Sliding door bushings
Sliding doors have two latches; one on the back of the door, and one on the front. The front latch is engaged by the door sliding into it, the rear is engaged by the last part of the door track guiding the door in towards the vehicle. When I got the van, the front part of the door closed fine, but the back needed a solid shove from the outside to properly close.
The previous owner was baffled by it, but I actually really enjoyed figuring this one out.
I’m glad I consulted my service manual before pulling off the door. While it’s straightforward following the right steps, it’s not totally intuitive. The top and bottom tracks have hidden openings at different points on the tracks. To remove, the door is first guided to the top opening, then the bottom opening, then out the back of the middle track. It’s really quite clever.
Coach Al came over to help with the door removal, a big slab of steel and glass is pretty porky after all, and he helped with the cleaning and greasing of the tracks. Miraculously, there was even more dog hair in the tracks, a recurring theme.
There are three tracks for the sliding door. Top, middle, and bottom. The door is attached with a bearing on top, a bearing and bushing on the bottom, and a bearing and two bushings in the middle. I suspected the issue was in the middle track and I was right.
With help from this thread on the Toyota Van People forum, I figured out that I needed to pick up some bushings for the assembly as almost 20 years of opening and closing the door had worn not only through the bushing, but about halfway through the metal post under it. I didn’t know where to get the bushings, and Toyota only sold the complete assembly, so I consulted Twitter. Writing instrument virtuoso and generally cool dude Ian Schon turned me on to McMaster-Carr, which is a pretty amazing site that appears to sell every component of everything ever.
I ordered this (good for -400° F to 550° F!) which ended up being a hair too long, so I grinded it down with a Dremel tool. After taking off what was left of the remaining bushing with a screwdriver, I used a channel-lock to squeeze the new ones on. I had to build up the post that was half gone so I used what I had around, which was some old Mastik One. It worked surprisingly well.
After a bit more cleaning and ruminating over how awesome it would be to drive around without the door on, we reattached it and were rewarded with factory quality (probably) gliding and closing.
As a bonus, the new bushings also took care of the nasty metal on metal scraping noise the door was making before.