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Guide: DIY Interior Refresh Project - Beige to Charcoal

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I've had my S85 for a few months, and I already had the itch to make some changes, so I figured I'd try my hand at changing the interior pieces from beige to black. I had posted a thread asking for a more detailed guide how to remove the headliner since a few folks on the forum had done it, but I was overwhelmed with the deafening silence so I decided to make one myself. :)

Paint: Duplicolor Vinyl and Fabric paint in Charcoal Gray (HVP111 Dupli-Color Vinyl and Fabric Coating, Charcoal Gray, 11 oz. | 9382590 | Pep Boys). The can looks different on the shelf, but same product number.
Painter's tape
Xacto knife
Pry tools / screwdrivers
Torx 15 screwdriver

Disclaimer: This is the largest arts & crafts project I've done on a car and I am by no means a pro, so please forgive some of my relatively neanderthal methods for making this happen. I'm open to constructive criticism or tips for the next people trying this project! This is also my first tutorial post, so if I left anything out, apologies, but I'm happy to answer questions as they come up.

This total project is probably going to take quite some time on my current pace, but I'll update this thread with my progress...but for now, here we go:


I tried so many different ways of negotiating these things out, but was slowly starting to mess up the plastic, so I asked a Tesla tech for advice while my car was in for service.

Step 1. Remove the "C" shaped piece from the hinged part of the visor
This piece has a number of teeth that lock into the base, but if you start with the open side of the "C" and carefully pry the end away from the center, you can get a small screwdriver into the gap to release the tab from the hole. Once you do this on both sides of the piece, the rest of the teeth pop out relatively easy. Just go slow, be careful, and try not to chew up the plastic with whatever tool you're using. After this piece comes out, there is a Torx 15 screw holding the base in. Remove that screw. You'll see this in the next pictures, but the base has a curved hook that points toward the passenger cabin, so you'll need to rotate the base/push it towards the windshield in order to get the visor assembly out.

Step 2. Remove the hook bracket.
This is WAY easier than Step 1. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of this, but there's a tab you pop out on the windshield side of the hook, which exposes a screw that will release the hook from the ceiling. Here's a pic of the pieces removed (missing the hook tabs, but bonus pic of my pup to make up for it). You can see the hook shape on the main assembly, to which I was referring in Step 1. For reference, you're looking at the passenger side visor on the left, and driver's side visor on the right.

Step 3. Prepare to paint.
Obviously you don't want paint on the mirrors or that super sexy warning label, so tape as accurately as you can. For the mirror, I had a little extra over the edges, for which I used a credit card to tuck the extra under the mirror. For the warning label, I used the corner of a credit card as a template to cut the curves. WARNING: the Duplicolor paint does not adhere well to the hard plastic surfaces. I ended up stripping off the paint in most of those places (you'll see why later).


Step 4. Paint
I painted in several light coats, per the youtube video from some of the other threads. Because of all the nooks and crannies, this takes a while. If the mirror cover is open, it blocks part of the visor, so you need to paint it open and closed. In addition, to get into the crevice where the mirror meets the fabric, you have to pull back the mirror/fabric to paint and get maximum coverage (I got lots of paint on my hands). Patience is your friend here - add coats, and keep rotating to see if you missed any spots. Another warning - if you did end up painting the mirror cover, you might spray over the rubber feet...once the paint is dry, it's going to chip off, so let it dry and clean up the nubs.

Before and after. Notice that the paint tone is pretty different between the plastic and the fabric.

Step 5. Extra credit
I didn't really like the two tone color, so I decided to try using vinyl for the first time. This is where I discovered that the paint came right off the plastic parts. If you're going to do vinyl, you probably don't want to paint the plastic pieces (except inside the mirror cover). Here you can see where the vinyl ends and the paint remains inside the mirror cover, as well as the rubber nubs cleared of paint. I will also likely need to find a different solution for the straight piece across the "U" shape bracket since it's very hard to hook the visor now due to the incremental...girth. Also working with such tiny spaces due to small pieces was, in a word, frustrating.

I also wrapped the hinge area (PITA) and covered up the emergency warning label using the painter's tape as a guide. Will likely put a "TESLA" sticker on top of that when I can find the right one. You can see the paint chipping off the mount base at the bottom left. It'll be covered by the "C" bracket so I left it alone.

Also wrapped the hooks - again the decreased diameter from the wrap is creating an issue with actually getting the visor locked back in. Wrapped vs. painted. TP provided for contrast.

Here are all the pieces in one shot, with a mints case sprayed to show the contrast of the paint on plastic vs. fabric. You can also see the paint on the internal hook of the visor attachment point, and how it's already chipping from just moving the thing around (and bumping into things).

Vinyl is the 3M 1080 CF12 (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product..._act_title_2?smid=A10111992WJRYRFBZH9IS&psc=1)

So these are pretty much done, but they can't go back in until I get the rest of the headliner painted and reinstalled.

Another note - the paint leaves the fabric feeling a bit rough, not quite as smooth/soft as OEM. It's as if the paint sits on the surface vs. absorbing into the fabric, so I do wonder if handling the pieces over time will wear the paint layer down...

Next step: B pillar - info available is pretty scarce, but it sounds like I have to take off the bottom half to get the top half off. Can anyone confirm?

Hope you enjoyed, and see you for the next installment!

side note on painting in general:
(automotive detailer will probably know, perhaps one will share their knowledge)

SURFACE preparation is often the key. Cleaning the surface to remove oily/greasy films - or fine sand paper (emery cloth?) to "rough-up" the surface for the paint to grip onto. Actually these preparation details are often on the paint can. OR check product company web-site.

Fabric may also need a cleaning to get good adhesion. Appropriate solvent for the fabric? Again, double check paint product can for instructions or manufacturer web-site FAQ - you get the idea.
@Brando good point on the prep. The general challenge is that the paint manufacturer suggestion doesn't always take account of what you're painting, so what might work to prep one surface might actually be less effective on another. I'm currently working on the A-pillars, and some of the fabric is already frayed, so I would be hesitant to use any sort of abrasive. Like you said, would be good to get input from some pros...

@Burnt Toast I don't get a lot of things people do, but if someone wants to use this guide, they're welcome to use whatever vinyl they choose (or not at all!). :)
You have bigger cajones than I do, my friend. Trusting the interior of a $90,000 near perfect car to $8 spray cans, well that's very manly. Very manly, indeed.

1. I like the carbon fiberl look.

2. There is an adhesion promoter that enhances paint adhesion. I think it is a lacquer so if used you'd want an extremely light coat on thicker hard plastic only. Lacquer thinner melts plastic so anything more than a light mist would be risky. I would not let any get on any fabric. I'd test it first on a hidden area, it might help with the chipping problem. You might also test some other paints. I had reason to paint some PVC pipe for a project. The first plastic paint I used didn't stick well at all, a fingernail would flake off the paint easily. I found another paint that worked well.

This is an ambitious project, you've put a lot of faith in that one paint. I wouldn't want to call it rat rod paint but the chipping tells me it is probably not perfectly formulated for your premium auto interior.

I like the wrap but as you note, it adds to the size of parts so clips don't work as well. The vinyl will also wear and I'd think might tend to peel. It might be worthwhile to print some parts with a 3D printer. There is a solvent polish technique that gives a hard smooth glossy finish with ABS and an acetone vapor treatment. It might be a fallback if the vinyl wrap of clips is a problem later. There are self lubricating plastics that would lend themselves to making strong, low wear parts for clips if that becomes necessary. I'd look at Delrin.

I think if I considered a project like this I'd check the price of repacement parts beforehand. I blacked out a grill on a BMW but I knew the replacement cost first, just in case. But I lack those huge male parts.

Another thought is that the fabric is now rough instead of smooth soft fabric. It may retain rub marks if someone scrapes something across the fabric later on. Paints may differ in electrostatic properties. Paint might tend to attract dust. Vacuuming the painted headliner with a hard plastic shop vac tip might not be good. Paint dries through microscopic holes. That is one of the nice things about powdercoat, it doesn't need those holes. That's a digression, powdercoat can't be used on plastic. I'm old. I digress a lot.

There are people parting out wrecked Teslas. Did you consider buying the parts in your new chosen color? I believe you can also get fabric for headliners. That might be an option if the paint doesn't work out.

Paints vary in their UV resistance. Very little UV should penetrate the car's glass but in areas exposed to daily sunlight, even a little might cause fade. The sprayed on paint might not age evenly.

You've jumped in with both feet so you'll need to see it through. For anyone else thinking about this, I'd suggest some testing of various paints to hopefully avoid the chipping issues. That and testosterone supplementation.

@D.E. thanks for the thoughtful response! I've definitely jumped in the deep end here, but hopefully this helps someone along the way, or more likely discourages someone from getting in over his or her head.

With regard to the price of the paint vs. price of the car, there's definitely a big delta there, but at the same time, I would say that the base level trim from the older models is definitely not on par with the original sticker price, and certainly not something I'd describe as "premium."

That said, you brought up some good points, and here are my thoughts on a few of them...

Chipping: The chipping paint is only on the hard plastic pieces, which is probably more indicative of the mismatch between the paint and intended surface. I didn't specifically prep the plastic for paint, but the fortunate unintended consequence is that it drove me down the vinyl route, with which I'm pretty pleased. :)

Roughness: I might actually take a semi-coarse brush and do a couple of passes over the surface to even out any irregularities. That will actually be a good test to see how durable it is to friction...the only place I have a concern here is with the notorious B pillar corner...

UV resistance: Hopefully since this paint is designed for vinyl use on exposed dashboards & interiors, it has some level of fade resistance...if not, the only exposed part is going to be the A pillars, which can be retouched (PITA I know).

3D printing, acetone vapor, etc: I'd probably do much more harm than good at these endeavors, unfortunately. :(

Anyhow, things have gone relatively smoothly so far, but in case everything goes to hell, I'll either pick up salvage parts or just bite the bullet and get professional help (in all senses of that phrase).
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Reactions: 30seconds and D.E.
Nice job, turned out much better than I thought initially reading the post and then seeing the pics, kudos to you! Interested to see the A-pillars, I plan on removing mine to add speakers for custom speakers in the coming months. Best I could find there is a screw behind the ABS plastic square tag near the top pull the plastic tab back and there is a screw under there, the rest just snaps out as far as I could find. My one worry is the air bags are behind there too, not sure if that's a big concern or not, also not sure if they are attached to the A-Pillar itself or the trim piece.
@P100DHG. Thanks! All the interior pieces are out now (except the B pillar, that's turning into a real bear). Will try to post another update later this week.

@BigCity The A pillar isn't too bad - I was a bit concerned about the airbags too, but they're attached to the A pillar frame itself, and don't touch the trim at all. Basically once you pull out that screw behind the plastic tab, you just have to jiggle it out of a couple clips that are attached to the speaker grill under the windshield. It was a bit intimidating trying to get the trim out while staring at the airbag at point blank range lol. The driver's side took the better part of 30 minutes of wrestling with it, but the passenger side popped right out on the first try...go figure. Once the trim is loose, there's just the one set of wires connected to the speaker via a connector, then the trim comes out with the speaker, and the speaker pops right out of the grill with some simple clips.

These two pillars are relatively easy in terms of getting them loose, so I'm not going to go into too much detail - feel free to ask if you have any questions.

A Pillars
Step 1. Use a flat tool to pry the plastic "Airbag" tag open - this opens from the top (closer to the ceiling), with a hinge on the bottom (towards the front of the car). There is a small hex screw behind there that you need to remove, then the top section of the A pillar should come loose. No need to worry about the airbag itself discharging unless you do something REALLY violent to this area - the trim is not attached to the airbag assembly at all. Picture below shows where the airbag is relative to the trim.

Step 2. Wiggle the top section around to try to get it loose of the car - there are two clips holding in the end of the A pillar to the very front speaker grill (the one that runs along the dash pad under the windshield). Picture below shows where the clips hold on the passenger side. These *should* come out fairly easily, but be patient if they don't, just takes some working back and forth. Once the trim is loose, there's a wire that is connected to the speaker - unclip the connector and your A pillar is free. Last on this step is to remove the speaker from the grill, which is held in with 3 clips.

Step 3. Prep for paint / paint. Again, start with light coats and layer them on. I had taped over the speaker grill because I didn't want the contrasting colors I saw on the sunvisor plastic. However, I actually ended up painting the grill to see if the metal acted the same way, and luckily it came out even. For this step, since the speaker mount inside the grill is beige, you also need to paint "through" the grill to try to cover up the beige areas. There is epoxy holding in the grill - if you really want to do it right, you can remove the epoxy to get the grill off and separate it from the plastic housing to paint separately.


Step 4. Admire your work.


C Pillars
Step 1. Start from the trunk. Remove the tray cover and set aside. The black plastic piece that has the tray guide rails needs to come out first since it's covering the bottom part of the back of the C pillar piece. Pull that piece out firmly, it should only be a few metal clips holding it in, but it will stay attached to the C pillar for now.

Step 2. Once the black piece is loose, you can start pulling out the C pillar. Just a few clips holding this in as well - pull out the clips from the hatch side, then circle back to the rear seat and pull out the rest of the clips from inside the door. Picture 1 below shows the hatch area with both the C pillar and black plastic piece removed (so you can see what needs to come out). Picture 2 below show the back of the C pillar, still connected to the black plastic piece with a few small clips. Release those clips and your C pillar is ready to paint.



Step 3. Prep for paint / paint
No complicated instructions here, since it's just single texture. As always, layer light coats.


Step 4. Admire your work.

That's it for now...my next post will cover how to loosen the B pillars to get the headliner out!


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STAGE 2.5 REMOVING CROSSBEAM (for panoramic roof)

This is a pretty quick update. Getting this piece out is pretty straightforward.

Step 1. Release crossbeam from clips
Firmly pull the plastic piece down one side at a time. Be aware that this piece is held in by a couple of plastic "tags" once the clips are loose - basically once you get it out of the clips, the piece will dangle from the ceiling on both sides. Picture below shows the beam removed and the plastic restraint.


Step 2. Remove crossbeam from restraints.
To remove the restraint, you have to turn it 90 degrees to feed it through the slot on the beam. Takes some dexterity to do, but not hard.


Step 3. Wrap if desired.


I reinstalled to get a picture, but it has to come out again if you're going to take out the headliner...

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That's an ambitious project! As somebody said earlier: It takes a lot of guts to do this to an expensive car.

Question: When you paint the textile covered interior parts - how do those feel to the touch after painting? Are they still soft, or does the paint "harden" the fabric?
@IchDochNicht The liner is definitely not as soft as it was before - it's a bit rougher and stiffer. I'm going to pick up some sort of medium/light coarseness brush this weekend to test if that evens out the texture a bit...

Edit: It's also a tradeoff - I don't spend a lot of time touching the headliner, and I'd rather brush against a rougher surface from time to time vs. seeing beige and all the dirty spots where someone has touched the liner...

I think it takes some combination of brains and guts to do this. I thought in the beginning I had more brains than guts, but as the project has progressed, that perception has flipped lol
LOL - I see how you sometimes start a project, not knowing what you're getting yourself into.

But I agree that the beige headliner is not ideal in the S. I waited for a long time until I found one with black headliner at a price I was comfortable with.