Toyota Highlander Liftgate Problems

gowhittengowhitten Member Posts: 11
Does anyone have creasing (denting) problems with their liftgate on either side of the chrome strip across the back? The first time I washed my car by hand (at about 5 or 6 weeks old), I noticed a small indentation at either side of the chrome strip.

Since I noticed this problem I have been watching over Highlanders on the road, and have seen 4 over Highlanders with teh same problem. I asked the service manager at the dealership about it and he said he had never heard of anything like that. When I showed it to him, he said I must have leaned against it, or backed in to something. I asked him were the scratched were and he could not find any. Then I hit the liftgate panel as hard as I could (he eyes opened wide) and nothing happened. My guess is that the problem is an engineering flaw in the lkiftgate structure and the closing of the liftgate causes the panel to flex more than the internals structure can handle.

BTW - Did I mention that 2 of the 4 Highlanders I saw the same problem on were from the same dealership as my vehicle? And do I beleive the service manager?


  • gowhittengowhitten Member Posts: 11
    An update on the liftgate problems. Between the 5,000 10,000 mile service intervals, a new "dimple" occurred on each side of the chrome strip, about 2" from the original dents.

    I found another HH locally that had the same problem while driving and copied down the license plate number since had a license plate frame from the same dealer. The service manager claimed he call the owner's but they would not talk to him. The service manager did bring someone in from Toyota to look at teh problem, but I have not heard back from them. It is almost time for my 15,000 mile service , so I guess I'll talk to them then. I do not have any hpoe they will be helpful...
  • gowhittengowhitten Member Posts: 11
    Hopefully this is the final update on the liftgate problem. The Toyota dealer brought in the area Toyota sales representative - said the engineering rep. was not available - and after some discussion, they agreed to replace the liftgate panel. The work was done and it is as good as new. Hope it does not happen again because they said this was a one time shot. They did have any explanation (or at least did not tell me) as to what caused the problem I do notice the liftgate does work differently - maybe a little easier. I always suspected the problem was caused by some misalignment of the hinges and locking mechanism.
  • mcandlemcandle Member Posts: 1
    Hi. I have the exact same problem - we have a 2003 highlander and about 3-4 weeks after we had it, I noticed "dimples" on either side of the strip just above the handle to open the liftgate (just over the license plate). Ours isn't chrome though. We live in the mid-Atlantic region and got our highlander from Alexandria Toyota. Do you still think it was damage caused at the dealer? I've spoken to a body shop that deals with a lot of Toyotas and one of their senior specialists said they noticed the same thing on several highlanders. How did the dealership eventually resolve your problem? Did they have to send the car to a bodyshop? Appreciate your help as I try and get this problem fixed now seven years later...
  • gowhittengowhitten Member Posts: 11

    After this many years, I am sure your Toyota dealer will tell you to take a hike. The local Bellevue, WA dealer replaced the whole liftgate after lots of complaining (with substantial theatrics) and the suggestion that I would set the HH on fire in their parking lot during one of their big sales.

    Since the dealer replaced the whole liftgate, this problem has not re occurred. My guess is the the rear liftgate latching mechanism was not properly aligned or installed at the factory and the offset caused the tailgate to flex every time is was closed. The dealer never told me what the problem was, although they continued to intimate that this was all my fault and I was lucky they fixed it.

    After 80K miles, I wish I had my old Ford explorer - the build quality was certainly better. The only thing better with the HH is the gas mileage - which actually helps my clients more than me since I drive my HH entirely for business. (You should read my postings on the stupid HH AWDi transmission problems.)
  • tnt5197tnt5197 Member Posts: 4
    I had my 15k done Saturday. Today (not that they're connected but weird) my power liftgate doesn't work. I get 2 beeps and it releases but doesn't open. The one on the liftgate doesn't work now either. Nor the remote. Its a '09 limited.
  • 89fj6289fj62 Member Posts: 20
    There is a TSB on rear door problems on the 09-12 I believe. This is for doors that are electric operated. If the left hinge is slightly bent .002 inches Toyota will replace the back door, hinges. and other partrs which may be compromised. This is a warranty repair for Highlanders that show the symptoms. I had my door replaced with a week left on my warranty. TSB came out in June 2012
  • teradonteradon Member Posts: 1
    Hi! It's been a long time since you posted your HH liftgate problem. I'm hoping you got your liftgate working again. Mine just started doing it, it's a 2008. Is yours working? IF so how was it fixed? Thanks!
  • 89fj6289fj62 Member Posts: 20
    I took my HH to a Toyota dealer one week before my warranty expired. They made an appointment for the following month. My liftgate , new hinges and the closing rod were replaced. This repair is only completed if you complain while the car is under warranty. It is not a recall but it should be. There is a big writeup on in the HH section. There is one person who posted about just changing the hinges. You will be able to find more information there. I believe the repair cost is about $4,000. Good luck.
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