Highlander Power To Manual Liftgate Conversion

Is the power liftgate on your Toyota Highlander acting up, or did it quit working altogether? If so, are you looking for an inexpensive way to repair or replace it?

Power liftgates on vehicles like the Toyota Highlander are a popular feature with a lot of benefits. However, when there are issues, it can be hard to fix the problem, which may require you to replace the power liftgate motor, struts, and many other related parts. Sometimes the problem requires you to replace the WHOLE liftgate, which could cost several thousand dollars.  

That's why many people ask if they can open and close their power liftgate manually or convert it to manual operation. We'll answer both those questions in this post as well as where to find parts for the conversion.

How To Open And Close Your Power Liftgate Manually

Image Credit: Cbonz77

Power liftgates are designed to be operated manually, but the process varies depending on the vehicle. Most vehicles have an on/off switch to disable the power function. Typically that switch is located on your dashboard or in your glovebox and has an icon shaped like a hatch. The power liftgate override is located in the menu built into your instrument cluster's message center on newer vehicles. 

It's also possible you may not need to do anything to disable the power function and can open and close the liftgate manually. Check your owner's manual to confirm - The liftgate function information will be in a chapter summarizing the dashboard functions or in the index.

How To Convert Your Power Liftgate To A Manual One

Image Credit: Cbonz77

Here are the parts you need to convert your power liftgate to a manual one on a 2014 to 2019 Toyota Highlander:

(Note: Lift cylinders are also known as gas struts.)

Once you have the right parts, here are the steps to complete the manual liftgate conversion:

  1. Turn off the power to the liftgate - on most Highlanders, there is a circuit breaker located in the glove box on the left-hand side.
  2. Raise the liftgate past its normal height and secure it to stay open. In several YouTube videos, like this one on Toyota Nation, a step ladder and blocks of wood are used to prop it open. The reason why it should be secured in this position is to take the pressure off the struts.
  3. Remove the access panels in the liftgate - a panel on each side can be removed using a flat-bladed screwdriver or pry tool.
  4. Remove the electrical connectors and pull them out of the liftgate. You can then re-install the access panels.
  5. Using a 10 mm socket, remove the two bolts holding the strut assembly and upper brackets on each side of the liftgate.  
  6. Remove the lower brackets on the lower side of the liftgate.
  7. Install the new struts along with their upper and lower brackets to the liftgate and the frame of the Highlander. The struts are marked as either Left (driver's side) or Right (passenger side).

Once you have the new manual struts installed, you can remove the prop holding the liftgate open, and you're ready to go.

Olathe Toyota Parts Center Can Help Fix Your Liftgate Problems

Whether you need parts for a manual liftgate conversion or to replace the entire liftgate, we have the OEM Toyota parts you need with up-front wholesale pricing. Contact us if you have questions about your Toyota or if you would like to know more about the liftgate conversion.

If you need other help, check out our free resources, including a Toyota VIN decoder and diagnostic info for common Toyota trouble codes.