'77 Wagoneer Tailgate Window Motor Repair

According to Mike Baxter, there are two types of FSJ owners: those who have had problems with their electric tailgate windows, and those who will. I found myself in the former group the day I bought my '77 Wagoneer. The tailgate window motor was wrapped in a rag sitting behind the back seat, and the tailgate switch had been removed from the dash. To open the rear window, you simply pressed your palms against the glass and pushed it down. This wasn't so bad, but since there wasn't anything holding the window in place, as soon as you lowered the tailgate, the spring inside would spit the glass out at you. You had to make sure you had all your cargo sitting nearby so that you could load it into the Wag while standing against the tailgate to keep the glass safely inside.

I won't bore you by rehashing old information, since there are already several excellent tutorials on the IFSJA web site. I especially recommend Mike Baxter's troubleshooting article. Instead, I'll just give you the specifics of my situation.

I got a new tailgate window switch from a friend who was parting out a '79 Wagoneer (thanks, Mo) and installed it in the dash easily enough. Fortunately, the plug for it was still hanging there and hadn't been cut off. I did have to fiddle with the exact position of the switch in order to keep it from hitting the top of the dash cutout before it engaged in the "up" position.

When I opened up the tailgate access panel, I was a little confused. It looked as though the original wiring had all been cut (the DSPO didn't believe in unplugging things anywhere on this vehicle). It had then been spliced back together with all green wiring. This apparently didn't work, so then got cut out again, and the motor was removed. I'm just glad they kept the motor until I got the Jeep. They'd also cut the wires to the license plate lamp for good measure.

I hooked the motor to my battery with jumper cables, and it worked fine in both directions (the brown wire's terminal spins up, the tan one spins down, and it's grounded by the case), so I set about the task of hooking up all the wires in the correct places with the correct gauges & approximately the correct colors (I couldn't find 12 awg brown or tan wire, so I used black & white). The original plug for the safety switch was gone, so I just put a famale spade connector on each of the brown wires going to it. I got everything hooked up, replaced the 30A "power accessory" fuse under the dash, and turned the key. The window lowered just fine, but wouldn't go up. I guess that explains why the old wiring had been spliced & cut several times. This Jeep had 10 owners in 9 years before I bought it.

As an aside, when buying parts to splice all the wiring back together, I found some great water-tight butt connectors that are perfect for use under a vehicle. The "sleeves" on each end of the connector are about 1/2" longer than normal, and they're made of translucent shrink-wrap tubing that also contains a heat-activated glue inside. Simply crimp the wire in place and heat the sleeve with a lighter, and you've got a solid, water-proof connection that doesn't require wrapping with several feet of electrical tape.

Since the window was now completely lowered and blocking access to all the main wiring, I started checking the easiest stuff first, which meant the safety switch that cuts current to the motor's "up" terminal when the tailgate is open. It's located on the driver side of the tailgate and is actuated by the latch receptacle that's mounted on the main body. Sure enough, the switch's arm wasn't being completely engaged (rotated rearward) when the tailgate closed. If I opened the tailgate and moved the arm by hand, the window would go up just fine. I readjusted the location of the latch on the body, and it now works just fine.

I replaced the window wipes (the seals between the window and tailgate) a few days later.

One more project off my list, 348 to go...

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last updated 5 Sep 2002
Obi-Wan (obiwan@jedi.com)




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