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Power Liftgate / Tailgate Problem And Fix. With Pics.

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Well, by coincidence or not, my Mom was in town for a week and loves to grab a tailgate and manhandle it, likely a leftover habit from the good old days and the '86 Plymouth Voyageur we had growing up.... then the power feature on the tailgate stops working.

Every fix I came across is basically: My tailgate is broken - Ok, push the button in the glovebox and try again. - Oh that worked, thanks.

To be clear about the symptoms, the motor that grabs the door and pulls it tight still worked, but the one that raises and lowers the door was not doing anything. I'd get the 3 beeps sometimes, but that's it.

So I decided to dig in.

Here's what I'm looking at. Problem must be in here.

020-2.jpg

So you can see I pulled down the headliner. I just got a finger in there by the actuator arm and pulled at it. It's held up towards the right side by a couple of these.

021-2.jpg

Now when I looked in the mechanism, I saw that the arm that the motor drives had popped off of the pin for the door side arm.

022-2.jpg

Looking at this pic you can just barely see that there's a small bushing inside the end of the motor side arm. That was actually still sitting on the pin when I first got in there but I took it and pressed it into the motor side arm with a pair of pliers. Also note that the pin has a small groove at the top, you'll need to get a C-clip in there.

023-3.jpg

For reference, the C-clip I used.

024-3.jpg

I had to push the motor arm back into the mechanism a bit to make room to get it back onto the pin, then pull the door down a bit and massage it to get the arm on there. Then pop the C-clip on. Surprisingly, I managed to get it on first try.

Lubed up the struts on the tailgate for easy operation, opened and closed it a couple times manually ( I read somewhere this resets the system. Who knows. ) And viola! It works just like it's supposed to.

This is the motor arm on the pin.

026-3.jpg

Tools I used: I had to use the coathanger to pull the motor arm out from the very back of the mechanism when I started, it had pulled all the way in as if to close the door. Pliers to seat the bushing in the arm, and to seat the arm on the pin. Screwdriver to push the C-clip on.

025-3.jpg

I hope this helps someone. I was motivated by fear of dealership service departments.

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Awesome write up. This will surely help someone down the road to avoid "stealership" prices. Now if you could just keep your mother away from the hatch, all will be good... :P

Oh, & LoL @ the coat hanger to "fix" a Lexus.....that's pure gold! :lol:

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That is a great write up! Good stuff glad you got it fixed!

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Thanks for the props guys. Just picked up an MB R350 to replace the RX and it too has.....sigh....tailgate issues.

I am primarily a Duramax enthusiast and those guys have great DIY's for everything you could possibly think of. Just trying to help when I can.

Cheers.

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Great writeup....Thank you so much for your input, it will be referenced many times.

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thanks for posting this!! Can a mod sticky this? :)

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Excellent information, thank you!

It is very hard to see that area, never mind gaining access to it..

My lift-gate still works normally, but makes the occasional popping sound when opening/closing. Initially I thought the motor gear had a cracked tooth.

It turns out that the linkage pops upwards/downwards because it's missing the c-clip.

Off the top of your head, do you recall what size c-clip that you used?

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Not the most scientific method but take an aluminum can as shown in the photo to the hardware store and place a variety of C-clip sizes on top of it until you find one that matches the relative size shown in the photo. You can always buy more one size if in doubt. They are likely very inexpensive but you could return the ones you don't use.

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Good point. I missed the can for perspective, I guess that I was too excited to have found a solution.

I guess that I can spare $3 on extra c-clips, compared to many hundred for a new linkage. :)

Thanks again!

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When I bought the RAV4 for my wife, the guy warned me NOT to manually pull the liftgate or it would be damaged. I asked why did they put a handle? He shrugged. Luckily, we don't let relatives near the car.

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Thanks for the awesome writeup with pics. Had the same issue where the arm popped off, i found the C-clip next to the arm. Reattached the arm and the c-clip, but 2 days later it popped right back off with the arm... Am i missing something? Does the c-clip need to go a certain way? I noticed it is bent and I had it curving down i think.

Thanks!

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Thanks for the awesome writeup with pics. Had the same issue where the arm popped off, i found the C-clip next to the arm. Reattached the arm and the c-clip, but 2 days later it popped right back off with the arm... Am i missing something? Does the c-clip need to go a certain way? I noticed it is bent and I had it curving down i think.

Thanks!

The tolerances are tiny with these little clips - more like microns than millimeters. I suggest that you try a new C-clip.

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Thanks 1990LS400!

Went to Pepboys today to buy replacement clip. The replacement clip is actually a 7/16" E-Clip, cost about $1.59 for pack of 2 clips. Good thing pack comes with 2, I lost one while trying to install it! The service rep also told me that my original clip was bent, it should be flat. So if you find your old clip dont try to reuse it. Also, I spent an hour trying to push the clip on from the top, it won't go on that way, you need to slide and push it in from the side.

Hopefully it stays on now, I'll update the thread if it pops out again.

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I also had the same problem on a 2004 RX330.

I took apart the fabric panels and actually took out the whole motor unit to see what was wrong.

It turns out the screws that sandwich the two pieces togther were loose and allowed the gears to slip a tooth.

I tore it out and put blue loctite on the screw to make sure they won't come loose again.

The 4 bolts holding the whole housing to the roof are loctite'd in, so you need a little more effort to break those loose. I was afraid i was breaking the threaded inserts.

You will also have to disconnect the arm from the actual liftgate.

There is also a chunk of foam that will come out, its held in with velcro.

You can also see the side curtain airbag bundled up in there.

While you have it out, change the e-clip. The e-clip gets bent out of shape because of the downward forces. The downward forces also cause the two plates to start separating, so be sure to pick up some blue loctite (gunsmith stores have them).

I don't monitor this account much, but you can find me on

www.calguns.net

as trakker.

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To trakker.How far should you go to bring down the liner from the roof not to brake it, and did you remove any side panels?  Thank you!

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