Tailgate Panel Kit
Years of opening and closing the tailgate can cause the mounting components to easily wear out. This is especially the case if you frequently slam the tailgate shut. In some cases, the actual panel becomes damaged because of everyday wear and tear. Fortunately, this problem can be easily fixed with a tailgate panel kit, which includes all the replacement parts and hardware you'll need during installation. To replace that busted tailgate panel on your hatchback, here's what you need to do (double-check instructions with vehicle manual):
- Socket and wrench
Step 1: Prep your vehicle.
Depending on your car make and model, you might have to flatten the rear seats first so you could easily install the tailgate panel kit. Then, unlatch the rear door.
Step 2: Remove the trim pieces.
Using a screwdriver, unscrew the trim pieces along the panel. Keep in mind that the side, upper, and lower trims are installed separately using several screws, so this might take a while.
Step 3: Disconnect electrical components.
Depending on your car, you might have previously installed a rear-view camera or it is equipped with a license lamp. Disconnect these components first before removing the tailgate panel.
Step 4: Remove the old tailgate panel.
Using a socket and wrench, loosen the panel's mounting nuts. Then, use a screwdriver to pry off the panel. Be careful not to scratch or nick nearby panels and parts.
Step 5: Install the new panel included in the tailgate panel kit.
Place the new panel in position. Then, reattach the mounting nuts and all the other components you've removed during the previous steps. Make sure you've reattached the right trim piece on the right area. Open and close the rear door to see if anything is amiss.
- Because you'll have to remove several parts before you could access the panel, set aside an hour for installing a tailgate panel kit.
- Wear knit or a pair of mechanic's gloves because the panel edges can be very sharp.
- Make sure to properly label screws as you remove them because upper, lower, right, and left trim pieces each have their own sets of screws. Attaching the wrong screw on the wrong trim can make reinstallation later on a hassle. To make reinstallation easier, you can also create a diagram of the screws and their exact positions before removal. This way, you'll have your own notes to consult when figuring out which screws go to which trim piece or panel.
- Now is the perfect time to replace damaged clips, screws, or bolts, so make sure your tailgate panel kit includes extra mounting components.
- Depending on your car make and model, it's sometimes best to also remove first the tail lights to get better access to the tailgate panel.
- If some of the trim pieces are too heavy, have someone help you lift them off and onto the rear door frame.
- To prevent scratching or nicking the trim pieces you've removed, you can place them on top of a microfiber cloth or clean rag.