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Headliner removal with pics...warning...very long!!!

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Headliner removal with pics...warning...very long!!!

Old 11-26-2007, 04:22 PM
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Default Headliner removal with pics...warning...very long!!!

<b>Headliner Removal</b>

The swap from the stock headliner to the alcantara headliner was "fun" in many ways, and I love the end result. However, to be honest, this is not an easy chore (this was done with the help of GBW and 4driver4 last year shortly after I bought the 4.2). I do know that there is another AWer out there who has been asking me for a write-up on how to do it for his recently acquired alcantara headliner set, so here it is for reference. This is also handy for those wishing to check for clogged sunroof drains (which are hidden under the headliner) and any other projects that might require access under the headliner.

<b>Tools required</b>

Torx drivers various sizes, but T-25 is the popular one
Philips-head screwdriver
Flat pry tools (plastic putty knife or metal one taped of to avoid damaging anything)
17mm socket and wrench

Just a few preview pictures of how the headliner is actually secured to the roof of the car. I will provide detailed steps on how to get at these anchor points later.

There are several anchor points up front. There are 3 screws hidden above the dome lamps and sunroof control. The visor clips and hinges also lock the headliner into place. The moonroof has a metal frame around the perimeter along the top edge of the opening that locks the headliner into place. Here is a picture of the headliner removed so you can see these anchor points:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_anchor_points_1.jpg">

Same stuff, different angle:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_anchor_points_2.jpg">

The sides of the headliner are tucked in under the pillar trim, so obviously the pillar trim will have to come out first. Here is a picture of how the headliner is held under the pillar trim, looking along the side curtain airbag:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner.jpg">

The rear of the headliner has an edge that curves up and tucks into a slot along the roof above the rear window. Here is a picture of that curved edge:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_anchor_points_3.jpg">

So, if I were to do this again (which I hope never to have to do) I would start with the pillar trim, in this order: A - D - C/D - B. Before anything is done, remove everything out of the trunk, since the headliner panel will be removed through the trunk opening

<b>A-pillar removal</b>

This has already been well documented (see link below at the end of the A-pillar section), but here it is again. First thing to do is to remove the sun visor. Remove a small plastic cap to get at this Philips-head screw.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/A-pillar_1.jpg">

Pull the visor out of the headliner by turning the leading edge down and back because the plastic wire guide is J-shaped. Once the visor is loose, disconnect the wires for the visor mirror lights and the Homelink (if so equipped).
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/A-pillar_2.jpg">

Next, remove the grab handle, which is held in by two torx bolts hidden under the hinges of the grab handle pictured below. The caps pivot near the top edge, but you can snap them out by using a thin flat screwdriver along the side of the cap.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/A-pillar_3.jpg">

Remove the "AIRBAG" plastic tag above the B-pillar to get at this torx bolt hidden under the tag.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_1a.jpg">

Now, in the leading hole for the grab handles, look for a brass oval washer. Grab that with some big pliers and pull back towards the rear of the car until it snaps loose, probably only travels about an inch or so. You'll see why later.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/A-pillar_5.jpg">

Now all that is holding the A-pillar to the car frame are a few clips along the side of the windshield. Gently start pulling from the top near the corner where the visor was secured and work your way down. You'll know when the clips release.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/A-pillar_6.jpg">

The A-pillar should now be free to remove. Don't forget to remove this clip, which is stuck in the A-pillar slot. This clip is the one attached to the other end of the wire cable that you pulled a couple of steps above. You must reattach the cable to the clip and the clip to the pillar before reinstalling.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/A-pillar_7.jpg">

More information (and better pics) of the A-pillar removal and the cable clip reassembly are found <a href="https://forums.audiworld.com/a6/msgs/168740.phtml">here</a>.

<b>D-pillar removal </b>

The D-pillar (which is the long sloping trim that runs along the rear window) is attached the same way as the A-pillar, so again, remove the grab handle to get at the oval washer and cable.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_4.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_5.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_6.jpg">

Once the cable is released, you must also get at a torx bolt hidden beneath the coat hook. Flip down the coat hook and remove this screw:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_2.jpg">

Then remove the torx bolt:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_3.jpg">

Here is that locking clip that has to be removed and replaced on the trim prior to installation.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_7.jpg">

<b>C/D-pillar removal</b>

Now you can remove the C/D-pillar trim (the trim around the triangular window). This is held in with a few torx bolts and clips. To get at the torx bolts for the trim, you need to remove one torx bolt for the side curtain airbag circled in the top of the picture below.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/D-pillar_8.jpg">

Once the bolts are out, just pull the trim away from the metal frame to release the clips.

<b>B-pillar Removal</b>

The B-pillar trim is held in with two torx bolts, but full removal from the car requires you to remove the seatbelt, which passes through the trim panel. It is secured by an anchor bolt, which is hidden under the plastic trim along the floor at the base of the lower B-pillar. To remove the trim, you first need to loosen the lower A-pillar trim first (two Philips-head screws). One is hidden under a plastic cap here:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD20.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD21.jpg">

Once loose, you can now flip up the trim to expose the leading edge of the trim that runs along the door threshold:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD22.jpg">

Then remove the threshold trim:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD24.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD25.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD26.jpg">

Here is the 17mm bolt that needs to be removed:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD27.jpg">

Luckily, the same size as a lug bolt, so I used my handy lug wrench for more leverage, easiest to get at with the front seat moved forward a bit:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/DVD/DVD28.jpg">

Once the bolt is loose, I was able to use a shorter socket wrench and remove the bolt. Now remove the torx bolts along the upper edge of the B-pillar trim, which are hidden under the side curtain airbag:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/B-pillar_1.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/B-pillar_2.jpg">

Then remove the sensors for the interior motion alarm:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/B-pillar_3.jpg">

The B-pillar is also held in by small white tabs, hard to see in this picture, but you can see the tabs on the right side of the alcantara B-pillar on the right side of this pic:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/B-pillar_4.jpg">

Once removed, you can now thread the seatbelt through the slot and remove the B-pillar trim from the car.

<b>Moonroof shade removal</b>

As previously mentioned, a metal frame that goes around the top edge of the moonroof's opening secures the headliner, so that must be removed. This is easiest done from the top, so it is best to remove the glass moonroof panel and the sunshade at the same time.

First, tilt the moonroof up, and look for these plastic rail caps (just above the greasy track):
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Sunroof_1.jpg">

Once the rail caps are off, remove the three torx bolts that were hidden on each side. With the bolts removed, simply lift out the glass panel (carefully) and set aside.
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Sunroof_2.jpg">

Now from the top, look for the two Philips head screws on each side that secure the shade to the rail tabs. Remove these screws (2 per side). With the screws removed, simply lift out the shade panel:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Sunroof_3.jpg">

Now you have easy access to remove the metal frame that secures the headliner around the moonroof opening. I found a plastic putty knife worked well here:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Sunroof_4.jpg">

<b>Headliner removal</b>

Time to get at the parts that secure the front of the headliner near the sunroof controls, etc. First remove the sun visor clips. I used a pry tool between the base of the clip and the headliner...and it was a PITA to remove!
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_1.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_2.jpg">

I also took this opportunity to remove the rearview mirror. This is the only picture I had, of the wiring harness hidden under the trim. Disconnect this wire:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_3.jpg">

Then remove the mirror by grabbing the neck with a padded set of pliers (or using hands) and rotating the neck 90 degrees counterclockwise to remove from the windshield peg. Should then simply come off.

Then, remove the overhead done light and sunroof control panel to get at these screws. Sorry no pics of this, but the dome light comes out easily with a plastic pry tool at the center of the rearward edge where there is a slight indentation in the plastic surround trim. Also, remove the rear dome light over the rear seat. Remove these screws from up front:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_4.jpg">

The headliner is now free, except for the rear edge that curves up into the metal frame of the roof. First, fold down the rear seats so that the panel can slide into the trunk area for removal from the car. Also, recline the front seats all the way back. Now, slide the headliner back ½" to release from the rear edge and voila...the headliner is now loose and it should just drop down. Careful, there are a few wire harnesses that run along the side that must be removed:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_7.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_6.jpg">

There is also a black loop that holds up the rear of the headliner, seen here dangling down, but comes out of the 3 black wire guides just forward of the rear dome light opening:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_8.jpg">

With the headliner resting on the seats, I took a few pics of the wires to make sure I knew how to re-route the wires in the new headliner:
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_9.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_10.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_11.jpg">

Now, just slide the headliner panel out of the trunk, and you are DONE!
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/Headliner_12.jpg">

Installation is reverse of the removal process. Slide in the new panel through the trunk, have a friend ready to help you hold and secure the headliner after you finish replacing the wire harnesses etc. Helps to have extra hands here. Just work backwards from the removal instructions, and voila!

The end result of all that hard work...(sorry for the rainy pics, and the flash makes it looks lighter than it really is):
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/alcantara_complete_1.jpg">
<img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v739/hliu55/alcantara/alcantara_complete_2.jpg">
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:25 PM
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wow thats a lot of work
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:27 PM
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:28 PM
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i'm tired just reading this....
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:30 PM
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no kidding!
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Old 11-26-2007, 05:13 PM
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but absolutely worth it in the end!!!
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Old 11-26-2007, 05:21 PM
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Defiantly I cant wait to find one
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Old 11-26-2007, 05:38 PM
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wake up!!!
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Old 11-26-2007, 05:38 PM
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