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How to Replace Tailgate Latch Mechanism 97-04 Ford F-150

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How to Replace Tailgate Latch Mechanism 97-04 Ford F-150

Created on: 2017-04-03

How to fix or adjust a tailgate latch mechanism on 98 Ford F-150

  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 :Removing the Tailgate Handle
    • Pry the latch rod tabs with a flat blade screwdriver
    • Release the latch rods
    • Remove the 10mm nuts from the tailgate handle
    • Remove the tailgate handle
  3. step 3 :Removing the Latch Mechanism
    • Slide the mechanism out of the tailgate
  4. step 4 :Installing the Latch Mechanism
    • Insert the mechanism into place
  5. step 5 :Installing the Tailgate Handle
    • Insert the tailgate handle into place
    • Tighten the two 10mm nuts to the mechanism
    • Pull the slack out of the rods without moving the latch
    • Lock the rods into their tabs
    • Test the tailgate latch
    • If the tailgate won't close, give the rods more slack
  6. step 6 :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

  • Ratchets & Related


  • Screwdrivers & Related

    Flat Blade Screwdriver

  • Sockets - Metric

    10mm Socket

  • 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 F-150. We're going to show you how to remove and replace your vehicle's tailgate latch mechanisms.

If you like this video, please click Subscribe. We have a ton more information on this and many other vehicles. And 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: 10mm socket, ratchet, T30 Torx socket, flat blade screwdriver

You have eight pieces of hardware securing the cover and the backplate 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 T-30 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. Using a 10 millimeter socket and ratchet, you can remove the two nuts securing the tailgate handle to the tailgate. You can then pull down and fold the bottom out to remove the handle from the vehicle. Now it's not entirely necessary to remove the handle from the tailgate before removing the mechanism, but there is a risk of you having it fall out and where it's only plastic it could break or shatter, so we removed ours first, and you can then slide the mechanism out of the tailgate.

Now there's nothing wrong with our mechanism, so we're just going to reinstall it. Reinstall the tailgate handle. We're going to have to set the mechanism back on there. There's some plastic clips on the bottom of the mechanism to lock it into place. Once it's in there, you can reinstall your two 10 millimeter nuts and tighten them down with a socket and ratchet.

Now in 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. Now 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, and 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 T-30 Torx bolts. If you don't have the plastic cover, reinstall all 10 of your T-30 Torx bolts at this point and tighten them down. If you have the plastic cover like we do, reinstall it. You should have eight T-30 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:

    Ratchets & Related

  • Ratchet

  • Screwdrivers & Related

  • Flat Blade Screwdriver

  • Sockets - Metric

  • 10mm Socket

  • Star Drivers & Sockets

  • T30 Driver

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