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Replacement Tailgate / Spare Wheel Capability - Chapter4

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As requested by a few members on this forum.

This is our account on how we replaced the tailgate on my RAV4 to the version which has the spare wheel mounting option.

Please understand that we are not mechanically trained, or qualified. So, any comments are welcome, especially if we have made any mistakes, missed anything important, or just require further info.

Chapter Four – Remove old tailgate

Tools required/used:

  • Trim removal tools
  • Socket set
  • Wall paper scraper
  • Mini hacksaw blade (very blunt/old)
  • Torx socket set
  • Long nose pliers
  • Blanket
  • Masking tape
  • Drill & suitable drill bits for metal
  • Wire brush

Cost this chapter : £10

Cost to date : £1292


Using trim removal tools, remove inner trim panels ( top, sides, bottom )


Carefully peel the clear plastic condensation cover away from the door, trying to keep as much of the bonding material on the plastic.


Using the drill, and a suitable bit. Remove the four rivet heads from the blanking plate which occupies the area where a sub-woofer could be. It should then be possible to separate the blanking plate from the tailgate.

Disconnect loom from : ( Disconnect Battery ? – we didn’t )

  • High level brake light
  • Washer jet ( plug pipe to stop fluid leak)
  • Heated rear window
  • Earth point
  • Relay
  • wiper motor
  • Tailgate locking mechanism
  • Tailgate handle (if smart key system)
  • Number plate lights
  • Camera

Using a combination of long noses pliers, wall paper scraper & min hacksaw blade to detach each loom retainer. Examine each retainer to establish whether the retainer arms are on the sides, or top/bottom. Once loom is all detached, detach the flexible rubber loom protector, and carefully remove loom from the tailgate by pulling back through the entry hole.

Using socket remove three bolts holding spoiler ( one is under large rubber grommet ) . Once bolts have been removed, spoiler can be pulled away from tailgate to detach from retainers.



Using wall paper scraper remove washer jet, by releasing retaining clips on each side.


Remove top bump stop by gently pulling and twisting.


Gently remove wiper arm mounting cover by slightly pulling the two sides apart, to reveal holding nut. Using socket undo nut fully, and ease wiper arm from the motor shaft. Using socket undo three bolts holding wiper motor to tailgate. Remove wiper motor shaft seal from rear window.

Using torx socket undo the three screws holding the locking mechanism on the side of the tailgate. Allow to drop slightly, before removing from door to allow the opening activation bar from handle backing plate to dislodge.


Remove grommet to allow access to tailgate handle back plate. Using torx socket undo screw visible. It is retained by the tailgate handle back plate. Once sufficiently loosened, the small fixed part of the tailgate handle should be able to be removed.

From inside, the tailgate handle backing plate has an opening activation arm which is kept tensioned with a spring. This pulls the tailgate handle to the closed position. Slightly release the pressure by holding the opening activation arm, whilst pulling the handle towards the edge of the tailgate. The handle should move towards the edge to dislodge it from the opening activation arm, and the pivot bar. It is then able to be pulled away from the tailgate. Gently release the closure spring, and remove the two gaskets.

NOTE : Removing the tailgate handle was probably the longest, and most stressful part of the project !!. If anyone else can provide more information, I will update.

To remove the handle backing plate, use a torx socket to undo screw inside tailgate. It is retained by the handle backing plate. Then, on the front of the tailgate, on the opposite side of the handle backing plate, there is a small black rectangular plastic retainer. Holding the handle backing plate on the inside of the tailgate, gently squeeze the sides of the black retainer, this will allow it to pass to the inside of the tailgate. The handle retainer can then be angled slight away from the tailgate, to allow the plastic claws to be dislodged, and then removed from the tailgate.

Using socket remove the tailgate locator on the side of the tailgate by undoing the two bolts.

Using wall paper scraper, remove interior light switch buffer on the side of the tailgate by releasing retaining clips on each side of the clip. Made more difficult due to the buffer being circular.


Remove bottom bump stop by gently pulling and twisting.


Using socket, remove bolt holding check strap to vehicle body. Using socket, remove nuts holding check strap to tailgate.

Use blanket to protect bumper, apply masking tape to the o/s rear pillar to protect vehicle body.

Use socket to loosen the four bolts holding the tailgate to the hinges. Support weight of tailgate using suitable method ie strong volunteer(s). Then fully remove the four bolts holding the tailgate to the hinges, and carefully separate from vehicle..



Remove the rubber grommets from the tailgate, in the area where the hinges would have attached, by gently pulling on them.

The tailgate hinge bolts were painted body colour, and the paint was damaged on removal. We used a wire brush to remove the all the paint from them. This actually made them match the bolts used to retain the other doors.

Remove rear window. £10 – Local windscreen company.

Take care when removing the rear window, as there is a plastic window ‘locator” in the top corners of the window. Although, if these are damaged, the window could be located manually by eye.

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