Question about 2002 GMC Sierra 2500HD

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Drivers side tailgate latch corroded/rusted shut. Unable to open tailgate. Passenger side moves freely. How do I unlatch then repair tailgate latch?

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  • t_swinden Aug 24, 2010

    This is for a tailgate. There is no inner panel. Only the center 3 holes that hold the tailgate release mechanism.

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Try the Indian way. From outside and also from inside, pump some oil drops from the oil gun into the area of the latch. As it is rusted, the oil will have the desired effect. And while you are doing it keep trying to unlatch the door. With this effort the oil will also go to places where it would not otherwise go.

Posted on Aug 25, 2010

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The usual way to fix a rusted hinge is to use a penetrating fluid like WD40 or LiquidWrench. Then you want to cause some movement to work the fluid in. Vibration with a drift and hammer works. Or i there is any chance of movement, small back and movements on the door may help.
To get at the latch, you can probably take the inner panel off the door, and then get at the mechanism much better.
Heat will also expand and contract metals to break off rust.
But you have to be careful not to cause too much damage to the paint.
Once the panel is off, you should be able to get it to operate enough to open it. And then you can remove the mechanism and really clean it up. You can use NavelJelly then to remove all the rust. But don't let it get on paint.

Posted on Aug 24, 2010

  • Kirk Augustin
    Kirk Augustin Sep 02, 2010

    There is usually a small panel in the center of the tailgate that allows you to get at the back side of the handle, and the rod running to both side latches.

    If not, then spray WD40 into the crack at the latch, and then quickly use an air hammers to vibrate the latch shaft, with a thin flat blade. The vibration will not only work the WD40 into all the cracks, but will break off all the sharp little rust spikes that are holding it, and the WD40 will wash them away.

    If you do not have compressed air access, heat will also work, but it will burn up a lot of paint, so it might be easier to cut a small access hole near the latch, so you can heat it directly from the inside.
    You can always patch the hole later.

    I was also trying to think of how you could remove the hinges or latch posts, but did not remember how yours looks well enough to come up with anything. Looking at one in a salvage yard may help give you more ideas.

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75a5e6c.jpg

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