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How To Open A Tailgate With A Broken Handle [Quickly & Easily]

Truck owners don’t think about the tailgate until the handle is broken. When that happens, you want to know how to open it. We’re going to show you how to open a tailgate with a broken handle and it's really easy!

To open a tailgate with a broken handle, you need to follow the following steps:

  1. A broken tailgate handle will most likely expose the latch mechanism. Check for location points that you can use to leverage the tailgate to open. 
  2. If the handle is only loose but not broken, you will have to move it and poke the latch mechanism inside with either a screwdriver or plier until you find a good leverage point.
  3. Use long nose pliers to manually grip and move the latch mechanism. You can also use a flathead screwdriver to pry open the latch mechanism if the space is too narrow for your pliers to work.

You don't want to see yourself always keeping a pair of long-nose pliers and a flathead screwdriver handy so you can open a broken tailgate, do you? This is why we'll show how to replace a broken tailgate handle. We'll also cover some relevant topics that you may find helpful so read on!

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!

How To Replace a Broken Tailgate Handle

Here are some general steps you can follow to replace a broken tailgate handle:

Black plastic handle on the tailgate of a sedan

  1. Begin by opening the tailgate. Using a power socket ratchet, remove the bolts that hold the tailgate back panel in place. 
  2. Once the bolts are removed, you may need to gently pry the back panel away from the tailgate using a flathead screwdriver. 
  3. Once the back panel is removed, you should see the two rods that connect the tailgate handle to the hinges on the right and left sides of the tailgate. 
  4. Detach these two rods so you can unbolt the handle. 
  5. You'll see two 10 mm bolts that hold the tailgate handle in place. Use the appropriate socket size to remove the bolts.
  6. Remove the broken handle. You may need to wiggle it a bit to loosen it up.
  7. Take the new handle and align it with the mounting holes on the tailgate.
  8. Reattach the two connecting rods and secure the new handle in place using the same bolts that you removed earlier. 
  9. Do not over-torque the bolts. If you're using a power tool, stop when you feel that the bolts are snug enough, then apply manual force to the bolt to tighten them further.
  10. Put the tailgate back panel back on. Reattach the bolts.
  11. Test the new handle to make sure it is secure and functioning properly. If everything is working as it should, you're all set!

Check out this 10 mm socket set on Amazon.

You might want to check this portable electric socket ratchet on Amazon as well!

How Much Will It Cost Me To Have My Tailgate Door Handle Replaced?

The actual replacement cost will depend on what the issue is. If you simply want the handle replaced because it's literally broken, it's probably going to be cheap.

However, if you need the whole mechanism replaced because there are some parts that are already eaten by rust like the connecting rods, then it could be more expensive.

You can expect to pay between $5 to $500, and yes, there are times when it can be a lot higher! It's highly recommended that you get a few quotes so you can compare them before you make a final decision.

How To Fix a Broken Tailgate

There are several things you can try to fix a broken tailgate that won't close. Here are a few steps:

Sand the affected area

Sanding a car body part with electrical grinder machine before painting

Sanding the surface of a tailgate before making a repair can help smoothen out the surface of the tailgate. This allows the repair material to better bond to the surface. This can also help ensure that the repair is strong and long-lasting. 

Choose the right metal

There are several reasons why choosing the right metal to use to weld and fix a broken tailgate is important. Here are some of them:

Metal quality

The metal you use needs to be strong enough to withstand the forces that the tailgate will be subjected to.

This includes the weight of the tailgate itself, as well as any loads that may be placed on it, such as luggage or other items. If the metal you use is too weak, it may break or deform under these forces, causing the tailgate to break again.

Compatibility with other metals used in the tailgate

The metal you use needs to be compatible with the other metal parts of the tailgate. If the metal you use is not compatible, it may not bond properly to the other parts, or it may cause corrosion or other problems.

Metal resiliency

The metal you use needs to be able to withstand the environmental conditions that the tailgate will be exposed to.

This includes temperature changes, moisture, and other factors that can affect the metal's strength and durability. By choosing the right metal, you can ensure that your repair will be strong and long-lasting.

Estimate how much metal is needed and cut it to size

It is important to have a good estimate of how much metal is needed to weld a broken part of a tailgate because having the correct amount of metal will ensure that the repair is strong and durable.

If too little metal is used, the repair may not be strong enough to hold up under normal use, and the tailgate may break again.

On the other hand, if too much metal is used, it may be more difficult to shape and smooth the repair, and the tailgate may not function properly. In addition, having the correct amount of metal will also help to minimize waste and cost.

How to measure the right size metal to weld a broken part of a tailgate

Just a caveat before you proceed to attempt this project: This project requires skill and is not intended for beginners. Make sure you have at least tried welding some pieces of metal before and that you are already familiar with the process. 

Here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Measure the length, width, and thickness of the broken part of the tailgate using a tape measure.
  2. Cut a piece of cardboard to the same size as the broken part, using a scissor or cutter.
  3. Place the cardboard template onto the metal sheet, and trace around it using a pencil.
  4. Cut out the metal piece using metal snips or a metal-cutting saw.
  5. Test fit the metal piece onto the broken part of the tailgate to ensure that it is the correct size and shape. If necessary, make any adjustments to the metal piece using a hammer and anvil or a bench grinder.
  6. Once you are satisfied with the fit, you can use the metal piece as a patch to repair the broken part of the tailgate. You can then weld the metal piece in place using a welding machine.

Spray paint the patched area

Painting car body

Painting the welded area can help to make the tailgate more aesthetically pleasing and can improve the overall appearance of the finished product.

It is also important to paint the welded area to help blend in any repairs with the rest of the tailgate and make the repair less noticeable. Paint also protects the metal from corrosion.

Tailgate Vs Liftgate: What is the Difference?

Tailgate vs liftgate: what is the difference, How To Open A Tailgate With A Broken Handle [Quickly & Easily]

A tailgate is a door or panel at the rear of a vehicle that can be opened to allow items to be loaded and unloaded from the back of the vehicle.

A liftgate, on the other hand, is a type of tailgate that is hinged at the top and is equipped with a hydraulic or electric mechanism that allows it to be raised and lowered.

Liftgates are typically found on SUVs, minivans, sedans, and hatchbacks. They are convenient because they allow you to load and unload items without having to lift them over the edge of the tailgate.

How long does a liftgate strut last?

Car electronic tailgate strut

Liftgate struts, commonly known as tailgate struts, are designed to last for a long time, but the actual lifespan of a liftgate strut will depend on several factors, including the quality of the strut, the amount of use it receives, and the conditions under which it is used.

In general, you can expect a liftgate strut to last between 7 to 8 years, although it is not uncommon for struts to begin failing after just a few years of use if they are subjected to extreme conditions or if they are not well-maintained. 

Signs that a liftgate strut needs replacement

Some common signs that liftgate struts may need to be replaced include a decrease in lifting power, an increase in noise when the liftgate is being opened or closed, and visible damage to the strut itself.

How to replace a faulty liftgate strut

Here are some general DIY steps to follow when replacing a faulty liftgate strut:

  1. Open the liftgate and locate the struts on either side.
  2. Carefully lift the liftgate and support it so that it doesn't fall.
  3. With the liftgate supported, remove the faulty strut by gently pulling it away from the balljoint.
  4. Clean the ball joint with tissue paper and spray WD-40.
  5. Take the new strut and position it in the same place as the old one, making sure that it is securely in place.
  6. Carefully lower the liftgate and test the new strut to make sure it is functioning properly.

The entire process can be seen in the video below.

Check out WD-40 on Amazon.

In Closing

Rear tailgate of black car door handle

Replacing a broken tailgate handle is an easy and affordable project. Once you have all the materials at hand, you can take the time to do it yourself. It is a small investment to fix the problem and it's something you'll definitely want to do sooner than later.

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