If you've ever used your pickup to haul a heavy vehicle like a motorcycle or ATV, you've likely had concerns about how much your pickup truck's tailgate can handle. Mark, a member of the Discount Ramps sales team, researched this issue to address your concerns:
Some common questions regarding tailgate capacity include: What is the tailgate weight rating of my pickup truck? How much weight will the cables on my truck's tailgate hold? Will the tailgate cables hold my motorcycle or atv? How do you find out what the weight capacity of tailgate cables is? These are a few of the questions that the Discount Ramps sales team is frequently asked. While the tailgate ratings have nothing to do with how we rate our ramps, they do play an integral part in how our ramps load machines into pickup trucks. We felt it was a topic that needed some more research.
Tailgates are the door at the back end of our pickups, and sport utility vehicles that are lowered to allow for easier entry and exit of cargo, loads, and other equipment in and out of our trucks. The cables are the part that supports the tailgate whenever it is lowered. Tailgate cables level the tailgate to the trucks bed whenever it is lowered. This makes it easier for loads to be put in and taken out of your vehicle. For our purposes tailgates are a loading platform when loading atv’s, motorcycles, and other equipment. For most consumers it is not practical to take their tailgate off when loading motorcycles, atv's or other equipment. Therefore the tailgate becomes a bridge, from our ramp to the bed of their truck. Thus the question arises “How much weight will those cables on my tailgate hold?”
After phone calls, emails, and research here is what we found out about how truck manufacturers rate their tailgate cables. They don't. The most common answer we were told was that the cables are not rated for liability reasons. The other popular answer is that tailgate cables are not designed to handle the weight of an atv, motorcycle, golf cart, etc. They may not be designed for that, but thousands of people transport their atv’s, motorcycles, and lawnmowers in there pickups without giving a second thought to whether or not their tailgates will handle the weight or not. That is until they break.
In the fall of 2004 my buddy and I were sitting on the back of his tailgate after a day of hunting when one of the cables snapped from our weight of sitting on it. The day before we unloaded a four wheeler with a ramp. It would have been a bad deal if the cable had broken when we were loading or unloading our quad. Turns out GMC had a recall on the tailgate cables. The truck was brand new so we took it to the nearest GMC dealership and got the cables replaced. We asked what the cables were rated at, and mostly got blank stares. They just told us to replace them regularly if they look worn or damaged. Not much reassurance when the cable on a brand new truck just failed.
In the early to mid 90’s there were numerous recalls of tailgate cables from several makes and models of trucks. Today the cables seem to be made stronger and more durable because more people are using their pickups for hauling a variety of different items that put stress on the tailgate, and its cables. Most tailgate cables are made of steel cables wrapped in rubber, nylon, or other protective cover. Today’s cables are made of high performance and rigid cables that are designed to last. From our research both stock and after-market tailgate supports are designed to handle extra loads, but getting a weight rating was hard to come by.
We at Discount Ramps advise you to examine your tailgate cables regularly to check for any damage that may interfere with the integrity of the cable. Examine the cables for such damage as fraying, rusting, or other wear that may weaken the cable's strength. Replace your cables regularly too, especially if you use your tailgate for loading and unloading four wheelers and motorcycles often. It’s a lot cheaper to replace your $20 dollar cables, than risk dumping your $20,000 dollar Harley Davidson because your tailgate cables failed. I hope this is helpful in answering any questions that you may have had about the rating of your trucks tailgate cables.
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