Whether you love or hate them, a tailgate step can be a really helpful aftermarket addition to your F150. Forget the marketing and tough-guy image of an “original” truck model and think about just how many times you lugged something into the bed of your truck and had to stop and reposition yourself.
You aren’t alone in thinking this, as many drivers look to add a tailgate step to their Ford F150. But how can you do it, and what are the important factors you need to know?
Can I add a tailgate to my F150? Adding a tailgate to your F150 truck can be done in several ways. You can either buy an aftermarket step tailgate and install it yourself, which is very expensive or replace the entire tailgate, which is even more costly.
If you might ever consider adding a tailgate step yourself to your Ford F150, so keep reading to find out how it’s done.
Tailgate step: F150 introduction
If you are installing the step tailgate on to your F150, you are going to be looking at spending quite a bit of money. Your best bet is to wait until newer F150 (2015 or later) start showing up in salvage yards so you can pull one for yourself at a lower cost.
However, I understand that it is not always possible. So, in this guide I will detail how to buy a kit for a step-tailgate and install it yourself.
Please take note of the prices online for aftermarket step tailgates. Look at customer reviews for the best glimpse into what works or what doesn’t. The installation is going to be similar, regardless of the F150 tailgate kit you purchase.
How to add a tailgate step to an F150
Adding a step to your F150 tailgate can make your life a whole lot easier. Many people will use the tire or the heft themselves up onto the tailgate with much effort.
However, with the introduction of the tailgate step, there are a few secure options that you can install yourself at home.
The first option is to add a step to the bottom of your tailgate. This article will be the step by step instructions on how to install an AMP Research Bedstep (view on Amazon). Most bed steps require the same tools and measures so it’s a similar process no matter what product you might have.
The tools you will need:
- Torque Wrench
- 17mm socket
- 15mm socket
- 3/16 Allen bit
- 10mm open-ended wrench
Step #1: Mounting bracket to linkage assembly
First of all, you need to configure your tailgate properly before tightening anything. Get your hardware out and start with the two 17 mm bolts.
Place water under the head of each and use the bolts to mount brackets to the linkage.
You need to configure with the counterbore recess towards the rear of the coupling. Tighten them most of the way. Then, use a torque wrench to tighten these to 33-lbs.
Step #2: Mounting linkage attached to the F150
Use 10mm open-end wrench to remove the stock bracket under the truck. Once you remove the bracket, remove the bolts with a 15mm socket. Use a new version of these bolts to attach the mount to the truck.
The bolts with a 15mm head should be in your hardware kit that came with the tailgate step.
Attach the mount to the truck with these bolts with the ratchet. Then, use the torque to tighten down the bolts to about 42 foot-pounds.
Step #3: Install the step pads
The step pad has two positions. These are the outboard and inboard positions. Outboard gives you more room and inboard has a lower profile design.
Use the three weld nuts and place them into the 1st, 2nd, and 4th slots of the step. Install the lower slot of the linkage.
Then, use the supplied Allen screws and screw these in from the bottom.
DO NOT overtighten these because you can damage the step pad. Use the torque wrench to tighten down to 6 foot-pounds.
Pro Tip #1: Breaker bar will help loosen bolts
The bolts on the underside of the truck are very tight. You will probably not be able to loosen them on your own with a socket wrench or ratchet. Using a breaker bar is much more efficient for starting the bolts.
Once the bolts come loose, use the socket or ratchet wrench to finish removing the old bolts.
Pro Tip #2: Keep the footstep loose to allow for adjustment
Before you tighten down the footstep completely, leave it loose to make adjustments. If you leave it loose, it should be able to move slightly from side to side so that it can clear the bumper and not be sticking out from the bottom of the truck.
Then, use the torque to tighten down the screws of the footstep to 6 foot-pounds.
How to use a step tailgate?
A step below your F150 tailgate can be used by pulling it down to use to step up onto the bed of your truck much more quickly. Then, the step can be pushed by the front corner to a reclined position up and under the back end of the truck.
When installing a new step for the F150 tailgate, make sure that the step has clearance. The outboard and inboard positions can help you to achieve whichever amount of space for leeway that you need for your specific model of F150.
What are the best types?
Coated steel makes up most aftermarket step tailgates. These protect them from the wear and tear of the elements. The step tailgate is exposed on the underside of the truck, so you want it made and coated with durable steel material.
The design of the step tailgate also allows for up to 400 lbs of weight. Almost all of the step tailgates offer rubber coated step pads with grooves for a safe and secure step.
How do you replace the F150 tailgate?
There are several ways to replace the tailgate on your F150. The easiest and probably least expensive way is to pull an entire tailgate from a salvage yard. However, the F150 only introduced the step tailgate in 2015.
So, the odds are that there are not many of these models of F150 sitting in salvage yards. The other way to replace the F150 tailgate is to order a new one with the step tailgate and install it yourself how have it professionally installed by a body shop.
Removing your old tailgate and installing a new one
Replacing your tailgate with a professional service will save most people time. Still, the labor cost on this replacement can be $500 or more. With several hundred dollars for the new tailgate, this could cost you upwards of $1,000 for your new tailgate.
The high price of installation is why it may be an excellent option to do this replacement by yourself.
What tools you will need
- Needle nose pliers
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Torx bits
Step #1: Remove the old tailgate
The bolt that holds each side of the tailgate needs to be removed with the Torx bit. Prop up the tailgate, so it does not fall when you remove these bolts.
Once the bolts are gone, slide the tailgate out of the connector at a 45-degree angle.
Step #2: Transfer items form the old tailgate to the new
You will need to remove and replace several items from the old tailgate to the new one. You will need to transfer over are the inside lock cover plate, the handle and lock, the connection bushings, the Ford and F150 emblems, and the two latches on each side that keep the tailgate locked.
Several screws hold the lock cover plate in place. Remove them and also remove the locking mechanism and latches in the same way. Removing these items is relatively easy to do.
Two black clips hold the locking rods in place, which you remove by squeezing the top of the clips with your needle nose pliers.
Remove the latches from their bolts with the Torx.
Place the handle on the new tailgate into the front. Slide the backplate over the two bolts and tighten. Leave enough room for the rods to connect to the tailgate, so don’t tighten too much.
Finally, put the bushing on the main connectors at this point.
Step #3: Install the new tailgate
If you follow the above instructions in reverse, you should be able to install your new tailgate. Keep in mind that the emblems will need adhesive and tighten all bolts.
Whether you are buying a new tailgate or picking one from a salvage yard, there are several options. The step tailgate is probably the least expensive and easiest to install.
Finding a salvage yard tailgate is going to be difficult since the F150 only recently (in the last five years) released stock models with the step tailgate.
And order a new tailgate can be expensive. You can save yourself a=money and time by following the steps and tips in this article. Enjoy the luxury and convenience of having a step for you to get into the bed of your F150.