How to Get a Pickup's Tailgate Open if It's Stuck

by Juan Ramirez

Over time and with heavy use, pickup truck tailgates may become jammed --- most often due to the release linkage becoming disconnected after the plastic tailgate rod clip is broken. The repair will involve gently prying off the plastic trim ring around the tailgate latch and installing a new plastic clip on the link rod underneath it.

Slip a plastic putty knife underneath the trim ring edge, and push upward to release the catch tab.

Wrap a metal putty knife with masking tape and slip it under one corner of the trim ring. Slowly and gently turn or twist the putty knife until the corner snaps out of position. Repeat on each corner of the trim ring until you've popped them all and can remove the trim ring from the tailgate.

Remove the broken plastic tailgate rod clip from the exposed rod underneath the tailgate release handle, if it hasn't already fallen out upon removal of the trim ring. Place the rounded, notched end of the new plastic tailgate rod clip over the end of the exposed rod. Rotate it until its notch latches onto the rod. This clip secures the rod in a hole in the ear of the tailgate release handle.

Insert the end of the rod into the hole of the closest of two metal ears with a pair of bent needle-nose pliers. The pliers will help with what should prove to be a difficult maneuver, as there won't be much room to manipulate the rod into position. The rod is what operates the latch at the side of your pickup tailgate.

Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to press the rod fully into the hole of the metal ear, snapping it into place.

Replace the plastic trim ring you removed earlier by hooking the top of the trim ring in first. Once the top of the trim ring is in position, snap the bottom into place.

Items you will need

About the Author

Juan Ramirez has been a writer for over 14 years and worked for two years as an assistant editor with an internationally circulated journal. Ramirez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English writing from Potsdam State University and a Master of Arts in individualized study from New York University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera pickup truck image by Tonda from