DIY: E36 Removing The Headliner and Back Dash

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DIY: E36 Removing The Headliner and Back Dash

Post by kyleabaker » Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:58 pm

Please do this at your own risk. I am not responsible if you break anything. End legal mumbo jumbo.

Okay, so I am redoing almost my entire interior so expect a few more write-ups.
Also, this is done on a 1993 318is, other E36's, ecspecially newer ones, might be differemt.

If your headliner is saggy and falling down like this:

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It is time to replace your headliner. In this DIY, I will cover A,B and C pillar removal along with back dash removal, rear side panel removal, and side bolster removal.

This is not hard, it is just an undertaking and it takes time. I did this (with frequent breaks) in about 1-2 hours.

To make it easier to move about the cramped car and to get the headliner itself out, I removed the front passenger seat. That is easy, just remove the four bolts that hold it to the floor and lift up, not forgetting to unplug any wiring harnesses from underneath:

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Now with the removal. The headliner is held in by everything below it. A,B and C pillars, "oh shit" handles, sunvisors, you name it. I began this removal with the sunvisors.

First, unscrew the sunvisor clip, then unscrew the sunvisor post and disconnect the wiring harnesses from both. Then to remove the light, simply wedge a fingernail under the part that is closest to the front window and pull back. Unplug that wiring harness too.

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Here you see the front of the car sans sunvisor.

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Next, I took the sunroof motor cover off. Just pry at the front with a screwdriver and once the front clips are disengaged, it slides forward. (Note: I left the map light assembly until the headliner was almost out, it is a little easier that way since you can release the pressure clips from the back.)

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From here, you need to wiggle the sunroof switch out of its wiring harness. I found it stubborn, but maybe it's just old.

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From this, I moved onto the "oh shit" handles (as my mom calls them). This is simple, yet be careful, you do not want to break any of the fragile pieces.
First, use a pliers on the screw covers and pull STRAIGHT down, any side to side and the plastic pins will snap. When you uncover the screws, unscrew them but pull the handle straight out since there are more fragile pins.

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After that, I moved on to the C-pillar.

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To remove the C-pillar, you need to remove the following: the rear reading light, the vent window weather stripping, the side bolster and the rear side panel.

For the rear reading light, just pry it off with a screwdriver.

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Then remove the weather stripping. This can be a royal pain in the ass, but mine was coming off in one section, so I got lucky. It also helps greatly to open the vent window.

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Next is the side bolster. Super. I got in a small scuffle with my passenger side one, but the driver's side was sehr, sehr easy. Anyway, there are three mounting points on this piece. The first you need to remove is the top tension spring. It took me all my might and a bit of physics to release this one. Try and wiggle it out a bit and then get behind it with your hand and pull like there is no tomorrow. The second is merely a problem of lifting it up with ease. The third should come out easy, but this is where I got into the scuffle. You should just be able to slide it towards the outside of the car, but if the leather/vinyl gets stuck on the little nub, be prepared for a party.

In this picture I have marked the mounting points in red and drew in the direction it need to move to unlatch with some ugly blue arrows. Also, I provided a close up of the side bolster "nub" in the last two parts of the picture.

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Here is a view of the back. You can see the first two mounting points. The top one is the tension spring and the bottom is the hook.

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Again, here are the mounting points.

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Next is the side panel. This was surprisingly easy. Mine just lifted up once the weather stripping and side bolster were removed. However, on newer E36's, three clips are used at the top. Simply lift and apply pressure where the clips are.

Here are a few views of the side panel:

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And a view from the back:

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Next up is the C-pillar. There are three mounting clips in this. They are the ones pointed at by the red arrows. To remove just pry from the top/side with your hands and apply pressure at the clips to be sure not to break them (they are part of the C-pillar, you can't just replace the clips if you break them).

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Next, I moved up to the sunroof. There is a "liner" around the edge. Simply open the sunroof and peel it back. No tricks.

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When it came to the A-pillar, I chose not to take the front weather stripping off, so I just pried at the top of the A-pillar and it separated at bit. This is when I focused my prying on the spots where the spring clips were. You can kind of see them in the second picture. I pointed them out in the third picture.

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Next, I tackled the B-pillar. There is a small trick to this. You don't need to remove the front side weather stripping, just the vent window. Now, once you get the seatbelt bolt off, (which is a #16, you have to give it some force for it to budge more than 1/2") you have the "seatbelt height adjustment knob" or whatever you call it. This you can either pull off in a fit of rage or, as I later found out, can use a needle nose pliers from behind the b-pillar and unclip it. Either way works fine.

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Here is a side view of where you can unclip the knob:

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Now, you are done removing the little pieces, now for the headliner itself! Once I wiggled it out from under the front door weather stripping, it just fell down on my head, so I couldn't snap a picture in time, but some of you will actually have to take it out.
Sometimes it is glued a little bit to the metal roof. Just peel it down slowly, being careful not to bend the headliner. Also, in the very rear of the car, just where the roof meets the back glass, there is a small lip which the headliner sits in. Just slide the headliner back a bit and remove.
Now, if you didn't remove the passenger seat, you need to lean both seats back and good luck. If you did, lean the driver's set back and get another person to hold the other side of the headliner so you don't bend it. Just rotate the headliner until you can get it out the passenger door. You're done with the headliner!

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And here is the carnage that is my car:

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Next comes the back dash, which is probably faded to a weird pink, like mine. If you have a pink back dash, take it out now. You have to remove the C-pillars and all that jazz for it to come out.
This isn't that bad, from the pictures you can see that when you fold down the rear seats, a mere plastic cover separates you from being done. This is held in by little plastic clip things. I recommend that you slip a flathead under the clips and pry. That's all I got.


Once you remove the clips, pull the plastic cover off (pull it downwards). And pry off this cover so you can have a place to grab it while pulling it out.

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Now just wiggle it out.

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Please note that I didn't even have to take off the speaker grills to get it out of the car!

Done!


Time for some spray dye...
Source: http://www.unitedbimmer.com/forums/bmw- ... -dash.html
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