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Broken Tailgate Handle Repair: How Do You Fix It?

Broken Tailgate Handle Repair: How Do You Fix It?

To extend the life of our vehicles, we make sure that they are well-maintained, strictly following the recommended regular service and maintenance by the manufacturers. However, there are some parts of a vehicle you forget to check, thinking that they won’t cause problems, until they just stop working properly. One of these parts is the tailgate handle. When you notice this problem, a broken tailgate handle repair is necessary to make sure that any contents in the bed of your truck will be safe and secure.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


A broken tailgate handle repair can be done by replacing the tailgate handle. Replacing it usually involves the following procedures:


  • Removing the screws that hold the sheet metal access panel in place.
  • Removing the access panel.
  • Locating the tailgate handle holding screws..
  • Backing the screws out of the cavity.
  • Removing the tailgate latch rod clips on each tailgate handle’s side.
  • Releasing the tailgate handle assembly from the tailgate.
  • Putting the new handle into the access hole found on the tailgate’s backside.
  • Replacing the holding screws.
  • Pushing the tailgate latch rods onto the holes on each of the tailgate handle assembly’s side.
  • Testing if the tailgate is working properly with the new handle.
  • Putting the access panel back in place, over the cavity of the tailgate’s backside.
  • Tightening the holding screws.


The procedures on how to do a broken tailgate handle repair can vary from vehicle to vehicle. If you want to know more about it, continue reading. We’ll discuss everything you need to know!




Broken Tailgate Handle Repair: What Causes a Broken Tailgate Handle?




A tailgate is that hinged flap found at the back of your vehicle which can be removed or lowered when you are loading or unloading your vehicle. A tailgate might not be something that can affect the performance of your vehicle when it becomes faulty, but it is important that a broken tailgate handle repair should be done to make sure that it won’t cause any problem while you are driving.


A tailgate needs to have a properly working tailgate handle, which you can easily open with your hand by pulling it upwards. It has a rotating latch connected with a handle and an electronic actuator. This controls the side locks found on both sides through a pair of rods on each side.


A tailgate can be opened by using a simple mechanism which operates when you lift the tailgate handle upwards. It works because of the rotating latch that is connected with the handle which rotates and pulls the connected rods in an inwards direction. This leads to the latches drawing back on either side of the gate. The horizontal position can be achieved since a hydraulic mechanic slowly pushes the gate downwards. This should be done gently since it is important to keep the tailgate from falling or banging to prevent damaging your vehicle or truck.


What causes a broken tailgate handle? You need to remember that a correct rotation of the latch connected to the tailgate handle is necessary to achieve a smooth operation. If one or more parts of this rotating latch, or the latch itself, becomes stuck because of rust, corrosion, or dirt, using it will be most likely difficult.


If you apply more force since the latch becomes very difficult or won’t rotate at all, this can damage the tailgate handle. It can lead to a broken tailgate handle since it won’t be able to bear the extreme pressures. When this happens, a broken tailgate handle repair should be performed.


The most common reason for a broken tailgate handle is the rusting or corroded side latches. This can cause the tailgate sides to become corroded as well, which makes them more prone to moisture, dust, and dirt exposure.


There is also a small metallic spring that links the handle to the rotating latch. This small spring helps transfer the force when you pull the tailgate handle to open. When too much pressure is applied, this small metallic spring will break, which causes the link between the tailgate handle and latch to break. When this happens, you won’t be able to use your handle since it won’t function at all. You may have to access its internal parts so you can open it.



Broken Tailgate Handle Repair: How Do You Open a Tailgate without a Handle?




It can happen that a tailgate handle becomes broken when you least expect. It can happen while you are buying all your needs and you are about to load it on the back of your truck. When this happens all of the sudden, you won’t be able to do a broken tailgate handle repair right then and there. So how do you open a tailgate without a handle?


Opening a tailgate without a handle can be done. You will just have to follow these simple steps.


  • To start, you need to hold your tailgate latch handle and try to pull it to the open position. You should feel closely and be cautious of any grit movement or dry handle movement.


  • Get a lubricant, if you have any, and spray it into the tailgate handle mechanism. You should spray a generous amount of it into the handle mechanism and into any of its surrounding moving parts. Wait for a while and allow the lubricant to soak in.


  • Get a screwdriver and move the tailgate’s side where it connects to the truck side through the hinges. Use the screwdriver and slide it into the hinge mechanism. Then try to manually remove the black rubber gasket that holds the tailgate in place, to the truck hinge rod. After that, you need to push the screwdriver up to let loose the tailgate.


  • Once done, you need to drop the tailgate down and inspect the rod and the hinge. Then get the lubricant again and spray down the hinge and rod with the lubricant to keep them from sticking in the future. This way, you won’t have to open the tailgate again using a screwdriver.


  • After that, you need to wipe down and clean any excess lubricant using a soft cloth.


  • Then close the tailgate and also clean and wipe off any excess lubricant from the handle with a cloth.


You can also do this another method to open your tailgate without a handle. Here are the steps.


  • Locate the tailgate lock assembly. You will usually find it inside the panel cover on its interior side. You can climb on your truck bed so you can easily access the back portion of your tailgate.


  • Once you’ve gained access, you can then unlock the panel cover. You can do this by manually removing the screws. You will then be able to see the rotating latch with two rods on either side. You may notice that the rods have threads on their ends. This allows you to adjust their length based on the lock settings. You may also spot two plastic retainers that have locks that hold them in place.


  • Next thing you can do is try to move the rotating latch so you can unlock the tailgate. If the movement has been limited, it means that there might be some problems in the side latches or the plastic gears of the actuator assembly.


  • When this happens, you can try to unlock the plastic retainers so the rods can be let loose since they are the ones that connect the rotating latch with side latches. When you have successfully released the rods, your tailgate should open to its horizontal position.


  • When the tailgate is open, you need to check for the possible causes of this problem and do some temporary fixes, since you can’t perform a broken tailgate handle repair yet. If you notice that there are some broken parts, you will have to buy new parts so you can replace the faulty ones.




Broken Tailgate Handle Repair: How Do You Fix a Tailgate Handle?




If you notice that you have a broken tailgate handle, no matter what caused it to fail, a broken tailgate handle repair should be done and it can usually be done by replacing it. So what can you do to perform a broken tailgate handle repair?


When doing a broken tailgate handle repair for a Ford F150 truck, you just need to follow these steps:


  • Take off the tailgate liner and access panel.


You will have to remove the assembly so you can remove the tailgate handle. To do this you will have to unscrew the eight T27 Torx Bit bolts so you can remove and disconnect the tailgate liners.


Then there is an access panel which covers the handle mechanism and you will have to remove it too. This is done so you can easily access the handle and do the broken tailgate handle repair. To remove it, you just have to loosen and remove the bolts that hold it in place.


  • Remove the tailgate handle.


Get a socket and ratchet and use it to loosen and remove the tailgate handle nuts. You will have to pull the tailgate handle down and out of the truck to remove it. You need to be careful since the handle usually breaks because of a stuck or frozen inside mechanism.


  • Spray penetrating oil.


Before you continue with your broken tailgate handle repair and replace the handle, you need to spray a generous amount of penetrating oil into the mechanism and latches on each side. This is done to free them up. You should also apply some white grease on it to make sure that nothing will get stuck and cause issues.


  • Install the new handle.


You can install the new tailgate handle by feeding it up into the tailgate. Then line the bolts up with the holes and secure the new handle with two 10mm nuts. Make sure that you tighten them securely by using a socket and ratchet.


  • Reinstall the tailgate liner and access panel.


Once you have installed the new handle in your truck, you need to put all the parts you have removed back in place, including the access panel and the tailgate liner. Make sure that all the 8 T27 Torx bolts are properly positioned, tightened, and secured.


When replacing and doing a broken tailgate handle repair for Chevrolet and GMC trucks, you need to do the following steps.


  • Remove the bolt of the tailgate.


You need to remove the bolts found on the tailgate’s top center of the backside by using an adjustable wrench turned counterclockwise. You then need to tear out the plastic trim surround on the tailgate handle carefully with a door panel removal tool. Make sure that you pull the surround away from the tailgate very carefully so won’t damage the surrounding paint.


  • Pull the rods from the tailgate handle.


Then turn the locking clips that hold the two tailgate latch rods in place. Turn it counterclockwise and pull the rods sideways from the handle.


  • Remove the tailgate handle assembly from the tailgate.


You need to remove or pull the handle assembly from the tailgate by removing two bolts which hold the tailgate using an adjustable wrench.


  • Install the new handle.


Install the new handle by pushing it into the cavity from the tailgate’s front. Then put the two bolts and tighten them using the adjustable wrench. Once done, insert that latch rods again into the locking clips on the tailgate handle’s each side. To lock them into place, you need to rotate the clips clockwise.


Then put the plastic trim surround back to the handle’s outside and snap it into place. Once done, place the holding bolt again from the tailgate’s other side using an adjustable wrench, turning it clockwise.

You will know if your tailgate handle is faulty and needs a broken tailgate handle repair when you notice symptoms such as a malfunctioning actuator, broken tailgate handle, damaged rotating latch, faulty sidelocks, and when you see signs of dirt or grime in the gears of the tailgate’s rotating parts. You will also notice any of these signs when you operate your tailgate and you hear odd sounds coming from it, or when you can no longer open the tailgate even if you have pulled the handle or pushed its remote control button. To prevent this from happening, you need to regularly check and maintain all of the moving parts of your vehicle’s tailgate such as the tailgate handle, rotating latch, and electronic actuator.