots of cursing and maybe a little blood, but I was able to get it working, again. If your Integra hatch release is broken and the motor spins with no luck when you hit the switch, read on!
I did this fix on my 2001 Acura Integra GS-R. The problem is common, but probably happens for a number of different reasons, so don't blame me if this ends with you having to buy a replacement part.
the unlocked hatch actuator motor spins when the release lever is operated, but the hatch won't open.
Why this happens:
A faulty plastic piece with two weakpoints is most likely cracked, causing the motor to spin freely and not engage the gears.
metric socket set/lock jaws, phillips screwdriver, flashlight, plastic epoxy. Get a decent epoxy ¡ª the stronger, the better. With a good mixture, this fix should last for the remaining life of the car.
To get the hatch open after the actuator broke, I had to do some interesting tricks and bizarre motions. Most people say you can simply turn the key all the way to the right and the hatch will pop, but mine refused to budge. I had to turn the key to the left, press and hold the lever while turning the key to the left again, and then turn the key all the way to the right. The hatch will open, but it may take some play.
Note: if, during the process of this fix, you break a part, lose a part, etc, don't worry! The hatch will operate just fine without the actuator and will lock, unlock, open, and close. You'll just need to use the key to open it and you'll have to pay $165 for a new actuator if you want the motorized release function back.
To fix this problem, you'll first have to open the trunk and remove the rear plastic cover the protects the mechanism. Do this by removing the circular tabs around the edges ¡ª you have to press in on the center button, but do it lightly or else you'll crack the tab and send the button into the depths of the frame where you'll never see it again. Lift the tab's outer ring once you've ¡°unlocked¡± it. There are tabs both at the top and bottom of the panel
Now remove the plastic covers on the two tiedowns. Clamp down on the nut and turn until you can remove the bolt. Do this for both of them.
Pop the panel off and peek inside. That black box you see near the latch release? That's the suspect. Time to remove the actuator!
Remove the three screws indicated. Still have your flashlight handy? Good! use it to retrieve the screw you dropped into the spare tire well. The actuator box should come out with some wiggling, but don't unplug it, yet. You'll need to test it, first.
Testing The Actuator: With an empty box or mat underneath it to collect any parts that might fall, remove the remaining screws from the actuator box and open it. Place your fingers over the two gear shafts and motor body while using your free arm to reach up and operate the hatch release lever. (You're holding the parts down because they will spring out during the test with the cover off, otherwise.) This will make the motor turn which uses its worm gear to spin gear #1. If your problem mimics mine, gear #2 (which rests on top of gear #1) will not move and the motor will continue to spin with no result. If gear #2 does spin or the motor doesn't turn at all, you've got a different problem and you'll have to troubleshoot further.
Unplug and move the actuator assembly to a work table. Lift out the large gear and remove gear #2. Under it, you'll see an interesting clutch mechanism that isn't working correctly. Lift the clutch and the gear under it out of the assembly.
Cool, huh? The clutch has a tensioner (the light blue part) that forces it to turn the top gear. This cheap little plastic part that probably costs five cents for a dozen has cracked after many uses. Of course, you can't order this part, but some glue will fix it right up. While you're at this stage, check for errant broken pieces in the gearbox that might cause problems later.
The tensioner is spring loaded and you'll have to carefully pick it apart to make the repair.
Mix up some epoxy and apply to the crack. I used a zip tie to keep it held together overnight while the glue set. (The grey goo you see here is J. B. Weld, which you should avoid, as it doesn't bond to plastic at all.) Use some super glue or an epoxy intended for bonding plastic that is durable ¡ª while this won't be subject to a lot of heat, selecting a good bonding agent will ensure this fix holds tight for years. After cleaning up the stupid J. B. Weld error (What, me? Read the directions? Are you kidding?), I used a basic mixture I picked up at the local hardware store that held perfectly.
Putting the tensioner back together may take a bit of force, but it should hold. Make sure to reassemble the gearbox in the correct order, screws back in the right holes (long screws go in the three mount holes indicated above), etc, etc. To replace the actuator in the car, push the actuator arm up, plug it back in, and place it back in its niche. You'll have to push on the lock arm (marked ¡°1¡å, below) to get the actuator arm on the gearbox to slide into the hatch release (marked ¡°2¡å). Once everything is in, replace all three mount screws before testing, as the force of the actuator is enough to push the assembly out of alignment and send the screws you were holding in your hand back to the dark depths of the trunk.
Now, test the hatch. If it works, give your car a bath as a reward for treating you so nicely all these years.