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247 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, the exact situation I am talking about is removing / repairing / replacing the black strip of plastic on your Toyota 4Runner Tailgate.

This is the new one. My old one was cut into with a Saw zall to make clearance for my rear bumper tire carrier which we will not get into lol.
The basic tools you are going to need to remove the component. FLASHLIGHT not Pictured.

Warning you will have to do this work from inside the truck probably laying on your stomach. And it helps to be able to reach into tight places. :D
1. Remove this plate cover while you are still outside your vehicle.

2. These are the locations of the connection points for an outside visual. There are two 10 MM nuts and one clip holding it in.

This is what it looked like and why I replaced it but these are the locations of the two 10 MM nuts and stud clip once removed. Front side View

Back side View

3. So now that you are inside with the rear window ROLLED UP. you are going to have to reach behind the window arms and motor to reach the two 10mm Nuts. The one on the Passenger side is probably the easier of the two to reach. I did this without lighting. :rolleyes: It is just to the right of the Key Lock that operates the rear window.

The Driver side nut is almost behind the window motor itself and you will need to reach in from the far side of the driver end of the tailgate to get to it.
4. The next thing you need to remove is the handle. Just remove the screws and pull it down so that you can see the white plastic connection plug that is being retained by two blue clips.

There is a snap lock that you need to raise up in order to seperate the plug.
5. Now you need to go outside the truck and give a nice tug which should make the center clip pop out releasing the entire License plate light system.
6. Now Most people are going to need to use their old Key lock system in order to have access again. So you will need to remove the two screws first. To the left side when you are facing the back of the assembly there is a pin hole on the side. Inside of there is a spring loaded clip. This is where you will need the punch in order to push in the spring clip releasing the electronic harness.

8.Once released just pull on the harnes with the punch pressed in. Once you have the spring fully compressed remove the punch and seperate the harnes from the key lock.
This is to show you what it would look like out out of the assembly if they were connected.

Side view of key lock.

Back view of Key lock

View of assembly with lock removed.

View of the harness removed from assembly. I had to reuse my lock and assembly due to the replacement one missing the white plastic housing. I just cut the two wires going to the lights and reconnected since as you can see my lights had a slight case of overspray. :D You can easily just reuse your old wire harness by just unscrewing the two lights.

9. For reassembly you need to put the Key lock back in and reconnect the wire harness to the back of the key lock making sure you get teh spring pin back into the hole. Now feed the wire harness back into the hole and the center clip should snap back in holding the assembly to the tailgate.
10. You will need to go back into the 4runner and reconnect the white plug and place it back into the blue clips.
11. Reattach the two 10 MM nuts
12. Screw the handle back on.
13. TEST and make sure that the WINDOW rolls UP and DOWN again.
14. If the window ROLLS UP AND DOWN AGAIN. Go ahead and leave the window down and put the back cover on. At this point it should cover all the basics of the removal replacement and accessing of these components. Just as reference the Chiltons manual does not cover this. I tried looking but obviously I failed in the search.


Deal Master
2,775 Posts
Nice Write up OBEX!
Coincidentally, I brought home an 86 4Runner Yesterday.

297 Posts
Thanks so just saved my life!!..I been trying to figure out how to get that key set out..and remove the old panel..I got a new one..your example is awesome!
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