The tailgate lock solenoid on your car trunk or truck tailgate is located inside your tailgate lock actuator. It helps to take the small amount of energy received from the key fob or switch and make the physical lock close or open. The electromagnetics involved may be rather complex for some. If your tailgate doesn't open or it opens without you pressing the button, it will need to be replaced.

Part 1 of 1: Replacing a tailgate lock solenoid

Materials Needed

  • Pliers
  • Replacement tailgate lock solenoid
  • Star bit screwdriver set
  • Socket set and ratchet

Step 1: Locate and remove access panel. The actuator and solenoid you are searching for will be behind an access panel on the tailgate.

Towards the top, on the inside of the tailgate, there will be a set of star bit screws that hold on this access panel. Remove these screws and set the panel aside. You should be able to see the actuator and solenoid inside.

  • Note**: The exact removal procedure for your solenoid will vary with each make and model. Some solenoids require removal of entire actuator before removal of the solenoid from the actuator. Some models will allow you to unplug the solenoid directly without removal of any other parts.While some actuators do not have solenoids accessible and you have to change the entire actuator.

Step 2: Remove electrical connections. You must disconnect the wiring terminal from the actuator before you can remove it.

Locate the terminal and use a pair of pliers if needed to help pull the wiring connector from the terminal.

Step 3: Remove actuator mounting bolts. Remove the bolts retaining the actuator in place. They may be a small bolt, or a screw. With the bolts and wires disconnected the actuator should pull free.

Keep in mind - if your solenoid is accessible without removing the actuator, you will not have to remove the entire unit.

Step 4: Locate and remove solenoid. Some models will have serviceable solenoids within the actuators. On some newer models the actuator itself will have to be replaced. The solenoid will pull free from the actuator if serviceable.

Step 5: Reinstall new solenoid or actuator. At this point you are ready to install the new actuator or solenoid into the tailgate. If your solenoid is serviceable, insert the new solenoid into the actuator.

Return the actuator to it position inside of the access slot and install it's mounting screws. Reconnect the wiring terminal to the actuator to restore power and communication to it.

Step 6: Test tailgate lock. Test the actuator by locking and unlocking the tailgate with the key fob, and the driver lock controls inside the vehicle.

Step 7: Install access panel. Reinstall access panel that was removed in step 1. Screws should be installed hand tight.

With the solenoid in place and hooked up, your installation is complete. Replacing the tailgate locking solenoid is a generally easy repair to make. If you are having trouble at any point in time, contact a certified technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to replace your tailgate lock solenoid for you.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Replace a Tailgate Lock Solenoid and was authored by Jessica Howe.


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