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Tailgate Handle

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Tailgate Handle

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What is a tailgate handle and where is it located?

A tailgate handle is the handle that you lift up on when you want to lower the tailgate from the truck bed. It may be constructed of metal or plastic, and it is often faced with a harsh life—especially on work trucks. Sometimes these handles have a plastic bezel to blend in with the rest of the truck’s trim package. The tailgate handle and tailgate bezel often come in smooth or textured finishes.  For most vehicles they come in black, but the smooth versions are paintable if needed. Another option that comes on some trucks is a locking tailgate handle. Just like exterior door handles, a locking tailgate handle has a lock cylinder that can be locked and unlocked with a key. This is great if you have a cap or a bed cover because you won't have to worry about thieves stealing your possesions. 

How do I know if my tailgate handle needs to be replaced?

The tailgate handle is a very simple mechanism. When a person lifts the tailgate handle, the handle pulls on some rods (or levers) inside the tailgate. These rods control the tailgate latches on each end of the tailgate. As the handle is lifted, the latches retract. This allows the tailgate to be lowered to the horizontal position.

When a tailgate handle replacement is necessary, it is obvious. In most cases, the handle completely breaks off and leaves an open hole in the tailgate. If you are lucky, you can still work the rods inside to make the tailgate open and close. If not, there is often an access panel that allows you to access the broken tailgate handle and bezel parts.

Can I replace a tailgate handle myself?

Replacing a tailgate handle is very do-it-yourself friendly. Typically, replacing a handle involves no more effort than removing a couple of screws and unclipping the tailgate handle linkage from the back of the broken handle. As always, a service manual or installation video is a terrific guide for any automotive repair.

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