More than any vehicle I’ve known, the 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup truck emphasizes and enables owner upgradability, complete with DIY plans and videos like this one to install bed-rail lighting and an air compressor. So we figured we’d give this project a try ourselves with our own Maverick.
I’m tempted to tease Ford for giving customers unfinished trucks and telling them, “You do it!,” but the truth is the Maverick is a great truck with which I was smitten from the moment I saw it — and which we later named our Best of the Year for 2022, Cars.com’s highest honor. Beyond that, the reason many vehicles are unduly expensive is that features are bundled into packages or included in trim levels along with other features you might not even want. A la carte options have become pretty rare, as well, so the opportunity to 3D-print accessories and add features like this 12-volt accessory outlet in the bed arguably drive down the cost of the vehicle itself. These opportunities also are enabled by Ford’s prep work to the truck, such as wiring with modular connectors at the ready behind plastic covers to either side of the tailgate.
The plastic cover holds a powered modular connector at the ready. | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder
This is not a step-by-step guide, because that’s what Ford’s video is, but I’ll detail the complications Ford glosses over, give some additional tips, and compare my results and costs to the ones in the video. The photo gallery up top shows all of my steps, however, including the obstacles I encountered.
To start with, we decided not to install the rail lighting because our Lariat’s bed proved plenty bright thanks to the inclusion of the optional LED box lighting that comes with the Luxury Package (available on the XLT and Lariat trim levels). So I focused on installing the water-resistant 12-volt outlet and acquired a “compressor,” which we should really call an inflator because it’s not capable of serving other compressor functions.
The extra “e-DIY power adapter” wire shown in the video’s materials list was actually included with our Maverick, so that saved us some time and money. Similar parts seem to be available online if you don’t have a spare and want to avoid original-equipment prices. I found an inflator at Harbor Freight that not only met the 15-amp spec and looked like the one in Ford’s video but fit better in my completed build — hiding completely under the panel that inserts flush with the bed floor. Because membership has its privileges (Harbor Freight’s Inside Track Club), I paid $27 for this product rather than the list price.
I found a marine-grade 12-volt outlet on Amazon for about $9, which seemed steep but included some wires of its own, fusing and female crimp connectors. I set the extras aside and used connectors I had on hand because I didn’t want positive and negative to be the same color. (The ends of the wire are clearly red and black, but I’m compulsive; sue me.)
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I did not disconnect the Maverick’s battery as instructed before starting. I don’t see why you would do so if your last step is to plug in the modular connector, as mine was.
Removing the cubby was a breeze, but only after also removing the one cleat (pictured in the gallery) that doesn’t look like it would obstruct the process — but does.
The provided wire is long enough that I chose to mount the outlet on the left side of the cubby where it’s easy to see from the lowered tailgate rather than the right side, the same plane as the tailgate. Call me crazy, but I think electric outlets should be seen and not felt around for.
Drilling the cubby wall was also simple enough. If you don’t have experience with plastic, it’s best to go slowly because it melts easily, so use a variable-speed drill. Sometimes a little softening speeds things along, but it can also yield unexpected results; proceed with caution. Fortunately the outlet comes with a nice faceplate that reinforces it and covers irregularities if your hole isn’t perfect.
Unlike the LED lighting project, this one doesn’t require soldering. The spade connectors crimp onto the DIY wire leads, one of which was prestripped.
The cubby wouldn't fit through with the socket secured. | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder
Everything went quickly and easily until I attempted to reinsert the cubby with the socket already secured in it with a backing nut. The back end of it stuck out way too far to allow the cubby through the opening in the cargo-box wall. Was my outlet deeper than the one Ford used? Was my choice of the left side complicating things? I went back to the video to find out … and it doesn’t show at all. Ford already has the cubby reseated when the socket is shoved into the hole, and it doesn’t show anyone performing the necessary step of tightening the plastic nut behind it. Why? Probably because this process sucks!
I had to loosen the nut almost all the way to get enough clearance for the socket, with the wires attached, to pass the cubby through the cargo-box wall. Then there was just enough clearance, somehow, to get my fingers back there to tighten the nut before securing the cubby and cleat.
The two screws for the faceplate self-tapped and drove home pretty easily with the help of a stubby screwdriver. The modular connectors joined without incident, the outlet was live and the inflator worked fine.
Time and Cost
The whole operation took me about 90 minutes, which included delays for photos and such. In the end, I got off cheaper than Ford estimates — $36 versus the “just about $60” in the video. Perhaps that amount is for people who don’t already own the hole saw and wire stripper listed among the materials and who pay more for an inflator.
This type of inflator isn’t the quickest way to fill a tire, but it’ll do in a pinch, and the outlet is available for any other 12-volt device, providing it doesn’t draw more than 15 amps. I’d characterize this installation as doable for anyone with some aptitude and a set of tools. If you have to borrow the tools — all of them — it might be a sign that this job isn’t for you or will be a little harder to execute.
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