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Your Goal, The Finished Project



Besides the pieces you wish to paint, you will need a regular size flat head screw driver and a Phillips head screw driver as well as a small flat head screw driver for removing the trim pieces. For painting you will need 180 and 360grit dry-sand sandpaper, 600grit wet-sand sandpaper, your paint (see next section), and eventually some water with non-ammonia based detergent in it and a rag or two. You are going to need a place were you can paint, remember that the dash is quite large, and you will also need to be able to cover your pieces up without touching them (a tent) to protect from various debris ruining your days work as they dry.

Painting and Prep

The true key to painting is the prep work; cleaning, sanding, and priming will ultimately determine how your finish comes out. How to best do the prep work will be covered later, but how much of what are you going to need? For a primer, you want to find a high-build primer that matches the color of your color coat the most. Use a grey primer with light or medium colors, white with soft and pastel colors, red oxide with your dark reds and browns, and black with black and the darkest of colors. You will need two good sized cans of primer.

For your color coat, use the factory colored touch up paints. You see, using the factory colors will make your dash come out like the body of a car would, rather the cheap and plastic looking. If done right, you can even use auto body wax and polish on it for a true professional look. Even if you want a flatter look, this is still the best option. You will need two good sized cans of color.

The clear coat, even if you want a flat look, is still very important, this will serve as the finish that shows true quality work, professionalism, and offer some protection. The clear coat IS NOT ARMOR for your dash, but will protect the color from being damaged, and clear coat problems are less visible then color. You have two good options here, either a high heat engine paint clear coat (500 degrees is enough) or the factory paint touch up colors.

Remove Window Switch Overlays

Start with the overlays, they are the easiest yet the trickiest, so itís a good idea to get them done and out of the car.

1. Start with the rear switches, these simple one button overlays will serve as good practice before attempting the pieces you will always see. You will need the two flat head screw drivers.

2. Take the larger one and shove it under the bottom (the end closest to you if you were sitting the respective seat) of the overlay, pry the end up, at this point you canít really break anything so donít be afraid.

3. When the bottom is up, pull towards you and up until the top comes out, form here you will need to pull out some extra slack from the switch cords so you have more room to work with.

4. Under the overlay you will see the button assembly connected by small plastic clips. You need to get the latch part and push it in and out, the problem is that these pieces are very fragile and break very easy, as long as you donít completely snap the clasp part completely off; it will still hold the button upon reinstallation. Use the smaller screwdriver to push the latch in and down, trying to not break the clasp. It is sometimes easier to do just ones side so you can just slide the other side out by hand.

5. Do the passenger side overlay next, then finally the drivers overlay. The passenger is just like the rear ones only with more buttons, just do the same procedure and you will have it.

6. The driverís overlay is a bit more complicated, the 4 window controls are all one big assembly, as well as the lock out button. When you get to the side-view mirror control, it is held in by thee metal clips that are not connected to anything, they simply fill in gaps to keep the control in place, carefully take them out and donít lose them.

7. Now with all 4 overlays out your all set to move on to the dash, tuck the wires away if you want to, or just leave them be.

Remove Dashboard Panels

With the overlays out, next move on to the dash. The dash is tricky to get started, but once you do it is a simple process to remove it.

1. To start, you will need a Phillips head screw driver. I find the easiest way to get to the screws you need to take out is to get on your knees out side the car and lean in under the steering column. You should see two screws on the left up against the door, and two screws by the scanner plug-in up against the consol, and a carpeted piece with two plastic tabs in the center.

2. First, pull out the tabs holding the carpeted piece, they can be hard to get out but wonít break, so use as much force as you need. Upon pulling both out the carpeted piece will drop down and a foam block may or may not fall as well, if it does just said it aside.

3. After the carpeted piece has dropped, unscrew the screw on the left and the screw on the right that go through the plastic piece, the two other screws go into metal and have no effect on the dash removal, so leave them in. After both screws are removed set them aside and pull the hard plastic that they were holding down towards you or push from the other side, either way the whole thing will slide out and come out of the car.

4. Using a flat head screwdriver, begin prying the dash lose from the bottom left and continue on clockwise. The dash is held on by 11 metal clips that wont break, but they can bend or come lose (and even lost), if you need more clips the dealership parts department will have some, but I had no problems with losing clips. The only concern here is to not damage the dash, but this shouldnít be an issue.

5. When you reach the fog light switch, you will need to disconnect it, it is the same as the window switch overlays but isnít quite as hard.

6. When you reach the right hand side with all the electronics, be careful not to jam the screw driver into them, this may or may not damage them, but better safe then sorry.

7. When the dash is pried lose, simply lift it up and towards you, the steering wheel can make things tricky, but just put it all the way down and you will have enough clearance.

Remove Center Console

Removing the Console is very simple, but a few things can make it the hardest part, so we saved it for last. The console is also easier to remove with the dash already out.

1. Open the armrest and remove the cubby, remove the coin tray if you have one, and the pad under the ashtray.

2. If you have a sunroof, you may or may not need to disconnect the switches.

3. Now get a hold of it from somewhere (I like the coin tray hole) and pull up, this will disconnect a few of the clips. The console is held in by hard plastic clips that are part of the console, and I have never broken one, and I have removed/replaced my console over 20 times.

4. Using a flat head screw driver or your hands to pull up along the sides of the consol until all but the top part is out.

5. Open the cup holders, the console wonít come out otherwise, and use the small flat head to pry up from under the armrest lid, by the latch. The latch can break so donít use if for leverage, instead use the corners.

6. Put the shifter in any gear at or below ď3Ē and pull the console out, put the shifter back into park before exiting.

Painting Process

Before you begin painting, be sure you have enough paint (running out in the middle will cause you to have to start over), proper ventilation, and BE SURE YOU HAVE READ ALL DIRECTIONS AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ON EVERY CAN, AND FOLLOW THEM. Have all your materials ready to go (sand paper and water with non-ammonia based detergent and a rag in it). Tape off everything you donít want painted. For the a/c vents I find it easiest to use strips of paper (magazines work AWESOME) and tape them as you go.

1. Start by using the 180grit dry-sand sandpaper to smooth down the dash, this doesnít need to be thorough; this step is mostly for cleaning purposes.

2. Wipe of the dash to free any lose dust that sanding left behind, make sure the piece is clean, dry, and free of debris. Spray a medium coat of primer on all your pieces and let it dry (the can will say how long this will take), then use the 360grit dry-sand sandpaper to sand it smooth. Do this step twice before moving on.

3. Being sure the pieces are clean, dry, and free of debris, primer everything again and let it dry. Using a rag or towel, wash all the pieces with the soapy water, leaving the pieces wet, use the 600grit wet-sand sandpaper, sand until the pieces are smooth as glass.

4. Once again be sure the pieces are clean, dry, and free of debris. Primer them one more time, wash with the soapy water, and once again leaving them wet, sand with the 600grit wet-sand sandpaper. You are only doing this step once and this is your last preparation step, so get all the pieces PERFECT, and smooth as you want them. When your done, let the pieces dry, wipe down with a towel, dust, etcÖ you want everything to once again be clean, dry, and free of debris. The can should tell you when it is okay to apply a color coat, when it gets to that point, start, donít wait to long.

5. Following the directions on the can, spray your first layer of color, the color should be sprayed in light coats, and you want to do a sweeping motion from one end of the piece to the other to avoid globs getting on the pieces. Light coats is the key, donít worry if everything isnít changing color, it will, and this way you will avoid running.

6. Going by what the can says for timing, spray from 5 to 10 coats of color, then using the directions on either the color or clear coat paint, go on to clear, be sure you get the timing right, but the can will tell you.

7. Spray 3-4 very light coats of clear coat paint, using the canís directions for timing and safety.

8. When all the paint is sprayed, let it dry for at least 24 hours, more if the paint you use says so. I recommend rigging up a tent of some sort to keep all the pieces free of debris as they dry.

Reinstall Painted Pieces

Now that your pieces are dry, its time to put them all back in, itís pretty simple and doesnít require any directions, just put things back the way you found them. Be sure to put the top of the overlay in first, then slide it down and put the bottom in. Put the dash in first, then the console. Be careful when putting the console back in around the ashtray, if you hit the dash to hard you could scratch paint off making it very ugly, so donít do that.

A common problem is the console not fitting properly and not allowing the armrest to close, the answer to this is to sand the outside of the console (not the part you painted but rather the hard plastic pieces that stayed in the car) and under the latch of the consol, this gives the consol more room, and the armrest doesnít have to go down as far, also check the screws that anchor the armrest in, tighten them as much as far as you can.

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