Power Liftgate Problems

Mechanic reviewing power liftgate problems - how to diagnose the switch and latch

How to Diagnose the Switch and Latch

Common power liftgate problems include the switches or the latch not working. If the liftgate is stuck closed and won’t open, and you can’t open it after pressing the liftgate button on the key fob or the power buttons, the switches or the latch might be defective. This guide and the video below explains how to diagnose the liftgate switches and the liftgate hatch for a liftgate not working on the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse, and the Chevy Uplander.

Fix power liftgate problems yourself with quality auto parts at 1aauto.com

How to Test the Liftgate Switch and Hatch

Steps for Checking Power Liftgate Problems

1. Test the Power Liftgate Button on Key Fob

Press the other buttons on the key fob like the lock and unlock buttons to confirm there is no issue with the remote key.

2. Confirm the Automatic Liftgate Switch Is Not Turned Off

A common liftgate problem on the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse, and the Chevy Uplander, an automatic liftgate switch in the ON position
Automatic liftgate switch in the ON position

Sometimes objects like coffee cups can fall and accidentally turn the switch off.

This video shows what liftgate switch to look for and how to fix it

2. Optional: Scan the Liftgate Module with an Advanced Scan Tool (Recommended)

Using a digital scan tool

Before attempting to open the liftgate and inspect the parts, we recommend using a scan tool if possible. An advanced scan tool can read other modules like the liftgate module and scan them for related codes. The scan tool can also show a history of why the liftgate failed and where to look.

Commands like “Last Open Fail Data” can reveal information like the module failing to detect the vehicle is in park. Problems like this can occur on a power liftgate if a module in a different area of the vehicle, like the transmission, needs programming.

Digital scan tool indicating a module has failed to detect the vehicle is in park. Problems like the power liftgate not opening can occur from failed modules located in a different areas

3. Manually Open the Liftgate

Opening a power liftgate on a 2012 Chevy Traverse manually with a boroscope and a flat blade screwdriver

Put the seats down and remove any cargo from the trunk to create space to open the hatch. Pry off the trim plug from the liftgate’s interior panel with a flat blade screwdriver. You may need to boroscope or a similar tool to see where the release is. Press the release with the flat blade screwdriver to open the liftgate.

4. Check the Fuses

Pointing to the 15 amp DSPLY fuse on the fuse box's key

Find the fuse box underneath the instrument panel on the passenger side. Read the key on the instrument panel and look for the 15 amp DSPLY fuse.

Testing a fuse with a test light

Connect the test light to the ground near the fuse box and test the fuse. Press the probe of the test light to the hole on each side of the fuse. If the test light illuminates on both sides, the fuse is in good condition. Alternatively, you can remove the fuse and confirm the internal wire isn’t broken. If the wire is broken, the fuse is blown.

30 amp power liftgate fuse on a 2012 Chevy Traverse
30 amp power liftgate fuse on a 2012 Chevy Traverse (bottom right)

Check the 30 amp power liftgate fuse located in the fuse box under the hood. Check the fuse for broken wires, which means the fuse is blown. You can also switch the fuse with another 30 amp to see if it works.

5. Remove the Liftgate Panel

Common steps to remove the liftgate panel include removing the clips and any trim pieces like the pull handle that have screws underneath and prying off the liftgate panel with a trim tool.

Tools Needed

  • Plastic trim tools
  • 7mm socket, ratchet, and socket extension
  • flat-blade screwdriver

How to Remove and Install a Lower Liftgate Panel from a 2009 to 2017 Chevy Traverse

  1. Pry Up the Push Clips from the Latch

    Remove the push clips from the liftgate latch with a flat-blade screwdriver

  2. Remove the Plastic Liftgate Handle

    Pry the liftgate handle down and off with a plastic trim tool

  3. Remove the 7mm Screws from the Liftgate Handle

    Remove the 7mm bolts from from the hatch handle

  4. Pull the Lower Panel Down, Disconnect the Electrical Connectors, and Remove the Lower Panel

    Remove the lower panel from its retaining clips by pulling it down. Disconnect the electrical connectors, and remove the panel

  5. Connect the Electrical Connectors and Install the Lower Panel

    Connect the electrical connectors to the liftgate panel. Press the lower panel to the retaining clips on the liftgate underneath the window, and press the panel into the liftgate while connecting the retaining pins

  6. Tighten the 7mm Screws to the Liftgate Handle

    Tighten the 7mm bolts to the liftgate handle

  7. Attach the Liftgate Handle Trim

    Press the liftgate handle trim to the liftgate panel

  8. Reinstall the Push-Clips

    Attach the push-clips to the lower panel

This video shows how to remove the liftgate panel from a 2009 to 2017 Chevy Traverse

6. Test the Electrical Connectors

Electrical connector on a 2012 Chevy Traverse to test powerlift gate problems
  1. Disconnect the liftgate latch’s power close buttons’ electrical connector.
  2. Test the thicker wires, which activate the liftgate actuator, for electrical current with a test light.
  3. Press the test light to the wire and press the defective lower or upper switch.
  4. If the switch does not illuminate the test light, it needs to be replaced.

Diagnostic Tip: If both of the switches fail, further diagnosis is required. If both of the switches test positive for power and ground, the liftgate latch needs to be replaced.

How to Test the Liftgate Switch Power Buttons with a Multimeter

Multimeter reading for 100% electrical resistance
Multimeter reading for 100% electrical resistance

Sometimes the switches get dirt and debris in them, and they stop working. You can test the switch and the wires with a multimeter that can measure ohms. The multimeter can send a small amount of voltage down one wire and check the other when you press the switch.

Touching two multimeter probes to test the multimeter for an accurate reading
Multimeter reading for electrical resistance

Set the meter to read ohms. The baseline reading without the leads touching each other should read for 100% electrical resistance. Test the leads by tapping the leads together. The rating should change to a decimal number to show there is less electrical resistance.

Pressing two probes to either end of the button's electrical connector
Pressing two probes to either end of the button’s electrical connector

Lightly touch one terminal on the switch’s electrical connector with one lead and the opposing terminal with the other. Press the switch. If the multimeter reads for a decimal number, indicating less electrical resistance, the switch is working.

Testing and pressing a power button switch on a 2012 Chevy Traverse with two multimeter probes in its electrical connector

Replace a Power Liftgate Switch or Liftgate Latch Yourself

If your power liftgate is having problems working and the liftgate switch or liftgate latch is defective, replace one on your GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse, Chevy Uplander, or another vehicle yourself with 1A Auto’s how-to videos that cover removal and installation steps for many different makes and models.

Related Content

Shop Power Liftgate Parts

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Power Liftgate Problems
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Power Liftgate Problems
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Common power liftgate problems include the switches or the latch not working. If the liftgate is stuck closed and won't open, and you can't open it after pressing the liftgate button on the key fob or the power buttons, the switches or the latch might be defective.
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1A Auto
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2 thoughts to “Power Liftgate Problems”

  1. 2017 Buick Enclave ; Lift gate works great with ignition switch on
    Will not work with ignition off, It used to work from key fob. remote start works, but ignition key must be turn to on before lift gate will open or close

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