Tailgate latch repair can seem daunting but it really isn’t a bad job. The toughest part to this is being able to get your hands and fingers where they need to be without scratching up your arms terribly. In this video, we tackle one of the most difficult kinds of tailgate latches, one on an SUV with an integrated rear window. Most pickup truck tailgate latches work in a very similar way to the one in this video but here you’ve got the added challenge of not braking or scratching the glass.
The most common cause of failure in most latches, whether it’s a tailgate latch or a door latch, is when the plastic clips that hold the latch rods into place break. The rods in your latch system translate the motion of the handle all the way out to the latching mechanisms. The ends of these rods need to rotate as the latch mechanism pivots so they can’t be welded or bolted but they also need to be secure so the full motion of the handle makes it out to the latch.
These small plastic clips take a lot of force so they often crack especially where they clip into the handle mechanism. once they crack the latch rod can slip out of the hole on the handle and your latch will no longer operate. The trouble with this is that it often happens while you’re tailgate is shut so you can’t open it to get things fixed easily.
The best way to perform tailgate latch repair on your truck or SUV if your tailgate is stuck shut is to climb inside the bed or back of your truck and remove the tailgate inner panel to access the latch inner workings. When you find the latch rod that has come loose you should be able to push or pull it and get the latch to disengage and the tailgate to drop open. Once your tailgate is down, it should be a relatively easy job to replace the plastic clip.
If you get in there and find the latch mechanism to be bent like we did, you may need to replace the whole mechanism. When you purchase a new mechanism it’s smart to check and see if it comes with new plastic clips as they can often break when you’re taking them apart on an older vehicle because the plastic has become brittle.
For more great tips on vehicle repair, check out our LIve Leak Free Chanel dedicated to great tips and tricks for different vehicle repairs.