Maybe your tailgate won’t latch and sit secure. Maybe it does latch but can still be lowered without pulling the handle. Our expert mechanic Andy in this video and post reviews the different causes of a tailgate that won’t latch and how you can fix it yourself.
How to Fix a Tailgate That Won’t Latch
Steps to fix a tailgate that doesn’t latch
- Test the Latches
Press the latch with a Phillips screwdriver and see if it latches. The latch may not be latching, but this does not mean it’s definitely the problem.
If the latches are binding but still usable, try spraying them with rust penetrant to loosen them.
- Test the Handle
Remove the outer trim piece from the tailgate handle with a trim tool. Loosen the rod handle latches with a flat blade screwdriver. Remove the rods from the handle.
Close the tailgate and see how well it latches. If the tailgate still does not latch with the rods disconnected, the latch is probably defective. If the tailgate latches with the rods disconnected, the problem is with the handle. The metal arms that connect to the rods should move easily, but they can corrode at the pivot point behind the handle, and this can bind and sometimes freeze the handles.
If the handles are binding, spraying rust penetrant or silicone lubricant at the pivot point might loosen the arms and extend the life of the handle. Generally, once the handle starts binding, it’s beginning to wear and will eventually need to be replaced. If the handle is frozen, it needs to be replaced.
You can extend the life of the handle by regularly spraying the tailgate latches, and mechanical points on the handle with rust penetrant or silicone lubricant.
- Test the Latch Pin
See if the striker pin or latch pin needs to be adjusted. If it’s too far in to secure the latch, you may have to pull it out a little with tools like a ratchet and Torx bit.
DIY Videos: Learn How to Fix More Than a Tailgate That Won’t Latch
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