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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 07-20-2017, 08:07 PM   #1
wildirish317
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 3,304
My Ride: 2004 325Ci vert
Arm Rest Recover

When I purchased my car 5 years ago, the dealer that purchased it from the original owner painted the leather seats and armrest to make them look new-ish. The car had 93,000 miles on it. I put another 93,000 miles on it and, needless to say, the armrest and seats are showing a bit of wear and tear.

I'm getting ready to sell the car because I found another E46 @ 100,000 miles with one owner, ready for me to put another 100,000 miles on it.

Before I sell it though, I have to bring the interior up to some reasonable form of comfort. To that end, I spent $35 on a leather armrest cover from Kar Designers on Amazon. Here are the two covers side by side after I removed the one from the car.



When ordering one of these, judge the color by the photos. I ordered "tan", but my interior is Beige, and this one matched pretty good.

There are videos on YouTube that show and one that shows . Use the one that shows how to remove the armrest to get it off. The guy is not a mechanic, but you'll understand what needs to be done if you watch the video.

I varied from the video on recovering the armrest because I used contact cement rather than spray adhesive. The contact cement allowed me to work at my own pace, and not have to use clamps.

Here is the cement, available at Lowes:



The first thing you have to do, after removing the armrest from the car, is remove the cover. The video shows this. I used "Goof Off" to break down the adhesive to get the cover off. I then used it to remove most of the residue, and 150 grit sandpaper to prep the plastic for the new cover.

This is how the plastic looked prior to the installation of the new cover:


The contact cement sets up in 15 minutes. I started with the back end of the armrest.


I then glued down the front, so I had it stretched front to back.


Save the area around the latch for last.

I then glued the sides, the only place the leather doesn't lap under the plastic.



Then I glued down the long side:


After that, I did the short side. From there, I fitted in the latch mechanism, and figured out how to work in the last little section. This is pretty obvious once you fit in the latch and then remove it. Here are the final pics:






And finally, the installed product. Note the lighter color than the seats. The seats are next. Stay tuned.


Using the contact cement in sections took longer. I could have put the cement on the whole assembly and put it together in 20 minutes, but I wanted to do a section at a time so that I didn't have to worry about inadvertently gluing a part before I was ready. I did this at my work, so I was able to glue for a minute, wait 15 minutes, then assemble for a minute throughout the day.
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Last edited by wildirish317; 07-21-2017 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 07-21-2017, 09:43 AM   #2
bendoscopy
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 191
My Ride: 02 320Ci (M54 2.2)
Arm Rest Recover

Great job. Looks good and the stitching is a nice match to that of the seats and door cards.

I have a beige interior that will need this treatment in the coming years, so thanks for the write-up.
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Last edited by bendoscopy; 07-21-2017 at 09:44 AM.
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