If you have trouble getting into or out of a high tailgate, a tailgate step can be a great addition to your vehicle. Tailgate steps make using your truck bed easier, but in order to use one you need to know how to install a tailgate step.
Installing a tailgate step is a simple process of buying a tailgate step kit, putting the step assembly together, and attaching it to the outside of your tailgate. With the modification step kit and tools installing a tailgate step can be both quick and easy as long as you follow the right instructions.
If you want to install a tailgate step on your truck then you will want to follow these simple instructions.
Steps on How to Add a Tailgate Step to a Ford F-150
In order to properly install a working tailgate step kit you will need to follow these step-by-step instructions to create a safe and reliable step.
Step 1: Find a Tailgate Step Kit and Tools
Before you install a tailgate step you will need to find a tailgate step kit and the proper tools to install one. You can find tailgate step kits at most auto part stores and online retailers, where you can also find tools to help with the installation. Specifically, you’ll need the following items:
- A tailgate step kit of your choice
- A ratchet and torque wrench
- A set of sockets
- An Allen wrench bit
Once you have your tools you can start to prepare your work area.
- Step 1: Park your vehicle somewhere dry and well lit, like inside a garage. Be sure there is no wind to blow your parts around.
- Step 2: Organize your tools so you can reach them quickly. Also set aside a clear, safe space for extra parts from your assembly kit.
With your work area prepared you can start assembling your tailgate step.
Step 2: Attach the Bracket to the Assembly
The first major step to attaching your tailgate step is to assemble the step itself, since many of the bolts can only be attached while the bracket is not on the tailgate. It is best to do this on a flat surface, such as your lowered tailgate or a workbench.
- Step 1: Take the pieces you need out of your kit including the instruction manual and your tools. Set them out where you can keep track of them.
- Step 2: Attach the mounting bracket to the main body of the tailgate step using your ratchet or socket wrench.
- Step 3: Tighten the bolts in the bracket using your torque wrench. You’ll want to tighten the bolts down to 33 lbs. for a solid grip.
If you are having trouble driving the bolts in, wet them a bit before you start so they will go in easier and tighten faster.
Step 3: Attach the Step to the Tailgate
Once you have the tailgate assembly put together you can attach the step itself to the tailgate arm. Before you do this, however, you may need to decide what position you want for your tailgate step since certain models come with different options:
- An inboard position is more concealed.
- An outboard position is easier to work with.
After choosing your step position you can start attaching the step to the assembly, since the process is the same either way.
- Step 1: Install the second section of the linkage arm first by attaching the three bolts to the link.
- Step 2: Use the Allen wrench to attach the pad to the end of the link arm at the position you want.
- Step 3: Make sure your bolts are tight, but do not overtighten them or they might damage the assembly.
With the step pad attached and secure you can finally move on to installing the completed assembly to your tailgate.
Step 4: Attach the Pad to the Tailgate Step
After completing the assembly for your tailgate step you can now attach it to your truck. For this step, depending on ground clearance, you may want a mechanic’s creeper or something to lay down on as you get under your truck.
- Step 1: Remove the stock bracket by unscrewing the bolts and taking off the assembly.
- Step 2: Attach your new bracket assembly to the truck by bolting it to the old bracket’s position.
- Step 3: Tighten down the bolts to 42 lbs. to make sure the tailgate step is secure.
- Step 4: Try out your new tailgate step and make sure it can support a person’s full weight.
Once your tailgate step is installed and secure you are done, and can now enjoy your new step for easier tailgate use.
A tailgate step is a great way to make getting in and out of your truck easier, and by following these steps you can install one no problem.
Tips for Installing Tailgate Steps
When installing a tailgate step there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that your tailgate step is correctly installed.
Measure twice before installation. You’ll want to make sure your step is exactly where you want it to be before you start removing or driving in bolts. One way to do this is to use a bit of duct tape to temporarily attack the assembly to the underside of your car, then moving the tailgate to where you want it and marking the spot off.
Keep the assembly loose for adjustments. You will need to make your assembly tight so it will support your weight, but don’t make it so tight that you can’t adjust the position later. Even if you have the perfect spot for your tailgate base this doesn’t mean the step will be perfectly aligned as well.
Don’t overtighten the assembly. While a loose assembly can be a problem for supporting someone’s weight, an assembly that is too tight can become brittle and snap under too much strain. As a general rule, you shouldn’t tighten any part of the foot pad or the folding arm past six pounds of tension.
Invest in a breaker bar. Some bolts might not come loose easily, so a breaker bar will help you with the tougher bolts while your ratchet or wrench handles the weaker bolts. If you have a collection of ratchet sockets, be sure they will fit on your new breaker bar as well to get the most out of the tool.
What is the Best Type of Tailgate Step?
While there are many types of tailgate steps, some styles and forms are better than others either due to how durable or versatile they are. Some of the best tailgate step models offer one or more of the following features.
Steel-Frame. Steel is both durable enough to withstand a massive amount of weight and shock while also being light enough not to strain your truck or tailgate. Plastics are too easy to break while other metals like iron add unnecessary weight to your vehicle. Always look for a steel-framed tailgate step when shopping for kits so you get the most out of your materials.
Adjustable. Even if you have your tailgate step set perfectly for you, this doesn’t mean the step will be set correctly for anyone else using your truck bed or every situation you find yourself in. For this reason a sturdy, adjustable tailgate step is always better than a fixed frame step, especially if you do a lot of work with others. Be sure the frame pivots at multiple points, including footpad angle, height, and distance from the truck.
Compact. There are some large tailgate steps that work almost like ladders, offering multiple steps for more stability. At the same time these steps are heavier and easier to stop than other, more compact models which do the same job. A frame that can fold up and stow itself easily not only looks better but is easier on your tailgate than a bolting a collapsible step ladder to your tailgate.
How to Replace Tailgate
Replacing a damaged or out of date tailgate is a fairly simple process that should take less than an hour to complete. In order to replace a tailgate you will need the following items:
- A ratchet set with sockets
- A set of screwdrivers
- A new tailgate
- A wet rag or cleaning cloth
You can begin removing your old tailgate once you have your new materials.
- Step 1: Remove your license plate and the bolts connecting the tailgate to the truck bed, including the latches.
- Step 2: Carefully lift the old tailgate off the back hinges and set it aside. Make sure the old hinges are not damaged or bent
- Step 3: Lower the new tailgate onto the old hinges and use the old bolts to attack the new tailgate, unless the tailgate comes with its own bolts.
- Step 4: Wipe your old license plate clean and attach it to your new tailgate.
While a flat-bed truck is a great vehicle to move heavy loads around, it can be difficult to get in our out of the truck bed. One item that will help with this is a tailgate step, which is easy to install and will make getting in or out of your truck easier. If you have any questions about tailgate steps, comment with them below.
Hi, I am Brad. Car Independent is your source for independent views on cars and car accessories. Whether you looking to buy a new car or something cool for your car, you have many options. My aim to help you make the best-informed choices.