Rear Seat Latch Broken - Subaru Baja

Updated on February 8, 2020
firstcookbooklady profile image

Char, although not a car guru, has a creative flair for temporary car repair. This is one of such...

This is the latch knob from the rear seat of a 2006 Subaru Baja. It has snapped off and leaves no access to storage area behind rear seat.
This is the latch knob from the rear seat of a 2006 Subaru Baja. It has snapped off and leaves no access to storage area behind rear seat.

Winter Survival

Since I live in southern Minnesota where the winter weather dips into the negative double digits, getting stranded on the side of the road becomes a real possibility. That makes it necessary to have a small amount of extra survival clothing in the car.

The 2006 Subaru Baja has a storage compartment located behind the rear seat, which is accessible through a couple of pull up latches, which both must function in order to get at the clothing stored within.

So, what happens when the knob breaks off. What now?

In this instance, the knob broke off and I pondered how to fix it.

Threaded insert for knob
Threaded insert for knob
knob screws into threaded insert
knob screws into threaded insert
This is what the passenger side latch looks like.
This is what the passenger side latch looks like.

The Rear Seat

I have to open my rear door, and the knob is located on the top of the rear seat on the drivers side of the car.

I had a large bag of survival gear in the back seat for times when my car would stall on the road in a blizzard and the heavy clothes to keep me warm until help arrives. You know the facts... most people who leave their cars, make it about six foot from the car before they get disoriented and cannot find their car anymore, and die, inches from safety.

But now, the bag of clothes were placed in a compartment between the back seat and the pickup box. My husband discovered the area when he was fixing my car one afternoon. The problem now, is that the latch is broken and I cannot access the stuff. The other side releases, but this side is broken.

the rear door
the rear door
opening, on top of rear seat, to seat release part
opening, on top of rear seat, to seat release part
Here is where knob should stick out.
Here is where knob should stick out.
I can feel the end of the broken piece
I can feel the end of the broken piece

The Problem

This is the moment. The moment of, I can feel it, I can touch it, but so far I don't know how to fix it.

The possibilities range from going to Napa to get a new part. Which, although probably the best choice, I'm more inclined to be creative. Plus, a new rod means tearing the seat apart. I see I have challenges. For example; it seems that there is a threaded piece on the broken half.

Now, as I ponder this, I realize that the broken half has the threaded portion for the knob, but the actual break is just a simple break, nothing else.

So, perhaps a small dowel that fits inside the two broken pieces, with some glue. Actually, as I ponder the photos I have taken, I don't think a dowel will work. Perhaps another insert screw, with a threaded inside, and a longer screw. No. Maybe not.

Actually, if I could just get a dowel or a bigger screw inside the rod that is broken on the inside, and get the screw started, maybe it will tap itself. Then, I could find a coupler nut that would attach both the knob and the rod together. This hurts my head just thinking about it.


My Temporary Solution - a Bent Skewer for Shish Ke Bobs

Bent at an angle to insert into hole in remaining latch release rod
Bent at an angle to insert into hole in remaining latch release rod

After all was said and done, I took a mirror and flashlight and looked in the hole. There was a small hole on the side of the red plastic [shall we call it a thingy] and I had a shish kebab stick that I wasn't using for cooking. Previously, we had used the stick to fish earplugs out of the quarter jar, and other things, out of the bathroom sink drain.

Today, I bent it at a short angle and bent it again at about 8 inches, and poked around in the hole until I hooked the hole on the side of the red thingy. I then pulled upwards, and was rewarded with the seat being released.

Currently, my seat is not pushed back, so I can get at my survival gear, but eventually I have have to undo something to put a new part on.

I have run the ideas around of putting a pvc that has the same inner diameter as the red thingy and gluing the two ends together. Like a big coupler nut. It all depends on how hard it would be to take the seat back off so I can get at the actual part, unscrew it and replace it. Meanwhile, my lazy self has the bent stick stuck in the hole so if it does latch, accidentally, I can reopen it easily.


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    • firstcookbooklady profile imageAUTHOR

      Char Milbrett 

      4 months ago from Minnesota

      Thanks, Jeff, for your comment! I'm glad that you found success in the same way I did! Oh, and a heads up, my front fender bracket broke off, and my fender was loose, so my husband used a plastic cable tie to connect it back together...Char

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Thanks for documenting this issue and your problem solving methods and solution. I was able to resolve the same issue on my Baja fairly quickly and easily thanks to your descriptions. I would not have known or thought to check for a hole on the side of the plastic part the knob screws into. I made a similar tool w/ a metal coat hanger, probed about and found a spot that allowed me to pull up and release the latch.

      On the other side, there was a spring, that should pull the knob down, that was wrapped around the plastic part and which prevented me from probing w/ the tool to find the hole or other spot to pull up. So I put my finger down the hole to feel what was going on and felt a spot further down the rod that the plastic part and knob attach to, where the spring was attached to the rod. So I made a 2nd tool w/ coat hanger that had a U shaped hook perpendicular to the shaft and was able to hook around the rod below the plastic knob and spring and pull up to release the seat back. Sweet success! Now I can access the seat from the back to figure out what to repair or replace so unlatching is easy.

      Thanks again for the excellent post!

      On the other


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