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Old 05-27-2013, 01:39 AM   #1
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Default Door and other trim panels

Anybody who has tried to fix anything behind any of the plastic interior trim panels surely knows that carnage and ugly damage is more common than not. I was reminded of that today, when I went to fix the driver door panel on the 96 Roadmaster wagon I just got. It made a horrible noise as it closed, because the panel was so loose on the door. Took it apart and found all but one of the retaining clips had been torn out of the panel, so no way to put new clips in. The design of these is very hard to do much, because of the way the plastic tears out of the panel, but it is now sitting on the bench, with aluminum patches, lots of JB weld, and some urethane caulk besides. I hope it will hold when put back in. GM made some super cheasy interiors in those days, it appears, but it is similar in our 07 Chevy Roadtrek. I have already repaired two trim panels that Roadtrek had damaged doing the conversion.

I guess the point is, if you are going to be pulling off trim, go online and get the specific instructions folks post, and buy the right tool for the clips that are on that vehicle. It will save you and any future owners, lots of headaches, and the cost is minimal.
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Old 05-27-2013, 02:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: Door and other trim panels

I had the sliding door trim panel come loose on my Adventurous, so that it fell off the next time the door was closed. It's padded fabric over cheap masonite - with a Mercedes part number stamped on the back. The masonite broke around several of the plastic mounting pins - there were 14 of them. Of course, I took one of the pins to an MB dealership; they cheerfully told me that they didn't stock (nor could they even be bothered to look up) Sprinter trim parts.

Local parts stores didn't have any trim pins beefy enough. A Dodge dealer actually found some near-replacements at about $1 each. So I patched up the back of the panel, reinforced around the holes (duct tape came in handy) and slapped it back into place. The pins have flat heads that hold the panel while their barbed shafts literally press into the holes in the sheet metal of the door. It's still holding a year later. Looking back, I guess I should have cut a new panel out of hardwood veneer ply and stained it to match the interior wood. Its a complicated shape, but when it falls off again, I'll use it as a pattern and maybe even cut in a small storage compartment.

Much of the interior trim is the same padded fabric; pretty to look at, but not much use for attaching anything beyond more cup-holders.
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Door and other trim panels

That sounds like how the 60's cars were done in the US. Cardboardy, masonite like stuff with a clip that hooked in to a hole in the stuff. Always tore out when the door panels were removed if the exact right tool wasn't used. We would fix them with with a piece of thin aluminum epoxied to the masonite across the torn out section. I wonder when yours got damaged. Did it need to be removed when they did the conversion? If so, that would probably be when, as our Roadtrek C190P had two (that we know of so far) panels that had been damaged at the conversion. Nearly every car I work on for folks has damaged trim pieces, and I have run across several that had blobs of caulking under the panel to hold them onto the door. They were really tough to get off.

Our Chevy factory manual for the 07 van shows the clip locations quite well, with decent instructions as to where to pry and directions to push to release things, but the 96 Buick manual just says use such and such a tool. No locations or styles of clips shown, and some screws (that must have been added after publication) not even mentioned. For the Buick, the online forums had much better procedures and tools listed.
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Old 05-29-2013, 12:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Door and other trim panels

Best I can tell, a corner popped free of the pin and then got caught in the next door closing. In other words, using the door as it is designed to be used is liable to damage the door. Nice work!
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Old 05-29-2013, 02:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Door and other trim panels

I wonder if Freightliner might carry these panels.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Door and other trim panels

The Dodge 1997 van that I bought; the inside panels are in dad shape. So I'm going old school & use the panels as templates. I'm using wooden panels from Marrides that is used inside homes. Just make shure that they are 100% wood. You can still get screw covers. Plus you can use trim strips for the panels.
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Old 07-13-2014, 07:42 PM   #7
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Default Re: Door and other trim panels

Over the years, I've had to remove trim panels from my vehicles for various reasons. Here are some inexpensive tools that allow you to pry off the panels without damage. The set is about $25 with free shipping.

Bojo Trim Panel Tools
http://www.crutchfield.com/p_126CR6NGL/ ... Tools.html

There are cheaper sets out there, but since Crutchfield specializes in DIY car stereo installation and they back their products, I trust what they sell.
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