I have a 2003 Wrangler with the factory soft top. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to put the tailgate retainer in so I can open the tailgate w/o having to pull out the soft top from the rear retainer clips?
Are you sure you have your rear window bar in the right way? I've never had that problem. The tailgate should just open up freely without messing with anything else. It closes against the rubber gasket if that helps any. I don't have my soft top on right now so I can't take any pics for you.
Somewhere out "there" there are pic's of this. I know, because when I bought m Jeep, it was on wrong too and I had to figure it out. Obviously, I pulled the rod out a bit to show you which direction it goes on. FYI though, I never clip in the soft top rear window, it makes opening it (which I do often) easier, but I still have to open the rear gate. Just to make sure, you zip closed the rear window, clip it in, then close the tailgate. Good luck.
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The pictures can be very confusing...the bar shouldn't be sticking out at all like that...
When you install the soft top, you want the tailgate OPEN because that makes it easier to pop the bar in-it goes in and 'turns' a quarter turn or half turn to 'lock in'. Then the gasket is facing the tailgate when it closes and seals. It IS possible to put that bar in reversed...that may be your problem. Once installed, then you close the tailgate and it compresses the gasket to seal it.
....you beat me to it on why the picture looks off...sorry! Posted your comment while I was typing!