Jammed Tailgate

I have a new issue with my '02 Silverado, which so far has been a good truck. However, about a week ago when I tried to open the tailgate, the latch wouldn’t release. I have yanked on the tailgate with my full weight (260 lbs) while pulling on the release handle, and have not had any success at getting it open, The release handle seems to work OK, but the internal latch mechanism seems to be jammed in some way. I have even tried parking the truck on different surfaces, just to see if tilting the truck at different angles would loosen the latch, but that didn’t work either. It’s as if the tailgate were welded shut. fortunately, most stuff I put in the bed isn’t too heavy for me to lift over the gate or the bed sides, but I’d really like to have my tailgate working again. I have even thought that if I do get the gate open, that I’d disable the latch and install a hook-and-chain setup like what trucks had in the early 1960s and prior (since it’s a work truck and I’m not planning to part with, it I’m not concerned about resale value). Anyway, I’d appreciate any helpful suggestions. Thanks.

Might not help, but on my 1995, one of the latch has a groove worn in it where it connects. It’s physically impossible to open it unless I force the tailgate forward as I operate the latch.

My other suggestion would be if tailgate has a built in lock, it may be jammed. I would attempt locking and unlocking it a few times to try and work it loose in this case.

With your fingers pry down at the top of plastic bezel around the tailgate handle to release the tabs and remove the bezel. Now you can see if one of the latch rods have become disconnected from the tailgate handle.


When was the last time the mechanism was lubricated? I had a similar issue with my daughter’s 2009 Cobalt trunk latch. In my case, it wouldn’t close. I sprayed silicone lubricant into the mechanism and it was fixed. While you have the plastic bezel off, yo might lube the mechanism fi the latch rods are still attached.

My 2001 did this once. The problem turned out to be disconnected latch rods. pull off the bezel and you can get at the mechanism. Be sure to lubricate them while you’re in there. I’m not sure what’s best, something that will attract the least amount of crud??

I had the same problem with my 1999 Silverado. The plastic clip that holds the rods onto the lift handle had disintegrated. I bought replacements at the dealer and all was well. In the meantime remove the lift handle from the tailgate and pull on the rods to open the tailgate.

Is there not a removable panel on the inside ofthe tailgate?

I appreciate the comments, guys. @BBSTenor, that’s the exact problem with my tailgate. I popped off the bezel from around the handle, and sure enough, one of the plastic retaining clips (on the right side rod) had disintegrated. For now I’m keeping the bezel off until I get some new retaining clips, and I just pull the exposed rod to unlatch the tailgate. Next time I get to the dealer I’ll just get a new pair of clips.