If you own an SUV or crossover, chances are, the rear door – or liftgate, is big and it opens up. There are some exceptions, however, if the spare tire is mounted at the back, which means that the rear door swings out and opens to the side.
Among the items that would normally deal with when accessing your car’s cargo area, is the rear door. Now, depending on the size of the car, opening and closing these doors may be a hassle. Opening the rear gate is made straightforward via a set of dampeners, which helps prop the door up. However, the act of closing the gate is made all the more difficult because of these dampeners. While they keep the door open and up, they make it hard for the user to close because they’re resisting force from the other direction.
So the solution is a motorized system that controls the dampers. This feature is otherwise known as a power liftgate or power tailgate. There are even aftermarket solutions now that you can install onto your car’s rear door, but OEM solutions are more or less the same or follow the same principle. Let’s explain.
How does it work?
So, to solve the problem of damper resistance, engineers went back to these components and reworked everything and added a few things. Essentially, in a power liftgate system, you still have dampeners that help open the rear hatch or door and help it stay in place, but with an extra motor that pumps hydraulic fluid in and out of the dampeners. This system can take many
Manufacturers have also implemented other supplementary sensors that allow the system to be used hands-free, without requiring the use of a keyfob or the rear door latch. Through the use of bottom-mounted sensors that can either be contrast-sensing or motion-sensing. Though, this added feature is not present on all vehicles that feature power tailgates.
There are also some brands that allow you to set how high or how low the power liftgate opens, which is useful for tighter situations where there is a car or an object behind you.
How do you use it?
This system can be activated via a button in the cabin or on the key fob. Usually, the system will require you to set the transmission in “park” first and engage the e-brake for safety. This is also a recommendation we can give so your car doesn’t roll back while you’re loading items in the cargo area. After these prerequisites are met, it normally takes a long press of the fob to activate the system or a wave of your foot. Closing it is the same deal, a long press or a wave of the foot is needed.
The system in itself is also not dangerous. Manufacturers have installed safeguards to sense when there is an obstruction impeding the closing or opening of the power liftgate. So if you happen to still be loading and someone decides to close the door on you – whether on purpose or by accident, there is no need to worry. The system may also have safeguards for opening. If there is resistance, the feature stops and locks or closes the liftgate.
What are the benefits?
For most, closing a rear hatch or door is simple enough. You just need to produce the initial force to overcome the resistance of the dampeners. Though, that isn’t to say that it’s not a hassle for most. It takes less energy to close a powered-rear door because all you need is a long button press or a well-placed wave of your foot.
It’s not only convenient for able-bodied people, but this feature can also help less capable individuals who can’t normally operate a rear door, like senior citizens, the injured or disabled, or the vertically challenged. This system will be most useful for these kinds of individuals. Limbering up to reach a tailgate can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be the case with this power-feature.