Automatic Plug-And-Play Tailgate Lock from Runnin 4 Tacos – Installation Guide, Overview & Initial Review for 3rd Gen (2016+) Toyota Tacoma
The Tacoma is a versatile truck with so many applications. Personally, I use my Tacoma for various activities, from off-roading and overlanding to job sites and, yes, flashy “mall-crawling.”
My Tacoma has a slightly different gear setup for each task or adventure. For overlanding and camping, the A.R.E. camper shell setup (seen above) is my go-to gear storage. The Diamondback cover (seen below) is the hands-down best option to withstand daily high-impact, abrasive environments for cruising around town or hauling tools to job sites.
Unfortunately for those who haul gear and tools with tonneau covers or camper shells, some of our Tacomas don’t come with auto-locking tailgates. Checking the tailgate when locking up your truck may be a mundane task, but when you’re packed down with (expensive) gear for overlanding or work needs, the last thing you want is to compromise the safety of your valuables. It makes sense to add this convenience to your Tacoma setup in an era where most trucks now come with auto-locking tailgates.
The Runnin 4 Tacos Tailgate Lock for 3rd Gen Tacomas is an excellent product that is easy to install and a breeze to use. This product will keep anyone lacking your truck key from getting inside your bed if used in conjunction with a bed cover or camper shell. The mechanism itself is made of lightweight, non-rusting aluminum and has a quietly operating piston. The plug-n-play install requires no splicing or soldering, and the wiring harness tucks easily along the frame of your truck. Let’s up the security level of your Tacoma!
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Tools and Materials
- Ratchet + Extension
- 10mm Socket
- #30 Torx Bit
- 1/4 Inch Drill Bit
- Flathead Screwdriver
Step 1. Prep Tailgate
First, open the tailgate and then reach under and lock the tailgate with your key – the mechanism inside must be locked to install the auto-locking device. Then, remove the tailgate cover by unscrewing the seventeen bed cover bolts with a Torx #30 bit and screwdriver or drill.
Next, use a flathead screwdriver for popping the long, skinny locking rod out of the orange plastic retainer. Take a pair of needle-nose pliers and squeeze the white clip to pop it out as well. Now, move the long, skinny locking rod to the side.
Step 2. Install Locking Device
Connect the green and blue wires on the locking device to the green and blue wires on the wiring harness. Push them tight until the ends click together. The fit is solid.
Next, install the locking device by aligning the holes, as shown above. There are three holes. Two align with black tabs on the tailgate, and a third goes over the hole for the factory 10mm bolt. Remove this bolt, insert the locking mechanism, and retighten it down.
Step 3. Route Wiring Harness
Start by removing the two tailgate harness end-caps with a flathead screwdriver. Pry them out carefully to not scratch the paint on your truck. Make sure to keep the tailgate-side cap and the bed-side cap separate.
Bedside end cap seen above.
Tailgate end cap seen above.
Next, use the 1/4″ drill bit to drill holes in the exact location you see above. Then, route the wiring harness by essentially piggy-backing the internal tailgate harness and feeding the harness into the proper sides of each end-cap before reinstalling them.
Now pull the wiring harness all the way through and begin routing it along the passenger-side frame. It comes out underneath the bed around the top right green arrow above. There’s already another wiring harness in this same location, so you can easily piggyback on top of it along the way toward the front of the truck. Use the provided zip ties here generously.
You’ll come forward to just past the middle of the frame until you see this box on the outside of the passenger frame. Use the flathead screwdriver to poke a hole into this rubber boot. It’s soft and easy to puncture and leads right into your cab. Push the wiring harness right through. Also, probably clean your truck underside if it’s as dirty as mine…
Step 4. Install Plug Adapter
Next, open your passenger door and take up the plastic molding on your passenger floorboard. They pry up with a bit of force, so give them a good tug.
Underneath the passenger seat floor carpet will be the top side of that rubber boot through which you routed the wiring harness. Lift up the carpet in this area and feed through the rest of the harness.
Route the harness underneath the area of the plastic molding. There’s another wiring harness here, so follow this harness to keep it looking OEM.
As you reach the side kick panel, locate this area of plugs. You’ll need to unplug the one circled in green above.
Connect the supplied plug adapter to the wiring harness’ green and blue wires and then to the factory harness. Then, insert the plug adapter into the truck connector. Secure the rest of the wiring harness and then reinstall the kick panel and floor panel. Now you’re ready to test the locking mechanism – the moment of truth!
You can see how the mechanism works in the short video I shot above. It’s smooth and efficient. Please note that the sound is much less audible in person. The video makes it seem way noisier than it really is. Probably because the inside is exposed, and the empty cavity amplifies sound. When you unlock/lock the vehicle from the outside, I hardly hear the tailgate locking/unlocking. This is a really good improvement over the first edition of this lock from R4T.
I checked the tailgate hand latch to ensure the auto-lock is actually extending far enough to engage the lock. Sure enough, the lock is fully engaged. I feel no rubbing or catching issues, no rattling or loose-sounding components in locked or unlocked positions. The mechanism itself is also simply constructed, which means fewer possible problems to go wrong in the future. Also, the tailgate can still be manually unlocked/locked with your truck key.
Simple mods that add efficient security features to your vehicle are a great value, and a must-have. You can install R4T’s Tailgate Lock for the 3rd Gen Tacoma in about 10-15 minutes and eliminate one more variable in your daily driving and working situations – especially for the more complex setups of overlanding.
Lastly, check out the video below to directly compare the R4T lock and a close competitor, Pop & Lock. You can see the difference pretty clearly. There are also differences in internal material quality to note and a quieter actuator. Overall, the R4T lock seems to be of higher quality.