2004 thru 2009 Prius Rear hatch handle fix / replacement / Cheap and Easy

I have not been able to organize my photos so I am sorry they are not in the order, but you can see the things I am talking about…hopefully will be able to organize them within the next few days.

I have owned and sold over 300 Prius and love them. Several have experienced the rear hatch rubber cover deteriorating and leaving the plastic handle exposed. So I have fixed them. If you buy a new switch it is crazy expensive. I fixed mine using bike tire inner tubes. My first couple of fixes I did where like the fix on the first video below. It took me about an hour or more…tearing the whole back end apart. I did a little different on the rubber over the switch which I think made a better end result, which I will describe below. Than yesterday, I had another one I was fixing and stumbled on video number 2 below. Taking a lead off that video, I didn’t want to buy the cover they talk about for $16.00….cheapskate that I am…plus I wanted to get it done today. I sort of merged video number one with #2. And it worked out fantastic. Before I tell you what I did, link number 3 is the rubber cover that looks to be a perfect fit, and only costs about $16.00..which is still very reasonable…

So what I did. First get yourself one of these neat little ratchets that you can put a Phillips screw driver in. The reason I liked this type Philips for this project, I could keep my finger pressure on the screw head while unscrewing, very important on these little screws. I also used my wife’s leather hole punch, works wonderful, when you need to punch a hole in the rubber cover I am going to show you how to make. What you need, either the ratchet screw driver or an angled Philips screw driver like in video #2. Some sort of good hole punch. 4 inches of bike inner tube. Commercial contact cement, I used spray can but you might be able to use brush on..but make sure you get strong commercial grade…when you attach the rubber cover later you want it to stick..

First measure out on a piece of light card board 3 15/16th x 1 1/16th. I actually used and old Post office mailing card. Once you draw it out, take scissors and cut it out. I use the outside surface area of the bike inner tube, seems smoother. I cut a larger piece. Lay my template on the rubber and with a fine tip pin, draw your lines. Than use your scissors and cut the rubber. I see folks using a razor knife, but I can never cut a clean line, the razor always drags the rubber. Scissors cut a nice clean edge. Once you get the rubber your holes are 3 1/2 inches so center them on the rubber cover. See my photo. than punch your holes. I played with my hole punch on a scrap piece until I found the hole that let the threads of the screw slide comfortable through. NOT TIGHT.

Now here is the catch… On video #2. If you can unscrew the 2 screws on the hatch switch..you can use my modified method. If not you will have to do the system on video #1. I have done several of those, and my end result cover I think is better than the video, and I will explain later.

Before we start, I took a rope and hooked through the tie down loops in the back, ran through the hatch metal lock loop, pulled my rear hatch down to a good working eye level for me and tied it off…my hatch was about at shoulder height, make doing all the following much easier. Plus it never moved once I set it up.

If you get the screws out and follow the videos directions for prying out the switch. If yours has rubber all over it, you will need to clean most if not all of it off. Once you have it clean, your ready to start the fix. Now here is what I do compared to the way video number #1 does. He used double stick tape…I took a different approach with a better end results. (I think) I take and cut a small piece of masking tape just large enough to cover the center of the switch and over hang slightly on all sides. you will need some of the white plastic exposed. My tape barely covered the hollow center area of the switch. it doesn’t have to hold anything just needs to stick to the plastic. Now here is where I wish I would have taken a photo today..but of course I didn’t because I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. After I got the white plastic switch cleaned up and had my masking tape piece on the middle, I took 3 sheets of typing paper, and created a complete back drop covering of the painted area behind the switch. I used my blue masking tape and simply put several small pieces to hold the paper up. Ran some under, some around and some over the top…when I say over, under…I mean behind the switch..we need the face of the switch fully exposed. so when I was done no Prius painted surfaces were visible within about a 12 inch circle.

I used commercial spray contact cement. Once I had the area protected I spray down the entire front of the switch. Remember you have masking tape over the center area so no glue will get down in the actual switch. Once you spray, don’t be silly like I am sometimes…..let the stuff dry completely. After a few minutes, I carefully removed the paper I had taped up behind the switch…Also lay your rubber cover out on a piece of paper, I take alcohol and clean the surface I am going to spray the glue on. Than spray it down, make sure you get full coverage. while these 2 areas are drying find some large tooth picks…or something small enough to fit lightly inside the screw holes on the switch. I found a wimpy old tooth pick ( I wasn’t at home, at my shop)..so cut it in half and scotch taped up the end a wee bit. When you think the glue is dry, put your tooth picks in the holes on the switch, slide your pre-cut pre-hole punched rubber cover…(glue side toward the switch…daaa) over the tooth picks and slide down until contact. At that point, pull out the TP…and start pressing everything together… it should look pretty good. Remember no one will ever really see this, we just want it water tight and not looking too bad. Now take some time and press it back up in the hole like seen on video #2. Now here is point I learned the hard way. When you look at my photos of the cover after putting my screws back in, notice the right hand screw sort of tweeked the rubber as I tightened it. That was the first one I tightened. My lesson is find a small washer…I actually was able to take one off the old rubber piece that I replaced and put it on the left screw. Hence when I tightened the left screw it didn’t have any rubber grip issues. I ended up loosing the right one just a touch to take the clump out. Next time I will find some tiny washer for both of them.

I think I would have been fine with that end result, but I had a tube of black RTV silicone and thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put a small bead around the outside edge…hench I did. I don’t have a photo of the last line a spread in the back, but I ended up putting a bead all the way around, smoothed it off a bit with my finger, and I think it will be water tight and hopefully last for years… If you have any questions please feel free to email me…


 photo IMG_0121_zps2jmm5g2w.jpg
 photo IMG_0120_zpsgpjnijer.jpg
 photo IMG_0118_zpsmxvzbgmn.jpg
 photo IMG_0119_zpscceaxvwz.jpg
 photo IMG_0116_zps4a6igt5v.jpg
 photo IMG_0114_zpsqbyjduh5.jpg
 photo IMG_0111_zpshvdvtb8n.jpg
 photo IMG_0098_zpsvxqjjdls.jpg
 photo IMG_0105_zpsqbxvyiep.jpg
 photo IMG_0109_zps9ksvwjxf.jpg
 photo IMG_0097_zps4qrotjxh.jpg

Comments are closed.