Truck tailgate latching difficulties

I’m having a difficult time latching the tailgate on my 2002 F-250. Over the years I have impacted the tailgate to the point where it is slightly bowed out (about a 2 inch gap in the middle of the tailgate / bed location). QUESTION: Is the difficulty in latching the result of this deformed tailgate, or is there something else causing this condition such as need for lubrication / adjustment to the mechanism / needs a good cleaning? Is there a trick to bending the tailgate back into shape?

Thank you. Bob

It’s bowed out to a two inch gap in the middle of the tailgate? I can’t tell for sure from here, but I’d say there’s a real, real good chance the the latching problem is related.

There is no trick other than replacing the tailgate with one from a boneyard. You could try an 8 pound sledge hammer.

It is related. If you dented it and there is a 2" gap in the center that means the sides of the gate have been pulled or sucked in and the latches are to far away from the striker/latch brackets. Call a salvage yard for a good gate.

Reverse the the force you put on it.Lay the tailgate on the driveway inside of gate down and (a sheet of plywood first if driveway is blacktop)use the rear tire of that 250 tank your driving and drive over the gate with 1/2" strip of wood on each end that should bend it back enough.I can’t say I tried this ,although what do you have to lose?