Do you have a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a power liftgate that won’t open or close? Or maybe it opens slowly, reverses direction for no reason, or makes strange noises? You’re not alone – these are common issues with the power liftgates on Jeep Grand Cherokees.
The good news is that many liftgate problems can be fixed yourself without an expensive trip to the dealer. In this detailed guide, we’ll walk through the steps to diagnose and repair the most common Jeep Grand Cherokee power liftgate problems. You’ll learn:
- The symptoms of a faulty power liftgate
- How to test each liftgate component
- Potential causes like failed motors, bad switches, and blown fuses
- DIY instructions to fix the issues
- When it’s time to replace the liftgate control module
Follow along and you’ll have the knowledge to get your Jeep Grand Cherokee power liftgate working smoothly again.
Table of Contents
Symptoms of Power Liftgate Problems
Before jumping into repairs, it’s important to understand the signs of a malfunctioning power liftgate. Here are the most common symptoms:
The Liftgate Won’t Open or Close
This is arguably the most frustrating problem with the Grand Cherokee’s power liftgate. When you press the open or close button, absolutely nothing happens. The liftgate should at least start moving, even if it doesn’t fully open or close.
If nothing happens at all when you hit the switch, there is likely an electrical or mechanical failure preventing the liftgate from operating.
The Liftgate Opens and Closes Very Slowly
Over time, the liftgate motor and gears can wear out. This causes the liftgate to open and close much slower than normal.
Instead of the usual quick 2-3 seconds, a worn out liftgate motor may take 10+ seconds to fully open or close.
The Liftgate Opens But Won’t Close (Or Vice Versa)
In some cases, the liftgate will open but then not close again. Or it closes but won’t reopen when you hit the switch.
This points to a specific failure in the opening or closing mechanism, while the other direction still functions.
The Liftgate Reverses Direction Mid-Cycle
Here’s an odd problem that sometimes occurs – the liftgate will start to open or close, but then stop and reverse direction for no apparent reason.
This automatic reversal is a built-in safety feature. But when it happens unexpectedly, it indicates an electrical or mechanical fault in the system.
Clicking Noises From the Liftgate
As the liftgate opens and closes, you may hear rhythmic clicking noises coming from the liftgate area.
This sound is usually caused by worn out gears or issues with the liftgate cables and pulleys. Replacement parts may be needed to stop the noise.
Now that you know the common symptoms of a faulty liftgate, let’s look at how to diagnose the exact problem.
How To Diagnose Jeep Grand Cherokee Liftgate Problems?
Diagnosing why your Jeep’s power liftgate is malfunctioning takes some basic mechanical testing and electrical troubleshooting. Here is the complete process:
Step 1 – Check for Obstructions
Before assuming the liftgate itself is broken, check for any obstructions that may be preventing full motion.
Look for objects, cargo, or debris that may be blocking the liftgate’s path. Remove any obstructions found.
Also inspect the liftgate rubber seals for damage or debris that could impair movement.
Step 2 – Test the Battery
An undercharged or dead battery can cause power liftgate operation problems. Use a voltmeter to check the battery charge level.
The battery should show 12.4-12.6 volts when fully charged. If it’s below 12 volts, try recharging the battery and testing the liftgate again.
Step 3 – Verify the Fuse
Like any electrical component on your Jeep, the power liftgate is protected by a fuse. If the fuse is blown, the liftgate will be completely dead.
The liftgate fuse is located in the interior fuse box, likely under the dash or in the driver’s kick panel. Refer to the fuse diagram on the lid and check the liftgate fuse specifically.
If it is blown, replace it with an identical new fuse. Then try the liftgate again. If the fuse immediately blows again, there is a short circuit somewhere in the system.
Step 4 – Check the Wiring Harness
Ensure the liftgate wiring harness is intact and securely plugged in. This harness provides power and signals to the liftgate from the body controller.
Follow the harness visually from the liftgate components back to the connection point. Wiggle the harness and connectors while watching for any reaction from the liftgate.
Damaged wiring is a possible cause of intermittent liftgate operation.
Step 5 – Test the Liftgate Motor
The liftgate motor is responsible for physically raising and lowering the liftgate. Problems here can cause slow, uneven, or no liftgate movement.
Testing the motor is straightforward:
- Remove the interior liftgate trim panel to access the motor.
- Disconnect the motor electrical connector.
- Use a multimeter to test the motor windings for continuity. You should see very low resistance. No continuity means a bad motor.
- If the windings check out, reconnect the motor and try applying 12V power directly to it. The motor should run smoothly.
Replace the liftgate motor if found to be defective.
Step 6 – Inspect the Cables
The liftgate cables attach to the motor drive and raise/lower the liftgate. If the cables are damaged or off their pulleys, the liftgate may bind, stick, or not open fully.
Check for frayed, kinked, or broken cables. Also verify the cables are routed correctly through the pulley system.
Realign or replace damaged cables as needed. Lubricating the pulleys can also help.
Step 7 – Test the Power Liftgate Switches
Problems with the liftgate control switches and wiring are another possibility.
The key switches to test are:
- Driver interior liftgate switch
- Passenger interior liftgate switch
- Liftgate exterior handle switch
Check for continuity across each switch while actuating it. No continuity signal means a bad switch.
Also wiggle the switch and wire connectors while testing. Any intermittent signal points to a faulty connection.
Step 8 – Reset the Liftgate Control Module
The final diagnostic step is to reset the liftgate control module. This computer controls all liftgate functions based on inputs from the switches.
Resetting it can clear any temporary glitches causing problems:
- Disconnect the control module and wait 15 minutes
- Reconnect the module and turn the ignition ON
- Open and close the liftgate fully using the interior switches
- The reset is complete
If this fixes your liftgate issues, no further repair is needed. If not, the module or other components are likely defective.
Following this diagnostic process will reveal what exactly is preventing your Jeep Grand Cherokee liftgate from operating correctly. Next, we’ll cover how to fix the most common issues.
How To Fix Jeep Grand Cherokee Power Liftgate Problems?
Once you’ve diagnosed the cause of the problems, here are the steps needed to complete repairs for the most common liftgate failures:
Fix 1 – Replace the Liftgate Control Module
The liftgate control module is the computer “brain” that operates the liftgate based on switch inputs and safety sensors.
If this module malfunctions, it can cause just about any liftgate symptom imaginable – no movement, slow operation, mid-cycle reversal, you name it.
Replacing the liftgate control module is the fix when you’ve ruled out all other electrical and mechanical causes. While not cheap, a new module will generally get your liftgate working properly again.
Follow these steps to replace the liftgate control module yourself:
- Turn the ignition OFF and disconnect the battery negative terminal.
- Locate the liftgate module, usually on the driver side near the top of the liftgate opening.
- Remove the module mounting bolts and unplug the wiring harness.
- Install the new module and reconnect the harness. Make sure the connections are secure.
- Reconnect the battery.
- Turn the ignition ON and cycle the liftgate fully up and down.
The replacement module will need to initialize and “relearn” the full open and closed positions. Once complete, the liftgate should function normally again.
Fix 2 – Replace the Liftgate Motor
The liftgate motor contains the gear drive system that physically moves the liftgate up and down.
Problems like slow liftgate operation, uneven movement, or no movement at all usually point to a worn out motor. The only solution is replacing the liftgate lift motor.
Here’s an overview of the motor replacement process:
- Remove interior trim to access the liftgate motor
- Label and disconnect the motor wiring harness
- Remove the motor mounting bolts
- Install the new liftgate motor and reconnect wiring
- Reinstall trim panels and test for normal operation
Be extremely careful not to damage the fragile lift cables when removing the old motor. Also make sure the new motor gears mesh correctly with the cable drives.
Program the full open and closed positions again after the new motor is installed. This will complete the repair.
Fix 3 – Replace Broken or Off-Track Cables
The liftgate cables connect the motor to the liftgate panels themselves. Over time, the cables can break, fray, or come off the pulleys.
Issues like the liftgate not opening fully, closing unevenly, or making grinding noises are signs of damaged cables.
Replacing broken cables and realigning them on the pulleys is required to smoothly raise and lower the heavy liftgate again.
Here are the steps for fixing liftgate cables:
- Remove trim panels to access cables and pulleys
- Inspect cables closely and note any that are broken or derailed
- Release tension from old cables with locking pliers
- Unbolt broken cable ends and detach from liftgate
- Install new liftgate cables in the correct positions
- Adjust tension and verify cables are seated properly on pulleys
- Test liftgate operation before reinstalling trim
Take your time rerouting new cables exactly as the old ones were originally. Rushing this can cause the cables to derail again shortly after repair.
Fix 4 – Replace Faulty Liftgate Switches
The various liftgate control switches are another common failure point. Driver switches, passenger switches, and the exterior handle switch are all prone to wear over time.
If testing proves a switch is defective, replacing it is straightforward:
- Remove any trim panels covering the switch
- Label and disconnect the switch wiring connector
- Remove the mounting screws to detach the switch
- Install the new liftgate switch and reconnect wiring
- Verify switch signals before reinstalling trim panels
A drop of dielectric grease in the new switch connector can help prevent future issues. Be extremely careful not to damage any fragile electrical clips during removal or installation.
With the faulty switch replaced, the liftgate electronics can receive the proper open and close commands again.
Fix 5 – Check Electrical Connections
While not as exciting as replacing components, its worth noting that bad electrical connections can cause flaky liftgate operation.
Issues like corrosion in connectors, loose terminals, fray/cut wires, or short circuits are all possible.
Carefully inspect the following liftgate electrical connections:
- Battery terminals
- Main liftgate wiring harness plugs
- Individual switch connectors
- Motor power plugs
- Ground strap bolts
- Fuse box terminals
Clean any corrosion, replace damaged wires, reseat loose terminals, and verify solid connections. This cheap repair can sometimes get liftgates working again.
When To Call A Professional for Repair?
While the most common Jeep Grand Cherokee liftgate problems can be fixed DIY, there are times it pays to hand things over to a professional:
- If diagnosis proves too difficult – can’t isolate the problem component
- Major electrical issues like short circuits in the harness
- Replacement parts require special programming/initialization
- Liftgate jambs, hinges, or exterior panels are damaged
- Project feels too complicated or unsafe
Your time has value too. Evaluating when to DIY vs outsourcing repairs to a qualified mechanic is important.
Know your limits and don’t be afraid to pay for expert help when needed. At the same time, tackle the repairs you feel comfortable doing yourself.
Conclusion – Get Your Jeep Liftgate Working Again
A malfunctioning power liftgate in your Jeep Grand Cherokee doesn’t have to remain a headache. With some DIY troubleshooting and repair, you can get it working smoothly again.
Now you know the likely causes and fixes for common power liftgate problems.
Follow the diagnostic steps to isolate your specific issue. Then make the required repairs, whether it’s:
- Replacing the liftgate control module
- Installing a new liftgate motor
- Fixing broken cables
- Swapping a bad switch
- Checking electrical connections
With a bit of time and patience, you can have your Jeep power liftgate opening and closing like normal again.
Let us know in the comments if this guide helped you get your Grand Cherokee liftgate fixed!