• Adjusting or replacing front door hinges

    Adjusting and changing door hinges

    1st generation (1984-1985) van

    Expect replacing the hinges to take around an hour and about 30-45 minutes for adjustment only.

    Tools needed:

    Phillips #2 screwdriver
    socket wrench
    10mm socket
    12mm socket

    optional but very handy:
    10mm ratcheting combination wrench


    To change or adjust the hinges without using the Toyota "special service tool" (who has that anyway?), it is infinitely easier to access the body side of the hinges by removing the trim panel in front of the door.

    Start by removing the exposed screws (four) for the front headlight bezel on the appropriate side. (driver's side shown). Blue arrows show the locations of the four screws.


    The bottom screws in particular have a penchant for getting away and dropping on the ground, so be prepared with a strong magnetic-tipped screwdriver … or a magnetic pick-up tool. If you're working on grass or other hardware-hiding surface, put a tarp below the front part of the van.

    DO NOT try to remove the headlight bezel YET. It is still attached!

    Next, remove the side marker light (two screws).


    Hiding under the marker light, you'll find the last two screws that are holding the headlight bezel in place.


    NOW you can carefully tease the headlight bezel off.

    (the pill bottle on the bumper is just something I grabbed to keep the screws contained)

    It falls forward easily enough; then it needs some artful maneuvering for the lower corner to clear everything. Must be all in the wrist ...?

    Either rotate the marker light assembly and pass it through its recessed mounting hole or detach the lens from the light bulb (which does leave the bulb unprotected).

    NOW you get to remove the right front quarter panel! Ooooo, yeaaaaaah ....

    Here's the location of the first 10mm bolt ...


    Open the door to find the second 10mm bolt ...


    Peer under the van, near the bottom front corner of the door, for the third ...


    AND ... find the fourth and final 10mm bolt is under the front bumper. (upper arrow)


    Just loosen this fourth bolt. The panel only has a slot (not a hole), and it will rotate out (and sure beats trying to get that bolt back in where you can't see). If you have a ratcheting metric combination wrench, you're in business. If you don’t have one and haven’t the patience to use a regular combo wrench and decide to go after the bolt with a socket wrench, you'll need more clearance for your tool ...

    Here's a better view of the lower front bumper clip if you need to detach the clip
    for better tool access to the panel bolt. I used a screwdriver to coax the clip apart.
    The upper clip works the same way.



    In addition to the four bolts you just removed/loosened, the panel ALSO has a plastic clip in the upper portion. After rotating the panel clear of that fourth bolt, you'll need to push the panel diagonally down (in the direction of the front bumper).

    Getting somewhat ahead of things, here's the panel removed so you can see the slot for the fourth bolt.


    Here's what the plastic clip on the body looks like:


    To remove the panel, push down in the same direction the clip is pointing to.

    Here's what the clip's corresponding slot in the panel looks like:
    (NOTE: this is the underside of the panel, so the direction of
force to release the clip is reversed from the pic above!)


    Tah-daaaaaah! The hinges are now fully revealed!


    Note now how the upper and lower hinges bolts are positioned (offset in mirror image)... so that, if you are replacing the hinges, you won't accidentally reverse them later!

    ~~~ If you are only adjusting the door hinges, skip this part. ~~~

    If you are replacing the hinges, or removing the door for any other reason, you WILL need to pop the pin out of the door check FIRST, before removing any door bolts!

    A mallet will pop the pin out of the door check from the bottom ...


    You'll want to poke the pin back into the holes for now (or use something else) to keep
    the two pieces of the door check from disappearing into the door and body respectively
    (major drag!) when you close the door.


    If you're removing the door to replace the hinges, roll your window down. Then close the door.

    Remove all four hinge bolts (12mm).

    Grab a pair of pliers (in your left hand for the driver's door; right for passenger). Reach in the van and support the door by the armrest as you CAREFULLY open the door just enough to pull out that door check pin with the pliers.

    (arrow is the hand with the pliers gripping the check pin ... some pins don't need pliers
    to be pulled back out, but this is NOT the time to discover yours isn't one of those ... )

    Finally, it's time to replace the door hinges! If the old door alignment was fine when closed (that is, it was not tweaked out at the top or bottom, but was smoothly in line with the body), use the previous grease rings and hinge marks on the door for placing the new hinges. If you were not satisfied with the previous in/out alignment when closed, use the previous hinge marks as your clues where NOT to put the new hinges! If the door had any other alignment issues (up/down, front/back), you'll solve these problems later when placing the body side of the hinges.

    Here's a pair of "new" (silver) hinges on the red driver's side door. Note again the orientation of the bolt holes on the lower (on your left) and upper (on your right) hinges.


    Now grab the door check pin in your left hand (driver's side door) and the door itself. This is the tricky part, and yes, a helper is handy here. But it can be done alone. Holding the door slightly "ajar" in mid-air, place the pin into the holes in the door check and then "close" the door.

    Put all four door hinge bolts into the body, finger-tight.

    ~~~ If you are only adjusting your hinges, continue here! ~~~

    Start by loosening all four 12mm door hinge bolts to the body so they are about "finger tight".

    Now you'll adjust the door height and front-to-back alignment so that the door opens and closes smoothly and without striking the body or needing to be lifted.

    Open the door. Place a strip of lathe (about 5/16" thick), or some similar material as a spacer on the body between where the weatherstrip hits and the interior trim.

    (Yes, you can have a buddy or a girlfriend hold the door in mid-air instead, but this doesn't move or complain or need to have the same slot of spare time that you do ... or demand beer in payment for holding the door! And the spacer method is consistent; tiring muscles are not.)


    Close the door carefully (remember to lift it as you do!) to find out if the spacer gives the door the right alignment with the body and latch. If not, change the size of the spacer until you're happy with the door height. (You can also duct tape a spacer just above or below the door latch on the body side to set the front-to-back alignment if necessary.) After the total alignment is to your satisfaction, close the door carefully once more and tighten the bolts!

    Now remove the spacers.

    To test the door, you'll want to be less careful. Open and close the door as you normally would for your final alignment check. Enjoy!


    "New" hinges in place; door works grrrrrreat!

    The final steps are to replace the front panel and then replace the headlight bezel. For the panel, get that plastic clip attached right FIRST (yes, it might take several tries, and on some vans it does take quite a bit of pressure against the panel to get the metal slot to slip behind the clip head ... oh, and watch that piece of 20+ year-old weatherstripping at the top). THEN rotate the panel slightly to slip the bottom slot behind the last (behind-the-bumper) bolt.

    The rest is intuitive, except that replacing the headlight bezel is a matter of putting the bottom edge in and then gently trying a bunch of different angles until mysteriously finding the right one that allows the bezel to fit the way it’s supposed to.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Comments or questions? Want to read about others' experiences and tips? Go HERE to the companion forum thread!
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