For three generations, companies like Tommy Gate have built and designed hydraulic and electronic lifts that replace the traditional tailgate in trucks of all sizes and make life a WHOLE lot easier for loading.  It doesn’t matter if that truck is a pickup hauling appliances or a two-ton model delivering palletized goods, a “liftgate,” as they’ve come to be called, makes loading and unloading a lot safer and easier and is sure to outlast the basic stamped steel tailgate found on almost every truck today. 

That’s not to say that a liftgate is limited by your choice of vehicle – not at all.  Tommy Gate, the biggest name in liftgates, not only builds models for trucks of all sizes, they also have multiple models for work and cargo vans. 

Understanding The Liftgate ChallengeBut if you’re looking to invest in a liftgate, what are some things to look for?  Our teams get a lot of questions on the phones and in our shops about how to choose the right one, so let’s look at some of the questions we get asked and what options you have. 

First things first:  All liftgates are NOT created equally!

So, while there are electric liftgates on the market, the industry standard is – and likely always will be – hydraulic power. 

Why?  Simple!  A hydraulic system is completely self contained.  Yes, a few wires must be run into the chassis electrical system, but those don’t represent any real challenges in the installation process. 

So let’s go over some things to consider as you look into a liftgate for your truck or van. 

In fact, that’s the first key point:  What are you driving? 

Obviously, the popularity of some vehicles means there are more options for you.  A new Ford F350 is going to have far more options than a 1996 Bluebird bus, so fleet managers and tradesmen need to be clear on which vehicle is the “right” one for a liftgate.   Tommy Gate, for example, has multiple charts that can not only show compatibility, they’ll also show all the options available for that year, make, and model.  A one-ton dually, for example, due to a heavier-duty design, might have more options than the same year half ton.  

From there, the next big question is:  What do you need the liftgate to do? 

Understanding The Liftgate ChallengeSure, it’s easy to say, “Lift stuff,” but the answer is more complicated.  Are you and your team lifting liquids?  Then an expanded metal gate might make more sense, to prevent slips.  If the liftgate is going to be installed on a truck or van that is only ever used for carrying cargo, then the ramp’s overall weight capacity is a critical factor, but for lighter jobs, or more infrequent use, a lighter-duty unit that doesn’t take up as much space might be perfect.  That same standard holds true for the size of items you’d expect to be moving on and off of the truck – are these items palletized or randomly sized?  That can have a direct impact on the size of the deck you’ll be most comfortable using. 

One key question that many potential buyers don’t think to ask might be the most important one:  What factory options are going to be impacted by mounting a liftgate? 

Many new trucks on the market today have the rear camera mounted in the tailgate, and relocating that can be tricky.  Fortunately, Tommy Gate offers several ways to reposition both the backup cameras as well as other sensors your truck needs to run properly. 

While this can often be a simple matter of “plug and play,” other items, like factory tow hitches and bumpers need to be accounted for.  Remember, more and more trucks and vans have sensors in their bumpers, and simply unplugging these can impact critical safety systems like your airbags!

Another liftgate question we hear quite often is the most complicated one:  Can me and my team install a liftgate ourselves? 

Understanding The Liftgate ChallengeWhile thousands – maybe even millions – of liftgates have been installed in backyards and garages over the years, the truth is, today, there are too many variables in vehicle design for us to try to answer that here.  Complex electronics, feedback-based computers and safety systems, and even aftermarket accessories all can create unforeseen snags when it comes time to install a liftgate on your own.   Just as importantly, not getting your install 100% correct can cause you to inadvertently void the factory warranty. 

The best way to answer a question like that is one-on-one, with a member of our team.  They can help you determine not only which Tommy Gate is the right one for you and your needs, they can also share some of the challenges you might not have anticipated when it comes to installing.  Feel free to call us directly at 1-888-435-6466 and get the answers you need, right away. 

Liftgates aren’t magic, they’re simply great tools that can really make an impact on your business and save you and your team a LOT of time loading and unloading work trucks and vans.