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Hilux Surf Rear Window by-pass?

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I live in South Africa and own a 1992 Toyota Surf which I use for bush trips to various far flung areas in Africa. I have built in sliders for an Engel fridge and for storage bins as well as a National Luna dual Battery system. I have also added Iron Man suspension and enjoy the reliability of the vehicle despite the fact that its old. 

An issue that that keeps me awake at night is that I would be unable to access the fridge and the food supply should I be unable to activate the electric rear window for any reason ie through failure of the electric motor or otherwise. Being stuck in a remote area without access to food or drink would be unthinkable and potentially life threatening.  

Does anyone on the forum have any experience with creating a bypass or work around where one could manually wind down the window and open the back door manually from the outside? I don't mind drilling holes in the back door to accommodate a manual bypass system which could be used in the event of an emergency.

I do service the mechanism before embarking on a trip into the great outdoors but.......... you never know when the system will fail.

Any help or ideas will be gratefully received.

Kind regards Reinhard     

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That is a tough question, but I don't imagine its possible. The window as it comes down will hide any of the mechanisms that wind the window down, so even with a sneaky way through the tailgate skin you will only be able  to wind so far.  

IMO service everything first. The mechanism & motors are pretty reliable, but given age make sure you have serviced the window motor gears, the teethed drive arches, the track wheels that support the window, and silicone spray regularly the rubber slides so the window glass move freely up and down into the rubber seat. This will ensure you wont have mechanism failures, will make the motor last the longest. 

Secondly be familiar with the rear window issues - the wiper sensor failure that requires a wiper bypass (a safety switch for the wiper), or a relay failure, a motor failure, or switch failures. Become familiar with those systems and little bypass testing tricks will help you diagnose if any issues arise. 

Finally work on a failsafe access method. My thought is that you can hardwire a 3 position mini rocker switch directly to the window motor, have the rocker positioned high say on roof near center light where it wont get bumped. The window motor direction works just by changing polarity, so by having a 3 stage rocker switch that has power & reverses the polarity depending which way mounting that safely and feeding it to the window motor inputs bypasses all those safety switches and issues and gets the motor going. That will cover all electrical failures bar the motor itself and a window mechanism failure. 

Food for thought, hope this helps, cheers.




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Hi Darrie -

Thank you very much for your reply and your insights. Unfortunately I have come to the same conclusion, what I missed initially is that the window glass gets in the way when wound down and therefore makes it impossible to get to the mechanism. Logical but I missed this one only  after much research and your reply I finally got the message. 

The scary thing is that I cannot get at the mechanism from the inside as my slider system and fridge is in the way. So as you say good maintenance is imperative and some hope and a prayer that nothing goes wrong.

The Japanese engineer who designed this system has hopefully fallen on his sword.  

Kind regards,


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Just an idea if you have a method to disengage the motor would that work ? The same as the manual release you have with an electrical convertible roof ?


Worst ways you carry a glass hammer and knock the glass out

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Thanks Bob -

It might come to the glass hammer yet but I hope not. I think Darries idea is sound and that's I shall stick to for the moment.

Kind regards,


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