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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 02-20-2010, 06:26 PM   #1
dayala0902
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DIY: E46 M3 Center Armrest Leather Replacement

Hello all. Please see my screen shots below for the center armrest DIY. This is my first actual posting, so bear with me if something looks funky. My center armrest leather was starting to crack and I wanted something that looked a little nicer, yet still subtle. I hope the following helps:

1) You can find details on how to unscrew the actual armrest cover on the forums. The hard part for me was taking apart the springs holding the console in place. Once those are off, it's only a matter of unscrewing the rubber head screws on the underside of the armrest. I failed to realize these were screws and almost damaged them (as shown near the end). Once the screws and clips are taken apart (use a little intuition), it's only a matter of pulling the old leather off of the plastic. From here, mount the new leather and make sure you have pre-fit it onto the plastic for the best look. I used a small bottle of rubber cement from my local hardware store as that's what it looked like BMW had used to begin with. Once you are ready to glue on, make sure to be patient and work relatively slow. You want to wait about 5-10 minutes after applying the cement before you begin to hold the new leather on. I found that starting from the flat-end was easiest. Make sure to pull on the leather to keep it tight and snug.
2) This is what the completed flat end of the new leather looked like.
3) This is a snapshot of the rubber cement on the inside of the plastic unit.
4) This is a snapshot of holding the leather in place as you work around the plastic unit.
5) Once you get to the extended leg of the armrest, things begin to get tricky. Make sure you take your time for a snug fit as you will have to cut and fold over the leather (depending on the size of your actual material).
6) I had to cut off a good chunk of leather to make sure it fit properly. Remember that you will have to account for enough space so that the underside cap can fit.
7) This is a completed shot of the leather on the topside of the armrest.
8) This is a snapshot of the "button unit" screwed back into place.
9) This is a snapshot of the nearly completed unit after the bottom cover has been screwed in.
10) This is a snapshot of the armrest after the rubber caps have been screwed back in.
11) Voila!
12) Ready to roll! The fitment was pretty snug, but not perfect - both on the armrest and on the center console.
13) The flash and nighttime does not do the leather justice. It's an expensive, yet subtle, look. Some may say corny, but to each his own...
14) Most importantly, you always want to have an extra set of hands (literally) so they can take one for the team!

I hope this helps as I struggled with finding any references beforehand!
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:39 PM   #2
delmarco
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Are you kidding me!!!!

I was just online just this minute looking for a DIY for this and just this minute you post a DIY up!
WTF!? That is down right given me the chills.


Thanks for this DIY.


Say that new cover looks loose. Does it eventually shrink down on the armrest base over time?
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:53 PM   #3
dayala0902
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Thumbs Up When Least Expected!

Hahaha! I'm glad I could help, man!

As far as being loose, the leather fit pretty snug. However, it seems to have had a little bit too much material as it was nearly impossible for the perfect fitment. I tried the best I could and the little air bubbles, for lack of a better term, where the armrest curves at is the only issue. I'm pretty anal about stuff like that, but once it's fitted back onto the car, I never even thought twice about it. Just hope you get a perfect fitment and you should be good - mine came over from Europe and also had to be flipped for the left-side drive, but I'll take it for the M-stitching.

Last edited by dayala0902; 02-20-2010 at 09:58 PM. Reason: Added Text.
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:08 AM   #4
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Did you ever get the leather smoothed out?
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:09 AM   #5
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Dayala,
Your DIY needed these 2 things:

PART ONE: Taking the E46 Armrest Lid Cover apart before upholstering the leather skin.



PART TWO: Putting it back together
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:43 PM   #6
dayala0902
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Delmarco: Great addition! Thanks man! I think we should have everyone all set if they need this! As far as my leather smoothing out goes, it did become a bit tighter over the past month and no one ever notices, but there will always be a small bubble due to the lack of OEM sizing.
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dayala0902 View Post
Delmarco: Great addition! Thanks man! I think we should have everyone all set if they need this! As far as my leather smoothing out goes, it did become a bit tighter over the past month and no one ever notices, but there will always be a small bubble due to the lack of OEM sizing.
Did you get this from topgaiter on ebay?
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:37 AM   #8
dayala0902
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Just checked - yup, topgaiter!
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Old 10-13-2010, 04:48 PM   #9
Giorgio 328i
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awesome

Did this last night. Took less time than it did to watch the videos. Thanks to Dalaya and Delmarco!

The rest of my interior needs work still but at least I've got a brand new armrest for 20 bucks!
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giorgio 328i View Post
Did this last night. Took less time than it did to watch the videos. Thanks to Dalaya and Delmarco!

The rest of my interior needs work still but at least I've got a brand new armrest for 20 bucks!
hey that looks good!

Did you get that from top gaitors as well?
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Old 10-14-2010, 12:55 AM   #11
Giorgio 328i
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Ya. Ebay. You should have seen the old one. It was so worn it would grind your elbow instead of supporting it. You could see straight to to the foam at the worst places.
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Old 01-30-2011, 12:26 AM   #12
daonlydann
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After living with a dry cracked up discolored armrest for 2 years, finally decided to search on it and discovered this thread.

So glad I found it! Thanks delmarco for the youtube video. Can't wait to tackle this project.

Anyone know the part number for gray armrest cover?
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Old 01-30-2011, 05:00 AM   #13
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Nm. Found it in other thread. But most likely will get an armrest cover from ebay since it is most cost-effective option.

anyone have any experience with any vendors
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Old 04-15-2012, 05:25 AM   #14
robertkim425
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I know this is an old thread, but just wanted to say thanks for the DIY...extremely happy with the results

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Old 04-15-2012, 10:24 AM   #15
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Wow! That looks perfect, where did you bought this?
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:03 PM   #16
robertkim425
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I bought it from a member, but you can find it on ebay for around $30 shipped. It's worth every penny!
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Old 04-15-2012, 06:07 PM   #17
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topgaiter is who I used on eBay. It's black not grey, but looks exactly like that one ^ otherwise and I'm extremely pleased with it.
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dont listen to these fuQ faces... just go to a junk yard and get a used complete left rear end. i cracked my left rear control arm on the highway because i was driving w/o shocks... lol! ***Was too busy caking on these bitches instead of taking care my car!***
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:10 AM   #18
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Just picked one up for my 325xi in black. I'll post back with before and after pics!
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:45 AM   #19
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Exclamation

I'd read of people having good experiences with leather armrest covers from topgaiters on eBay, so I bought one to replace the worn-out leather on mine. (Here's the eBay link: http://www.ebay.com/itm/390505048828...84.m1439.l2649) Unfortunately, I wasn't as lucky, and the cover they sent me was terrible quality. Notice that the seam on the left isn't even in the right place. They offer a refund if you pay return shipping, but since it was only $33 (plus $10 shipping), I don't think it's worth the effort. I ended up just buying a brand new armrest lid from ECS Tuning, which was way more than I'd originally planned to spend ($210 + shipping), but it does look beautiful! Anyway, just wanted to post this as a cautionary tale for anyone else considering buying an armrest cover from topgaiters.





_sl_
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:25 AM   #20
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I know this is an old thread, but just wanted to say thanks for the DIY...extremely happy with the results

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Where can i buy this? Which member?
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