What Problems to Expect from Your Jeep Wrangler (jk) Tailgate and How to Spot Them
While a Jeep Wrangler (jk) tailgate was built to keep up with the SUV's sturdy exterior, it is not unbreakable; it can encounter problems that render it inoperable. So before you're left with a Wrangler that has a wide open rear, check on your SUV's tailgate for the three most common problems listed below:
One of the most common problems of your Jeep Wrangler (jk) tailgate is a broken or stuck latch. An obvious symptom of this defect is when you can't open your SUV's tailgate no matter how hard you try. Having a stuck latch is not something that happens overnight-it is caused by excessive use and normal wear and tear. Another cause of a jammed tailgate on your Jeep Wrangler is a broken rod clip. This rod clip is piece of plastic fastener found on your Jeep Wrangler (jk) tailgate's link rod. It is responsible for the connection between its release linkage and the frame of the SUV. To discern which part is causing the stuck tailgate, try to use its handle. If the handle won't depress, then the problem lies in the latch. However, if the tailgate won't budge even when the handle works, then your Wrangler has a broken rod clip. In both cases, it's best to replace the damaged part with a durable component.
Broken tailgate handle
Tailgate handles, especially those made of plastic, are susceptible to damage. A broken handle will restrict access to your cargo space. Check if the two steel supports that connect the handle to the tailgate latch assembly are broken or rusted. This could cause the handle to snap off the assembly and hinder you from opening the Wrangler's tailgate completely.
A misaligned tailgate can happen for many reasons, from road collisions to simply leaving it closed with a rug still stuck to it. Although a simple messed up alignment of 1 mm isn't noticeable to the naked eye, you can tell that your Wrangler's tailgate is misaligned by listening to unnecessary noises while your vehicle is running. When you hear a lot of wind noise coming from the rear of the truck, that's a telltale sign that you're driving with a misaligned tailgate. You can also visually inspect your tailgate's mounting at the back of the car. Aligned tailgates should meet your Wrangler's roof exactly. If it is a few millimeters off the vehicle's roof line, then you've got yourself a misaligned tailgate.
Tips on How to Take Care of Your Jeep Wrangler (jk) Tailgate
Since it is positioned at the back of your SUV, your Wrangler's tailgate is prone to excessive damage during rear-end collisions. But aside from accidents on the road, did you know that a busted tailgate can also be caused by something as simple as not giving it the proper care? Learn how to maintain the good condition of your vehicle's tailgate with these few simple tips:
- Always keep your Jeep Wrangler (jk) tailgate's connections and parts well lubricated. Although the tailgate looks like it is just one chunk of metal, it is actually composed of an assembly of smaller metal pieces. These pieces constantly grind with each other to lower or lift the tailgate, which puts excessive stress on the said parts. That is why regularly lubricating the mechanism inside your tailgate is a must. It does not only reduce the friction created by the grinding parts, but it also improves the efficiency of these parts and lengthens the life of your Wrangler's tailgate.
- Check and regularly adjust the latch mechanism of the tailgate.The most common problem of your Jeep Wrangler's tailgate lies in the connection between its handle and latch assembly. Over time and excessive use, your tailgate's handle could loosen and create a gap between its connections to the latch mechanism. The handle can barely reach the flanges of the latch assembly and this leads to an inoperable tailgate. So before it worsens, always check the attachment between these two parts whenever you plan to lubricate the insides of the tailgate. Adjust the tailgate's handle from the inside using a pair of channel locks. Make sure that you mold it back to shape and that the end of the handle is positioned flat against the latch mechanism.
- Never forcibly open the tailgate handle or latch.Although you might say that a little nudge is needed to get your tailgate open, forcing its handle can damage the latch assembly that opens and closes the tailgate. You're lucky if doing so only misaligns the handle to the latch. But if that "little nudge" causes the handle or its steel connectors to break off completely, then you'll have to spend more by purchasing a replacement latch or, worse, an entirely new assembly.
- Install a tailgate protector.Tailgate protectors are ideal when you're one of those drivers who constantly load and unload things at the back of his car. If not careful, loading or unloading cargo can scratch and dent your Jeep Wrangler (jk) tailgate. Since you can't really avoid packing cargo, it's best to just get a tailgate protector attached to your vehicle. Made of sturdy materials, these protectors are attached to the leading edge of the tailgate. They are installed at the rear of your car by pressure-sensitive tape or screws.