Home » Here’s A Quick Look At The Engineering Behind The Ford F-150 ‘Pro Access’ Tailgate

Here’s A Quick Look At The Engineering Behind The Ford F-150 ‘Pro Access’ Tailgate

Pro Access Ts
ADVERTISEMENT

I’m at the Detroit Auto Show looking at hardware, something I desperately miss doing since I moved to Los Angeles, where my life largely revolves around figuring out what to order from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop ghost kitchen. Anyway, expect some engineering geekiness soon, with the first little installment being this brief look at the new Ford F-150 Pro Access Tailgate, which is comprised of two “20 percent” pieces on the outside and a swinging “60 percent” section in the middle, with the two 20-percenters attached to one another via a steel member at their base. Here, let me show you.

The Pro Access Tailgate promises to make grabbing the gear in your bed easier, without having to lean over a tailgate or without dropping the gate onto a trailer hitch.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

It’s unclear who other than me gives a damn about how the new Ford F-150 Pro Access tailgate is put together, but I need to know these things or I won’t be able to sleep at night. So let’s just get into it.

Screen Shot 2023 09 13 At 10.23.36 Am

The short of it is that two “20 percent” sections of tailgates make up the outboard pieces of the Pro Access design; they have steel structural elements, but the sheetmetal is aluminum. Connecting those two pieces at their bases is an extremely stiff steel structural member. Here’s a closer look at that member pointed out in the image above — a member whose welds are clearly visible when the swing gate is open. Ford notes that this is a preproduction unit, by the way:

ADVERTISEMENT

377225065 1325254068386894 6635852099474351919 N 377322766 817374370117746 3879751511923012769 N

You’ll notice that there’s a striker on top of the stiff member:

378130330 697163149000042 2145739886499675196 N377241564 2425146687656345 5272067692506751193 N

That striker is joined by two additional strikers (of different lengths) on the driver’s side “20 percent” piece:

377476460 1225016754861282 4613862672938441121 N

ADVERTISEMENT

377446923 1731333067329531 4007043114389044309 N

You’ll also notice that at the ends of the strikers are rubber stoppers to help the swing gate close quietly. The tailgate itself also has rubber stops, as you’d expect with any tailgate:

377474629 6837462452979977 5049009628942134270 N 376483179 1505812216822201 7475634663849934392 N

Here’s the latch on the bottom of the swinging door:

Screen Shot 2023 09 13 At 3.23.19 Pm

ADVERTISEMENT

Here’s a look at the latches on side of the swinging door:

376394108 5474824845975938 8103430235026186379 N

Edit: as reader PL71 Enthusiast points out, the bottom one is more of a guide and not a latch:

377097732 1297139924498894 8201087785839818522 N

Per F-150 Product Manager Klaus Mello, these strikers work together to keep that center swinging door constrained to reduce NVH and to ensure durability. It’s still not clear to me why the two latches have different depths (and why the strikers are different lengths), but maybe it has to do with increasing torsional stiffness when the swinging door is latched? Or maybe it’s just about offering two latch positions? Perhaps one of you in the comments has an idea.

ADVERTISEMENT

373067931 847585153554399 6037170158376223436 N

As for the hinges attached to the passenger’s side “20 percent,” those are cast parts connected by a vertical bar, presumably to add stiffness:

377877372 1547254145807673 2794300219567125107 N 377161198 3468459106735194 3123285516200221727 N

377877372 1547254145807673 2794300219567125107 N

You’ll notice in the image above the linkage that creates the three detents in the Pro Access tailgate’s opening motion. Here’s a closer look; it’s fairly conventional:

ADVERTISEMENT

377115188 308913631732507 4713158600917947924 N

You’ll also see a plastic piece; that’s a conduit for the wiring that goes from the truck, along the stiff horizontal member, and into the passenger’s side 20 percent section. 377161198 3468459106735194 3123285516200221727 N (1)

When the tailgate is open, the back side of the stiff member has a plastic piece connected to it; that hides the wire that goes from the bed to the passenger’s side “20 percent” piece and to the swing gate.

Screen Shot 2023 09 13 At 11.51.04 Am

As for sealing, the way it’s set up is: There’s a big plastic trim piece on the back side of each “20 percent” section. That trim is torx-screwed to each section, and a seal is attached to the trim via some plastic clips.

ADVERTISEMENT

Screen Shot 2023 09 13 At 12.01.22 Pm Screen Shot 2023 09 13 At 12.03.06 Pm Screen Shot 2023 09 13 At 12.04.18 Pm

One thing I haven’t quite figured out is why there’s an pyramidal plastic piece between the horizontal member and the base of the driver’s side “20 percent” section of the tailgate:

Screen Shot 2023 09 13 At 11.56.41 Am 377173974 983401642974135 840928949343586332 N

I think it covers up a bracket that’s meant to stiffen the interface between the horizontal member and the driver’s side 20 percent, but I’m not entirely sure.

376429628 1350500882512775 3429850017706533027 N 378173787 148810108286080 877952874592134230 N 377097792 683333866708020 1019292773285630665 N (1)

ADVERTISEMENT

Anyway, now you’ve had a close F-150 Pro Access tailgate’s hardware. Ford is always looking for ways to up its game in the Pickup Truck Arms Race, so we’ll see how customers respond to this—to say nothing of the Detroit competition.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Autopian (@theautopian)

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
55 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
D M
D M
2 months ago

Ford thought tailgates needed more tailgates so they tried to out-tailgate the competitions’ tailgates but now they’re just tailgating with this dumb tailgate…

Kipewing
Kipewing
2 months ago

What problem is this intended to solve, in consideration of all the problems it creates at great expense?

Space
Space
2 months ago
Reply to  Kipewing

Lowering the tailgate while towing.

Palmetto Ranger
Palmetto Ranger
2 months ago

But does the whole tailgate assembly have a damper? The Ranger did not come with one, and there were some pretty entertaining Damper Wars on the Ranger forum between those that added one after market and those who thought you had to be soft to use one.

Palmetto Ranger
Palmetto Ranger
2 months ago

I should have watched the video first since it answers my question.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
2 months ago

Thanks for getting into the details of the tailgate!

Ryanola
Ryanola
2 months ago

How strong is that 60% door when you drive a motorcycle over the top of it? At least it appears the bumper prevents the door from being accidentally opened when the tailgate is down. That just looks like a gimmick to sell lifestyle image trucks to people who don’t need them… oh wait, just answered my own question.

Ben
Ben
2 months ago

It’s still not clear to me why the two latches have different depths (and why the strikers are different lengths)

I’m betting it’s a trick to help with aligment of everything. Notice how the guide one is deeper, so the striker is going to hit that first, slide into the correct spot even if the actual alignment is slightly off, then help guide the other one into the perfect place. I 3d printed a trombone a while back and did something similar. The two sides of the inner slide are slightly different lengths so I can line one up, and then just slide it onto the other. Much easier than trying to perfectly align two things at once.

Hillbilly Ocean
Hillbilly Ocean
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Bad! Very bad! When 3D printer stop, trombone solo start!

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
2 months ago

all this contortionism of tailgates wouldn’t be as needed if the trucks and beds weren’t so high in the first place. Have no troubles grabbing gear from 20+ older truck beds. But let’s just overcomplicate on top of disfunction. Also wondering how much gravel it’ll take to bust that open….

Citrus
Citrus
2 months ago
Reply to  Fuzzyweis

If the gravel is going to break that little door open, the entire tailgate is gone. It’s going to be about as strong as any other component of it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Citrus
Stones4
Stones4
2 months ago
Reply to  Fuzzyweis

Absolutely no reason for trucks to be as absurdly tall as they are now

Xpumpx
Xpumpx
2 months ago
Reply to  Stones4

wow, fresh take. relevant, too.

Hillbilly Ocean
Hillbilly Ocean
2 months ago
Reply to  Stones4

Penises

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
2 months ago

“strikers work together”

Yes. Yes, they do. Much more effective that way.

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
2 months ago

I sincerely hope there’s something preventing people from attempting to open the tailgate proper while the little door is open, because otherwise that bumper’s getting crunched.

sentinelTk
sentinelTk
2 months ago

Well considering the opening mechanism is on the now swung out door, its not too much of a limb to go out on to assume it is not functional when the door is in the open or unlatched position…..

Also if someone is dumb enough to try, let them.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
2 months ago

This seems like a desperate attempt. “Everyone is doing fancy tailgates and all we have is a stick you can hold on to, hurry up team, come up with something the competition hasn’t already beat us to”.

Excellent article, BTW.

Last edited 2 months ago by Angrycat Meowmeow
Brian Ash
Brian Ash
2 months ago

But will they have some fancy marketing campaign for the fancy tailgate featuring fancy Kristen?

Trevlington
Trevlington
2 months ago

This reminds me of the front gate to my old college for some reason:
https://images.app.goo.gl/wSYQxJ4RBEwg1iAAA

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
2 months ago

Thought this was just a gimmick at first, but can actually see the purpose of it after thinking about it. Wonder how much it costs…

Ultimately, I think it’s a good idea – but probably not worth whatever they’re trying to charge for it.

MP81
MP81
2 months ago

That’s just about as unimpressively engineered as the Ram’s MFTG.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
2 months ago

Pretty confident the lower latch is not a latch, it is a locating track. It makes sure the other latch is lined up with the striker. It is longer so it engages first. I have seen this somewhere else (possibly on one of my vehicles at some point?) but I can’t remember where.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
2 months ago

Oh, and my best guess to why they are separated is because there isn’t enough linear space to have them both use the same striker.

Alt Schule
Alt Schule
2 months ago

I like clever engineering and whiz-bang features but as I got wiser, I ask myself what is the cost per use of a feature over 5 years.

  • Apple Carplay – every time you use the vehicle. ok, worth it
  • Heated Seats – half the year, probably worth it
  • Tow package – might save my life, worth it
  • Silly tailgate – 1.5 times per year. not worth it
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Alt Schule

What are you doing that the towing package might save your life? Towing with a vehicle that can’t tow?

Alt Schule
Alt Schule
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Well yes. Towing my heavy trailer is dangerous so getting the factory hitch, controller, monitoring system seems like a good way to keep me and my truck safer. But yes, you can do it all piecemeal or skip some of the bits.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
2 months ago
Reply to  Alt Schule

I’d wager the “typical” pick up buyer would use this more than the normal tailgate since it would save them from having to reach over the tailgate itself to grab groceries, bags of hockey equipment…

Alt Schule
Alt Schule
2 months ago
Reply to  BolognaBurrito

If I had a tonneau, the baby-gate would be a great feature. Mostly I use the back seat area for stuff that would go into a car trunk. My truck bed is reserved for trucky things (car parts, building supplies, lawn cuttings, moving things), so a regular tailgate works just fine for me. YMMV

Ian McClure
Ian McClure
2 months ago

Continuing to make trucks more carlike for people who don’t need trucks but own them anyway.

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian McClure

Yes, but cars are sold on what they CAN do and not necessarily what they are actually used for. That, and people want a safe, comfortable, and roomy ride. Even luxury cars today don’t ride as well as a well spec’d pickup on crappy pavement, etc.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
2 months ago

BIG QUESTION!!! Why the right handed opening Why have the tailgate swing toward the curb so things have to be carried AROUND the gate instead of the gate swining driver side so loading and unloading is easier????
Road crown helping it stay open, Gate swinging into traffic? too many right handed people???
I have the same issue with my jeep JK tailgate. I want it to open the other direction.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jim Stock
Jim Stock
Jim Stock
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

LOOK at the ridgeline tailgate it opens the other direction making loading from the curb SO much easier.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

Anybody have a link to an article that explains the actual reasons for left or right tailgate opening?

Pickup_Man
Pickup_Man
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

All anecdotal but I can’t remember the last time I parallel parked, let alone loaded things from the curb side. Opening from the driver side is far more convenient since that’s where I get in and out of the vehicle. Think of having a trailer hooked on as well, opening on the driver’s side means I could simply open the gate and grab what I need, a passenger side opening means I either have to hop over the trailer tongue, open the gate, grab stuff, close the gate then hop back over with stuff in hand, or go around the truck or trailer. Driver’s side opening is the correct choice IMO.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
2 months ago

When I see cool new(-ish) stuff like this I wonder how it will handle many years of upper midwest winters and road salt.

Also, Will all this tailgate war stuff mean there will be fewer used pick up trucks without tailgates in the future?

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

As these trucks age in to the 3rd owner/beater phase I suspect most of them will have had the fancy tailgate replaced with a basic one from the junkyard, or that they just won’t have a tailgate anymore. There are lots of seams and openings on this design where corrosion will do its thing.

Last edited 2 months ago by IRegertNothing, Esq.
Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
2 months ago

And a low speed rear impact may add up to thousands of bucks to repair.

Citrus
Citrus
2 months ago

Magic does often happen when a stiff member is involved.

Alt Schule
Alt Schule
2 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Is that comment related to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop?

Citrus
Citrus
2 months ago
Reply to  Alt Schule

There is no way I can make a “Goop” joke that isn’t 20x worse than just the “stiff member” joke so…

I, uh, am not the target market for Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop in multiple senses of the term.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

I’m glad that I’m not the only one who tee-hee’d as David kept using that term.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
2 months ago

And cringing when he talked about the striker on the stiff member. I don’t kink shame, but don’t strike my stiff member!

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
2 months ago

“Per F-150 Product Manager Klaus Mello, these strikers work together to keep that center swinging door constrained to reduce NVH”… Those are the only strikers who will be working soon…

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
2 months ago

I like the idea of a station wagon type door and steps into the tailgate as I get old.

Side note: If this had an Autopian TV video, where would I find the link?

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
2 months ago

What happens when two or three Bubbas sit on the tailgate (in the “normal” horizontal position) at a drive-in, the lake, or a football game? Will the sag be irreversible?!

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Zavist

The Honda Ridgeline’s Two-way “magic doorgate” seems like a much more elegant and durable solution, as well as a proven design from the station wagons of the ’70s and ’80s.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Zavist

I eagerly await the “Ford’s Tailgate Fails!” YouTube videos.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago

I am a full fledged adult. I have kids, a mortgage, and a stable career.

Must… not… make… juvenile “member” comments.

So I’ll just say that this is an interesting look in what it takes to make a simple part of a vehicle and differentiate it from the competition. But this is really a Goldblum moment. They were too busy figuring out if they could to ask if they should.

We’ll see what the take rate is, and even though this isn’t THAT complicated, I can’t help but look at Ford’s recent roll-out difficulties. If I’m buying a new F150, it’s gonna be a no from me.

Regardless of how many stiff, vertical, or horizontal members it has.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
2 months ago

Those look like some shitty ass welds, or is this typical Ford quality. Screw UAW raises, they should get pay cuts for welds like that.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

That’s the first thing I noticed. If it’s a viewable part of the truck, at least make it look nice or at least a continuous weld

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

I don’t think those are welds. Someone else mentioned the tailgate is made of aluminum. If so, I bet that’s adhesive. Doesn’t make it look any better, though.

DadBod
DadBod
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

DT said it’s preproduction

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
2 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

So this is better than Ford production line quality…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Thanks for prompting a smile.
Moonlighting in retail, I had an interesting customer who wore a New Year’s Eve gold lamé hat & drove an 83(?) Thunderbird with QLTY JB1 on the tag. Seems she had worked in the plant that built it for decades and was quite serious. I’m too polite to argue the point—but that’s what I think of anytime I see a comment like yours

55
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x