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How to Open a Stuck Tailgate on a Chevy Truck

by Jack Hathcoat

Very little has changed over the years when it comes to opening a tailgate on a Chevy truck. The technology uses a pivot and lever arrangement to convert the lifting motion of the handle to retract two long rods. These rods then release from the left and right latch indents on either side of the truck bed. On older truck models, the entire inside panel of the tailgate is removed to access the latch and rod assembly. Service on newer trucks is limited to the latch handle itself.

Remove the inner tailgate cover or, on newer trucks, remove the tailgate handle trim bezel. The inner cover is held in place by screws. Remove the screws and lift the panel out of the way. To remove the trim bezel on newer trucks, wrap the tip of a flat-head screwdriver in masking tape and gently work it under the each corner of the trim. Push down and lever up until the clips pop out.

Operate the handle and observe the latch rods in action. Use needle-nose locking pliers to clip onto one of the rods. Lever the rod in the unlock direction while pulling up on the handle. This may provide enough extra distance to unlock the tailgate. If not, install a second set of needle-nose pliers to the other rod and remove the retainer pins that hold the rods to the latch pivot. Do not remove the pliers and allow the rods to drop into the tailgate.

Have an assistant pull one set of pliers in the unlock direction while you pull the other set. The gate will unlatch unless severe body damage is present. In almost all instances the reason for the gate not unlocking is that stress breaks have developed in the latch, causing the latch to not fully operate the lock rods. Replace the latch by removing two attaching bolts and installing a new unit. Attach the rods and replace the cover or trim bezel.

Items you will need

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About the Author

Jack Hathcoat has been a technical writer since 1974. His work includes instruction manuals, lesson plans, technical brochures and service bulletins for the U.S. military, aerospace industries and research companies. Hathcoat is an accredited technical instructor through Kent State University and certified in automotive service excellence.

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