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How To Adjust A Tailgate Striker

A properly-aligned tailgate striker ensures that your vehicle's tailgate closes properly and securely. However, through time, tailgate strikers can get misaligned due to wear and tear or vibrations from everyday driving. So how do you adjust a tailgate striker? Here's what our research has uncovered.

To adjust a tailgate striker, you need to mark its current position first. Afterward, you can loosen the striker bolts or fasteners just enough to let the striker move in the desired direction of adjustment. Before a final tightening, always check if you can already close the tailgate properly.

Would you like to know more about tailgate strikers and tailgates themselves? Do read on, because we've also included some real-life tips from truck enthusiasts on how they adjust their striker bolts, latches, and handles.

Before you continue reading, let us say we hope you find the links here useful. If you purchase something through a link on this page, we may get a commission, so thank you!

Close up of car door striker, How To Adjust A Tailgate Striker

Tailgate Striker Bolt

Tailgate strikers are small, often unnoticed parts of a vehicle. However, they are very important as they give your tailgate the anchors it needs to remain properly and securely closed. A secured door or tailgate keeps your precious cargo inside the vehicle and stops it from spilling out on the highway.

As proof of atailgate striker's importance, the Stellantis group just issued a worldwide recall for approximately 1.4 million Ram trucks due to improperly-aligned tailgate strikers. The recall covers the Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 truck models produced from 2019 to 2022.

Based on the recall information, Ram truck dealers and distributors will inspect the tailgate strikers and adjust them if necessary. Customers will be notified starting January 27, 2023.

Before their recall service starts, Stellantis advises its owners to secure their truck beds' cargo using other means like belts, chains, or other fasteners.

Tailgate striker adjustment, however, is not a difficult process. With the right set of tools, you can adjust these strikers yourself in the comfort of your own garage.  So how do you adjust a tailgate striker?

How To Adjust Striker Bolts

Car door striker plate hook

Most pickup trucks use striker bolts for their tailgates. Here are the steps to adjust them.

  1. Open up the tailgate and mark the striker bolt's current position.
  2. Remove the screws or bolts holding the taillight assemblies.
  3. Remove the taillight assemblies to gain access to the striker bolt's fastener nut. Please note that not all trucks have the same rear design, so you may not have to remove the taillight assemblies.
  4. Loosen the striker bolts just enough to allow the necessary adjustment using the previous marks as guides.
  5. After adjustment, tighten the bolts lightly, or just enough to prevent movement.
  6. Test the adjusted positions by closing the tailgate.  
    • If the tailgate closes properly and securely, you may tighten the striker bolts to the proper torque.
    • If the tailgate doesn't latch properly, loosen and adjust the bolts again.
  7. Re-install the taillight assemblies.

How To Adjust Striker Plates

Some SUVs and hatchbacks use striker plate assemblies for their tailgates or liftgates. These assemblies come with two main pieces: the (1) striker bar and (2) striker plate. Striker plate assemblies are also common in most vehicle doors.

Here are the steps to adjust door striker plates.

  1. Open up the tailgate and mark the striker plate's current position.
  2. Loosen the striker plate's screws just enough to allow the necessary adjustment using the previous marks as guides.
  3. After adjustment, tighten the screws lightly, or just enough to prevent movement.
  4. Test the adjusted positions by closing the tailgate.  
    • If the tailgate closes properly and securely, you may tighten the striker plate to the proper torque.
    • If the tailgate doesn't latch properly, loosen and adjust the striker plate again.

How Do You Replace A Striker?

Tailgate striker bolts endure a lot of abuse due to the impact they absorb when the tailgate closes. Moreover, they also bear the weight of any cargo that shifts to the truck bed's rear section during transport. Finally, they also keep the tailgate in place through any driving condition.

Close up of car door striker

Over the years, tailgate striker bolts can get damaged to a point where adjustments will not suffice anymore. At this point, you may want to replace the striker bolt bushing, or the entire striker bolt itself.

Door Striker Bushing Replacement

The striker bolt bushing is a tubular, hard plastic material that fits around the striker bolt. This bushing ensures that the tailgate's latch hooks properly and snugly into the striker bolt. Moreover, the bushing prevents metal-to-metal contact between the latch and the bolt, thus preventing noisy rattles during travel.

Check out these striker bushings on Amazon.

Because of the bushing's plastic material, it will naturally wear down much faster than the metal parts of the striker bolt. Fortunately, you can replace these bushings on your own. Here's a video to show you how.

  1. Open up the tailgate and mark the striker bolt's current position.
  2. Loosen and remove the striker bolts from the truck's body.
  3. Remove any washers that may still be attached to the main striker bolt.
  4. Slide the old bushing out from the striker bolt.
  5. Slide the new bushing onto the striker bolt.
  6. Re-attach any necessary washers and reinstall the striker bolt into the truck's body.
  7. Adjust the striker bolt as needed, using the previous position marker as a guide.
  8. After adjustment, tighten the bolts lightly, or just enough to prevent movement.
  9. Test the adjusted positions by closing the tailgate.  
    • If the tailgate closes properly and securely, you may tighten the striker bolts to the proper torque.
    • If the tailgate doesn't latch properly, loosen and adjust the bolts again.

How Do You Install A Tailgate Striker Bolt?

If your tailgate striker bolt's damage isn't limited to the bushing, then it's best to replace the whole striker bolt altogether.

Visit Amazon for this aftermarket tailgate striker bolt compatible with select Chevrolet/GMC trucks.

Here are the steps on how to replace a tailgate striker bolt.

  1. Open up the tailgate and mark the striker bolt's current position.
  2. Remove any obstructions to the heads and nuts of the tailgate striker bolt (e.g. taillight assembly).
  3. Loosen and remove the old striker bolts from the truck's body.
  4. Remove any washers that may still be attached to the old striker bolt.
  5. Re-attach any necessary washers to the new striker bolt.
  6. Reinstall and adjust the striker bolt as needed, using the previous position marker as a guide.
  7. After adjustment, tighten the bolts lightly, or just enough to prevent movement.
  8. Test the adjusted positions by closing the tailgate.  
    • If the tailgate closes properly and securely, you may tighten the striker bolts to the proper torque.
    • If the tailgate doesn't latch properly, loosen and adjust the bolts again.

Here's a video on how to replace a truck's tailgate striker bolt.

How Do You Fix A Tailgate That Won't Latch?

Aside from a problematic striker bolt, there may be other reasons why your tailgate isn't closing properly. These include the latches, the tailgate handle, and other parts connecting the handle to the latch.

car auto chrome finish steel door receiver anti theft device on door jamb

Tailgate Latch Assembly

The tailgate latch assembly is the mechanism responsible for hooking and locking onto the tailgate striker bolt or bar. If both the latch and the striker lock together, then the tailgate should be securely closed.

You may test a tailgate latch using a screwdriver and some elbow grease. With the tailgate open, press the screwdriver's body down on the latch. With the screwdriver as an alternative to the striker, the latch should hook and lock completely around it.

You should not be able to pry the latch open with the screwdriver. If you are able to do so, then it means there's something wrong with the latch assembly. In some cases, some parts of the latch assembly may be binding due to rust and corrosion.

Try to lubricate the latch assembly and see if you can solve any binding. However, if the lubricant doesn't cut it, you may need to replace the latch assembly itself.

Check out this best-selling WD-40 lubricant with a flexible hose on Amazon.

Broken Tailgate Handle

Rear tailgate, Outside Old model of black car door handle

You can diagnose your tailgate's problem a bit more specifically by testing your tailgate handle. Here's how to do it.

  1. Remove the outer trim piece of your tailgate handle using an automotive trim tool.
  2. Gently pry off the two metal rods connecting the handle's mechanism to the left and right tailgate latches.
  3. Close the tailgate and see if it latches properly with the metal rods disconnected.
    • If the tailgate latches properly, then the problem is with the tailgate handle mechanism.
    • If the tailgate fails to latch properly, then the problem is with one of the latches or the striker alignment.
  4. If the problem is with the handle mechanism, try to spray some lubricant on the moving parts. Some dirt or corrosion may be causing some binding or freezing between metal surfaces.

Take note that regular lubrication of the handle and latch mechanisms can prolong their lives significantly. Check out this video on how to diagnose and fix some common tailgate latching problems.

Wrapping Up

Adjusting a tailgate striker is a relatively easy project that you can do in your garage with the proper tools. With the tailgate open, simply loosen the striker bolt or plate enough to be adjusted as needed.

Once adjusted, tighten the bolts lightly to test how the tailgate will close. Once you've achieved the right position, tighten the striker to the proper torque settings.

Thank you very much for reading. We hope we were able to help you figure out the best way to adjust your vehicle's striker so you can close your tailgate properly.

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