So I swapped my tailgate out today because it had a dent that stopped the rear window from going up and down. There are a lot of places that tell you its a PITA to remove the tailgate and 10x worse to put it back on...not to mention the fact that no one says how to install other than reverse the removal process. Well, there's a pretty easy way that still involves needing a few people to help, but easy. It took me 3 hours to figure it out, and about 30 mins to execute...Your results may vary.
I'll try to post pics tomorrow, but:
1. Remove the metal folding side bars that support the door when its down.
2. Disconnect the wire harness.
3. Remove the metal carpet strip at the edge of the tailgate.
4. Remove the tailgate gasket around the tailgate. If you have never done this before, don't just start pulling. At the top of the verticles and all along the bottom (but not the vertical sides) the weather stripping is held in by small, black, plastic "buttons" similar to modern interior door panels, not the metal twisted ones. Use a flat head screwdriver or an interior panel tool to gently pop these buttons away from the Jeep.
5. Fold about 6 inches of the carpet back away from the tailgate. You shouldn't need to remove the chrome carpet bars.
6. This exposes 2 access panels located directly above the hinges. 4 very short but PITA screws hold each panel. These panels give you access to the hinge bolts & the torque bar hold downs.
7. Remove the 4 screws to the panels. 2 are top left/right, 2 are located under the weather stripping removed in step #4.
8. Having 1 or 2 people holding the tailgate in an upright, almost closed position, remove the 5 bolts on each hinge. (1/2" socket) Remove the 2 bolts holding the torque bar hold down carefully. There should be little to no pressure from the torque bars if the gate is vertical. The more laid down it is, the more pressure will be on the torque bars. IF YOUR NOT SURE, FOR GOD'S SAKE, WEAR EYE PROTECTION.
*Note* -The plate the 5 bolts thread into "floats". It gives a little bit of adjustment in/out/left/right. However, provided no one screwed something up before you, it moves, but it won't fall away and screw you up.
9. Once the 10 bolts are removed, the tailgate can be moved away from the jeep.
To install, reverse steps 1-8. I suggest setting the torque bars in the tailgate jut as how they would be installed, then use tape in two or three places to keep them in place while moving the tailgate into position. I also suggest taping the hinges at an angle for the same reason.
When I originally removed the donor tailgate, I did steps 1 & 2, then used a pry bar to pop the torque bars out of the holder. That, was 10x harder than following this plan. Reinstalling that way, I found impossible.
I hope this helps somebody. I know tailgates aren't a typical swap, but if you ever need to do it, this is it.
And if I can suggest, We should start a new heading on this forum, "How To". Doesn't need to be engine swaps or crazy things (Although you need to be a little crazy to own 4 jeeps). But a place to share this kind of info would be awesome.
81 Wagoneer with a TBI 350 Vortec.
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69 Wagoneer - 350 Diesel trail rig
70 Wagoneer - 1414x