How to Replace a Tailgate Handle on a Ford Ranger

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The tailgate handle on a Ford Ranger is integrated into the tailgate latch assembly. If one of the two steel supports that connect the handle to the latch begins to rust, then the handle may snap off and render the tailgate inoperable. Fortunately, replacing the tailgate handle/latch on a Ford Ranger is well within the mechanical abilities of most vehicle owners. You just need a few simple tools and an hour or two.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood blocks or wheel chocks
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Socket set

Removing the Tailgate Handle

  • Engage the parking brake or block the rear wheels and tires, using wood blocks or wheel chocks.

  • Lower the tailgate. Using your hand, pull open the tailgate handle and lower the tailgate into a horizontal position.

  • Remove the screws that secure the tailgate access panel to the tailgate frame, using a Phillips screwdriver. The access panel is located on the inboard side of the tailgate.

  • Locate the driver-side tailgate latch release link. It will be secured to the latch by a plastic retaining clip. Rotate the clip upward, and then pull the link away from the tailgate latch, using needle-nose pliers.

  • Locate the passenger-side tailgate latch release link. It will be secured to the latch by a plastic retaining clip. Rotate the clip upwards, and then pull the link away from the tailgate latch, using needle-nose pliers.

  • Remove the two screws that secure the tailgate latch to the tailgate frame, using a socket.

  • Pull the tailgate latch from the frame and remove it from the vehicle.

Installing A Tailgate Handle

  • Insert the new tailgate latch/handle into position in the tailgate frame.

  • Screw in the two screws that secure the latch to the tailgate frame, using a socket.

  • Insert the passenger-side tailgate latch release link in the hole in the latch. Rotate the plastic retaining clip over the release link.

  • Insert the driver-side tailgate latch release link in the hole in the latch. Rotate the plastic retaining clip over the release link.

  • Slide the access panel cover over the the hole in the tailgate. Screw in the screws that secure the access panel to the tailgate frame.

  • Raise the tailgate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Auto salvage yards are a good place to locate hard-to-find auto body parts.
  • If the handle breaks while the tailgate is in a closed position, then use a flat-blade screwdriver to manually open the latches on each end of the tailgate.
  • Cargo must be properly secured in your pickup’s bed before driving the vehicle. Failure to do so could cause an accident.

References

  • "Chilton's Ford Ranger/Bronco II Explorer 1983-91 Repair Manual"; Chilton Book Company; 1991
  • "Haynes Ford Ranger Pick-ups: 1993 thru 2008 Repair Manual"; Max Haynes; 2009
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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