Outland Tailgate Reinforcement Installation

The Outland Tailgate Reinforcement Kit is for mounting larger than stock tires without kicking down the $400 or $500 for a rear tire carrier/bumper. At only $11.95 it's actually quite unbelievable. The manufacture claims it's good for 100lbs on road, 75lbs if your off road / lots of bumps. I can't verify this yet.

Upon opening the box I was pleasantly surprised at the finish of the pieces. I have a feeling that the $11.95 price that these are selling for at Discount Jeep Parts (http://discountjeepparts.com) won't last, or might even be a mistake. Considering that Olympic 4x4 sells the exact same kit for over $140, $11.95 is a downright steal.

Right away however I did notice that the hardware (nuts & bolts) that came with the kit is junk. Plan on upgrading to stainless & grade 8. The hinge bolts that come with the tailgate reinforcement kit are Philips head countersunk bolts. Better than Torx I'm sure, but hex key (Allen) would be even better.

There is going to be a few challenging moments during this installation unless you've kept your YJ in a garage and out of the rain for the past 20 years. Fat chance. First will be the hinge bolts. Before you begin any bolt removal spray Blaster's PB
or other penetrating oil on bolts that will be removed:

  • Hinge Bolts (Upper hinge on body from inside as well)
  • Tire Carrier Bolts
  • Upper Hinge Reinforcement Bolt
  • Passenger Rear Seat Belt (On roll bar)
  • Roll Bar Mount Bolt (Passenger rear, on wheel well)

Clean the Torx heads very well. Tap the bit into the head with a hammer to make sure you have maximum contact. If it strips it strips. Simple as that, move on to drilling, reverse bolt pullers, and a tapping! Hopefully you've soaked everything with Blaster's PB everyday for several days prior to attempting this.

It's easiest to remove the tailgate completely and install the upper and lower
reinforcement bars & hinges with the tailgate off. Do that now. Consider painting the bare metal where the hinges were originally installed. I also put some black RTV between everything to prevent water from entering. My lower hinge tub bolts would not come off. I soaked them from the BACK side (remove the small plastic cover behind the rear wheel) with PB and pounded on them from the front side (head) with the Torx socket
» More ways to get those crap-tastic countersunk Torx out
If you have stripped the lower hinge to tub bolts, don't worry. The lower hinge has a brace under the wheel well held in by the bolts and three 1/2 inch hex head bolts on the side of the wheel well near the floor. Remove those, then simply drill the heads off the hinge bolts. The hinge will be free of the tub and the brace will come out. Put the brace in a vise and then you can work on getting the shaft of the drilled bolts out.

OK, now it's time to install the main reinforcement bracket. Did you get that roll bar mount bolt out? Mine broke my Torx bit, oops. More PB, a few smacks with a hammer to loosen it up and it finally came out...with my impact gun. Had to buy a new bit after that... o-well. Put the reinforcement bracket in place and install the roll bar bolt and upper hinge bolts finger tight to hold the bracket in place. You're going to use the bracket as a template to drill a few holes in the wheel well. Make sure everything is lined up correct and go for it with a 3/8" bit I believe. If you have them, remove the plastic fender liner to gain access to the inside of the wheel well.

Now you'll need to attach the large 'L' shaped bracket under the wheel well. Line it up with the holes you just drilled and bolt it together. This sandwiching of the sheet metal between the brackets is where the strengthening comes from. The upper hinge is tied into these brackets. Use a 1/2" or 13mm wrench and socket and tighten down the bracket. You might need a second set of hands for this.

Reinstall the seat belt on the roll bar. Time to install the tailgate now. Put the small rectangle spacers between the hinges and body. Again, this is a good time to paint that bare metal and/or add some sort of sealant to those surfaces. Bolt the hinge through the newly installed bracket. VERY carefully try to close the tailgate. Make sure you don't scrape up your paint, because chances are it won't close right. Loosen the hinges on the tailgate. The captures nuts inside the tailgate are floating so you have a lot of adjustment room. If you need more horizontal adjustment, the hinges attached to the body also have some wiggle room.

Install your stock tire carrier, and rubber stops. The threaded holes for the rubber stops on the reinforcement bracket are powder coated so you might have a hard time getting the bolts through. Best way is a tap, but if you don't have one just carefully run a bolt through first. Use your stock bolts for this.

More pics coming soon!