February 5

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

Volvo

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Mark: It's Mark Bossert. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2016 Volvo XC90 that was not opening properly. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle had a couple of issues, both the rear doors were having issues opening. Sometimes they'd open, sometimes they wouldn't. That was a customer's complaint. Front doors are fine. Actually had an issue with the tailgate as well but that was a completely separate issue, not part of the podcast. So there's a five door vehicle with three malfunctioning doors.

Mark: Wow. So what sort of testing and diagnosis do you do to suss that out? 

Bernie: Well with electronic door latches, we can do scanning and testing by accessing the door modules. And so we did some testing and in that department found some trouble codes. And you know, a lot of the research we do, I mean, we do our own testing on things, but some of it comes down to known common faults.

And through our research we found that there was a lot of issues with the door latches failing on Volvo. I mean, our own testing verified that. But with Volvo, you know, some databases that we have that door latch replacements are a common fault in this vehicle. And the only place you can buy the latch is from Volvo. At least that we found and they actually have an upgraded replacement kit. So when you see an upgraded replacement kit, you know that even the manufacturer knows there's problems going on there. 

Mark: So what's involved in replacing the rear door latch on the XC90? 

Bernie: Well, it's a real pain in the rear end kind of job. I'll get to some pictures. We'll have a look at some pictures. You can kind of see the scope of how things are designed. So there's our XC90, very nice looking, fine looking, fine quality vehicle. 

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

Let's start with the door panel. When you remove the door panel off the vehicle, this is what you find. And this is kind of typical of a lot of modern vehicle construction. It used to be, you'd see like a window regulator, kind of a gear mechanism, maybe the power window motor and a couple of other pieces. But they've gone to a modular type of construction where the actual window regulator, the piece that moves the window up and down is actually hidden from our view.

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

You have to remove this whole, I'm moving the mouse point around, this whole panel here. So it's kind of like you got the first panel and you got to remove the second panel and the door latch is way back in this area here. So once that was removed, then you have a whole complete assembly, actually the door latch is attached to this as well.

So you have to kind of wiggle everything out of place, detach the window from the regulator assembly and kind of lock the window up and then pull everything apart.

There's basically a view of this sort of backside. If you can imagine when we were looking at that door panel sort of rear part, this little white piece is the seal where that panel bolts up. So this is the whole latch and mechanism here. Actually this is the latch here that we replaced. If you note this plastic piece here, this is you're going to see this in a minute in another picture, there's the latch. 

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

There's the old latch with the wires. You can see a number of wires attached. There's a lot of complexity to these. You think, why are there so many wires? You think all you need to do is open and close it. And then the latch needs to verify to the computer that the latch is closed. And then it'll switch interior lights on and off. There's actually a whole computer inside this door latch, believe it or not. It's kind of amazing. 

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

It was a rainy day and we took this apart and this is actually why these door latches fail. It's a moisture issue. You can see a lot of water on this thing. So, we can talk about that a little more, but that is the actually common cause of failure on these, is moisture getting into the door latch 

There's a view of the new latch. This is the section of the latch that actually closes and locks the door shut. 

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

This is the top sort of view of the electrical connector and these are moving parts where when you pull the door handle these arms will move.

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

And there's the replacement kit. So when you buy the latch from Volvo, you don't just get this piece here. You get a new replacement kit, which has a new upgraded plastic piece. It has this rubber piece here, which you may have noted was not on the original latch. There's a few little trim seals and some screws and pieces. 

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

So what happened is that Volvo, this is such a common problem, Volvo realized that these latches get doused with water and fail. So this new replacement kit now has a rubber seal that sits over top of the latch and seals the moisture out.

Mark: So is the water coming in through the window or is it some from the wheel well, sort of?

Bernie: No, the water comes in through the window we figured. Well, I'll guess get back to the pictures. I don't know if I have a picture that shows, well, we can look at this one here. I don't know if you can see the top here. I kind of cropped this. So this is the moving window glass here where I'm moving the mouse pointer. And there's a sorry, right at the top of the picture, right at the very top of the picture.

2016 Volvo XC90, Rear Door Latch

Yeah. And there's actually a, it's like a, what do you call a quarter glass? It's a piece of glass that does not move. And so in between here, we kind of figured that there's a metal piece of trim and a channel for the window. We figure that what probably happens is the water runs down there and the door latch sits right here.

So it's probably kind of a design flaw in the way the water runs down the window. Because every door has water running through it. There are drain holes in the bottom of all doors. Water runs through doors it's just part of the way cars are designed. But keeping, you know, the amount of water to a minimum, is important. So for some reason here, there's definitely a design flaw that causes too much water to get onto this latch.

Mark: So once you replaced everything, did you have to reprogram, if there's a computer in the latch itself? 

Bernie: I'd say surprisingly, we didn't on this one. There are a lot of Volvos when you replace door latches or switches, you have to reprogram them. This one you didn't. So it was plug and play, which is good because it saves us time and saves the customer money from you know, having to go through a programming procedure. 

And, you know, I often wonder with certain components, I can see why some things are programmed. And other things it's just, like Volvo is typically, a lot of times you replace like a driver's master door switch, you have to reprogram. And I'm going, I don't understand why the computer can't just go, oh, that's, yeah, it's got a door switch. Why do you need to program that particular thing in and spend all that extra issue? But for some reason they do. 

Mark: So these are pretty fancy, luxury vehicles. How is a 2016 XC90 for reliability? 

Bernie: Not too bad. However, you know, here we find a design flaw in the vehicle, which is, you know, a costly repair. It says a power tailgate, which is very common on most luxury SUVs. The tailgate struts were replaced this time too. So they'd failed. So here we have a vehicle, I guess it's about eight years old now. You know, it's got parts that are failing and that's not untypical. But overall it's a pretty good, reliable vehicle and it's a luxury car. So you'll spend more money on repairs than you would on a more basic vehicle. But overall they're good.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Volvo in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the experts to see are at Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them online to book your appointment at pawlikautomotive.com, or you can call and book at (604) 327-7112. You have to book ahead. They're always busy. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Thanks so much for watching and listening. Thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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