The national average cost for a liftgate lock actuator replacement in 2024 is $306.

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What is a liftgate lock actuator and how does it work?

All power door locks on a vehicle, including the liftgate on a car or SUV or the tailgate on a truck , allow a user to unlock the doors remotely. Whether triggered by a switch inside the vehicle, by a key code on an exterior panel, or with a key fob (or even a key), each door lock is activated, or “actuated”, by a door lock actuator.

The lock actuator is an electric motor that responds to a signal sent from a relay when you trigger the doors to lock or unlock. The actuator moves a lever inside the door lock/latch assembly and places the latch in the locked or unlocked position.

One such component is the liftgate lock actuator located inside of the liftgate or “hatch” of a hatchback car, van, or SUV. The term “tailgate” is often used interchangeably with “liftgate” or “hatch”, although the tailgate refers to the rear panel of a pickup truck box that folds down. In any case, the function of the lock actuator is the same.


How is a a Liftgate Lock Actuator Replacement done?

If the liftgate lock actuator is found to be defective, a technician will take the following general steps to replace the device:

  • Remove the interior trim panel of the liftgate to access the lock/latch assembly and lock actuator
  • Unplug the wire(s) from the actuator
  • Unfasten the actuator from its mount and disconnect it from the lock/latch assembly
  • Remove the old actuator and insert the new component
  • Connect the actuator to the lock/latch assembly, fasten it in place, and reconnect the electrical plug
  • Verify the repair by pressing the lock buttons, key fob, and manual key lock (if so equipped) before closing the liftgate
  • Reinstall the liftgate interior trim panel

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National average cost of a a Liftgate Lock Actuator Replacement
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How do I know if my liftgate lock actuator needs to be replaced?

If you unlock the doors on your vehicle, and yet, the liftgate latch does not unlock, there could be a problem with the liftgate lock actuator. The actuator responds to a signal from the Body Control Module (or BCM, a computer that controls most vehicle body and safety systems), and either locks or unlocks the latch on the liftgate. If the actuator ceases to respond, the lock will not operate remotely. It might still be possible to use a key in the lock cylinder, provided your vehicle is equipped with such.

Symptoms related to a failing liftgate lock actuator - lock is inoperative, lock is slow to respond or sluggish, the lock works intermittently - can also be attributed to a dirty or damaged lock/latch assembly, an electrical wire in poor condition, a bad switch, or even a problem with the BCM. It is important to get a proper diagnosis in order to determine if the lock actuator is the culprit.

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Other questions customers ask

How does a door lock actuator go bad?
A door lock actuator receives a lot of use and is prone to faults due to dirt, debris, moisture and other contaminants. Corrosion can also play a role in a failing door lock actuator or problems with the electrical connections to the device. Of course, damage from a crash or other impact can also cause a door lock actuator to break.
Can you drive with a broken lock actuator?
Whether or not it is advisable to drive with a bad door lock actuator depends on the condition of the component. If, for instance, the actuator simply will not function, but the locks work with the manual lock button or key, it is probably okay to drive your vehicle. Just know that the door will not lock (or unlock) remotely. On the other hand, if the actuator prevents the door lock/latch assembly from closing completely, you should not drive your vehicle. It is essential that all door panels latch properly before driving a vehicle.
What happens if a door lock actuator fails?
If one of your door lock actuators fails, the lock/latch assembly inside that panel will no longer lock and unlock remotely with the power lock switches or key fob. It still might work with the manual lock button inside the vehicle or with the key (as long as that panel has a lock cylinder).

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