stubby Phillips (optional)
very small screwdriver
cheap soldering iron
Dremel with cylindrical bit and smooth end (cuts only on side of bit)
2” masking tape
small putty knife
cup of water
Spray adhesive and vinyl or leather (from leather seats kit)
single edge razor blades
Remove the plastic screw covers over the screws in the door pull, and behind the door release handle. Remove the screws behind them. To remove the insert with the switches, pull out slightly on the door pull, then wrestle it out. Prying carefully under the middle will help, but the trick is to get the backside to release. The rear will come up first, and the very front has a snap in clip that pulls out last. Unplug the wire connectors by releasing the clip with the small screwdriver then pull (they’re tight). Underneath the switch panel is one more screw. Remove it. On the front doors, remove the courtesy light by pulling out on the bottom edge, then unplug it. Now grab the door panel around the lower edges and pull. The clips will pop loose. There is one clip behind the triangular piece of plastic behind the mirror also. Grab your #2 stubby Phillips (the rear door panels need the stubby more than the fronts), then lift the door panel off of the top edge of the door. While holding it in one hand, remove the 4 screws from the back of the door panel that hold on the handle/lock assembly. Now make sure that all of the clips are still in the panel. If not, remove them from the door and reinstall them in the door panel.
Place the panel face down on a your soft, flat work surface. Leatherseats recommends covering the insert by tucking the new vinyl or leather in around the edges. I had no luck getting a decent fit with this method. The spray adhesive is totally dry before you can get it tucked in (which is nearly impossible it is SOOO tight), and it ends up very uneven, etc. So here’s how I did it.
First remove the window felts by straightening the folded over tabs and pulling them off. Now examine the molten blobs of plastic (ala shift boot) that resemble rivet heads and hold the upper and lower panels together. You need to grind their diameter down to about 1/4 “. Do not reduce their height. Some are black plastic, and some are white plastic. Do only the ones holding the upper panel to the lower. I left the small panel at the rear edge of the upper panel attached to the upper panel. You could remove that panel also. After grinding pry carefully and they will pop loose. Some may need to be ground more than others. Remove the upper panel.
HKNinja completely his leather install with a DKSchweitzer leather kit and has provided the remainder of these pics detailing the door panel insert recovery portion of the leather install. These first two illustrate the molten blobs of plastic that weld the panels together:
Here is the weld ground off. I left a little more material in the middle when I did mine:
Now mask off the small trim panel behind the insert (unless you removed it) and spray both the original cloth insert material and the back of the new material with spray adhesive.
After a few minutes dry time, place the new material over the cloth so that about ¾” of material hangs off of the back edge (If you are working with the small panel still attached). Take care not to apply any concentrated local pressure as this will compress the glue into the nap of the cloth and make your finished product “lumpy.” Working from the center out, lift it up again and stretch it just slightly in every direction to get a smooth surface. Press the edges down tight.
(If you removed the small panel at the rear of the door insert, ignore this next step) Now you need to trim the rear edge so that just ¼” of material tucks underneath the original cloth (between the insert and the rear plastic trim panel). This is all that will fit. If you trim it too short, pull the whole piece off, move it back, and start over. There is plenty of excess, so you can screw up a few times on the first one. Start at the center of the top radius with your small screwdriver tucking it in slowly and carefully, then work around to flat portion where it tucks in much nicer with a putty knife. The last step is to trim the remainder of the excess to exactly match the original cloth trim line with a razor blade and make a small vertical cut in each rectangular hole for the window felt tabs to pass through. Reinstall the window felt.
Now place the insert panel back over the plastic posts. With the hot soldering iron, melt the posts down and into the surrounding plastic to about 3/16” depth. Stir around and get a nice molten plastic area about ½” diameter by 3/16” deep. Now dip your finger in the water and press it into the molten plastic to smooth out the “weld”. Cuss about the pain and dip your finger back in the water to cool it again. When they're all "welded" back together, reinstall the door panel.
You should be able to do this in 4 hours, although it took me five because I wasted the first one trying to recover the panel without disassembling it first. Wish I could say this was a piece of cake like the spring install, but I just want everyone to know what they're getting themselves into before they tackle a project like this!
Many thanks to HKNinja for his contribution to this thread. Please check out his door insert installation thread here.
Last edited by Altimat on 05-06-2002 at 11:19 PM