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How to Adjust Tailgate Latch Rods 97-04 Ford F-150

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How to Adjust Tailgate Latch Rods 97-04 Ford F-150

Created on: 2017-04-05

How to repair, install, fix, change or replace a broken or snapped tailgate latch on 998 Ford F150 pickup truck.

  1. step 1 :Opening the Stuck Tailgate
    • Remove the eight T30 screws from the tailgate cover
    • Remove the two T30 Torx bolts from the metal backing
    • Remove the metal backing
    • Check the leg that actuates the arm
    • Check the actuator
    • Check the latch rods
  2. step 2 :Adjusting the Latch Rods
    • Pry the latch rod tabs with a flat blade screwdriver
    • Release the latch rods
  3. step 3 :Installing the Latch Rods
    • Pull the slack out of the rods without moving the latch
    • Lock the rods into their tabs
    • Test the tailgate latch
  4. step 4 :Reinstalling the Metal Backing
    • Tighten the two T30 Torx bolts to the metal backing
    • Tighten the eight T30 Torx bolts to the tailgate cover

Tools needed for replacement

  • Screwdrivers & Related

    Flat Blade Screwdriver

  • Star Drivers & Sockets

    T30 Driver

Installation Video
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Hi, I'm Mike from 1AAuto. We've been selling auto parts for over 30 years! We're dedicated to delivering quality auto parts, expert customer service, and fast and free shipping, all backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee. So visit us at, your trusted source for quality auto parts.

In this video, we're going to be working with our 1998 Ford F150. We're going to show you how to adjust the tailgate latch rods inside of your tailgate. You may think they need to be replaced, but a very simple adjustment could get your tailgate working like new again.

If you like this video, please click subscribe. We have a ton more information on this and many other vehicles. If you ever need parts for your truck, you can follow the link down in the description over to

Here are the items you'll need for this repair: T30 Torx socket, ratchet, flat blade screwdriver

You have eight pieces of hardware securing the cover and the back plate onto the tailgate. Ours have clearly been replaced a few times and are various styles and sizes of hardware. Use the appropriate tool and ratchet to remove whatever hardware is securing your plastic back cover. If you don't have this plastic cover the hardware should be the same and in the same locations to remove the steel backing. Remove the plastic backing if you have it. Once you remove your plastic cover, if you have one, you'll have two T30 Torx bolts you need to remove. I'm pretty sure this is the original hardware that should have been holding the plastic piece of the tailgate onto, so you probably already have this tool out. Remove the metal backing.

Use a small flat blade screwdriver to pry up the tabs and release the lock rods from the tailgate.

Now when reinstalling the latch rods, you'll want to pull the slack out of them without actually moving the latch, and lock them back into their tabs. Before we reinstall our back cover, we'll open and close the tailgate a few times to make sure our latch rod adjustment works. Now, if the tailgate won't close fully on one side, you'll need to back off the adjustment a little bit and give the rod some more slack. Or, if it's difficult to open with having this off, you can reach in there and pull it manually to release. Then you'll want to pull a little more slack out of the latch rods.

Reinstall the metal cover. Now, if you have the plastic cover, start by installing the two T30 Torx bolts. If you don't have the plastic cover, reinstall all 10 of your T30 Torx bolts at this point and tighten them down. If you have the plastic cover like we do, reinstall it. You should have eight T30 Torx bolts to reinstall. We have miscellaneous hardware that we'll be putting back in. Close your tailgate, and you're good to go.

Thanks for watching. Visit us at for quality auto parts, fast and free shipping, and the best customer service in the industry.

Tools needed for replacement:

    Screwdrivers & Related

  • Flat Blade Screwdriver

  • Star Drivers & Sockets

  • T30 Driver

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