Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Replacing the Headliner on a Ford Explorer

I found this link a day too late:

But it's a great tutorial. Wish I found it sooner. But just in case this site ever goes down, I'm going to tell you how to remove the headliner from a 1994 XLT Ford Explorer. I imagine that it's applicable for a lot of Explorers, and probably some other SUV's.

  1. First of all, a couple of weeks before you start your project, remove one sample of each type of the trim retainers. There is one type around the headliner (12?), another type in the body of the headliner - 3 near the cargo hatch and 2 behind the dome light. There is a third type of retainer that is under the window in the cargo area, I think there are 6 of them. There are also 2 black bar-type christmas tree clips UNDERNEATH the trim above the door, and I don't really recommend removing the trim to get a sample - call the local Ford dealership parts department to find out what you need to know to get some. Order new retainers by measuring the ones you pulled out. I got mine at Clips and Or you could go to the parts department at your Ford dealership and they will order all the retainers without taking any out.
  2. Go down to the cloth store and buy headliner cloth with a foam backing. Make sure it's long enough and wide enough. One yard=3feet. Ask that lady, she will show you where it is, and she will cut it for you. The cloth store will likely also have the fabric spray adhesive that you need. She will also help you find that.
  3. Ready? I hope you have lots of tools. Remove the grab handles and the clothes hanger clips with a hex socket wrench.
  4. Remove the visors with a screwdriver or drill.
  5. Remove the dome light cover by popping it out at the side indention with a screwdriver or a 5-in-1. Remove the screws from the dome light. There are three - two obvious, and the third hidden a bit to the side of the light.
  6. Remove the cargo light. I don't know how this was done because I wasn't the one who did it. Ask Stephen.
  7. Remove the trim retainers from around the headliners. There's a special tool to do this, but you could use a 5-in-1 if you had to. Be aware! Most of them will break - it's been a long time since anyone took out these retainers if you are replacing the headliner, so the plastic is probably brittle. You will need a pair of pliers to get out the broken ones.
  8. Remove the 5 big button retainers from the body of the headliner.
  9. Remove the 6 small button retainers from below the windows in the cargo area.
  10. Take the cover plastic off of the seatbelt connecters on the frame pillars. Remove the seatbelt bolts that fasten to the pillar between the seats, and the pillar between the backseat and the cargo area. You will need a T20 or T25 socket, I think, but I may have just made that up.
  11. Remove the screw from the "A" pillar that is down near the bottom of the dashboard. The "A" pillar is the piece of framing between the windshield and the front door.
  12. All of the trim should now pop down. It isn't easy, and you will think that the trim will break. Use caution, and maybe try a prying tool of some sort, but it will take some force to pop the pillar trims down.
  13. When you get the "A" pillar trim off, you will notice a black bar-type retainer over each front door. Remove.
  14. Put all of your removed parts in an empty bag, put the screws in one or more plastic bags inside of the parts bag. Replacing the headliner will likely take you a couple of days, so get it all secured in one place.
  15. At this point, you should be able to remove the headliner. I recommend two people for this job.
  16. Take the guard off of the cargo light hole by bending up the tabs in the back, then pull out.
  17. The headliner is made of fiberglass and has a (green) plastic coating between the foam and the fiberglass. Use a very thin scraper about an inch or so across to chisel in between the plastic and the foam. Take off in long strips. Use a small wire brush to carefully scrape off the residue. If the foam and fabric are pretty much just dust (like the front part of mine,) you will have to take off whatever you can with the scraper, then use a large wire brush to take it down to the plastic. Try not to scrape off the plastic. Removal of the old liner took me about ten hours, but then I meticulously flaked the plastic off of about half of the fiberglass before I found that guy's tutorial and realized I wasn't supposed to. Oops. We'll see how it comes out.
  18. After this, it's about like any other tutorial of how to install the new liner, and I suggest you watch a video on how it's done (pretty easy.) Yeah, step 18 is watch a video.
  19. Lay out the new liner so it will fit over your fiberglass shell.
  20. Fold the bottom half over the top half.
  21. Spray fabric adhesive spray to a small  horizontal section of the shell, and a roughly corresponding section of the fabric. 
  22. Let sit for 20 seconds, or whatever the container says.
  23. Lay the fabric section over the shell section and press down from back to front. Work out any bubbles as you go. Use your whole hand and a rubbing motion.
  24. Repeat, in sections, until the whole thing is done.
  25. Cut out the holes.
  26. Put everything back together.
UPDATE, Nov. 29th: Seriously, don't scrape the green plastic off of the fiberglass. That half is a little dimply under the new headliner.

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