A liftgate lock cylinder is a component of a vehicle's central locking system. A lock cylinder is a small metal device similar to that of a door lock on a house. A key is inserted into the lock cylinder to manually lock or unlock a door, tailgate, or liftgate. Each lock cylinder is coded for a specific key.
Some liftgates do not feature a lock cylinder and are only locked using a switch inside the vehicle or a key fob. In those cases, it is difficult to open the panel if the lock actuator fails or if the vehicle battery dies. On the other hand, many vehicle owners rarely use the key in the lock cylinder, therefore the cylinder is prone to seizing up from corrosion and lack of use.
If your vehicle came equipped with a liftgate lock cylinder that allows the liftgate to be locked and unlocked with a key, you will know that the cylinder is bad if you are unable to insert the key fully, or if the key will no longer turn inside the cylinder. While it is sometimes possible to free up a stuck lock cylinder, it is common for the device to need replacement. A less frequent sign that the lock cylinder is bad is if the key turns freely, but the lock does not actuate, suggesting a possible malfunction of the linkage attached to the lock/latch assembly or lock actuator.
In order to replace a liftgate lock cylinder, a technician will first need to obtain a new cylinder that is coded specifically to your vehicle key. From there, the liftgate interior trim panel must be removed for access to the lock cylinder and lock/latch assembly. The linkage that connects the lock cylinder to the lock/latch assembly is disconnected along with any wires that are plugged into the cylinder (on vehicles with heated door locks). The lock cylinder retainer is removed and the lock cylinder pulled from the panel. Once the new cylinder is inserted and fastened in place, the linkage (and wiring, if so equipped) is reconnected and the system is tested prior to closing the liftgate.
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