Of course as soon as you fix one thing, another thing breaks. I went to open the tailgate on my Subaru today and couldn’t.
So I climbed in through the back seat and attempted to open it from the inside. Trying to force the catch with a screwdriver didn’t work so before I broke anything by trying too hard, I yanked off the inside trim and had a look. Turns out there is a short cable running from the door handle to the lock and this had broken.
Now that the trim was off, I could yank the lock mechanism by hand and get the tailgate open.
Of course this had to happen on a long weekend so I had to wait until Tuesday before I could call Subaru and try to get a replacement cable.
How much would you expect to pay for a very ordinary-looking cable about 20cm long? $5? Maybe even $15? – Not Subaru. They charge $90 and it’ll take a month to get it!
“Sod that” I thought (or words to that effect). I went to a bicycle shop and bought a gear cable and sheath for $4. I got a gear cable rather than a brake cable because they are thinner and less likely to stretch. Now to fit it.
The first problem was that the gear cable was much larger – both longer and thicker than the Subaru cable and did not have the same kind of connector at the end, cutting it is no problem but I can’t fit it inside the original sheath because it’s too fat. I had a go at cutting the bicycle cable’s sheath down to size but I had some difficulty fabricating an end cap that would fit the car – so in the end I just unwound a few strands from the cable so it was thinner and could fit inside the original sheath.
The next problem was the custom Subaru hook-things on the end of the cable. I just ripped them out and searched my parts box. I found a couple of small bolts with spring washers, the washers have teeth which should grip the cable pretty well. This arrangement also allows me to adjust the tension on the cable. It was a bit of a struggle tightening the bolts because of the position of the lock mechanism, there was no chance of getting a screwdriver down there so I had to use two pairs of pliers, one in each hand to hold the nut and tighten the bolt.
So here’s my finished job. It works pretty well although the action was a bit stiff which I don’t mind but it caused a problem that the return spring was not strong enough to pull the cable back which prevented the central locking from working. Even though I thinned down the cable it was still slightly thicker than the original so I just dumped a load of oil and WD-40 down it and hopefully I won’t have any further issues with it.
Overall, I’m pleased with the result.