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I have a 2003 Chevrolet 1500 HD 4x4. Yesterday I went to lower the tailgate and it wouldn't unlatch. It appears as though the left side is unlatching but, the right side is not. In fact, it looks like the latch post on the right side might be bent a little. I haven't had any past issues. But, now I can't get the tailgate down to even see what the problem might be.
Any suggestions on how to get the tailgate down and what the problem/fix might be?
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If you pull the handle out as far as possible then look in you will see a small lever with a rod attached on each side these are the levers that work the latch. Check to make sure the rod is attached to the arm if it isn't then that is why it won't open. If it is attached to the arm you can use a screw driver to move the arm to unlatch the tailgate. My tailgate will sometimes not open if the latch is gummed up a little WD-40 will free it.
another common problem when they get up in miles, is that the small latch arm inside the tailgate will fall out of the hole in the latch mechanism....there's a little spring disc that goes on the end so it doesn't come out, but when it falls off, the arm falls out of the hole, and then the latch will pull out, but it won't engage the pull arms.
It's a pretty easy fix though...just take off the 4 Phillips screws on the top of the gate, and all the little ones around the outside perimeter....take the whole carpeted/gate cover, and you will see a large black plate with 6 10mm bolts holding it on the back side of the latch...take all of these out, take the plate off to access the latch mechanism and then you should see a little gold arm with a slight bend to it (supposed to be bent) threaded into a little holder on the latch.....it is supposed to be in the hole in the gate arm mechanism, which when pulled, it will pull the gate arms from both directions....cheapest way to fix the arm is to unscrew it, put it in a vise with the small bent end up, and the threads NOT in the vise but horizontal and take a hammer and bend it to about a 45*angle, thread it back into the holder on the latch, and make sure you thread it in most of the way so when you try to put it back into the hole on the gate arm, you will have to push it back slightly so the arm goes into the hole, but will not fall back out....
With everything still off...close and operate the latch....if all works well, put a little WD-40 on all the exposed mechanics, put the metal cover back on, put the tailgate cover back on, and you are good to go.
Complete time should not take over 1 hour:-)
Just had this issue on my 2000. Make sure you squeeze the TOP of the plastic cover and pull it out, then pull the bottom up to avoid breaking the tabs on the bottom, which are both longer and more fragile than the top ones.
At that point the rather cheap orange plastic retainers are fairly easy to replace, and cheap at autozone. (the cover is only 7.99, so if you break it getting it off, it is not a big expense).