The Short Version: We bought a replacement from longotoyota (via eBay) for just over $100.
If you found this post via a search engine then you probably already know what a hatch garnish is. For those with a busted Scion tC trunk handle – welcome to the club. Based on various forum posts, and the number of Scion tCs we’ve seen with missing garnishes, this appears to be a very common problem.
Some of you may be wondering why it broke. Well, the four bolts that mount the garnish to the hatch are surrounded by plastic. Most likely, you’ve pressed the handle (button) and lifted the trunk in the wrong order (of course, it’s not as if anyone provided you with a warning when you bought the vehicle anyway). Over time this will stress the plastic until it breaks. We’ve started opening the repaired hatch by first grabbing the bottom gap of the hatch and then pressing the button and lifting…
I had a hard time finding a replacement part. Ultimately, the best price I could find was about $140-$150 until I searched eBay recently and found one for just over $100 (Buy It Now). It was sold by longotoyota. Shipping was reasonable and the part looks brand new. It included the button.
Replacement is not very difficult. I wish I had photos but I was more focused on finally getting it fixed.
I started by removing the two screws on the inside of the hatch, next to the handles. Next, it was just a matter of popping the interior liner out. It will make some noise but I managed to do it without breaking anything.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t as careful when removing (and reinstalling) the lining that runs around the top of the window. Someone not familiar with this type of auto work will do fine as long as one remembers that those plastic liners have somewhat fragile plastic clips. Take your time when reinstalling them.
Next, I unplugged the button wire from the connector on the inside.
The following step wasn’t too difficult. I found that a 10 mm socket fit the nut on the bolts. However, I didn’t have a socket I could use with the ratchet that was long enough to accommodate the bolts so I ended up just putting the socket on and twisting it by hand. I only had a difficult time removing one of them.
After those were removed I pulled out the remaining fragments of the garnish and then routed the wire for the new garnish, clipped it in place, and then screwed the nuts back on the new bolts. I recommend tightening them by hand but not too tight – there’s still plastic on the other end so it may not be hard to damage a new garnish.
After that I put everything back in place and had a nice, new, and relatively inexpensive garnish.
No longer did my wife have to drive around with a missing garnish and a button affixed to the hatch with electrical tape!
The only other source I came across for this part was TRDSparks. At the time I wrote this post it was listed as being on sale for just under $113.
Updated 02/01/2012: It’s been almost eleven months since we replaced the hatch garnish and it’s help up fine. It looks as good as the day it was installed.