What's More Reliable - A Manual Or Power Liftgate?

Power liftgates have become popular in recent years. Once a luxury item on high-end vehicles, you'll find them on minivans, hatchbacks, SUVs, and even some coupes or sedans. It's a convenient feature that makes loading and unloading items easier, especially if they are heavy or bulky. The drawback to power liftgates is that they are more expensive than regular, manual ones. For this reason, a lot of people ask if power liftgates are more reliable than manual liftgates and if they are worth that extra cost.

We'll tackle that in this article, explaining the differences between the two types of liftgates and the pros and cons of each.

What Is A Manual Liftgate?

Manual liftgate support

A manual liftgate is one that requires effort to open and close. You have to physically unlock with a key or remote fob, open it, and then close it when you're done, making sure it latches. Whether it's a tailgate, trunk, or hatch, it's made up of the following components:

  • Hinges that are usually at the top of the frame, although some tailgates open to the side.
  • A latch with a lock that can be opened with a key or remote.
  • Gas struts to reduce the effort needed to open the liftgate and hold it open until you close it.

What Is A Power Liftgate?

Power liftgate support

A power liftgate has all the same components as a manual liftgate but does not require you to manually unlock, open, and close it. Instead, those processes are motorized, allowing the liftgate to open and close automatically when you push a button on a key fob, or inside the vehicle.

Another type of power liftgate is a hands-free liftgate. It operates like a regular power liftgate, but instead of requiring you to push a button, you can wave your foot under the bumper to open and close the liftgate.

Which Option Is Better And More Reliable?

Toyota liftgates

Both manual and power liftgate systems are very reliable and should operate trouble-free for years. Both systems serve the same purpose but go about it differently and have distinct pros and cons. Ultimately, deciding on a power liftgate vs. a manual gate comes down to your budget and personal preference.

Pros And Cons Of Power Liftgates

If you have trouble physically opening and closing a liftgate or frequently carry heavy or bulky items, a power liftgate may be a better option. The downside is if the power liftgate breaks, it can be more expensive to fix. There are more parts to a power liftgate, including a motor and electrical wiring. Also, if the power liftgate stops working, you can still open and close it manually, but it will be much heavier to lift and may not stay open without additional support.

Pros And Cons Of Manual Liftgates

Manual liftgates are cheaper both in their cost to buy and cost to maintain. There are fewer parts to manual liftgates, making them easier and less expensive to fix. The most common problems with manual liftgates are struts that wear out or the latch/locking mechanism seizing up. Both of these problems are usually easy to fix, and the parts are less expensive. The only real downside of a manual liftgate is that it does not open and close by itself.

Liftgate Conversions

If you have a Toyota vehicle with a manual liftgate, you can convert it to a power liftgate. Likewise, it's also possible to convert a power liftgate to manual operation. There are a number of aftermarket companies that sell kits to do those types of conversions. However, your best bet is to use genuine Toyota parts designed to fit your specific vehicle and backed by an OEM manufacturer's warranty.

Olathe Toyota Parts Center Can Help Fix Your Liftgate Problems

Whether you need new liftgate struts or need to replace the whole liftgate, we have the OEM Toyota parts you need with up-front wholesale pricing. We can also help you if you want to do a liftgate conversion.

Need help? Check out our free resources, including a Toyota VIN decoder, diagnostic info for common Toyota trouble codes and even a paint color guide. Or you can contact us with any questions.