I can’t believe I waited this long to replace the rear struts on the back door of my Toyota Sienna! The rear tailgate would no longer lift itself or stay up, causing us headaches (literally). This repair only took 5 minutes, a screwdriver, and $25 for a pair of new struts. Loading the back of your car shouldn’t be a 2-person job, replace your lift struts!

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By the way, the steps shown in this article also apply to almost all Toyota vehicles with the same steps, they just use different lift struts (links included below).

Lift-gate Struts for Toyotas

Symptoms of Bad Rear Hatch Struts

The struts on the back tailgate of your van should take over from you once you pull the handle release and raise the door about a foot. After that, the struts should take over and lift the rear hatch from that point on, all the way up to fully open, and hold it there. If your tailgate door doesn’t go up all the way, drifts downward, or won’t go up at all, it’s time for new struts lifts.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Lift Struts?

If you go to the Toyota dealership, they will do an excellent professional job, but it will cost you over $600! An independent shop is a good choice and will cost around $100 for parts and labor. To do this job yourself, with almost no skill required whatsoever, will cost you around $25-$35.

Tools and supplies needed:

  • small flat-bladed screwdriver
  • set of new lift struts (2004-2010 Sienna) (these are the correct struts for both power and manual lift-gates)
  • a friend or loved-one to hold the lift-gate open (or a 5′ stick – hockey stick or ski pole will also work)

Procedure to Replace Liftgate Struts on a Toyota Sienna

This guide will go into the details of the following steps:

  1. Acquire a new set of liftgate struts.
  2. Open the rear hatch and have a friend hold it open or prop it with a 2×4.
  3. Use a small flat-bladed screwdriver to release the top clips on the old struts.
  4. Repeat step 3 to release the bottom clips.
  5. Press the new liftgate struts onto the studs, both top and bottom.
  6. Close the rear hatch.

Detailed Step-by-Step Guide

The first step is to acquire a new set of lift struts:


The way that these attach is really simple. Using a small flat-bladed screwdriver (or something similar) pry back the metal clasp. The photos below show the way that the clasp releases when the clasp is pried back.

Basically, this is what you will do on the old strut to remove it. Pry back on the clasp, and pull the strut off of the ball that it mounts on to.

This was the state of my rear hatch before changing out the struts.

Toyota Sienna liftgate hatch won't open all the way. Struts have lost their compression.

Have a friend hold the door open for you while you do this (or a 5 ft stick), once you remove one of the struts, the remaining one will have even less force to hold the door open, and it easily comes crashing down!

Prop up the liftgate with a long stick, broom handle, hockey stick, or something similar. This is a Toyota Sienna rear door.

Go to the upper connection point of the first strut. Note the location of the metal clip that secures the strut in place. this will be pried out with a screwdriver.

This is the old strut upper attachment point before the strut is removed. Note the location of the metal clip that will be pried out.

Insert the screwdriver into the slot, and pry the metal clasp outward.


Here the clasp has been pried out.

Old tailgate strut on a Toyota Sienna, where the strut clip/clasp has been pried open. Now the strut can be removed from the door.

Give the old strut a nice yank to pull it off of its ball joint.

Toyota Sienna old liftgate strut removed (pulled off).

Repeat this process for the lower connection point.

Now that you’ve removed the old strut lift, grab one of the new ones. Here is the old and new strut side-by-side.


Line up the connector of the new strut with the bottom ball joint.


Once lined up, just press the new strut onto the ball joint until you hear a click and it is seated properly. If it is not going on easily, then use the screwdriver to pry back the clasp to open it up to receive the ball.

The new tailgate strut lined up, but not yet pressed onto the fitment knob.

Repeat for the upper joint as well.

Pressing the strut onto the connection point. No need to pull back the clip, it should just snap in place.

Change the other lift strut in a similar manner.

These are the lift struts compatible with my Sienna (2006).

Joke Break…

A retired couple went to Las Vegas every year for vacation. Every time they went, they saw a sign advertising helicopter rides, and every time the woman would say to her husband, “Please take me on a helicopter ride!” Each year the man would inquire about the cost, and each year the pilot would reply, “$100.” Being frugal, the old man would say to his aging wife, “I would take you up, sweetheart, but you know, $100 is $100.” This same scenario played out year after year, to the point where the pilot began to recognize them.

Finally, one year, the pilot felt sorry for the little old lady and said, “I tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take you up for free as long as neither of you makes a single sound, but if you shriek, scream, or even gasp, then you pay me $100.” The old man, glad that his frugality had finally paid off, agreed. Once they got into the air, the pilot pulled out all the stops. He dove, swooped, rolled and spun. He performed every acrobatic maneuver he could think of, and still not a sound from the back of the helicopter. Finally, he gave up and landed. Once on the ground he looked back at the little old lady and said, “I thought for sure I had you – I can’t believe you didn’t make a single sound!” The little old lady stared at him, white as a ghost, and said, “Well, to tell you the truth, I was going to say something when my husband fell out, but you know, $100 is $100.”

Moving On…

That’s about it! This is a really quick repair and easy to do. I hope the pictures help, sometimes even though it is easy, it is nice to see the steps ahead of time!

Lift-gate Struts for Toyotas

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This repair applies to the following vehicles with both power and manual rear liftgate:

  • 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna Base Mini Cargo Van 4 Door
  • 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna Base Mini Cargo Van 5 Door
  • 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna Base Mini Passenger Van 4 Door
  • 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna Base Mini Passenger Van 5 Door
  • 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna Base Passenger Van 5 Door
  • 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna CE Mini Cargo Van 4 Door
  • 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna CE Mini Cargo Van 5 Door

Thanks for reading.


Tools and supplies used: