Fixing my leaking tailgate - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Fixing my leaking tailgate

For a long time, I have had water coming in to the cargo area of my truck. I had two spots I knew were leaking, both of them were from the rubber topper side seals. I got them repaired but still had water coming in from somewhere. This thread is what I discovered and how I fixed my leak.

While I was testing my newly repaired and repainted topper by checking it for leaks with a water hose, my wife discovered a very large amount of water was coming in to the cargo area from the bottom of the tailgate access panel. The video linked below shows what was coming in from the water hose being sprayed on the back glass.


I was shocked to see how much water was coming in past the access panel. I began investigating why the water was coming in and how it was coming in. I read several threads here on FSB and learned how the tailgate is supposed to shed water and common problems with the tailgate and leaking problems.
I was surprised to learn the weather-stripping seal on the outside of the tailgate is not expected to seal out all of the water it comes in contact with. The seal diverts as much as it can, but there is a lot of water that does get past it.
What was happening was the water was getting past the seal and dripping onto the access panel on the inside of the tailgate. Since I have owned my Bronco it has not had the moisture barrier in the tailgate. The water should have been deflected by the moisture barrier but instead it was collecting in the rolled edge of the access panel and spilling over into the joint of the tailgate shell and the access panel. It would then come into the cargo area.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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Tailgate picture 1
While investigating what was going on with my tailgate, I noticed the tailgate to back glass seal was warped. I guess I bent it when I installed it originally. This gap was allowing more water to get past the seal than it should. My fix for this was to remove it, straighten it out the best I could, then while reinstalling it, I put a thin bead of silicone caulking on it. The silicone caulk appeared to have did a pretty good job sealing up the joint between the two.


Tailgate pictures 2 & 3
I then put a moisture barrier back in to the tailgate. I originally tried to do a full sheet of plastic spanning the entire length of the tailgate. I am not sure if the original moisture barrier was a full-length barrier or not. I have not been able to find anything on the internet describing it. I found it was very difficult to put the plastic sheet in place and I tried to secure it, but I did not have much luck with it. I also wanted to consider having to get back in to the tailgate for maintenance and I didnít want to have to struggle with a piece of plastic every time I needed to get in it.
My approach to a moisture barrier was a three-piece barrier. I found it much easier working with three smaller pieces instead of one big piece. From the pictures you can see I used two-sided carpet tape on the top and sides of each section of the barrier. The tape holds the plastic well and I can remove and reapply the barrier as needed.
At the bottom of the barrier you can see I cut some v shaped notches in the plastic. The notches end right at the edge of the opening. The notches are the transition point where the plastic goes inside the tailgate. The transition points begin right at the beginning of the curved portion of the opening at the bottom of the access hole. The notches need to be as snug as possible to prevent any water running down from crossing over at this transition point.
The tail in pictures 2 & 3 are a bit longer than the final product but it gives you an idea how long I left it. You can also see the side pieces left on the tail. This helps keep the tail inside of the tailgate instead of it flipping out when you donít want it to.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Tailgate-1.jpg (346.5 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Tailgate-2.jpg (328.8 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Tailgate-3.jpg (300.2 KB, 9 views)

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2nd: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Tailgate pictures 4 & 5

When I was testing my installation of the moisture barrier, I noticed the tails of the barrier would sometimes ride up with the glass as it traveled up and down. To help prevent this from occurring I decided to try putting some weights on the moisture barrier to help hold it down. While I was trying to come up with ideas to use for weights, I stumbled across some magnetic tape I had stuck back. I cut several pieces and tried them out and they worked well. Since they are magnetic, they stick to the inside of the tailgate shell and this also helps hold down the plastic as the glass runs up and down.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Tailgate-4.jpg (424.9 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg Tailgate-5.jpg (290.7 KB, 7 views)

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Tailgate pictures 6 & 7

These are pictures of the moisture barrier inside of the tailgate shell. You can see the transition points where the tap stops and the plastic goes inside the tailgate.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Tailgate-6.jpg (303.1 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Tailgate-7.jpg (238.8 KB, 7 views)

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2nd: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Tailgate picture 8

This picture shows the finished product. The three sections of the barrier are in place and I used red duct tape to cover all of the bolt holes. You can also see water drops on the right side of the barrier. This is from my water hose test. The barrier did fine shedding all of the water away from the inside of the truck. When I did the test, I sprayed the whole tailgate and back glass seal, but it only leaked on the one side.

I am so glad I have found all of the leaks in my truck and also found a cure for all of them. I was getting tired of drying out the inside of my truck every month. I also donít have to worry about parking it in the garage when rain is in the forecast.

I hope you find this thread is helpful.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Tailgate-8.jpg (320.1 KB, 9 views)
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 06:27 PM
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Steve 83 did something along those lines as well:

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"I can't say that a '90 is going to change your mind about Fords... That era of truck isn't known for exceptional reliability or simplicity of maintenance" Steve83
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-24-2018, 12:10 AM
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klh95bronco - I tried the same method that you did at first and found that it will still leak it times. I switched to the Steve83 method with the single piece of plastic inside and have not had a single drop of water get by it. It is also easier to work on if needed as the seal at the top is not disturbed.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-24-2018, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruners4 View Post
klh95bronco - I tried the same method that you did at first and found that it will still leak it times. I switched to the Steve83 method with the single piece of plastic inside and have not had a single drop of water get by it. It is also easier to work on if needed as the seal at the top is not disturbed.
I tried doing a single sheet of plastic but I had a lot of trouble getting it laid out and secured at the top of the tailgate.

I can up with this 3 section method and thought I would try it. I thoroughly tested this setup with a garden hose and so far have had no leaks.

I tried looking up threads on how to get the moisture barrier back in, but I had little no no luck finding anything on the topic. Do you have a link to Steve83's write up?


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2nd: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-24-2018, 12:43 AM
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Here is the link for the whole tailgate page: 1983 Ford Bronco Tailgate Tech pictures, videos, and sounds | SuperMotors.net
I bought a new roll of the dumdum tape to put along the top edge of the plastic and tried to get it up as high as I could inside of the tailgate. This was the biggest pia of this whole fix besides finding the dumdum tape. The kids at the auto parts stores looked at me like I was speaking some alien language. I had to wait to get to an autobody supply house before they knew what I was looking for. I also tried to get the thickest mil spec sheeting at the lowest price. It took longer to gather all of the supplies than it did to put it in the tailgate.

'96 Eddie Bauer, leather, 5.8L, 3.55 LSD, Bilstein 4600's, DC TC EXP 33x12.5x15, K&N stock replacement, 460 intake tube, Warn hubs.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-24-2018, 01:19 AM
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Glad to see you got it worked out. I was getting water on the inside of the rear glass when I blasted it with water at the car wash. All the seals on the tailgate were toast. So I got all new seals at LMC. The upper seal was no biggie and went it easily. The old seal had a tear in it. Then I got to the window seals. The outer seal is a flippin joke! It just clips in and all the water in the world can just pour right into the gate because there is nothing sealing it to the body! The outer gate/end window seals were a joke also. They didn't match up to the window seal for shit. I used some auto/marine silicone and ran a bead all the way across the outer seal. Then after I put the ill fitting ends in, I siliconed them up too. I don't have any plastic in there like you do, but it's nice out lately and I have to fix a broken defroster wire. I'll have the access panel off and I'll be able to see how it's been holding up in there. Nice work there!




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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-28-2018, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for the insight. I have the same problem with tailgate leaks. Between this and the Steve83 page, I should be good to go.
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