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240 Tailgate Wiring Harness Repair


83 245 DL LH 2.0 M46
85 245 GL LH 2.2 AW71

Here are the instructions for replacing the tailgate harness wires. Step by step.

You will need the following tools:

  • #3 Phillips screwdriver with at least a 4 inch handle
  • Small jewelers screwdriver or piece of small stiff wire to release the terminals from their insulating bodies
  • masking tape
  • 11, 12 & 13mm sockets I know it's two of the three but which two I'm not sure
  • 6 inch extension
  • ratchet
  • someplace to put the tailgate that will not damage the wiper arm. I used two saw horses with scrap carpet to protect the finish
  • electrical tape
  • a #2 phillips screwdriver
  • a flat blade screwdriver
  • a 1" stiff blade putty knife
  • The correct harnesses for your brick. I suggest replacing both sides. Same work and if one side is gone the other is sure to follow

If you do not have a Manual for your brick I suggest the Haynes Manual ISBN # 1 56392 136 7. Pictures can clarify a lot. Although two people at one point would be a great help there is a way to remove the tailgate with one person.

First the prep work to allow easy reassembly.

Have your work area set up to give you easy access to the rear of the vehicle and one rear door with the rear seat down. You will at one point have to crawl into the vehicle to release the hinges from the vehicle body.

Turn off the interior lights. I started this project on my 85 one evening, got called away, leaving the doors open, only to finish the next day with a dead battery.

Using the masking tape, outline the hinges so you can put everything back where it currently is located. Do both the hinges on the roof and the tailgate.

Open the tailgate and release the head liner from the rear of the vehicle. Put your fingers about 1"
from the back edge of the head liner near the center and by pulling up and back the head liner will stretch enough to allow you release it from the roof edge. Notice how the rigid plastic sewn to the edge fits up into and behind the metal. lip (very slick setup, easy to remove and replace). Work it loose to both sides and around the corners to about 6" to 8" from the back of the vehicle.

At both back corners there are some openings in the inner roof panel. At each corner you will have to reach up and pull the connectors down through the holes so you can then separate the connectors. The connectors have small ridges or hooks that help to keep them connected. By gently prying the holders you can separate the connectors.

Next you will have to remove the terminals from the inside of the connector body. This is the tricky part to explain so bear with me and look closely at the mating part of the connector.

Remember how the terminals come out so you can reinsert the new terminals the same way. Look at the terminals on the new wiring harness. There is on the back of each terminal a very thin strip of metal that sticks up at an angle from the terminal. This holds the terminal in the connector body. To remove the terminal you have to push the strip down and pull on the wire to remove it from the connector. Use the small screwdriver or stiff wire from the front of the connector to slip between the connector body and the terminal to push down on the retainer while you first push the terminal in (to allow the strip to be pushed flat) then pull on the wire. This is more of a feel than seeing. Take your time. You will need to do this to all the connectors that come through the roof. DO NOT remove the terminals from the wires that come from the front or across the vehicle.

Once all the wires from the roof are free from their connectors, loosen the bolts that hold the hinges to the roof about 1 to 2 turns. Do not remove them yet.

On the tailgate gas struts there is a metal clip that holds the end of the rod to the tailgate. By pulling up on the lip and pushing back you can remove the clip from the end of the post. DO NOT remove the strut yet. Once both clips are removed and you have a good grip on the tailgate you can remove the struts from the tailgate and let them hang in the tailgate opening. Gently lower the tailgate, adjusting the struts to allow the gate to partially close. You do not want to latch it. ( NO clearance with the struts extended.)

If you have a helper they can hold the tailgate closed while you go inside and remove the two hinge bolts from the roof portion of each side. There are also some washers under the bolts so catch them as they fall off. No helper, Tie the tailgate handle loosely to the bumper and tape the top of the tailgate to the roof. Use enough tape. It shouldn't move when you gently tug on it. Once the hinge bolts are free, fold the hinge up from the roof and pull the wires out. Release the tailgate and place it inside up on your work area.

Pull on the interior latch release and by gently prying the bottom of the plastic cover open remove the cover from the metal handle. Remove the two screws holding the trim plate in place and remove the trim plate. Cover the edges of the putty knife with electrical tape. Remove the interior trim panel on the tail gate by inserting the putty knife between the trim and the tailgate, gently slide the knife sideways until it stops. Twist the knife so that the edge in the direction you were pushing it goes away from the tailgate. This will release the plastic clips that hold the trim to the gate. Work your way around the tailgate until all the clips are released. Be careful or the trim backing may break. No great harm, just a PITA. The clips will hold it in place even if it is in three pieces as is my 85's.

Reach inside the tailgate and separate the connectors from the wires you are replacing. Make a note of what color wires are connected to each other and where. I think the rear window heater wires change color inside the tailgate. It is easier to remove the terminals once the old harness is out of the tailgate but do not pull on the harness yet.

Remove the hinge from the tailgate, One bolt is partially hidden by the weatherstripping. The other is a #3 Phillips head bolt accessible through the hole in the tailgate, When you remove the hinge DO NOT remove the wires.

Connect the terminals from the new harness to the old harness. Just the terminals, not the connector bodies. Apply a piece of electrical tape to hold the two harnesses together. Try to keep the wires as thin as possible. NO MORE THAN TWO WIRES THICK. With the terminals inserted together the position of the terminals should stagger quite nicely. Tug on them to make sure they will not come apart. You will at one point have to pull quite firmly to get the wires past a narrow spot in the edge of the tailgate.

While guiding the new wires into the tailgate hinge hole, pull the old wires out through the tailgate trim opening. The hard part is after you pull about 4 to 8 inches. After the point where the wires are joined get past the thin point they will pull quite easy.

Remove the terminals from the old connectors from inside the tailgate and push the new terminals
into them. Insert the new terminals into the old connector bodies for inside the tailgate only being careful to get the terminal prong to the proper side. Looking inside the connector you should be able to see where the prong will fit to keep the terminal from getting pushed out of the connector. Reconnect the connector bodies only inside the tailgate.

Put the gasket over the wires and reattach the hinge to the tailgate leaving enough wire to go through the roof and connect easily inside the vehicle. Align the hinge using the masking tape you put on earlier. Snug the phillips head bolt first then the hex head bolt under the weatherstrip then

Reset the tailgate into its opening. Either with a helper or using the tape and rope trick. Place the upper hinge gasket over the wires and set the wires into the groove in the hinge. Thread the wires down through the roof and place the hinge in its approximate place.

If you have a helper they can help hold it down while you start the bolts. Alone? Tape the hinge to the roof allowing some adjustment for alignment.

Go back inside the vehicle and start the bolts and washers into the hinges. Turn them finger tight but not fully tight. Open the tailgate and reattach the struts and clips. Loosen the roof hinge bolts so the hinge can be moved with some resistance then close and latch the tailgate. Realign the hinges to the tape on the roof. Check to see if the distances between the body and the tailgate are
unif. If so, go inside and tighten the roof hinge bolts. Check the cracks between the tailgate and body until it looks correct and the tailgate operates smoothly.

Insert the new terminals from the tailgate into the connector bodies and reconnect the connectors from the tailgate to their respective connectors from the body. Check the operation of all lights and accessories in the tailgate.

If everything works:

Reattach the head liner by pulling it over and slipping the plastic strip over the edge of the roof trim. Reattach the trim panel to the tailgate by pushing the clips until they snap into the tailgate. Support the trim panel well. Replace the trim plate and handle cover.

All your accessories and lights in the tailgate should now work.

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