Tips for Repairing a Truck Tailgate

  • 2-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-125
What You'll Need
Trim removal tool
Panel beating kit
Body filler for galvanized metal
Plastic spreader
Disc sander
Abrasive sanding discs (P80 grit)
Abrasive sanding paper (P80 to P240 grit)
Sanding block
Dust mask
Compressed air
Spare parts

Although the sheer size of a truck tailgate may be enough to dissuade many DIY enthusiasts from attempting a repair job, it has to be remembered that most vehicle panels, irrespective of the size of vehicle they are fitted to, are effectively the same. This means that even truck tailgate repairs can be easily completed by following a series of basic steps.

Step 1 – Assess Damage

Before carrying out any cosmetic repairs on a truck tailgate, a thorough inspection should take place to establish the full extent of the damage. Although it may initially appear as if a panel is just dented, accident impact can often cause a truck tailgate to be shifted from the hinges.

Open and close the truck tailgate several times to see if the hinges are still functional. The tailgate should open and close without resistance and when shut, a uniform gap should be visible around all adjacent panels. If the truck tailgate doesn’t line up, consider manipulating it by gently forcing it on the hinges until it sits in position correctly. If this fails to work, new hinges will need to be fitted before further repair work can continue.

Step 2 – Remove Trim and Dents

All trim surrounding the area behind a dent must be removed with the screwdriver and trim removal tool. Once the dent is accessible, a dolly and flip can be taken from the panel beating kit and these should be used to knock out the dent until a reasonably flat surface is achieved. Always work from one side of the dent to the other instead of beginning in the middle of an impression.

Step 3 – Preparing the Dented Surface

Put on your dust mask. Place a P80 grit disc on the sander and use two hands to keep the machine steady. Turn it on and remove all paint back to bare metal up to a circumference of a couple of inches around the repair. Blow the excess of dust from the panel using a can of compressed air.

Step 4 – Apply and Remove Filler

Mix enough body filler and hardener to fill the entire crease of the dent and spread it onto the panel just beyond the edges of the entire damaged area as well. Allow to dry before wrapping a sheet of P80 abrasive paper around the surface of the sanding block.

Using long, sweeping movements, rub down the filler to achieve a perfectly flat working surface. Don’t worry if you take out too much filler; more can be added at any time if the shape of the panel isn’t quite right. Test the shape of the panel using the flat palm of your hand until a smooth, even surface has been achieved.

Step 5 – Finishing

Once the panel is back to shape, lightly rub over the filler with progressively finer grades of abrasive paper to a rating of P240 grit. This will provide an effectively repaired area for paint and preparation techniques and the repair is now complete.