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How To Solve Automatic Tailgate Problems in Your BMW

Paul Smith

Oct 20, 2020

Having an automatic tailgate to your BMW adds some real convenience. But, depending on your usage, it might cause a few headaches, too. We take a look at a few issues you might be having with the power tailgate in your BMW, and show you how to solve them.

How To Solve Automatic Tailgate Problems in Your BMW

NOTE: This blog was created for informational purposes only – we do NOT offer individual support for trunk-related problems unless you need troubleshooting with our Power Trunk retrofit. For more advice on trunk issues visit BMW forums such as Bimmerforums.com or Bimmerfest.com.

BMW trunk won’t open - how to open BMW trunk without power?

Let’s see. You’re working on your car, your battery is disconnected and suddenly you close your BMW trunk by accident… Sounds familiar? You’re not alone in this pain. BMW owners with automatic tailgates often get locked out of their trunks due to several reasons — either their car battery is dead, the trunk release button is not working or their BMW key gets locked in the trunk. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get yourself out of those sticky situations.

1. Open BMW trunk manually with key blade 

If your BMW trunk release button is not working, the most obvious way to open your trunk is by using your BMW key blade. When the electronics fail, or you have a BMW trunk latch problem, there is nothing as reliable as a basic mechanical key. So if you happen to have a BMW with a key slot in the trunk and a BMW key fob with an additional blade inside, you’ll manage to quickly get access to your trunk. 

To take the key blade out of your key fob, just squeeze your fob on the tab on one end and pull the blade from the other. Exactly where the tab is depends on your key fob design.

BMW key blade

Need to replace your BMW key fob? Read how you can do it.

2. Open BMW trunk manually (from inside)

If your BMW doesn’t come with a key slot, you might want to try out this solution — open a locked trunk manually from inside. You simply have to go to the backseats of your car, release and pull down the center section of your seats and wiggle yourself through to the trunk. Once you're there, just pull the emergency release handle and you’re good to go. Of course your BMW will have to have an emergency release handle to begin with.

See how to open BMW trunks manually in this video.

3. Charge the car battery

Want to bring your electric tailgate opener back from the dead? You might need some external power from a jump box or another vehicle to charge your car battery. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Pull your hood latch twice to release the hood.
  2. Connect your jumper wires to the positive and negative terminals.

First connect the positive wire (red end) to the positive terminal. Next connect the negative wire/ground (black end) to the negative terminal. Turn on the external power or have somebody start the connected car.

  1. While your car’s getting powered up, you can open your trunk using the key fob.

Your battery needs replacement? See our comprehensive guide on BMW battery registration and replacement.

4. BMW valet switch on/off

If everything in your car works perfectly apart from the blocked trunk, you may want to check whether you have your BMW valet switch on. The valet switch is a safety tailgate lock located in your glove box or in the central armrest. To turn it off, just slide the switch to the right to connect it to the central locking system again. 

Find out more about BMW Valet Parking mode and other BMW key fob hidden features.

See how to operate BMW Valet Parking mode.

5. Reconnect broken wiring loom

Not being able to open your trunk is indeed problematic, but not being able to close it… is much worse. How to go about fixing it? You might want to check your tailgate wiring loom on the right hand side of the back of your trunk. At times, incorrectly routed cables wear off and split right at the joint, so what you want to do at that point is reconnect and secure them with isolation tape. 


That should be a quick fix resolving a very problematic boot closing issue known especially in convertibles with inaccurately routed roof pump and tailgate wiring.  

6. Replace worn off parts

The wiring isn’t the only thing that can go wrong. All parts wear off ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ That’s the perversity of inanimate objects. If your BMW is of older age, your relays or locks can get damaged too (or go rusty). Should you notice their best days are gone, getting a replacement would be your go-to option.

It’s also a common issue for older gaskets to get stiff and sticky from water and dirt, which causes problems with opening the trunk remotely. If you stumble upon such a case, try putting just a little more force in opening your boot manually – stressing just a little, to avoid any unwanted damages. It may not be the ultimate solution to your problem, but definitely a temporary tip to use until you get a new gasket.

7. Replace your BMW key fob battery

But force isn’t always your friend – definitely not in the case your BMW’s trunk was by default programmed to be opened only via remote control device. In such a situation, it may not be your tailgate that's run out of power, but your BMW key fob’s battery. And it screams for replacement!

So here’s how to do it:

Learn more about your BMW key fob.

Opening your BMW's trunk unlocks all your doors

So you're at home, and you just need to grab something from your car quickly. So you pop out to your driveway, open the trunk... and all the doors unlock. Well, that's a bit of a pain! Or maybe you're heading out somewhere with your family, and you open the trunk to load up some stuff... but the doors are still locked, so you've got frustrated kids pulling on the handles trying to get in. Man, that's a bit of a pain, too! Luckily, it's up to you how you want the trunk release button to work. You can open the trunk and keep the rest of your BMW locked, or you can unlock the whole vehicle when you open the trunk.

Just head to your BMW's iDrive menu, where you'll find the door lock settings. Alongside a few other things, it will let you set what you want to happen when you open the tailgate with the car locked. You only need to decide which option is going to be more convenient for you.

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Your BMW's trunk opens when you don't want it to

There's a little problem with the BMW key fob. I mean, just look at it.

BMW Key Fob

Those buttons aren't recessed at all, they're perfectly flush with the body of the fob. Fine for aesthetics, maybe, but for something that's going to be squeezed into your pocket most of the time, there's an obvious downside — your jeans are going to be pressing those buttons every time you move.

Seriously, they're sensitive. And now most new BMWs come with keyless start, you might even have the fob in your pocket when you're driving. We've heard of people accidentally opening their BMW's tailgate on the road. And if you're relaxing in a coffeehouse, it might be worth peeking out to the parking lot every now and then, in case you've inadvertently popped the trunk.

BMW offers leather cases that are custom made for its fobs, which you should be able to pick up from your local dealership. The leather's thick enough to eliminate any accidental button-presses, so you shouldn't have to worry about any unpleasant surprises.

Of course it also means you'll have a harder time getting at the buttons yourself, if you're the kind who tends to press through your pants instead of pulling out the fob. But that's what Comfort Access — either BMW original or an  aftermarket Comfort Access kit — was made for.

Your Power Trunk doesn't open wide enough

With an automatic tailgate, you're at the mercy of your car how wide your trunk opens. That might mean that the motor doesn't open the trunk as wide as you'd like, so it isn't easy getting everything loaded into your BMW. Or if you drive an X Series or Gran Coupe, you might even find the tailgate opens too wide, particularly if you've got a low garage where the trunk lid might scratch something about the vehicle.

BimmerTech's  Power Trunk Retrofit makes it easy to adjust your BMW's tailgate to your liking. Just open the trunk manually to a height you're happy with, then hold the trunk release button on the key fob for five seconds. Your preferences will be saved, so when you open your tailgate in future, it will open to the height you specified.


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