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Tech Article: Rebuilding the Door Hinge

Thunderbird/Cougar/Mark VIII Door Hinge Removal and Rebuild


The following how-to has been borrowed - in part - from MN12 Performance and has been modified based on my personal experience rebuilding my own door hinge on a 1995 Thunderbird LX. As of at least November 1, 2006 MN12 Performance has closed, the rebuild kit can currently be obtained from spinningwheels.com. All parts needed to rebuild one lower hinge assembly and realign your door are included in the kit. Please read through both the MN12PERFORMANCE How-To and this supplement prior to beginning your hinge rebuild.

Disclaimer: These tips are provided only as a supplement to the MN12Performance Hinge Rebuild How-To. For information contained in this article I do not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information contained here. Furthermore, I do not assume any liability for damage to any vehicle(s) or individual(s) that may arise as a result of attempting to follow these tips. This is not an endorsement of MN12Performance or Spinningwheels.com.

Not professional advice
If you need specific advice please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in this area.
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To begin you will need two people as the door is very heavy and you do not want to damage the door during the repair. To this I will add that the only help I received was in removing the hinge from the door after removing the bolts.

You will need to remove the lower hinge from the car to perform the proper repair. A padded floor jack is handy to support the door while the hinge is off.

To this I will add that:
  • I lowered the window and tied the door to a storage rack mounted to the ceiling of my garage in addition to supporting the door with a padded jack.
  • I also recommend disconnecting the battery as your door will be open for some time and you don't want to drain the battery.

To begin I used a 2' long section of 5/8" foam rubber pipe wrap along the back of the front quarter-panel to provide protection from the loose door. You can get a 6' section of this stuff from your local hardware store for about a buck.



The 13mm inside nut will have to be removed first. Open the door fully and support it with a floor jack.

Remove the kick panel and remove the two supporting bolts for the foot rest if equipped. Removal of the foot rest is not necessary to allow access to the single 13mm nut. (My 1995 T-Bird doesn't have this foot rest.)

The MN12 How-to recommends to be careful as the nut can easily fall in between the frame. By relocating some of the wiring in this location I was able to fit my hand into the opening and easily remove the bolt without having to worry about the bolt dropping into the frame.

There is a piece of supple plastic with foam rubber backing located behind the kick panel trim that will need to be cut to allow access to the 13mm inside hinge nut. After removing the kick panel trim and setting it aside cut the plastic along the line of the hood release being careful not to cut the wiring located behind it. Cut this plastic in half all the way back to the parking brake cable, remove the cut plastic and set it aside. A good utility scissor or a utility knife are good choices for this task.




There are a few more thing to remove before you can access the hidden 13mm inside hinge bolt. There are three small bolts holding wiring and what appeared to be an airbag sensor in this location. I unscrewed these three small bolts and pulled the sensor out of the way. You do not need to disconnect this sensor to move it. I used a zip tie to temporarily hold this sensor up under the dash and out of the way.





Once this wiring and the sensor are out of the way you should have uninhibited access to the 13mm inside hinge bolt. Make note of its location prior to removal as this is EXACTLY where it needs to be to properly realign the door. There should be a nice factory paint outline of the washer that you can use as a reference.


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The MN12 How-to recommends using two 3/8" wobble sockets combined to remove the two exterior 13mm hinge bolts by reaching between the front of the door and the right front quarter-panel. This is the most difficult approach possible and will scratch the paint of both you door and quarter panel even if they're taped, besided most tapes leave a nasty residue when removed. In place of this approach I dropped the splash guard from the drivers side wheel well which provides excellent access to the two exterior 13mm hinge bolts. You do not need to raise the car or remove the wheel and tire unless you have installed aftermarket oversize tires and rims.



After dropping the splash guard remove the insulation between the splash guard and the hinges. I believe this is soundproofing insulation. It is secured by two plastic connectors that just slide off. After removing this insulation you'll see the lower hinge and bolts pictured below.



The remainder of the hinge rebuild is the same as the MN12 Performance How-To.


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Using a 13mm box end wrench remove the two bolts holding the hinge to the door. Loosen the upper two bolts at the door to allow enough movement in the door so you can pull the lower hinge out. Optional is cutting the hinge bolt before removing the hinge.If you choose this route a Dremmel is the only tool small enough to reach the hinge pin. Pulling the two apart makes it easier to remove from the car.

Note: Mark the location of the hinge before removing it from the car it will help you locate it when reinstalling. (I found this step wasn't necessary as the factory paint provided a perfect outline of the hinges and bolts.)

You will have to wiggle the hinge around until it comes out. Be careful not to scratch the paint as you remove it. Now that the hinge is out you will need to determine if it is able to be rebuilt. If the brass bushings are worn or missing and the hole that the brass bushing fits in is out of round you may not be able to repair the hinge. You can still try to repair the hinge. It may be time to either get a junk yard hinge or new Ford hinge (unpainted). To color match just get a small 5oz can of auto body matching paint.



After the hinge pin has been cut and the two are separated you will need to examine the holes for signs of uneven wear. If the inner hinge holes are worn larger than .470" it is time to get another hinge.


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The door hinge roller assembly:

Warning: The aftermarket kits contain sub standard rollers that are full of porosity and are prone to cracking and failure. Just leave the old roller in place and throw the "new" roller in the trash.

Should you decide to take your chances with the aftermarket roller proceed as follows.

Hammer the old pin that holds the roller out using a punch or similar tool. Insert the new roller and hammer the new pin through the roller so it is centered.


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Hinge disassembly. The 15/32" or .468 drill bit opens up the hole to allow the .478" OD brass bushing to be hammered into the hinge. The brass bushings are hammered into the hinge from the outside of the door side hinge assembly only.


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Hinge pin installation. Both hinge assemblies may need to be realigned to provide a tight fit between the two sides of the hinges. A vice and/or non metal hammer will work to bend the outer hinge assembly so the two fit tightly. Then insert the pin and hammer it down so the head is flush against the outer hinge assembly. Insert the E-Clip over the pin and snap into place. The hinge has been rebuilt and is ready to go back into the car.


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Striker bolt install Before removing the striker bolt mark the location. Using a T50 Torx bit remove the striker bolt. Install the new striker bolt to the same location and position. After the door hinge and been reinstalled in the car test fit the door alignment. If the door alignment is off it can be corrected by tightening the 13mm nut from inside the car while another person holds the door shut. The striker bolt is another adjustment point. For further instructions on door alignment procedures please see your shop manual.

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See a list of my real mods and pictures of my car HERE. The true performance of my car was made possible by the Carolinas Crew Chief, RobertP at Rob's Tire & Auto

Last edited by XR7-4.6; 08-10-2017 at 12:26 AM.
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