FJ80 Rear Lift Gate Won't Open

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Aug 9, 2005
Cedar Rapids, IA
Ok, so after a run to the local home improvement store to pick up some lawn furniture I get home and pull on the handle of my lift gate to open her up and she won't open. The handle seems to have less resistance. I searched on here and found some clues but not sure what it is. I looked in my Haynes manual and they don't even talk about the rear lift gate door handle at all.

Anyway, I squeezed in to the back of my 80 amongst the lawn furniture and was able to remove the trim and get a look inside. I'm not the most mechanically gifted person in the world but I believe it is the linkage or something. When I pull the handle from the inside I can pull the linkage over to the right and the lift gate will open. I saw a reference in an old thread about a plastic piece that holds the linkage in place or something.

Does anyone have the Toyota diagram of what it is supposed to look like so I can compare it to mine? Thanks.
It sounds like the hatch is still locked. Have you tried to unlock the hatch with the key?
Mine did that a few years ago, the keyed lock at rear wont open hatch.
Nor would the power door locks after hitting the master sw twice...UNLESS the key in ignition is on w/ vehicle running, then the rear hatch unlocks with the switch. Haven't bothered with the key/lock, just use the above method.
First off make sure the hatch release handle fully cycles if not lube till it does...this thing will keep the rear locked, the handle should be towards your engine.

If this fails, crawl into the rear, remove the two handle screws, pull the moulding off gently.
On the left side looking out of the rear is a little lock mechanizim this can be moved by hand, and is directly related to the rear hatch handle.

The sticking handle overrides using the key and power locks....power locks will sometimes work only after 100 tries.

So fix the sticking handle first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok, so this may sound stupid after owning my 80 for 20+ years...Where the heck is the key lock for the rear hatch? Seriously!
Ok, so 20 years of ownership and I found the key lock for the rear hatch. Key won't even budge in the lock. It appears that there may be a broken clip in the mechanism of the handle. I'm going to the local Toyota dealer to look a the diagram of the handle to see.
Behind the silver "Toyota" logo. See pics :D
hatch key 1.jpg
hatch key 2.jpg
I'm quite proud that I've had my 80 for 20+ years and have never had to use the rear lock! Haha.

The lock inside (the part that goes up and down) moves freely when I hit the unlock button or pull up on it. The issue I am having is the bar that is attached to the brass spring. It doesn't go far enough to "pop" the hatch. It appears there is a black clip that may have sheared off? Not sure.
i ran into this last week.

I took the lift gate interior handle trim (2 screws) off and then popped off the entire trim piece below the window.

I was then able to unlock the lock manually with a screw driver. My lock does not unlock freely like it should, so I just disconnected the actuator and now I have a permanently unlocked trunk unless I use the manual lock on the gate itself.

I have a rust free lift gate in my shed waiting to replace my rusty hatch, so I'm not concerned about a long term solution.
Ok. So, I took the entire handle mechanism out and there is a broken plastic clip where the "C" that rotates when you pull the handle from the outside makes contact. That doesn't explain to me why the handle on the inside of the hatch won't open the hatch though.

The Toyota dealership said I need to order a whole new mechanism. It's $175! Seems ridiculous when the only thing I see broken is a plastic clip.

It almost seems like it is in the latch. If looking at the latch from the back of the truck, the latch doesn't seem to release unless I manually push the bar over which then opens it. I lubed the heck out of it with PB Blaster but it doesn't seem to "pop" like it has for 20 years. Am I looking at two different problems here?

Still doesn't explain why my key doesn't work in the back lock. :bang:
Keep looking...the outside latch handle is connected to a small device which overides the key and/or electric locks. The outside rear latch handle has to be fully forward to release this mechanizim.

Should be on the left side. In a vertical position your finger will trigger this allowing the door to open.
Please tell me you have ensured that the outside handle functions fully...pull it in and make sure to push it fully towards the engine(front)

OK sit in the back make sure handle and trim is off. On the left beside a connecter in the vertical with small black plastic tab is the release, push the black thing up and down while playing with the latch handle.

I just opened mine up to verify waiting for photo.
That black tab is there. That is what I figured to be the problem. The back side of it is broken off. When you lift the tailgate latch it doesn't have anything to catch on to pull the rod to release the gate. Going to try rigging it with a small machine screw, washers and nut. I think it will work. :)
I fixed it using a 4-40 x 3/4" machine screw. I tighten one nut all the way to the head. Then pushed it through where the black plastic piece was. Then I put some blue Locktite on the exposed threads and put three nuts on which covered the threads. I would've used a nylon lock nut but couldn't find one that small. This gives the latch something to "push". I didn't tighten the nuts all the way down, leaving some play. Works like a champ. I'm actually quite impressed with myself! :) I meant to take some pics but forgot until I got it installed for the 6th time. So here is a pic after its installed.


You can see the silver of the screw and nuts.

Thanks everyone for your help and input! I really appreciate it.
Wow! I am going to have to try this! Wish me luck!!!!

Good luck! It should take you about 15 minutes, not including driving time to the hardware store. Let me know if it worked for you. My fix is still working flawlessly.
Good luck! It should take you about 15 minutes, not including driving time to the hardware store. Let me know if it worked for you. My fix is still working flawlessly.
Hey, I just fixed it by pushing down on that plastic tab....the back side wasn't broken off but if it ever does I will refer back to your easy machine screw fix. I have only had this 91' FJ80 since 1/15/15, it has 315,000 miles on it!!!!! Of course I can't thank you FJ veterans enough for all the great info here! It's like FJ Wikipedia!
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There are some crazy, insanely smart dudes on this site. If you have a problem someone else has already had the problem and can tell you what it is and how to fix it. It's awesome.

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