Introduction: Replacing a Tailgate on a Ford F-150

About: Software QA Test Engineer/Technical Writer
A while back I let my wife use my truck to drive to Iowa to get some used baby furniture from a friend. I sent her with some tie down straps, tarps and bungee cords to tie down and cover the furniture on the 6 hour drive home. Needless to say, one of the bungee cords that was attached to the tarp came loose on her way home and beat the tar out of my tailgate while flapping in the wind.

Step 1: Overview

I took my truck to two different body shops to have the tailgate repainted and the cheapest quote was $500. I'm not joking, $500. Someone at work mentioned I should check the junk yards. Since I'm a huge fan of junk yards, I was in. I checked 2 local junkyards and only found one tailgate that would fit my truck, but it was dented and wouldn't really work.

I finally found a body shop 3 -4 hours away on eBay. I bought a brand new tailgate painted with factory color for $250 shipped. I estimated it would take about 1 hour to do the swap. I'd trade an hour of my time any day to save $250.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

1)  Torx Bits
2)  Ratchet
3)  various sockets
4)  Flathead screwdriver
4)  needle nose pliers

Parts & Materials
1)  new tailgate
2)  3M emblem adhesive

Step 3: Removie the Old Tailgate

The firs step is to remove the old tailgate. This is fairly easy, remove the torx bolts on each side of the tailgate. This bolt is the one that holds the retaining cable. Be sure you have the tailgate propped up before removing these all the way.

Once these bolts are removed you can set the tailgate at about 45 degrees and the passengers side should slide out of it's connector at this angle. The drives side connection was slide away sideways

Step 4: Transfering the Needed Parts From Old Tailgate to New

The new tailgate shipped an empty hull, so I needed to transfer the following items over to the new one.

1)  Inside lock cover plate
2)  Tailgate handle & locking mechanism
3) The two latches on each side that keep the tailgate closed and locked
4)  Connection bushings
5)  F-150 and Ford emblems

Step 5: Removing the Lock Cover Plate

The first thing to remove is the lock cover plate. It's held in place by 8 Torx screws. Pretty straight forward. After this is removed you should see the lock mechanism and latches.

Step 6: Removing the Locking Mechanism

Before the lock mechanism can be remove, you'll need to unsnap the two connectors holding the actuator rods in place.

The lock mechanism is held in place by two bolts, very easy and simple to remove.

Step 7: Removing the Two Retaining Clips on the Actuator Rods

There are two black clips that hold the actuator rods to the tail gate. Gently squeeze the tip of the clip with a pair of needle nosed pliers and push the clip down to remove.

Step 8: Removing the Two Latches

The latches are held in place by two Torx bolts on the side of the tailgate. One of these bolts you have already removed when you removed the tailgate. Remove the other bolt and slip out the latch it should be connected to the actuator rod. Repeat this step on the other side.

Step 9: Remove the Black Plastic Bushings

Remove the two black plastic bushings from the connectors.

Step 10: Removing the Emblems

Since my old tailgate was already beat-up and scratched, I used a screwdriver to pry up the emblems. The method is easy, but it WILL scratch up your tailgate.

Step 11: Replace the Latches in the New Tailgate First

Only put the last bolt you took out in to hold the latch in place for now. You'll be snugging them up once you get the tailgate put back on the truck.

Step 12: Add the Locking Mechanism

Slide the handle side into the front of the tailgate and late it on the ground. Slide the back plate over the two bolts and hand tighten the nuts on the bolts. Be sure to leave room to manipulate the actuator rods into place in their clips.

Reconnect the rods into their respective connector clips and latch them down. The small black retaining clips should still be attached to the rods, slide them towards the hole for the clip and snap it into place. Now is the time to completely tighten the two nuts that hold the locking mechanism in place.

Add the bushings on the main connectors to get ready to replace the tailgate on the truck.

Step 13: Replacing the Tailgate

Slide the drivers side on first until it is in place. Set the tailgate at a 45 degree angle and then slide the passengers side on. While holding the tailgate at this angle, replace the Torx bolt that is connected to the retaining cable. Us this time to completely tighten both Torx bolts that hold the latch in place. Repeat this step on the other side.

Step 14: Replacing the Lock Cover Plate

With the tailgate completely open, place the cover into it's place. Tighten all 8 screws down so it doesn't rattle.

Step 15: Adding the Emblems

Apply a thin layer of the 3M glue to the back of each emblem and line up the holes with the knobs on the back of them emblem. Press the emblem into place and hold it there for atleast a minute. It should be fully cured in 24 hours.

Step 16: In Closing

The whole project actually on took 45 minutes and was easy that I expected. Not a bad way to save $250.