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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 03-13-2010, 12:27 AM   #1
burnhamd
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Perry Ga
Posts: 198
My Ride: 325i 2002
Steptronic shift-plate refinish

Hey guys this is kind of a common sense diy but I thought I'd post anyway. I covers refinishing the part that surrounds your automatic shifter and shows what gear you are in.
Ever since I bought the car the rubberized coating has been peeling away from this piece and has been driving me crazy so I looked it up on real oem and found part number 51167060677. It costs 90 bucks from tischer, so I thought I would just scrub the finish off.


Tools:
1. washcloth or some other scrubber
2. some chemical to get it to peel off. I found that paint thinner did not damage the plastic and worked quite nicely. Also heard that baking soda works too.
3. hands
4.something to pry the plate up

Before:


So the first step is to remove the shift knob. All you do is pull. Be careful or you will chip a tooth or knock your rear view mirror off.



Next simply bull the plate out. I found it easier to pull the plate and shift boot out at the same time as one piece. There are 3 cables that need to be unplugged once you get the plate loose. 2 on the left hand side and a black one on the right. These are just connectors that pull out.

Once you pull the plate out you may remove the shift boot. Be careful not to break the plastic tabs.

Picture of plate front:


Picture of Back:


Next tape up the part where the gears are written so you don't accidentally mar the writing.


Ok now just start at the parts that are peeling and work your way around with your scrubber and paint thinner. I found it easier to not scrub back and forth but to only scrub in the direction against the edge of the peeling rubber.

Once you get the finish off I suggest applying your favorite plastic protectant. I suggest 303 aerospace. I also cleaned my shifter boot with lexol.
Finished Pictures:


Another:


And installed:


You may notice a scuff on the bottom. I accidentally did this using a more abrasive chemical but it covered up ok with second layer of 303.

I might actually repaint the surface if I can find a paint that matches the oem rubber finish (any ideas??), but until then I think this is a vast improvement over the peeling plate.
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:17 PM   #2
delmarco
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Westchester, NY
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Excellent DIY!


I was actually considering this same technique but for painting the plate tan/beige
like on the Z4 cars (see picture below). I also want to add the same style tan boots (as seen in the picture below)
in place of the black ones we have in our cars.


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Old 03-14-2010, 05:27 PM   #3
stigg
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: KY & ME
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My Ride: 2003 325 Wagon
Baking soda and a scott-brite pad works very well to remove the finish. I am a big fan of the 303 protectant though. Good work!
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:37 PM   #4
VAB5
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: VA
Posts: 41
My Ride: 2005 ZHP Convertible
Old thread, but it helped me immensely! My shift plate was looking shabby, so I took it out and refinished it.

A damp Scotch Brite pad worked great (thanks Stigg) at stripping off all of the old soft-touch material. I got some black Plasti-Dip paint, masked off the gear readout part, and gave it 3 coats (4 hours between each coat). Here are the results. It didn't lay as flat as original on the textured plastic (you can see it laid flatter on the masking tape), but honestly it turned out much better than I expected.





It worked so well, I may try it on the ash try and sunglass holder next.

Paul
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Old 12-15-2014, 06:36 PM   #5
hitbyastick
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Join Date: Sep 2013
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Since the plastic is black, how would it look it one were to merely remove the rubberized coating with a scotchbrite pad and some hot soapy water and call it good? That PlastiDip is gonna chip off faster and worser than the original because the stuff ain't so tuff.
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:45 PM   #6
VAB5
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Great question! The plastic was a little too shiny for my taste, and it was uneven in spots. The PlastiDip gave a more matte finish, and was very consistent.

I'll let you know how it holds up.
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Old 12-25-2014, 02:02 PM   #7
AshtonMarie81
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Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: USA/PA
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My Ride: 03 325ci
Scuff up the plastic good, then use a plastic paint prep primer, paint and let cure, then do an automotive plastic interior paint, seal coat it and it will be as durable as the paint on the car... I'm doing all the black plastic in a white, and all the fake wood in a satin black to match my soon to be black satin and silk white interior..

Last edited by AshtonMarie81; 12-25-2014 at 02:03 PM.
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