The vehicle is a 2004 Nissan Quest 3.5SE, and recently the rear motorized hatch has been very weak at trying to open or close. It gets stuck and needs quite a lot of help to get it opened or closed.
It was taken to the dealer and they replaced the gas lift cylinders because they were leaking, hoping it would help. But, it's really no better. I think it was a situation of "well, the cylinders really need to be replaced, and maybe that'll fix it". Now their opinion is that the motor needs to be replaced.
The worse news is that it's $900 and has to come from Japan, and because of the tsunami there it's going to be a few months off.
I did some searching on ebay and was quite surprised to see nothing listed there.
My guess is that the weak lifters stressed the motor or gears, and now either the motor is burned up or the gears are binding up. There's no grinding noise, so it doesn't seem like broken teeth, it seems more like a burned out motor. However, when you "help" it open or close, it's really quite hard to move, but I don't know if that's because I'm fighting against the motor or because it's sticking otherwise.
I guess that would be the first thing to identify, remove or disconnect the motorized mechanism, and see if the gate opens and closes smoothly.
Any opinions on alternate sources for the motor mechanism, the feasibility of rebuilding this assembly, or other options that are cheaper than $900 and a trip to Japan? :-)