Honda Ridgeline Tailgate Won’t Open – What To Do?

You're trying to place a load into your Honda Ridgeline's tailgate, but it's not opening. Now, you're looking at the assembly, thinking about what you can do in this situation. We researched this concern and consulted with different experts to give you the following information.

First, find the source of the problem. Then, you can use the right technique to solve the issue at its source. Some of the methods you can try are:

  1. Remove the blockage
  2. Replace the retainer clip
  3. Replace the tailgate handle

At first, it may look like a reasonably straightforward job to unlock a Honda Ridgeline tailgate. But missing important details could result in additional harm to the pickup truck. So continue reading as we discuss these possible solutions in greater detail.

Honda Ridgeline on display at the Orange County International Auto Show. - Honda Ridgeline Tailgate Won't Open - What To Do

How Do You Open A Honda Ridgeline Tailgate That Won’t Open?

Honda Ridgeline on display at the Orange County International Auto Show.

Different possible solutions exist that can fix a Honda Ridgeline’s tailgate that won’t open. Make sure to troubleshoot the pickup truck first to find the source of the issue. Then, follow the procedure that may provide the best results.

Method #1: Remove The Blockage

One reason that a Honda Ridgeline’s tailgate refuses to open is because of debris stuck in the locking mechanism. Here are the steps to help you remove the item from the assembly:

What You’ll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • WD-40

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Locate the tailgate locking mechanism.
  2. Remove the screws securing the tailgate’s interior panel.
  3. Lift the panel and pull it out. Set it aside temporarily.
  4. Spray the exposed locking mechanism with WD-40.
  5. Wiggle the locking assembly a few times, which should loosen the stuck debris.
  6. Remove the blockage.
  7. Return the components that you removed previously.
  8. Attempt to open the Ridgeline’s tailgate to check if these steps solved the problem.

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If you have difficulties in removing the tailgate’s interior panel, you can use a panel remover to pry it open first. Otherwise, use a flathead screwdriver if you don’t have a panel-removing tool.

Also, be careful when using WD-40. Don’t use more of the product than necessary as it’s a water-displacing solution. Although it has some lubricating properties, it may gather gunk, especially if applied significantly.

You can also watch the video below for a visual guide of the steps mentioned above:

Method #2: Replace The Retainer Clip

Also called the tailgate latch, the retainer clip is a component responsible for connecting the tailgate panel to the locking mechanism. If it breaks, the tailgate won’t open from its closed position.

You can check if the retainer clip on your Ridgeline is the suspect by opening the tailgate. Once opened, follow these steps to replace this piece:

What You’ll Need

  • Replacement retainer clip
  • Hook

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Use the hook to remove the rod with the broken retainer clip out of its mount.
  2. Slide off the remnants of the old retainer clip out of the rod.
  3. Install the replacement retainer clip into the rod.
  4. Attach the rod and the rest of the assembly to the appropriate mount.
  5. Try to open the tailgate to check if the problem persists.

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Watch this video to see this procedure in action:

Method #3: Replace The Tailgate Handle

Another possible culprit for a Honda Ridgeline's tailgate failing to open is the handle. This assembly might have broken parts that don't connect to the locking mechanism, causing the malfunction.

So follow these steps to replace the tailgate handle on your Ridgeline pickup truck:

What You’ll Need

  • Replacement tailgate handle kit
  • Attaching arms
  • Tailgate handle bracket
  • Hand drill
  • Torque drill bits
  • Screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • Rubber mallet

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Unscrew the tailgate’s interior panel.
  2. Tap the tailgate’s top housing to the right. Remove it afterward.
  3. Remove the newly exposed torque screws and lift the tailgate interior panel from the rest of the assembly.
  4. Disconnect the wire connecting the backup camera to the old tailgate handle.
  5. Remove the two bolts on the inside of the tailgate’s housing.
  6. Disconnect the rod with the green retainer clip from the locking mechanism.
  7. Remove the backup camera from the old handle. Then, take the old handle out of the tailgate.
  8. Install the locking cylinder into the new tailgate handle.
  9. Place the tailgate handle bracket above the locking mechanism and secure it.
  10. Mount the new tailgate handle to the handle bracket and install the backup camera.
  11. Attach the tailgate handle to the locking mechanism.
  12. Test the assembly by opening and closing the tailgate to check if the new handle works as intended.
  13. If the installation is a success, return the removed parts to their original locations and secure them.

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Don’t forget to contact the carmaker or automobile retailer’s customer service to check if tinkering with your tailgate will adversely affect the truck’s warranty.

Watch this video if you need a visual guide for this procedure:

Does The Tailgate On A Honda Ridgeline Lock?

Park elephant sculpture stands in the body of a Honda Ridgeline car

Generally, the tailgate on a Honda Ridgeline should have a secure lock. You can complete this task by returning the tailgate to its closed position if it’s open. Then, an audible safe-sounding click or snap should emanate from the lock, indicating that the structure is secure.

You can also watch the video below to gain additional insight on how to operate the Honda Ridgeline’s tailgate:

How Do You Open The Tailgate On A Honda Ridgeline?

Honda Ridgeline rides on the road

Different Honda Ridgeline models often use varying methods in opening their tailgates. Here’s an example for the pickup’s 2019 version:

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pull up the handle on the tailgate.
  2. Maintain light pulling pressure to the handle with one hand.
  3. Carefully lower the tailgate with your other hand.

What Are Some Honda Ridgeline Tailgate Problems?

Aside from failing to open, the Honda Ridgeline may encounter some complications. These issues may include:

Bad Wiring

Certain Honda Ridgeline models, such as the 2020 Sport unit, have electric power locks. But the wiring connecting the different assemblies and parts to operate the lock might be loose or worn.

If the wires are loose, securing them into their proper placements should solve the issue. Otherwise, rewiring the power lock might be the best solution.

Hydraulic Damper Leak

disassembling fastening of broken car shock absorber (focus on pneumatic screwdriver)

Also called gas springs, hydraulic dampers help the tailgate lower slowly without significant risks of slamming against rear bumpers. However, the gas in these assemblies may leak over time.

A workaround for this issue is to hold and carry the tailgate as it opens. On the other hand, a permanent fix would be to replace the hydraulic dampers for you to experience long-term results.

Skewed Striker

A striker is responsible for keeping the tailgate locked and secured. If the striker becomes misaligned, the tailgate may move on its own while you’re driving the vehicle. This instance may cause unnecessary abrasion to the striker and the surrounding parts, which might lead to a lock failure.

Realign the striker if you can. If you can’t replacing it can be the ideal solution.

Check out this replacement Honda Ridgeline tailgate lock on Amazon.

Final Words

If you’re looking for the answers to other pickup concerns, check out these other great reads:

Largest Tire Size For Honda Ridgeline – Can You Go Bigger?

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