DIY Ford Tailgate Repairby Lauren Treadwell
Ford trucks have wide beds that can be used to transport a large variety of construction materials and other items. The objects in the bed are secured by a rear hinged door, commonly referred to as the tailgate. When your Ford's tailgate sticks or has difficulty opening, it can hamper your business and make easy tasks much more difficult.
Before beginning any work on the truck, attempt to diagnose the problem. If your tailgate will not open at all, there is likely a problem with either the latch or the handle. If the tailgate opens very slowly or requires a lot of force to pry it open, it is likely due to a rusted attachment or hinge that could be invisible to a novice mechanic. If the tailgate was damaged in an accident, the internal components may be misaligned. Finally, if the tailgate normally opened slowly before, but now slams down, the straps and bumpers may be in need of replacement.
Removing the Tailgate
Most tailgate repairs require removing the tailgate piece itself. To do this, keep the Ford's bumper on the truck to act as a makeshift shelf. It will hold the tailgate while you work to remove it, though it may require you to use additional tools to reach all of the bolts (such as socket wrench extensions). Remove the straps and their holding pins. In older Ford models, these consisted of two pieces of nearly flat metal. Some newer models have wire straps that keep the tailgate in place instead. According to experts at the on-line site Custom Classic Trucks, lubricate the tailgate components that are still attached to the chassis using a spray lubricant such as WD-40, and allow the lubricant to sit while you work on the tailgate itself.
Repairing the Tailgate
If you plan on repairing the Ford's tailgate piece, you will need to bring it to your workbench. After you have diagnosed the problem through careful troubleshooting, you can begin by removing the bolts that hold it together. Use parts from your local Ford dealership to replace any worn or rusted components, and reassemble the entire tailgate before reattaching it to the truck. If you just need to replace the handle, measure where it needs to be latched before installing it on your work bench. Choose a handle finish that you like and one that will be durable in different weather conditions, such as one made of stainless steel.
Replacing the Tailgate
Some tailgates are worn and corroded beyond repair. If this is the case, purchase a new tailgate through your Ford mechanic and make sure that it is sized and equipped to fit your model. Remove the old tailgate and replace it with the new part, making sure that it works. Once it has been replaced, you can clean it thoroughly and paint it to match your truck. Cover your Ford's new tailgate when it's not in use to avoid future replacements due to corrosion.