Uneven tailgate cable fix

Mikk

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There have been many posts about uneven slack on the tailgate cables, with the assumption being that the cables are being made unevenly.

I found the problem, at least with my Maverick. The left cable appeared (key word here) to be too long, it was slack even if I put my 235lb weight on the tailgate. I figured this will eventually cause the tailgate to twist, once it sees repeated heavy loads. This can lead to other issues...

The fix is not straightforward, though:

You can't swap left and right cables, as they have different fittings at the tailgate ends. So I removed the cables to measure, putting a bit of tension on them. To my surprise, they were spot-on, both made to the same length.

Okay, so I'll have to adjust the mounting posts. These have typically been made with a captive nut on a plate on the backside (door striker posts are like this); just loosen the post and you can move it around a bit to adjust, then re-tighten. The ones on the liftgate themselves have no adjustment, so that leaves the ones on the body to adjust for unevenness.

I loosened them, but no dice in moving them. Once loosened, you can see that the body holes the posts pass through are large enough for movement, but the nut just wouldn't move. Maybe the plate was stuck?

Next step was to remove the left taillight. Here is where Ford has done a poor job in explaining the procedure: In the owner's manual it explains how to remove the taillight in order to change the lamps. Remove two screws and pull the taillight rearwards (drawing even shows this) "to release the tabs"....or so it seems. No dice, it would not slide back. As it turns out, there are two mounting pins at the front of the taillights that are on an angle to the body; you have to pull the taillights back and the same time outwards at about a 40-degree angle, not straight back! I can see people breaking taillights in the future!

Anyways, I got the taillight off without breaking it. There in front of me was the nut for the cable post, but no plate, just the nut sitting there. Stuck, perhaps, I thought, from the e-coat dip process? NOPE! The nuts are held in place with three spot welds!! WTF? They are set in place when the box is built, long before the tailgate and cables are installed. No adjustment possible!

Only one way to fix it: I got out a metal chisel and chiseled through the three spot welds. Next I had to grind off the remains of the three welds from the nut to make it smooth again. I was then able to reposition the nut so that both cables have the same tension when the tailgate is down.

I think Ford really needs to redesign this and make the mounts adjustable on both sides; making these points fixed was very obviously a cost-savings move!
And from the amount of people complaining about uneven cables, it seems the the positioning of the nuts is off location.

 

Area51BS

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Good post. But mine seem even. Mine is an early production Lariat I assume since I got it 6 months ago. Probably moved slow and methodically through the line. Everything seems very much in place.
 

nwcali6

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Ford tough.....

This to me is something the dealer should be fixing, if not the factory.

Unless they really don't care about Ford tough.
 

nwcali6

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Good post. But mine seem even. Mine is an early production Lariat I assume since I got it 6 months ago. Probably moved slow and methodically through the line. Everything seems very much in place.
I doubt they weld them on the line, most likely the tailgates are premade and put on and something was (is) off on the machine that puts them together. Hopefully ford was (is) aware now and fixed this problem...Hopefully they will tell you to take your truck to the dealer and have it fixed if its off.
 

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Thanks for the investigation and fix. While a dumb design with no adjustment I won't be taking out the slack. Really doesn't bother me and I'm unlikely to have much of a load either in the bed or on the tailgate.
 


Chris_G

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I doubt they weld them on the line, most likely the tailgates are premade and put on and something was (is) off on the machine that puts them together. Hopefully ford was (is) aware now and fixed this problem...Hopefully they will tell you to take your truck to the dealer and have it fixed if its off.
Sometimes the fix is worse.
 

ColoradoShooter

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I noticed mine is loose approximately 1/8”. I’ll just make a spacer that’s .125” thick and matches the diameter of the tailgate post. If it supports the weight equally, I’ll epoxy or JB Weld it to prevent movement.
 

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Are spare cables available to "mix and match" for proper fit?
 

Mymaverick2021

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There have been many posts about uneven slack on the tailgate cables, with the assumption being that the cables are being made unevenly.

I found the problem, at least with my Maverick. The left cable appeared (key word here) to be too long, it was slack even if I put my 235lb weight on the tailgate. I figured this will eventually cause the tailgate to twist, once it sees repeated heavy loads. This can lead to other issues...

The fix is not straightforward, though:

You can't swap left and right cables, as they have different fittings at the tailgate ends. So I removed the cables to measure, putting a bit of tension on them. To my surprise, they were spot-on, both made to the same length.

Okay, so I'll have to adjust the mounting posts. These have typically been made with a captive nut on a plate on the backside (door striker posts are like this); just loosen the post and you can move it around a bit to adjust, then re-tighten. The ones on the liftgate themselves have no adjustment, so that leaves the ones on the body to adjust for unevenness.

I loosened them, but no dice in moving them. Once loosened, you can see that the body holes the posts pass through are large enough for movement, but the nut just wouldn't move. Maybe the plate was stuck?

Next step was to remove the left taillight. Here is where Ford has done a poor job in explaining the procedure: In the owner's manual it explains how to remove the taillight in order to change the lamps. Remove two screws and pull the taillight rearwards (drawing even shows this) "to release the tabs"....or so it seems. No dice, it would not slide back. As it turns out, there are two mounting pins at the front of the taillights that are on an angle to the body; you have to pull the taillights back and the same time outwards at about a 40-degree angle, not straight back! I can see people breaking taillights in the future!

Anyways, I got the taillight off without breaking it. There in front of me was the nut for the cable post, but no plate, just the nut sitting there. Stuck, perhaps, I thought, from the e-coat dip process? NOPE! The nuts are held in place with three spot welds!! WTF? They are set in place when the box is built, long before the tailgate and cables are installed. No adjustment possible!

Only one way to fix it: I got out a metal chisel and chiseled through the three spot welds. Next I had to grind off the remains of the three welds from the nut to make it smooth again. I was then able to reposition the nut so that both cables have the same tension when the tailgate is down.

I think Ford really needs to redesign this and make the mounts adjustable on both sides; making these points fixed was very obviously a cost-savings move!
And from the amount of people complaining about uneven cables, it seems the the positioning of the nuts is off location.
Seems like a lot of Humbug just to take out a little slack🤔
 
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OP

Mikk

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I doubt they weld them on the line, most likely the tailgates are premade and put on and something was (is) off on the machine that puts them together. Hopefully ford was (is) aware now and fixed this problem...Hopefully they will tell you to take your truck to the dealer and have it fixed if its off.
The nuts were very clearly spot-welded onto the body before it went through the paint shop. Most likely using a fixture or robot to position the nut. The tailgates are not hung onto the vehicles until after the bodies are painted. I have 30 years experience in an auto plant, so I am quite familiar with the processes. :)
 
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jwiedle24

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The nuts were very clearly spot-welded onto the body before it went through the paint shop. Most likely using a fixture or robot to position the nut. The tailgates are not hung onto the vehicles until after the bodies are painted. I have 30 years experience in an auto plant, so I am quite familiar with the processes. :)
I'm not an expert by any means, but just trying to comprehend your fix...

Wouldn't it be good that it's welded in place, since if you were to have the tailgate in the propped position with weight on it, and say over time after hitting some bumps etc. there's no chance it self-adjusts and breaks loose, dropping your tailgate and risking your contents?

Sincere question...
 
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Mikk

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I'm not an expert by any means, but just trying to comprehend your fix...

Wouldn't it be good that it's welded in place, since if you were to have the tailgate in the propped position with weight on it, and say over time after hitting some bumps etc. there's no chance it self-adjusts and breaks loose, dropping your tailgate and risking your contents?

Sincere question...
You'd be surprised at how well they hold; nothing should move as long as it is torqued properly. Every car's door latch striker posts are built this way, a post threaded into a nut on a moveable plate on the backside. They hold up to years of doors slamming, bodies flexing and minor accidents. Sometimes the plate on the backside is serrated a bit for more bite.

My best guess is that the Maverick is built this way to reduce costs, which makes sense considering the price of the vehicle. Saving a few cents here and there adds up to plenty of dollars.
The problem with a "no-adjust build" is that the fixtures have to be spot-on during production. It seems that that was not the case when some were built, though.
 

TomW

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Is this only a problem when the bed is in the fully down position? The cables are tight when using the half-down position?

 

 
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