Liftgate (rear hatch) won't stay up

We have a 1997 Chevy Venture minivan which has over 144,000 miles on it. It was a gift from my husband’s parents when we had our son. They took care of it and replaced the transmission just before giving it to us. Just the other day, the rear hatch wouldn’t stay up. It weighs a ton! I don’t drive it many miles a day (under 4 miles a day), so when 2 days later, a loud buzzing sound started in the area of the rear liftgate I was suspicious that the two things are linked. The loud buzzing stops when you put the van in park, but any other gear, it starts again. The left hydraulic is loose, detached at the top bolt. Could this noise be from a pump running dry from lack of hydraulic fluid? That was the only suggestion my dad could come up with. I don’t know how to check the fluid, or even if you CAN check the fluid. Also, can we replace the hydraulic or could there be another problem? Thanks a million.

I did a parts search for the liftgate on a 1997 Chevy Venture. Both support rods are around $30-$35 each. With one out, I’m surprised you can lift it at all. I don’t see nor am I aware of a true hydraulic liftgate. All I have ever seen is gas pressurized (would otherwise be) shock absorbers that have been adapted (eons ago) to lift gate service. They probably, just like regular shock absorbers, have some fluid w/valving to dampen how fast they jerk the thing up.

Does your Venture have a power lift for the rear liftgate? (Do you push a button and the gate raises up?) If so, there may be a pump that does this job. If not, then I don’t think the buzzing and the problem withthe liftgate are related. I have a Chevrolet Uplander and there are struts that assist in opening the gate and hold it open. These are not difficult to replace. I put new ones on a Chevrolet Blazer that my wife’s brother owned in about half an hour.

The buzzing may be from a power lock unit. My Uplander unlocks the liftgate when I shift into park and locks the gate when I shift into any other gear. It could be that with your broken or disconnected strut, the solenoid that electronically locks the liftgate is unable to make the latch hold. I would start by replacing the struts on the liftgate. They aren’t terribly expensive.

My rear hatch does not have a button to push to lift it – I only have to pull on the handle to lift. But now, it is super heavy. It is true, the doors lock when I put the car in park. Do you think it will harm it to drive to the auto store? It is only 4 miles away.

I speculated that the buzzing was from (what they call) the “actuator” …which is in the lock hardware section of under 1997 Chevy/Geo Venture.

You might want to pull the fuse for the power locks before you make the trip. I don’t know whether or not the trip would damage the lock solenoid. I’m convinced from your last post that the solenoid is causing the buzzing noise and a couple of new struts will get you back in business.

I wouldn’t NOT go to the parts store due to this buzzing condition. Buy and replace the two struts, then you can deal with the buzzing. It may be easier to just disable it if it is indeed the remote locking mechanism.

The lift gate WILL be heavy without both struts working.

The struts and the buzz are two separate issues. I would disconnect the automatic lock in the rear hatch to cure THAT problem…The parts that hold the hatch open are called “Gas Springs”…