Given its size, location, and purpose, the truck tailgate is always susceptible to all sorts of damage.from scratches and dents to corrosion and stuck latch and hinges. But the good thing is, fixing different types of tailgate damage can be done even without a mechanic's help. Here are the basic steps in repairing dents on truck tailgates:
What you'll need:
- Dust mask
- Disc sander
- Sanding block
- Compressed air
- Plastic spreader
- Panel beating kit
- Trim removal tool (if necessary)
- Body filler for galvanized metal
- 80-grit abrasive sanding discs
- 80- and 240-grit sanding paper
Step 1: Assess the damage.
Before you start with any repair job on your truck's tailgate, inspect the entire part first. Check both panels as the outside can be prone to scratches and paint chips while the panel facing the truck bed can suffer too much from the rigors of cargo loading and unloading.
Also check the hinges for corrosion. The best way to do this is to open and close the truck bed door for a number of times to determine if the hinges still work smoothly. If they're still in good shape, you won't feel any resistance every time you open or shut the gate close. Also, the gap between the door and all neighboring its panels are uniform. If necessary, have all the hinges of your tailgate lubricated.
Step 2: Knock out the dents.
If there's a trim on the spot behind a dent or right where the dent is, take it off first using a trim removal tool and screwdriver. Get the hammer from your panel beating kit and knock out the dent until you come up with a flat surface. Avoid starting at the middle of the dent. Begin working from one side instead and work your way to the other side.
Step 3: Sand the dented surface.
Wear your dust mask. Get the sander and put 80-grit disc on it. Keep the machine steady using your two hands. Turn the sander on and start removing the paint until the affected area plus a couple of inches around it are back to bare metal. Use a can of compressed air to drive excess dust away from the tailgate's panel.
Step 4: Apply filler.
Prepare a mixture of hardener and body filler. Make sure it's enough to cover the affected spot. With a plastic spreader, apply the filler evenly onto the dented spot on your tailgate and even past the edges of the entire dent.
Step 5: Sand the filled area.
Once the filler has dried, get the sanding block and wrap a sheet of 80-grit sandpaper around its surface. Rub the filler using long, sweeping movements. Continue rubbing until you come up with a flat working surface. In case you've sanded too much filler, just apply some more to compensate for those that you've eliminated and to achieve the level surface that you need.
Step 6: Put in some finishing touches.
If the tailgate panel is now back to its original shape, lightly sand the filler with 240-grit sandpaper. This process will make the repaired area ready for painting. And once painted, you can now outfit it with the tailgate accessories you wish to install.