How to Fix a Stuck Tailgate

by Russell Wood

Tailgates make trucks useful, but only when they work. Sometimes a tailgate can get stuck, which can be frustrating and a hassle. Fixing a stuck tailgate isn't that difficult, however. In this example, we've used a 1994 Toyota pickup.

Check the latch areas to see if something is obviously jammed. The latch is just to the inside of the tail lights.

Open up the access panel on the rear of the tailgate with a screwdriver if nothing is obviously jammed. Now we'll see if the handle is the problem.

Check the handle in the middle and see if all of the linkage moves free and clear. More than likely one of the linkage pieces is binding in one way or another, so see where it's binding.

Check all of the clips on the tailgate that connect the tailgate handle to the latches on each side. If one of the clips is broken, or if one of the linkage bars isn't connected, then that is most likely the problem.

Repair any clips that need to be replaced and replace the handle if it seems to be the problem.

Test the latches by pulling on the linkage bars and seeing if the latches open. If they do, then the issue is more likely in the handle or a binding issue. If the latches are the problem, then replace the latches by unbolting them and replacing them with factory units.

Screw the tailgate cover back in place and make sure it all works.

Items you will need

About the Author

Russell Wood is a writer and photographer who attended Arizona State University. He has been building custom cars and trucks since 1994, including several cover vehicles. In 2000 Wood started a career as a writer, and since then he has dedicated his business to writing and photographing cars and trucks, as well as helping people learn more about how vehicles work.