Certain brands of station wagon from the 1980s to the 1990s tend to have tailgate panels that break away easily after sufficient abuse have been put on them. They also get torn apart due to age because these cars were around from 20 to 30 years ago.
Slamming and constant contact can also induce these panels to get worn down because the mounting clips might give way from all the pressure. Whenever you slam your tailgate shut, the panel and even the tailgate itself will accrue damage from everyday wear and tear. With that in mind, here are the ways you can go about fixing them.
Tips to Fixing Your Tailgate Panel with a Kit
- Buy a Tailgate Panel Kit and Prep Your Car: A tailgate panel kit includes all the hardware and replacement parts you need to fix your tailgate. In order to fix your busted tailgate panel on your hatchback, you'll need the kit plus a screwdriver plus socket and wrench. You'll also have to prep your vehicle before starting the removal and installation process. Depending on your car's make and model, you might need to flatten the rear seats prior to installing the kit. Afterwards, unlatch the rear door for good measure.
- Trim Pieces Removal and Electrical Component Disconnection: Remove the trim pieces along the panel using your screwdriver by unscrewing them. Remember that the lower, upper, and side trims are connected separately by several screws. From there, disconnect the electrical components that might be affected by the installation, like a rearview camera or a license lamp. Before removing the panel, disconnect those components first.
- Remove the Old Tailgate Panel and Install the New One: Loosen the mounting nuts of the panel with the socket and wrench. The screwdriver can also be used to pry the panel off. Don't scratch or nick the nearby parts. You can now use the tailgate panel kit to install your new panel. Place the replacement panel into position, reattach the mounting nuts with your socket and wrench, and then reconnect the electrical components of your car. Put back the trim pieces then open and close the rear door to test it out.
- Reminders When It Comes to Panel Installation: Have a safe place you can store any parts that you have to remove before accessing the panel. You should also set aside about an hour of your time for installing the tailgate panel kit. For safety's sake, you should wear a pair of mechanic gloves or knit gloves because the edges of the panel can be quite sharp and can hurt you accidentally. Don't forget to label screws as you remove them to know which one belongs in the left, right, lower, and upper trim pieces of your car. Don't attach the wrong screw to the wrong trim, because that's needless hassle.