How to Open a Broken Tailgate

by Eric Cedric

Getting a pickup truck's tailgate open when it is broken or stuck is a challenging affair. You need to balance the need to open the tailgate with the potential damage you could do to the truck. Fortunately, when a tailgate is broken, it is typically on account of a bad hinge or stuck lever. Both of these can be solved with some simple hand tools and a liquid lubricant.

Grab the tailgate latch handle and try pulling it to the open position. Feel for any dry movement or grit in the handle movement.

Spray the lubricant into the handle mechanism. Spray a generous amount into the mechanism and any moving part surrounding the handle. Let the lubricant soak in.

Grab the screwdriver and move the side of the tailgate where it attaches to the truck side via the hinges. Slide the screwdriver into the hinge mechanism and try to manually release the black rubber gasket that holds the tailgate to the truck hinge rod. Push the screwdriver up to release the tailgate.

Drop the tailgate down. Inspect the hinge and rod. Spray down the hinge and rod with the lubricant to prevent the sticking in the future, negating the need to open the tailgate with the screwdriver. Wipe down any excess lubricant with the rags.

Close the tailgate and wipe off excess lubricant from the handle with the rags.

Items you will need

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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