How To Diagnose Liftgate Problems

The liftgate is a large assembly with a few complex parts. So if your liftgate stops working right, you may need to work a little bit to pinpoint the problem. If you're in this situation, we may help with that.

Let's go over the most common liftgate issues. This list may help you figure out exactly what's wrong with your liftgate.

1. Weak Lift Cylinders

Lift cylinders

Image Credit: WorseThanChiggers

The lift cylinders play an important role in the liftgate assembly. They:

  • Help lift the liftgate
  • Support the liftgate in the open position

Sometimes the lift cylinders can become too weak to support the weight of the liftgate. The following issues cause this to happen:

  • Gas leaking out of the cylinder
  • Bend, crack, or another sort of damage somewhere in the part

When you have weak lift cylinders, the liftgate can't stay up. It'll come down as soon as you open it. It'll come down and remain ajar. If only one of the lift cylinders is weak, the other lift cylinder won't be able to support the extra weight.

If you think that this is the reason your liftgate isn't working, check the lift cylinders for:

  • Leaks
  • Any sort of damage

You can do this by grabbing a flashlight and giving the cylinders a visual inspection.

2. Malfunctioning Power Hatch

This issue is only exclusive to power liftgates and hands-free liftgates. Signs of a failing power hatch include:

  • Clicking sounds when opening or closing the liftgate
  • A burning smell from the motor

When you have a malfunctioning power hatch, you can open or close the liftgate manually. But you can't use the power liftgate function. To confirm that you're dealing with a broken power hatch:

  • Check the fuses (maybe the power hatch is fine, but the fuse is blown)
  • Check the wiring for shorts or any bad connections
  • Check the power hatch for any damage or broken gears

3. Broken Latch

liftgate handle

Are you unable to open the tailgate? Or is the liftgate ajar? The latch may be:

  • Broken
  • Bent
  • Rusted

When the latch can't function, the liftgate is stuck closed. That, or the liftgate can't close. If the liftgate is stuck open, inspect the latch for any damage. If it's too rusted, you can clean it. If it's bent or broken, replace it.

4. Broken Handle

Do you keep pulling on the handle to open the liftgate only for it to not budge? Chances are something in the door handle assembly is broken. For example:

  • Broken or missing spring
  • Corroded cables

In this case, it's best to replace the entire door handle assembly.

5. Weak Battery

If your power liftgate won't go up, or if the liftgate won't go down, the battery may be too weak. There isn't enough power to open or close the liftgate on its own. What makes a battery weak, though? A number of things:

  • Short in the wiring
  • Bad alternator
  • Drainage from leaving the lights on
  • Age (the older the battery, the weaker)
  • Cold weather

There are two ways to find out if you have a weak battery:

  1. Use a voltmeter to measure the voltage of the battery - it should measure between 12.4 and 12.8
  2.  Measure the cold cranking amps - if the weather is cold, it can weaken the battery

Do You Need To Replace Something In The Liftgate Assembly?

liftgate assembly

Look no further than us for replacement parts. We offer wholesale pricing for genuine OEM Toyota parts. We have plenty of different liftgate components in stock, including:

  • Door handles
  • Liftgates
  • Liftgate cylinders
  • Liftgate motors
  • and more!
Written by Jason Lancaster