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By Popular Demand, the $10 Electric Tailgate Lock

127731 Views 171 Replies 73 Participants Last post by  zannej
To those of you who asked for a write up on this long ago, I aplogize. I finally got around to taking pics of my creation tonight. You will not have to do any drilling into your RL. You use the stock holes that are already there. Here is how you make it.

First you will need an electric actuator. This is the one I used.

The price is $4.25.

Now, you will have to go down to Lowes or Home Depot or maybe in your garage and get a set of 3" T brackets.

The price $2.97

You will need to then take one of the T brackets and take off the top leg. I used a pair of pliers and just bent the leg back and forth until it came off. If you want to get fancy, you can use a hacksaw. I didn't.

You then bolt the end that had the predrilled hole to the center hole of the other intact T bracket left in the package. I put 1 little nut in between the 2 bracket parts to make a swivel with enough room to clear the locking mechanism. I then used 2 additional nuts on the end of the bolt that are forced together so that they don't move on the bolt shaft. Here is a pic of the assembled locking mechanism. If you bolt this together correctly, it is EXTREMELY strong.

See the little oddball hole I drilled in the intact bracket on the bottom right side to the upside down T? You will have to drill this as well to line up with the stock hole in the tailgate. You then bolt it down and check for fitment. I didn't line up the holes in the picture very well but you will get the idea when you see it in person. The leg of the intact T bracket has to go under the tailgate locking mechanism as shown in the picture below. Disregard the metal rod in the picture. We havent gotten that far yet.

OK, now you will need brackets to install the lock actuator. I used the metal strip that came with the lock actuator. I used the bend back and forth method to bust it into 2 parts. I then mounted each end to the actuator first and then bent them under as shown in the picture. The screws were included with the actuator.

The trickiest part of the entire install was bending the actuator rod so that it would operate the locking mechanism. This also comes with the actuator. If you look at the last picture, the rod runs under the actuator. I can't really explain it as well as you can see in the picture.

(Continued in next post)
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Page 2.

Here is a picture of the installed acutator. It all bolts into place using the same 2 holes that you mounted the lock mechanism to.

The wiring for the mechanism is the same as other companys use to power their tailgate locking mechanisms. This information can be found online. I'm sure someone will post a link.

You will notice, I only spent about $7.23 so far out of my $10. You can either spend that money on the wire that is needed to connect the mechanism to your stock locking system or you can spend it on what I did since I already had an 16 guage speaker wire left over from another project for my power wire. If you have this wire already, use the $2.77 left over to go to BW3's and buy a nice cold beer during happy hour. You worked hard and deserve it.
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BTW, the yellow string is for an emergency release that can be accessed from the side of the tailgate in case the locking mechanism fails. I have never had to use it. I also have an extra picture I would like to throw in, it shows the 2 nuts locked together on the back side of the locking mechanism.

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This project is not that hard. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this project a 4. It looks like it's hard but it's not. The reason that I made this was because this project made my bed secure along with my DIY tonneau cover. Now, I can lock stuff in the bed of my truck without worries. You could break into the bed of my truck like any other one out there with a tonneau cover but it will keep the more honest theives out if there is such a thing.
bongus said:
Chris, does this lock function similarly to the other locks? I.E. does it jam the lock? TIA for your reply.

Yes it jams the lock only allowing about 1/3" of travel on the tailgate mechanism.When you pull up, there is almost no movement of the handle. My mechanism will not bend like others I have heard about.
tscdc said:
I guess I'm lazy or too tired to find it but do you have details on how to connect the wiring on your impressive DIY tailgate lock?
I'm not very mechanically inclined and especially not when it comes to electrical wiring. Do the wires attach to a harness running alongside the bed into the doors/ under the rocker panel?, where?(drivers side??)
Also, does this jam both opening directions of the tailgate? ie down and out? I guess it would have to for you to say your cargo is now secure w/ your tonneau cover.
Details needed for the technically challenged!
The tailgate lock is wired into the door locking system. There used to be a PDF online of how to connect the wiring. That company has since gone out of business. The wires connect at the base of the B pillar inside the truck.

My tailgate lock locks the tailgate from being opened with either handle. You are correct in saying that my cargo is secure.

I'll see if I can find some info of how to connect the wire for you. No promises though.
I believe I used either 14 or 16 gauge speaker wire for the wiring harness.

The release string is taped to the drivers side edge of the bed. The string has a big loop like a lasso in it taped wide open. You can easily grab it with a coat hanger with a hook bent into the end. I ran the string pretty much through entire tailgate in a straight line and draped the loop down from the end of the string that comes out the side. It takes very little effort to pull the string enough to unlock the tailgate.

PS. I think you are the first one to do this mod besides me. I'm surprised no one else has mentioned doing it. It works perfectly after all this time. I haven't even had to adjust it as of yet. Just like Ron Popeil said, "Just set it and forget it."
I am very pleased with the results and don't understand why more people don't go the same route. In order to make it a bit more understandable, I took some more pictures to supplement the ones above. I tried to emulate Chris's device as close as I could, but, possibly, due to some misunderstanding of his description and/or pictures, there may be some differences.
Wow! I didn't see this post. Great Job!! :)

It looks like you pretty much nailed what I did. I bent my actuator rod kind of funky as compared to yours but it is all essentially the same.

Mine still works flawlessly after a year of use and has never failed me even one time.

PS. I don't think that anyone else has tried this except for you. I've had a few folks approach me about making this but I've never seen any pictures.
Looks Great! :)

How long did it take you to complete the project?
I am glad that folks are benefiting from this easy modification. It's quick, it's cheap, and it's easy but beware, this modification has been known to cause cancer in labratory rats! :eek:
Going to bump this thread due to its ingenuity, and the fact that I will try and attempt this myself by this weekend. Don't want to lose this amongst the other threads.

Awesome job MacGyver. Err...ChrisM

You are quite welcome and THANK YOU for the tip on the bed extender!

Got mine today and installed it tonight. It's just what I was looking for and the price was PERFECT!
Great explanation, thanks.

Don't mean to keep beating a dead horse, but, wouldn't the valet option be good for the tailgate? Or is it more complicated than that?
I found out the other day that the trunk lock "locks" automatically when the battery is disconnected on the RL. This leads me to believe that the trunk lock works in a different fashion than the rest of the doors. My hypothesis is that the at rest position of the trunk lock is in the locked position. Furthermore I believe that it will only stay unlocked when there is some sort of current passing thru the circuit.

I could be wrong about this though.

Maybe HondaTech can pay this thread a visit and throw his 2 cents in about using the trunk lock as the actuator circuit. I never tried it when I designed the setup. There is a degree of plagerism in the design and I had the back seat out anyways when I did the install.

Thats my story and I'm stickin' to it. :)
It seems that inflation has hit the $10 tailgate lock. It is now the $11.25 tailgate lock as the price of the actuator has gone up from $4.25 to $5.50.

Sorry for the inconvenience.. :(
Add another to the list. Spent half a day on this and was not too bad. I had to remake both brackets as the locking arm was just a bit short the first time around, but it seems to work fine now.
My big worry is that someone really puts pressure on the handles to try and open the tailgate...Will something break inside the tailgate? If yes, then the emergency string will be no good. Maybe I need to revisit, to ensure that my failsafe actually works on the door mechanism and not the lock assembly. Again, if the handle linkage breaks, the lock will be the least of your problems it seems.
I believe that with the G2 in place, I could probably manage to release the tonneau in case of emergency, and then disassemble the tailgate, but that is not for certain as I did not think to try it out yesterday.
Thanks for the great How-To.
Big props.
I don't think you can break anything internally that easily. I thought my tailgate was frozen shut last week so I was really wailing on the handle trying to yank the tailgate open. It wasn't frozen, it was locked. I forgot that the tailgate relocks after 30 seconds if one of the doors are not opened in that time frame.

I clicked unlock and the tailgate opened as usual. No damage. :)

PS. Glad to hear you got the lock to work. :)
+1, Ive been here for months, about to order a dynalock, and only just found this. Ordering up the parts today. Thanks Chris and everyone else for the pics
No problem. :)
Thanks, I did add an emergency release line, multi-colored cord tied to the front of the actuator. I ran it out under the bed and tied it off. Hopefully won't ever need it.
I have never needed my emergency release since I did the original install whenever I started this thread. Mine still works like a champ after all these years.

I am considering doing this mod to my other Ridgeline too.
I totally forgot about this thread. It's hard to imagine but it's been 5 years since I started this thread. My tailgate lock is still going strong after all of this time! :)
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