This is my second BL/BP platform and I bought it used - my first being a brand new Spec.B in 2006 which unfortunately, I no longer own. My current ride is a 2005 BSM OBXT 5-speed Manual. I'm documenting the procedure for disassembling the rear hatch / liftgate and the outer panel housing the backup lights.
So I undertook this project for two main reasons:
(1) Installing a cheap, Chinese, eBay/Amazon back-up camera as part of my complete infotainment, amp, subwoofer, speaker, etc. upgrades. The camera itself is one that sits in the same spot and replaces one of the license plate illumination lights.
is the camera model I specifically used.
(2) I was trying desperately to fix a common problem with the BL/BP OBXTs and LGTs. That is, the locking mechanism simply didn't work anymore leaving me vulnerable to theft. After some requisite googling, I traced the problem back to the commonly broken wires within the rubber boot on the top passenger side of the hatch. So I wanted to replace/repair some of the wiring.
In any case, what became quickly clear was that the camera install in particular required going further than pulling out the inner panel. I was going to have to remove the outside (body color) panel in order to gain mounting and wiring access and do some soldering.
This first thing to consider is buyng some proper popit / plastic fastener removal tools. They're not absolutely necessary but make for far fewer broken fasteners.
: Remove 2 Phillips screws and pry out plastic pull down
Remove inner panels that allow you to access and change reverse light bulbs. They simply pry off (carefully) with a flat-head screwdriver
With the liftgate/hatch open, push the bottom rubber seal up a bit to reveal a series of black pop-its. Remove them carefully. Like a moron, I didn't do this fully before embarking on this mission and wound up ripping 2 or 3 plastic hoops on the plastic panel. You've been warned.
: The last step is to carefully pry off the inner panel. All that remains at this point holding them in, is a series of 4 pop-its and 2 tabs. Go slowly and deliberately so as not to break anything. Here you can see the inner panel removed in all it's glory, the bare inner hatch and all the connectors.
So now, you'll want to remove the outer (body color) panel to gain access to wiring and mount the camera. The particular camera I used has holes lined up exactly matching the stock illumination light locations which is primarily why I bought it. Start on the two extended bolts on either side of the panel (4 total). Remove them. I think they're 9mm or something close. There are 8 or 9 inner
bolts (not pictured) 6 or 7mm maybe you'll also need to remove. You'll need a ratchet with a decent length extension for those. My recommendation is to use something magnetic or be really careful with removal as I dropped a couple of them within the inner caverns of the hatch and they were very difficult to retrieve. The main reason for removing this panel is that I found it nearly impossible to access the necessary wiring to splice/solder into for both the camera power and backup signal without doing so.
Here's the tricky part that I failed to previously find documentation for. It nearly led me to break the outer panel. Luckily, I didn't. Now that all the bolts are off, you'll need to carefully pry off the outer panel while leveraging a non-marring plastic knife to break the seals around the backup light holes of the hatch itself. They're sealed all the way around with some seriously sticky black sealant which you can see below. Once the panel is off, you can complete your wiring surgery.
At this point, I did my backup camera install, sealed it, soldered my connections and reversed the process for reassembly. I did have to cut up the OEM gromet and a bit to squeeze the camera's wires through the same hole. I used some sealant there as well to prevent any water damage. This is a great opportunity to clean up the years of muck, leaves, pigeon poop, etc that accumulates up in there - which I did. You'll also need to properly re-seal both surrounds unless you like water in your cabin. I chose to go with some black/rubbery roofing cement I had lying around. I completely removed the previous sealant, cleaned the entire hatch and inside of the remove panel, applied a bead of sealant to both sides, let stand for a couple of minutes and carefully re-applied and reassembled. BTW, I'm OCD and as such, liberally used Anti-Seize on all bolts/nuts.