The tailgate handle is what releases the locking mechanism that allows you to open and close your truck's tailgate. While this isn't among the frequently replaced truck components, opening and closing the tailgate regularly can take toll on the handle, causing it to break and malfunction.
A defective handle can cause headaches, especially in times when you need to access the truck bed to load heavy cargos. So as soon as you notice that your tailgate's handle is acting up, have it fixed right away. If it needs replacement and you're planning to do the task all by yourself, here are steps in replacing the defective handle of your tailgate:
What you'll need:
- Clean cloth
- Soapy water
- New tailgate handle
- Flathead screwdriver
- Phillips head screwdriver
Step 1: Clean the tailgate.
It is a rule of thumb that you wash and clean the vehicle first before you do any modification and replacement task in its exterior. If you don't have much time to properly wash your truck, just clean the tailgate with sponge and soapy water to wipe off loose dirt. Wipe it dry with soft, clean cloth or allow it to air dry completely.
Step 2: Remove the bolts or screws securing the tailgate handle in place.
If the tailgate's handle comes with a plastic trim ring around it, carefully pull it off with your hands. If the trim seems hard to remove, you can use a door panel removal tool; just make sure you won't scratch the surrounding paint.
Then, locate the retaining screws or bolts that hold the handle in place. These are usually situated on the inside part of the tailgate. Loosen and remove these screws using your Phillips head screwdriver. For the bolts, you can use a 3/8-inch ratchet and a Torx-head socket.
Step 3: Take out the old tailgate handle.
Disconnect the latch rod from the old handle and, using the flat head screwdriver, pry out the plastic clips that secure the linkage to the old handle. In some vehicles, the locking clips need to be turned counterclockwise using an adjustable wrench. Carefully pull the old handle away from the tailgate.
Step 4: Install the new handle in place.
Check if your replacement unit matches the old one to ensure easy installation. Connect the latch rod into the replacement handle. Do this by pressing the rod into the handle's clip or rotating the clips clockwise until they lock in place.
Slide in the mounting screws or bolts into the hole in the tailgate. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to tighten the screws in place or a 3/8-inch ratchet and a Torx-head socket to secure the bolts.
Step 5: Test if the new tailgate handle is working well.
Release the tailgate's locking mechanism by lifting the new handle up. Open and close the tailgate for a number of times to see if the handle is working properly.
If you want to protect your new handle to make it last long or you want to customize it to make it suit your truck's overall design theme, you can install a handle cover that matches your needs.