If you are a Chevy or GM owner, you might have encountered the common Chevy suburban liftgate problem.
This problem is basically the liftgate is not opening with the lock key.
If you have this problem with your vehicle, you are not alone.
Many Chevy owners have had the same problem.
However, no need to worry as the problem is fixable.
All you need to know is to figure out the main cause of the problem to be able to solve it.
Below we will discuss the problem in detail, the causes, diagnosis, and how to solve it.
Here is a liftgate lock actuator for GM Chevy Suburban, Tahoe, Traverse, GMC Acadia, Yukon, Cadillac, Escalade & more
- 1 Chevy suburban liftgate problems
- 2 Lift forms problem
- 3 Open mechanism problems
- 4 FAQs About Chevy suburban liftgate problems
- 5 Conclusion
Chevy suburban liftgate problems
Commonly, there are two main problems that Chevy owners suffer from.
The first is that the tailgate opens half the way and then it goes down automatically.
So, you can’t have access to the inside of the car.
Another problem is that the Suburban liftgate won’t open at all.
You may keep pressing the lock and unlock button, but the tailgate doesn’t open.
In both cases, when the problem is related to the tailgate, the diagnosis is the same.
Figuring out what causes the problem is the way to solve it.
So, you need to do a few checks on some car parts to know what is causing the problem.
Mainly, there are two causes of the problem. Either the lift forms or the locking mechanism.
Below, we will discuss in detail how to check and solve each of these problems.
However, you need to know that it might be a worn-out actuator or springs that cause the problem.
Also, the handle sometimes wears out. So, before you go with any of the below steps, you need to figure out the main cause of the problem first.
If the problem is the actuator, you might need to replace some motor parts.
However, this is not a common cause of the problem.
Also, motor problems appear in other things related to the car. You can easily discover if it is an actuator problem or not.
In any case, you might need to check this video to know how to test the actuator.
Lift forms problem
The lift forms are the two metal rods that hold the tailgate when it is open.
You can easily check those lift forms to know if they are still functioning or worn out.
By the time, those lift forms get weak and they cannot assist in lifting the liftgate.
Thus, the motor gets stressed and closes again.
Once you know they are not functioning, as usual, you must replace them.
You can get two Suburban lift forms from any car aftermarket store or even online.
Typically, these rods won’t cost you more than $50.
A side note here is that they might be named rear hatch struts or tailgate metal rods.
To remove the old lift forms and install the new ones, follow these steps:
01. Open the tailgate
Obviously, you must get the liftgate opened to remove the lift forms.
Since these are what hold the liftgate, you must keep it in the upright position.
So, it doesn’t come down when you remove the old lift forms.
You can use a ladder or anything to fix the liftgate in this position.
Alternatively, you can get someone else to hold it for you till you are done with fixing the problem.
02. Take off the old lift forms
You will need a flat head screwdriver. The lift forms are attached to the car frame with clips from the top and bottom sides. So, to take off the lift forms, you need to remove these clips. Use the screwdriver to pop the clips out.
Repeat the same step on the top and bottom clips.
Once you remove both clips, you find the lift forms popping out easily.
Do the same thing with the second lift form. Make sure that the tailgate is kept in the upright position.
03. Install the new lift forms
Now that you have removed the old struts, you can easily install the new ones.
Start with the top side and push the strut to the clip. Next, push the other side of the strut to the bottom clip.
You can rotate the bottom clip with a screwdriver to loosen it slightly to fix the struts into the clips.
Note that the struts are a bit stiff, so, you need to keep the liftgate open as much as possible.
After the strut is fixed, make sure it is secure in its place.
Repeat the same steps with the other strut and make sure it is also secured.
When both struts are installed, do a simple test to ensure the problem is fixed.
Try opening and closing the liftgate with the lock button to ensure everything is ok.
If the problem is the struts, by replacing them, it should be solved immediately.
The diagnosis and fixation steps typically don’t take more than 5 minutes if you have the new lift forms.
Open mechanism problems
In fact, you must try this option first before purchasing any parts.
The problem might be with the opening mechanism of the liftgate.
However, this Chevy suburban liftgate problem is not as common as the previous one.
So, chances are you would have to replace some parts if you faced any of the two above-mentioned problems.
To check the opening mechanism of the vehicle, follow these steps.
01. Open the liftgate
We know this is the problem to get the liftgate opened.
However, you must open it to access the locking mechanism.
You can push it up as much as possible just enough to be able to work on the locking mechanism.
If it is already open but you cannot close it, the problem is easier to fix.
In this case, you can move to the next step immediately.
02. Disconnect the panel
The locking mechanism is located behind the panel, so, you need to remove it.
To do so, you need a flat head screwdriver. Slip the screwdriver on the top part of the panel first then try to pop it out.
Do the same thing on both sides till it comes out. Another option is to use a suitable socket wrench to remove the bolt.
This bolt is located under the leather handle inside. So, this method can be used only if you have full access to the panel.
In other words, you should be able to completely open the liftgate to remove the panel in this way.
Next, use the same flat head screwdriver to remove the panel in the same way mentioned above.
Thus, try both ways and find what is easier for you. The goal at the end is to remove the panel.
Using any of those ways will disconnect the top part of the panel which is most of the work needed to remove the panel completely.
A note here is that the panel is flexible as it is not metal. It is durable plastic. So, it is supposed to come out easily.
You can pull it a bit aggressively with no worries. It won’t break anyways.
03. Remove the panel
The next step is to disconnect the plastic hinges holding the panel to the car frame.
To do this, push the panel on the opposite side (i.e., towards the car, not you).
Then, rotate the panel around the hinge till it releases.
Once you remove the panel completely, you will have full access to the locking mechanism.
04. Check the locking mechanism
The liftgate handle is connected to the locking mechanism via a tension wire.
Once you click the open button or pull the handle, the tailgate should open.
The tension wire retracts pulling the locking mechanism anti-clockwise. Thus, the tailgate opens.
On the other side, if the tailgate is closed and the locking mechanism is locked, the tailgate won’t open using the handle.
The tension wire cannot open or release the tailgate unless the locking mechanism is unlocked.
In brief, for your tailgate to open and close normally, the locking mechanism should be working well.
It should lock and unlock using the keys, thus, engaging the tension wire to open the tailgate.
If there is a problem with the locking mechanism, this causes the problem.
05. Find out the problem
Most probably, your Suburban liftgate won’t open because it didn’t realize it is unlocked.
Even when you press open, the locking mechanism is still closed.
So, no response from the handle, and by extension, the handle won’t release the tailgate.
The problem might be caused by a worn-out actuator or springs. One can simply replace these parts to solve the problem.
However, some Chevy Suburban owners had the same problem even after replacing these parts.
Thus, you need to figure out the main cause of this wearing out to prevent the same problem again.
The problem might be the locking mechanism is stuck at a certain point preventing it from locking and unlocking normally.
One common thing we noticed that most Chevy owners complain about is the replacement parts.
Even if you bought factory replacement parts, they aren’t the same accurate specs of the car.
Thus, the friction of the metal parts together would cause this wearing out which by extension causes the Chevy suburban liftgate problem.
While it is only a few millimeters difference between the car specs and the replacement parts, they can really cause a big problem.
06. Fix the locking mechanism
Once you figured out the problem, it is time to solve it permanently.
So, to solve the problem, you must leave some space for the metal tensioner. So, the metals don’t keep grabbing together.
To do so, start by tugging the closing handle to the right side completely to have access to the small metal ball.
Next, pull out this small ball by taking off the wire using the cap at the other end of the wire.
Once pulled, you will see there is some space that could be freed for the locking mechanism to work properly.
Don’t forget to test the lock and unlock button to make sure the locking mechanism can move freely.
FAQs About Chevy suburban liftgate problems
01. Why is the liftgate power not working?
There are different reasons for this problem. One of the common reasons is the motor itself.
If the motor has a problem, it might affect the liftgate power key.
Other common causes are worn-out parts as rear hatch struts, actuators, springs, and even the handle.
02. How does the actuator of the Suburban liftgate works?
Like all other vehicle actuators, when you press the unlock key, you send a signal to the body control module (BCM) of the car.
Then, this control unit gives an order to the liftgate actuator to open the liftgate.
03. What is the cost of fixing the Chevy suburban liftgate problem?
It depends on the problem. If the problem is just the lift forms or the handle wearing out, this won’t cause you much.
You can replace these parts at under $50.
Similarly, if the problem is the opening mechanism, you just need a screwdriver. So, if you have one, you won’t pay anything.
However, if the problem is the motor, the replacement of these parts will cost you above $500.
You may also need to pay the person who will replace these parts for you.
04. Can I open the liftgate manually?
You can do this, but it is not the best option.
Chevy Suburban vehicles have this lock and unlock key for the liftgate to open and close automatically.
So, if you have a problem with this, you need to figure out the problem and solve it instead of opening and closing the liftgate manually.
Now that you have discovered mostly all Chevy suburban liftgate problems;
You can easily spot the main cause of your own car problem to solve it.
Whether it is the liftgate not opening or the opening half the way, the causes might be the same.
Luckily, all the problems are very simple and easy to solve.
You can even do the diagnosis and fix the problem yourself.