Why Won’t My Toyota Highlander Trunk Close?

Are you trying to close the trunk of your Toyota Highlander from the key fob, but it will not close? And now you want to know what to do to resolve the issue? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.

Check the glass window on the trunk. Some Toyota Highlander models have a glass window on the trunk door that you can open separately. However, if this glass window is open or unlocked—or only slightly ajar—the trunk door will no longer respond to the key fob or even the buttons inside that open or close the trunk.

Additionally, if your Highlander's glass window is working appropriately -or your model does not have an opening rear window- you can check these additional areas to remedy the trunk closing: 

  • Glove compartment trunk button
  • Debris on the latch
  • Worn latch
  • Dirt on sensor or hydraulic arms
  • Wiring issues

Learn more about this issue in the sections below. Additionally, read about other trunk door tips and tricks. Read on!

Black Toyota Highlander car, rear view, Why Won't My Toyota Highlander Trunk Close?

Why Won’t Toyota Highlander’s trunk close?

Some models of Toyota Highlander have a rear glass window on the trunk door that opens through the key fob or a separate button from inside. There is also a manual button outside to open the glass window that is close to the button for opening the trunk. The proximity of the two buttons—albeit on different surfaces—can easily unlock the window accidentally.

Black Toyota Highlander car stands on a roadside in foggy morning

Locking the movement of the trunk door while the glass window is open is a safety feature to prevent opening the trunk while the glass window is open. The glass window can accidentally open and hit the roof of your car—scratching or breaking it—if the trunk door moves upward and you did not lock the window yet.

Not all Toyota Highlander trims and year models have the feature where you can open the trunk window separately.

Lock the window securely to the trunk door, and the trunk door should be able to move once more to open and close.

Trunk Button At Glove Compartment

Check the trunk button in the glove compartment. This button also suspends the movement of the trunk door. This button is located on the left side of the glove compartment. You can only see it when you fully open the glove compartment.

When this button is pressed, the trunk door will work normally. However, if this button is not pressed in, the trunk will not work as expected.

This is a good first step to check if you do not have a glass window on your trunk door that opens separately, and yet you still cannot close the trunk door. Press the button and check if the trunk door will not respond to the key fob to close.

Debris On The Latch

If your Toyota Highlander doesn’t have a trunk window, but you cannot close the trunk door, then there could be big enough debris to block the latch. This could be a small pebble or stone.

Check the trunk's latch for any debris that could be blocking the latch from getting a good grip on the lock. Also, check the locking mechanism under the trunk door for anything that prevents it from getting into the lock cavity.

Remove anything that you find there. Sometimes, kids could be playing around the car and might’ve left a small toy that found its way into the lock cavity.

Worn Out Latch

locksmith car will repair white car door

The latch of the trunk door can wear out faster than most other parts of your Toyota Highlander—especially if you open and close it a lot.

The latch experiences a lot of friction whenever it goes down to lock the trunk door. It rubs against the other latch to lock the door.

Inspect both locking components for any signs of wear. The trunk door of your Toyota Highlander could be moving down to close, but the latch is no longer sufficient to hold the trunk door in place.

If you see any visible wear on the latch, have it checked by a mechanic if this is preventing your trunk door from getting a good grip to lock. Or it might be causing intermittent locking when you try to close the trunk door.

Dirt On The Sensor

Black Toyota Highlander car stands on a roadside in winter season

Another safety feature of your Toyota Highlander is a small sensor under the trunk door. The purpose of this sensor is to detect the presence of objects like groceries, pets, people, or even body parts like children’s fingers.

The trunk door will stop moving down to close or open if the sensor detects something in its path that it could hit, damage, or injure.

Similarly, if the sensor is dirty, it could assume that there is something in its path and stop responding to the command to go down and close the trunk door.

Gently wipe the bottom of the trunk door with a clean cloth that is damp with warm water. A warm cloth will help loosen any grease or oil-based dirt and make it easier to remove.

Dirty Hydraulic Arms

Your Toyota Highlander closes its trunk door by controlling the air pressure on two hydraulic arms that lifts or lowers the trunk door. If these arms are dirty or no longer well lubricated, then they might no longer be able to generate the right amount of force to pull the trunk door down to close.

You can find these hydraulic arms on the edges of the trunk door on both sides. Inspect them both for dirt and debris that could be preventing them from closing the trunk door.

Check for signs that these arms are no longer well lubricated.

If you think that these arms might be the culprit, have them inspected by a mechanic.

Wiring Issue

Loose wiring can cause the trunk door to lose power intermittently. It could work one minute and then be unable to close your trunk door the next.

Check the wiring along with the trunk door for any scratches or damage. Scratches on the wires could be a sign that there is a connectivity problem inside.

Sometimes the wires could have fallen off the hooks that keep them in place. If this happens, the closing motion of your trunk door could be damaging them little by little.

Aside from checking for damage, check if the wires are where they should be. Make sure that they are not getting in the way of the movement of the trunk door.

How to adjust the height on a Toyota Highlander power liftgate?

Toyota Highlander on a street in spring scenery

The power liftgate feature is common in the SUV models of Toyota like the Highlander. You can open it by pressing a button on your key fob, inside the Highlander, or on the liftgate itself.

The power liftgate is what some people call the trunk door in SUVs.

One of the features of a power liftgate in your Toyota Highlander is that you can set the maximum height that it will open. Once set, your Highlander will always open the power liftgate to that height that you have set.

There are two ways to adjust the height of your Highlander’s power liftgate. The first method is through the MID (Multi-Information Display), and the second method is through the trunk door.

How to adjust the height of the power liftgate from the MID?

Follow the simple steps below to adjust the height of the power liftgate through the MID:

  1. Tap on “Apps” from the left menu. Tap “OK” if you get a popup reminder about anything.
  2. Choose the “Setup” button.
  3. Press the right arrow at the bottom to access the menu hidden on the right side of the screen.
  4. Press the “Vehicle” option on the display. The MID might take some time to load everything under the Vehicle option. This is normal. Just wait for it to finish loading.
  5. Choose the “Vehicle Customization” option.
  6. Tap “Other Vehicle Settings.” You should see the “Power Back Door Opening Adjust” option.
  7. Tap the “Power Back Door Opening Adjust” button.
  8. You will see five different settings that display the five different height options for the power liftgate. Each option has a blank check box on the right. Choose the height that you want by ticking the empty checkbox of your choice. Your power liftgate should open to that height the next time you open it.

How to adjust the height of the power liftgate from the door?

  1. Open your power liftgate.
  2. Gently pull the power liftgate to the height that you want.
  3. Press and hold the close button under the power liftgate. You should hear one beep followed by three fast beeps. The three beeps mean that it has saved your setting into its memory. This method is useful if none of the five standard heights from the MID is suitable for you.


Black Toyota Highlander car, rear view

There are several reasons why your Toyota Highlander’s trunk door or power liftgate is not responding to a command to close. Check each possible reason until you get to the cause of the problem. Once you’ve exhausted all the possible causes and you’re still having the same problem, have your Highlander checked by a mechanic or at a service center.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might find the articles below equally enjoyable to read:

What’s The Best Oil For A Toyota Highlander?

How Far Can A Toyota Highlander Go On Empty?

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