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Toyota Sienna Power Rear Hatch

I've got a 2005 XLE with the power rear hatch. I think I've verified (and repeated) the problem with the hatch not retracting when it encounters an obstacle.

Just a little background: Last year (first year of ownership) the hatch closed on me and would not retract. And, I was pushing back on this thing by arching my back. I'm not sure how I got out from under it but I did. It pretty much freaked me out. It was cold, and there was snow on the van. There was also an ice damn in the gap at the top of the door. I originally attributed my incident to this ice damn. (BTW - Chryslers don't have this problem because they have a piece of plastic attached to the door that prevents ice from getting into this opening.)

Over the summer I found this website and began reading about this same problem of the hatch closing on people.

I continued to test my hatch on occasion from then on. It worked just fine until today.

Today the temperature dropped to 33 degrees farenheit. It was a clear day. There was no snow.

Sure enough, that thing would not retract when I pulled back on it. It closed - even though I began applying upward pressure while it was still 90% open. If I had been between the closing hatch and bumper, I could have been badly hurt. If my children were there, it could have been worse.

I am pretty well convinced that whatever is being used as a sensor in the door mechanism loses sensitivity during freezing temperatures.

I'm making a WAG here by suggesting that the reason that it can't be replicated at the service centers is because the car has warmed up enough by the time it gets there, or when it is worked on in a heated garage, the sensor then begins to work correctly because it is now "warm".

Each time I've had the problem, my car was stone cold. It sat out overnight in my drive way. The engine had not even been started. I was using my rear hatch to load/unload the van only.

Not sure what I want to accomplish by this other than to let people know of this possible problem.
I'm going to continue to monitor my hatch.


  • There has been a problem with the rear liftgate of the 2004s autopowering down after being powered up. I have had this problem since I bought the van. The National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. has opened and engineering investigation over the issue due to numerous injuries. There IS a TSB out that is supposed to take care of the problem but it only serves as a temporary solution. Every winter the problem returns. Apparently Toyota feels that the struts on the door should only last 1 year or so. Check out to learn more.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,222
    Here's a List of TSBs for the 2004 Sienna.


    Need help getting around? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Tell everyone about your buying experience: Write a Dealer Review

  • bladexbladex Posts: 2
    We just picked up our 2007 XLE from the dealer and trying to figure out why the power back door will open without any problem, however, it will only close manually, neither the keyfob, button inside, or pushing down on the door will get it to close on it's own. Can anyone provide help?
  • Hi!
    One of ours 2007 siennas canot open the back door.
    If you open it from inside handle(the only way)and then closes it it will close but then you canot open it again.
    Could it be water in the doorhandle switch or were do we start,the dealer have change the lock but no difference,do you need to restart the ecm after changing the lock?
    Thanks for replays.
  • raj41raj41 Posts: 4
    Last week, my wife opened the power rear door of our 2005 Sienna XLE to get some items from the inside of the van. As the door got to the apex, she started to reach into the car, but the door slammed down violently barely missing her. We had never had a problem before so she tried it again, but stood back this time. The power door slowly lifted up and then suddenly slamed down. This is a heavy door so you would not want to be hit in the head or body when it slams down. I got the same results when I tried it. Since that time, we have only used the side doors. I have notified NHTS and Toyota of America. It am taking it into the Toyota dealer on Monday. We are located near Phoenix, so it is not a cold weather issue.
  • Its getting to be that time of year again when my back door closes on my back almost everytime I reach in my van. I agree with 1 and 2, I thought it was the snow but it happens when it is really cold. Toyota replaced it but it still happens. I paid a lot for that thing and I have to worry about my kids around my van! Is there anything else we can do but wait to see if the The National Highway Traffic Safety Admin agrees with us. Banovich
  • pg2002pg2002 Posts: 1
    October 21, 2007, I'm experienced the same problem that you guys having. MY Sienna power rear door WON'T close by using the remote or at the front. I'm in Seattle, WA, it is 51 F here.
  • cjsmomcjsmom Posts: 12
    I have a 2004 Sienna xle. I waited many months before bringing it in. I might have thought it was the cold weather; but got sick of loading my groceries in the side sliding door-which by the way hurt when they close on you.
    I haven't tested to see if that is a normal thing or not. At least the doors slide open on 'command and shut ln command.The same thing happened with mine.

    I brought the car to the dealer to ask the price ( no warrantee left) and they fixed it in September.
    The hatch door hydrolic someting or other was replaced in September (free of charge since I do all my maintenance at Toyota-they said).
    I asked if it could be a recalled part and they said no.

    Less than a month later, I was putting bags into the back and the door came down unexpectedly on my head; and pushed my head into my neck/shoulders. I still hurt from that. I brought my car back in; and because it was intermittent, they couldn't fix what worked when there.
    It is happening more often and I have to wait til it's doing it all the time before bringing it in.
    Last night, I was picking up my aunt at the airport; and I was telling her about the door closing, and hadn't finished telling her that it was broken again; but saw it come down on her and I caught it on time. My aunt is 75. She just missed getting injured.
    So, how do we get this problem on the toyota recall list?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Did you try replacing the remote? Or at least the battery in it?

    It could be a bad remote, or maybe some interference from some other source.
  • cjsmomcjsmom Posts: 12
    The remote opens the back hatch door; but it also closes when I open it from the in-car switch.
    My Toyota Dealer fixed it in September; but it started doing it again a few weeks later. It was the hydrolic arm{s)? that was broken & replaced.
    When I brought it back, they couldn't fix it because it didn't do it; and told me to bring it back when it does it constantly; because it was intermittent at this point.

    Someone emailed me the following.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 2004 and 2005 Toyota Sienna minivans for potential problems with their power liftgates. There have been 14 reports of the liftgates unexpectedly closing. A total of 142,418 Siennas are included in the investigation. This doesn’t appear to have anything to do with user error; the investigation is focusing on a faulty seal that could cause the high-pressure struts that raise the liftgate to leak, causing it to close unintentionally.
    Toyota is cooperating with NHTSA and says it is performing its own investigation of the problem. Because there is no recall associated with the investigation at this point, Sienna owners who haven’t experienced a problem must wait until the investigation concludes before having their vehicle serviced.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Nice find.

    I would go to the NHTSA site and register your problem, perhaps with more data they can figure out the problems or at least narrow it down to which production dates are affected.

    Good luck.
  • cjsmomcjsmom Posts: 12
    I was thinking of bringing it to my dealer; but I think I will do both. I hadn't thought to notify NHTSA.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    File a report here:

    Click on "File a Complaint".
  • cjsmomcjsmom Posts: 12
    Thanks. I just reported it.
  • rmossrmoss Posts: 23
    We just bought a Sienna and the first thing I noticed after parking in our garage is.. how to get the tailgate open. Ours is a standard sized garage, so the garage door gets in the way. Is there a way to open the hatch manually without using power?
  • rmossrmoss Posts: 23
    Huhhh.. never mind. I opened the manual and found a button for "Power rear door off". Makes me wonder if I looked at the thing carefully enough before buying. Back to enjoying the Sienna :)
  • donr3donr3 Posts: 1
    The powered back door on my 2007 Toyota Sienna Limited will open but will not close using the remote or dash switch. The local dealer could not repair it today (1-3-2008)
  • My hatch is not staying closed and closes on my kids, dogs and myself.. very dangerous.. I went on the nhtsa cite and registered a compliant... the dealer was going to blow me off until I told him I checked the web.. then he said "oh yes there is a repair bulletin on that, bring it in" so I will see how much he tries to charge me...
  • Yes, I'm back. The one who initially started this thread. I haven't had any issues in a while, but then again we've had a pretty mild winter where I live.

    One thing that I identified recently is that at least one of the cartridges that are supposed to hold the liftgate is blown. I noticed that my liftgate was not fully opening and was skimming the top of my head when I entered the rear of the van. Didn't come crashing down on me or anything, but just wasn't opening all the way.

    When I get the opportunity, I will take to the dealer for replacement under the manufacturers warranty.

    You can tell the cartridge is blown by looking at the point where the traveling piston enters the cartridge itself. There will be an oily substance on the cartridge below the piston when the hatch is open. It usually accumulates dirt when this happens so you will probably also see dirt there, too. This is akin to how shock absorbers and MacPherson struts show they've failed as well.

    Just trying to making you aware of how to look for failed liftgate cartridges.
  • raj41raj41 Posts: 4
    Hi Nancy,
    Have you taken it into the dealer yet and if so, what happened? I had this problem last August and it cost me $300.
    Thanks, Robert
  • Dear Sienna Owners,

    My wife thinks that when we first bought our 2006 Sienna XLE she could squeeze the rear hatch "handle" and it would automatically open (without using the key or manually opening). She thinks this quit working at some point over the last 18 months. The dealer just replaced $400 worth of parts under warranty and now claim that it never worked that way. We can use our key button or from inside to open/close automatically but when we squeeze the "handle" on the hatch then we have to open manually. We are not lazy but need help finding out if the dealer is confused or if we just have a bad memory.

    Thank you for your help.

  • cjsmomcjsmom Posts: 12
    My 2004 Sienna XLE hatch back opens by squeezing the black rubber-like handle. Make sure it's unlocked.
    Because of a disability, I have to use the remote on the keychain or in the car. I *can* open it manually if really necessary.
  • I've got a 2005 XLE. The hatch opens motorized only from the key fob, or by pushing the button inside on the roofline.

    If you open the hatch by squeezing the release above the license plate, the door opens in manual mode. The motor does not automatically raise the hatch. It's been this way since the first day I've owned the van.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, I think the rubber button it only undoes the latch (electronically).

    Even my LE does this, and the LE doesn't have the power hatch.
  • My friend who has a 2004 said she got a recall notice.. I did not, but took it in, he said it was the seal(which is a believe what got recalled).. he ordered the part, I am taking it in today to get them replaced.. I am assuming there will be no charge.. Nancy
  • jdconradjdconrad Posts: 11
    My 2004 Sienna XLE has developed a problem with the rear hatch. When it opens using the remote or interior switch, it goes up and then comes back down. Dealer said it was the struts, replaced them at a cost of $450. It started happening again, this time they said it was the sensors. Argued with them and they replaced them "goodwill" for the parts, I paid for the labor. Two days later its happening again. Took it back to the dealer and they replaced the motor and operating linkage. Three days later and it is starting to happen again. Will be going back to the dealer again. Has anyone had this repaired correctly??
    ps Just received a warranty notice concerning the rear struts. I sent my work order info to Toyota for reimbursement of the $450 .
  • cjsmomcjsmom Posts: 12
    Hi everyone with liftback problems!

    I just received in the mail today a Warranty Enhancement (customer support program)
    for 2004 through 2006 toyota sienna liftgate strut.

    I the letter, they said if you don't have the problem, to just put it with the regular warranty.

    If you have had a problem bring the letter to your local dealer.

    Good luck to you all that you get a similar letter!
  • scm587scm587 Posts: 1
    Does anyone have any idea how to fix this problem? Via remote or car button, I am able to open the rear hatch but I have to manually close it. Everything was fine until recently. Now I did have a problem with hydraulic arm, it was replaced by the dealer under a recall notice. When I asked them why the rear hatch would not close via remote or button, they said us replacing the arm has nothing to do with that problem. You will have to bring the car back for a diagnostic ($86) and we will tell you how much it will be to repair it. There is a section in the manual that somehow relates low battery to issues with the hatch, I will have to read more about this relationship. Anyhow I did have to replace my battery.
  • cjsmomcjsmom Posts: 12
    I had it fixed a few years ago; only to have it happen in the winter.
    I got my recall in or before December, 2008.
    They had to recall the total strut repairs too. They had to restructure the strut for it to work; and mine has been working great ever since.
    Notify Toyota. The door should work using any device that opens the other doors.
    I suppose you could suggest to your dealer that if they don't fix it so it works properly you will have to call Toyota to find out what you should do. :-)
    They probably put a recalled strut in your van.
  • alex46alex46 Posts: 1
    On the 2007 Toyota Sienna there is an electric solenoid in the rear hatch, if that goes out- the party is over. Has anyone else had this issue? I have found a great disparity in dealers.
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