I have a 2013 Toyota Tacoma with Access Cab and like being able to store a lot of stuff in the cab. I never use the rear seats and decided to just remove them and the back panel to open up some more space. It was hard to find information on how to do this, but I found enough to try. It wound up being much easier than I expected and I probably gained a good three inches in the back of the cab. If you have a Toyota, depending on the year this process may or may not be similar. Other makes of trucks likely rely on similar principles. This modification is really incredibly easy, especially if you get the plastic trim tools. You do not have to be mechanically minded at all. If you can use a socket wrench, you can handle it.
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Step 1: Things You Will Need..
You will need a socket wrench with a 12mm socket for all of the bolts except the two anchoring the seat belt receivers, which will require a 14mm socket. You may need a socket extension bar as well. Notice you need metric tools, although you could probably make do with SAE if you had to. The nylon pry bar trim kit was $7 at Harbor Freight, and you can order it online. You can probably use a flat bladed screw driver, but you will undoubtedly be scratching the plastic and paint as well as spending a lot more time trying to pop some of the anchors.
Step 2: Remove the Seats..
The seats should be removed first, because otherwise you will not be able to easily remove the back wall panel. There are only three bolts that hold the seats down which are easily removed. Just pull back the velcroed carpet in the pictures. Make sure to screw the bolts back in when you're finished.
Step 3: Remove the Back Panel Step 1
The entire back panel comes off as one big piece, but first you need to remove the cover plate and anchor in the first 3 photos. Using the plastic trim tool this is a piece of cake. Make sure to tape the two black anchors back in place on the panel when you remove it so not to lose them. Then slowly go along the sides of the panel as shown. You'll be able to feel the approximate places where the anchors are and a gentle tug should easily unsnap them.
Step 4: Remove the Back Panel Step 2..
The anchors holding the top and middle of the panel are located a little deeper than the sides. I carefully slipped my arm behind the top, found the places where the panel was attached to the truck wall and gently popped them out. You can see the white plastic anchors in the pictures. There were a couple anchors that stayed in the wall and that I removed and reattached to the panel to keep everything together. Before you can remove the panel though you will have to remove the seat latch covers in the next step.
Step 5: Remove the Back Panel Step 3..
The last thing you need to do before you can remove the back panel is to remove the seat latch covers, one on the outside edge of where each seat would be in the first photo. To do this you'll have to lean the panel forward, reach way down and pinch the retaining wings together as shown and push it forward out the front of the panel. It is quite easy and you should replace the pieces back in the panel as soon as you remove them to prevent loss.
Step 6: Remove the Panel..
The panel will now easily slip over the two latches on the bottom. Again make sure all the plastic anchors are firmly in place on the panel to prevent losing any. In the second photo you can see some of the anchors still attached to the back wall. It was a simple matter to remove them and put them back in their corresponding holes on the panel. Next we'll remove the headrests.
Step 7: Remove the Headrests..
Nothing could be simpler. There are just 4 bolts that need to be removed and each headrest comes right off. Replace the bolts in the holes afterwards.
Step 8: Remove the Seat Belt Receivers..
Each seat belt receiver in the middle is secured with a single bolt. You will have to use a 14mm socket to remove these. I couldn't find a way to separate the bolt from the belt so those two holes were left open.
Step 9: Remove the Latch Assembly From Both Sides..
Each latch assembly meant to secure baby seats has two 12mm head bolts and are easily unscrewed. Again, replace the bolts so they aren't lost after you've removed the assembly. This will also make sure there are fewer holes in the floor for things to fall into.
Step 10: Finish..
This is what it will look like when you are through. I estimate I gained about 3 inches of room towards the back wall and maybe one or two vertically without the seats. Make sure to put all the parts in a plastic bag and a box. Label the box so it doesn't get accidentally thrown away if you ever want to put the seats back in (for instance if you were to sell the truck). Labeling the box will also help someone else find the box if you aren't there to look for it. I'd try and store the back panel close to the box as well since it is too big to fit in with the rest of the stuff. You might even consider printing out this instructable and sticking a copy in the box so someone else could re-install everything if necessary.
Step 11: More Room for Stuff..
I took pictures of my bags with and without the back panel in place. You can see how much better supported they are with the rear panel removed. In the next step I rigged up a simple system to keep them from falling off the raised platform.
Step 12: Securing My Bags..
The bolt for the shoulder strap just happens to have enough space to slip a loop of paracord around it. I used a taut line hitch knot to secure it to the bolt in the first two pictures. I tied another taut line hitch in the other end to connect a bungee cord to. The taut line hitch is an excellent knot because you can slide it up or down to take up any slack. The last 3 pictures show how I installed a 1/4" eye bolt through one of the anchor attachment points on the bottom back wall. I used a nut and a large washer on the outside, and a smaller washer followed by a nut on the inside. The bungees were hooked into the eye bolt and then connected to a loop on the end of the paracord. You could easily attach a cargo net in a similar manner.
Step 13: All Tied Up..
This is the way things look now with my tool bag and first aid bag secured by bungees. There's still plenty of room on the floor for my jumper cables and tire iron. I will probably build a shelf over the bags eventually to use more of the vertical space and keep my stuff out of sight. The cab will be noticeably louder without the back panel, and has less insulation than it did before. This might be an issue during the winter depending on where you live. You can hang a blanket or use carpeting to remedy this.