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Help with Liftgate hinges


New Member
July 27, 2014
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City, State
Gatlinburg, TN
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 Ford Explorer
I just bought a 98 Ford Explorer but the liftgate is messed up. There is a one inch gap at the top and sides where it doesn't close correctly. I think the problem is either with the gate as it seems to have been repaired where the hinge connects to the gate or with the hinges. The hinge seems to hinge in two places. The part of the hinge that connects to the suv its has to parts that hinges but mine one bolt attaches it to the suv but the other bolts the two parts together.

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You can have some satisfaction knowing that your's isn't the only one that does that. Mine is a '99 Mounty, and has done that for years. Its to the point now where the lip of the liftgate that conforms to the roof when closed has moved forward so far that the gate will not open without grinding on the roof edge. There is another '99 Mounty here in town that has the exact same problem.

I've had it looked at a time or two and no one seems to know what is causing it. So we just forced it to close one day and haven't opened it since.

I wonder if its the liftgate? I found this pic where the hinges that attach to the liftgate I noticed that the there is a recess and that could account for the gap.

Unless the body, or liftgate, appears distorted, or out of square, or crooked, it probably is not the fault of the liftgate. The problem lies in the fact that the gas shocks push the gate out of alignment, should the hinge adjustments loosen.

The way I fixed mine, seeing that the gate had "slid downwards", was to open it fully, until the shocks are fully extended, then support the gate with some good means, preferably at both corners, at that height, or just a wee bit more, if the shock(s) can be seen to NOT be fully extended by manually lifting slightly higher. The shocks have internal stops which determine the OPENED height of the gate. After supporting, loosen the hinge screws JUST a BIT, until you feel you can manually slide the gate towards the roofline, through the adjustment range. Usually, there is a dirt build-up present which may give a clue to the original location. Tighten them good, lower slowly, observing location. If good, try latching, then look at "fit" If not close, do procedure over, moving lift appropriately. It came out "right on" my first try!

The "key" is to remove ALL force from the shocks when adjusting. If one or both of the shocks are "shot", then one may extend fully, while the other does not, or BOTH may not extend fully. This condition complicates matters a lot. If that seems to be the case, buy new shocks, install them with gate well-supported, then do your location adjusting. Tricky, but "do-able". imp

New liftgate,well to me anyway

Thank you, but the hinges attached to the suv was adjusted as far as they can be towards the body. The hinges on the gate side looked like they were drilled and opening was enlarged to proved adjustment on that end but I didn't think adjusting that side would bring the top closer to the body.
Does the hinges on the gate side connect flush or in a depression in the gate itself? The diagram seems to show that.

I went to Hillbilly parts and bought another liftgate and there is no indentions in the liftgate but the location where the hinges are attached are different on the old and the new so I think when they welded and fixed the old one the mounting location was moved and or the hinges was damaged. I still have to install the new gate. Will update when I do.

I finally started installing the replacement lift gate. I did not think there was so much to installing this thing. Or how hard it is for some one that does not know what he is doing, LOL. I've learned so much in this. I installed the lift gate and the window and the shocks for both but for some reason the replacement shocks also don't hold up the glass too well. I might have to buy new ones. They hold for about a minute then let the glass close. The insides are really tough to install with the glass lock and hooking up the connections so the handle opens the gate. On the positive side when the gate is closed there is no large gap and it opens and closes with scraping the body of the SUV. Now I got to hook up all the wires then the cover and see if I can get the lock working right.

Here is the new liftgate on my Explorer. The gap that was at the top is now gown and the key lock does now lock the liftgate and the windshield wiper works.