Projects & Repairs --> Mechanical --> Doors --> Replacing Jeep Hinge Pins

Replacing hinge pins to fix a sagging car door.

Fixing A Sagging Door:

Replacing Hinge Pins On A
1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee

(Covers Model Years 1994 to 2004)

In This Article:

The car door is supported and the hinges are unbolted. The old hinge pins are removed, new bushings are installed and the hinge pins replaced. Some torn sheet metal around the door latch is repaired.

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Skill Level: 3-4 (Intermediate to Advanced)

Time Taken: About 2 Hours

By Jim Wilk, Licensed Auto Body Technician

Start:

The doors on this generation of Jeep Grand Cherokee have hinges that are welded to the door and bolted to the car. When these doors start to sag, some service advisors tell owners that the entire welded-on hinge must be replaced.

However, replacement door pins and bushings are available at many auto part stores. A good mechanical technician can change these pins and bushings and correct the sagging door.

One of the first things I always do is to put a layer of masking tape along the edge of the door and fender, then a layer of duct tape over that. This protects the paint from chipping.

If you put duct tape on without masking tape underneath. You will spend extra time cleaning off the adhesive residue.

Applying masking tape to edge of door to prevent scratching when door is removed. 

 

 Torn door sheet metal around the latch.

The torn metal in this door latch area is a result of worn-out door hinge pins and bushings.

Since the door had sagged so badly, the door latch was lower than the striker (the post or metal rod that the latch grabs on to). Whenever the door was shut, the striker pushed upward on the latch. Eventually all this upward slamming caused some tearing in the sheet metal that the latch was attached to.

This door would not close at all. The owner used a bungee cord to keep the door from swinging open while driving.

 

One the better qualities of this Jeep Grand Cherokee is that the engineers thought of the repairman:

The door can be removed by simply removing four bolts and disconnecting the wiring harness.

Door hinge bolt locations, 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

 

 Door electrical connector, 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I started disconnecting the wiring harness by separating the flexible hose from the plastic retainer. Then by pressing inward on the top and bottom retainer clips I pulled out the plastic retainer.

 

With a flat screwdriver I pushed up on the edge of the red harness lock.

Because of the tight space, I wasn't able to disconnect the harness at this point. But this preparation made the job easier when I unbolted the door from the vehicle.

Removing door electrical connector, 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

 

Supporting the weight of car door when removing door.  When removing and replacing a heavy door I always put a support platform underneath and get an extra person to help.

It's best to have the support under the middle of the door so the weight is balanced.

 

I removed the four bolts holding the door hinge to the hinge pillar plate.

I made sure I had someone holding the door on the platform. These doors can weight 100 pounds or better.

Removing mounting bolts on car door, Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

 

 Dsiconnecting electrical wiring to remove door on 97 Jeep. Now as I slid the door back I disconnected the wire harness.

 

View of hinge pillar and mounting plates. Jeep Grand Cherokee with door removed. 

 

 Car door with old and new hinge pins and bushings. View of door hinges and new pins and bushing kits, purchased at my local NAPA auto parts store.

 

I started with the lower hinge first. I always do one hinge at a time, not to get them mixed up and for reference purposes.

Using a grinding wheel on a die grinder, I ground flush the head of the lower part of the pin.

Grinding the head from hinge pin to fix sagging car door. 

 

 Tools used to remove car door hinge pins. The yellow arrow shows the die grinder and wheel used, the shield was removed to get into the small area.

The red arrow shows the metal punch I used to knock the pin out.

 

Using the punch and hammer I knocked the pin through the hinge. Removing hinge pin in car door. 

 

 Removing hinge pin in car door. The problem I had was that the punch wasn't long enough.

 

So I used a pair of vise grips with a hammer to knock it out the rest of the way. Using vise grip pliers to remove hinge pin. 

 

 Car door hinge plates after pin is removed, 1997 Jeep Cherokee. View of the swivel part of the hinge (also called the pivot plate) with the two bushings that need to be replaced (red arrows).

 

I needed to support the hinge and drive the bushing downward.

Working on a block of wood, I clamped a socket in a pair of Vise-Grips to support the hinge. With a flat-tipped punch and a hammer I knocked the bushing out of the hinge.

Removing car door hinge bushings with a punch and hammer. 

 

View of the tools used: Socket in the vise-grips, hammer, long punch.

I did this job on a block of wood because the bench vise in our shop is broken.

 

I have found that these brass bushings can crack easily, so using a pair of flat vise-grips as a press I carefully pressed the bushings in as much as possible. Installing new bushings in car door hinge, Jeep. 

 

 Driving hinge bushings into place with hammer. Using a hammer, I carefully tapped the bushing in the rest of the way in.

 

Then using a drift pin or line up punch, I aligned the pivot plate with the stationary part of the hinge. Aligning the parts of the door hinge. 

 

 Aligning the parts of the door hinge with a long punch. I put the hinge pivot plate back into the proper position.

Now we are ready for the hinge pin.

 

With vise grips holding the pin I tapped it into the hole. Replacing hinge pin by holding pin with pliers and hammering into place. 

 

  The bottom wasn't lining up so I used the line up tool again.

 

Once the pin was through the bushing and mounting holes, I hammered the knurled part of the pin in flush. I had to hammer the pin fairly hard. Hammering hinge pin flush to fully seat the pin. 

 

 Repaired car door hinge, including tack weld to secure pin. View of lower hinge completed.

I put a tack weld on the bottom of the pin, which is my preference to be certain the pin never comes out.

 

Replacing The Upper Hinge Pin:

Next I moved to the top hinge which I found to be different.

With a die grinder and abrasive disc, I ground the head of the pin flush.

Grinding door hinge pin to separate hinge halves. 

 

 Car door hinge after head of pin has been ground flat. View of pin head end ground flush.

There was a head on the top and bottom of this factory-installed hinge pin.

Because of the closeness of the top hinge to a body curve I ground the bottom first.

 

I tapped the pin until the top head came close to the body curve. Then using a die grinder I cut the shaft of the pin near the hinge (about where the yellow line crosses the shaft). Hammering upper hinge pin part way out, then cutting off. 

 

 Removing upper hinge pin, after cutting off a portion. Using the flat punch I tapped the pin through.

 

View of upper pin and hinge.

Because the pin has been cut shorter, it just dropped out in the middle of the hinge.

Upper hinge pin removed. 

 

 Upper hinge pin after being replaced.

2nd New Hinge Pin Installed:

Following the same procedure as the first hinge pin, I installed the second new pin by knocking it upward from the bottom end. The red arrow shows tip of pin.

Note that on the lower hinge, the pin head was oriented up. On this upper hinge, the pin's head was oriented down.

I tack welded the tip, which is my preference' 

 

View of old pins and bushings. The red arrows point to the areas of wear.

Regular lubrication with white lithium grease would have prevented this wear.

Then I replaced the door on the vehicle.

Original hinge pins showing areas of high wear. 

 

Repairing The Damaged Sheet Metal In The Latch Area:

The owner of this 1997 Jeep Cherokee did not want to put a lot of money into this old car. So the latch area was repaired to be functional and economical, not necessarily attractive.

 Using fender washers to add extra metal under bolts for door latch. With fender washers under the bolt heads I was able to secure the latch in position.

 

Then I tack-welded the washers in place to give it some strength.

If a do-it-yourselfer needed to repair damaged sheet metal like this, but did not have access to a welder, the entire door could be taken to a local welding shop where this weld could be done for a very reasonable cost.

Tack welding done on fender washers to secure them to car door, to repair ripped sheet metal. 

 

 Jeep Grand Cherokee door after fixing hinge pins. No sag. With new pins and bushings the door is back to the factory position (i.e. it no longer sags).

 

Finally, to prevent rust I painted the latch area with black primer sealer and then black spray paint. Painting bare metal around sheet metal repair. 

 

More Info:

Tools Used:

  • 10mm Socket and Ratchet
  • Hammer
  • Long Mechanic's Punch
  • 3/4" Socket
  • Small Flat Screwdriver
  • Die Grinder, Grinding and Cut-off Disc
  • Vise Grip Pliers
  • MIG Welder (optional)
  • Milk Crate and Blocks of Wood

Materials Used:

  • Door Pin with 2 Bushings (2 sets)
  • Lubricating Oil
  • Masking Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Fender Washers
  • Primer/Sealer
  • Spray Paint

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Written December 30, 2008