How To Lock A Tacoma Tailgate

If you're a new Toyota Tacoma owner, you might wonder how to lock the tailgate of your truck. We're here to help. We gathered information on what you can do to secure your Toyota Tacoma. Here's what we learned.

You can lock a Toyota Tacoma tailgate by using any of the following:

  • tailgate key
  • key fob
  • door lock at the driver's door

Any truck owner knows the importance of having a locking system for the tailgate. Stay on this page as we dig into how you can secure your Toyota Tacoma tailgate. 

How To Lock A Tacoma Tailgate

How To Lock Your Tacoma Tailgate

Photo of a red Toyota Tacoma in a parking lot

If you're a new owner of a Toyota Tacoma, you should expect to receive two sets of keys. One key is dedicated to the tailgate, while the other is the key fob.

However, the key fob can also work for the tailgate and can be used alternatively with the tailgate key. Here are the steps for locking and unlocking your Tacoma tailgate.

Using The Tailgate Key

Car key and keychain fob isolated on white background

The tailgate key is customized for the tailgate lock. Here are the steps for locking and unlocking the tailgate with the key:

  1. Place the key in the tailgate's lock
  2. Make a full turn to the left to lock
  3. Make a full turn to the right to unlock

Every Tacoma owner should have a separate tailgate key issued by the dealer or the manufacturer. However, there are instances when only a key fob is issued. In this case, the tailgate key can be found inside the key fob. To use the built-in tailgate key with the key fob, here are the steps:

  1. Press the release button at the side of the key fob
  2. Slide the tailgate key out, and it's ready for use

Using The Key Fob

Hand holding car remote control, smart key to lock or unlock doors of white car. Safety, travel and transportation concept

Almost all cars and trucks of recent models come with a key fob. This traditional key fob can be used as an alternative to the tailgate key. Here are the steps:

  1. Locate the lock button, and press it once to lock
  2. Locate the unlock button, and press it twice to unlock. The first push unlocks the driver's door. The second push unlocks the tailgate.

Using The Door Lock At the Driver's Side

You can locate the door lock mechanism inside the door on the driver's side. Here are the steps to operate:

  1. Locate the lock button, and press it once to lock
  2. Locate the unlock button, and press it twice to unlock. You should press briskly since the first push unlocks the doors, and the second push unlocks the tailgate.

Tailgate Key vs. Key Fob vs. Door Lock

Since you have learned the three ways to lock and unlock your Tacoma tailgate, you can now compare one with the other. You should know the benefits and drawbacks of each, and which suits best in certain situations.

Tailgate Key

Using the tailgate key is the simplest and most reliable way to lock and unlock the tailgate. It is a tool in itself with no batteries, wirings, programming, or other mechanical means needed to operate. Worth mentioning is that this feature is unique to Tacoma.

The key looks just like a regular key with grooves cut along the side. You can opt to have a duplicate of this key. Also, when there's a problem, a locksmith can do the repair job at less cost. There's no need to have an expensive Toyota dealer do the job.

The tailgate key serves as an alternative or backup to the remote key fob. Ensure this key is accessible at all times. Include it with your bunch of keys or with the the key fob.

Tacoma owners have found the key has drawbacks, such as the following:

  • Because it's a separate key, it may get misplaced or lost.
  • Some drivers find it awkward and impractical to have multiple keys for one vehicle.
  • The key is made of steel and is prone to rust. 

Key Fob

The key fob serves many functions for a Tacoma. Besides locking the tailgate, it provides keyless entry, remote starting, and door locking. The tailgate locking feature is an aftermarket accessory on top of the basic features of the key fob.

Tacoma owners prefer using the key fob rather than the tailgate key due to the following:

  • It is more convenient due to its flexibility. One key serves many purposes.
  • Having one key is handy and more practical than having multiple keys.
  • It's fast and easy to operate.
  • Can be operated remotely. You can lock and unlock the tailgate from a distance. 
  • Operated by push button, rather than rotating the lock. There's less chance of damage to the lock mechanism assembly at the tailgate.
  • Unlikely to get lost or misplaced since you will always be using it.
  • In case of repairs, replacement parts are readily available commercially since it is universal.

The key fob does have some drawbacks:

  • A newly-delivered key fob needs programming to make it work for the tailgate lock. 
  • There's a high incidence of malfunction for varied reasons, such as a failing battery, loose wiring, and connections, or reprogramming, which might be needed.
  • Like any mechanical device, it needs extra care and caution since there are components that are sensitive to external factors and rough handling. The fob should not be exposed to heat, sunlight, or moisture and should not be dropped.
  • Wear and tear of the components can be more significant due to frequent and heavy use. 
  • Servicing and troubleshooting should be done by a professional, which translates to higher costs. You may also need an authorized Toyota installer in order to be covered by warranties.

Door Lock

Using the driver door buttons is the go-to option when the keys don't work. This option gives an extra layer of security. When the tailgate locks, you have peace of mind since the doors are locked too.

With functional door lock buttons, Tacoma owners are assured that they can secure their cargo at the truck bed and the tailgate at all times, whether the keys are available or not.

A major drawback of this option is that it entails some inconvenience. You need to go to the driver's side, open the door, and access the buttons. Then you need to go to the rear of the truck to check if the lock is successful.

Using the door locks at the driver's side door takes time, energy, effort, and legwork. Another drawback is that it is connected to the truck's locking mechanism assembly. If one part malfunctions, chances are the tailgate lock is also affected.

Other Ways To Secure Your Tacoma Tailgate

A used, white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck for sale at a dealership on a sunny winter day

With increasing incidences of theft from truck beds due to unsecured tailgates, Tacoma owners have added other layers of security to their trucks. Here are some options:

Park Against A Wall

Be mindful of where and how you park your Tacoma. Try parking your truck against a wall or any sturdy object. In this way, it obstructs access to the truck bed and prevents the tailgate from fully opening. This parking set-up can deter robbers.

Utilize Radiator Hose Clamps

This is an inexpensive option for securing your tailgate since you're using spare hose clamps that you may have in your toolbox.

The clamps can be installed at the tailgate's hinges and can prevent robbers from removing the door. Though less sturdy than specialized aftermarket locks, hose clamps can provide additional safety.

Install Truck Bed Lighting

While truck bed lighting helps cargo loading at night and in darker locations, it indirectly affords a safety measure for your tailgate. The lighting assembly is wired to the tailgate lock. The lights power on automatically when the tailgate is open and shut off when the tailgate closes.

You will notice if the locking isn't successful or the doors aren't locked if the lights don't go off. In this way, the truck bed lights help secure the tailgate.

Check out this truck bed lighting kit on Amazon.

In Summary

As a Toyota Tacoma owner, you should know how to secure your belongings in the truck bed. You have three options for locking your Toyota Tacoma: the tailgate key, the key fob, and the door button.

While tailgate locking is the basic safety measure, there are other techniques you can try to add an extra layer of security.  With these locking alternatives at your disposal, you will have peace of mind that your truck is secure.

You might be interested to learn more about Toyota Tacoma trucks. We have these posts for you:

Can You Fit A Sheet Of Plywood In A Tacoma?

Best Toyota Tacoma Bed Covers (Pickup Truck Tonneaus)

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