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Discussion Starter #1
In order to redo the finish on my consoles I needed to be able to remove them. I've read a number of "how-to's" on the subject, so I began to remove the rear section of mine and had some issues . . .

(I've tried to get all the pictures to show up roughly the same size . . . but I must be missing something . . . :confused: Also, as my text gets longer, some of my pictures were being removed? I'll show the pictures in the next post. the pictures are labeled A, B, C, etc.)

A) Most of the online descriptions pretty much start the same way and are ok for the most part. To remove the rear console you first need to get to the screws that attach the two console halves together. (Roughly at the joint just behind the shift lever.)

B) Slip something to pry with (a butter knife worked for me) beneath the back edge of the trim ring (1) on the gear shift. (I would assume the manual transmission portion of the console is similar to the automatics.) As you gently pry the ring up, work your way around it until it comes free. It has some rather long tines . . . the MB method seems to be to make it sound like its breaking as it comes free . . . .

Use the pry blade to get under the outer panel (2) about where the arrows are and gently pry upwards from the inner surface under the outer. You might have to go back and forth a few times . . . a piece of towel under the pry bar could help prevent scratching the top of the inner surface. The outer surface will come up pretty freely after the rear part of the panel is disengaged. The objective of all that is to get to the two screws (3) which attach the two halves of the console. In total, there are two screws and two nuts that are the primary attachment points for the rear console portion.

(Obviously I took my pictures after I had the console removed.)

C-1&2) The two nuts are located under the rear “carpet” inside the console’s rear compartment. It might be easier to detach the phone caddy at this point. (More on that later.) Peel up the “carpet” a little (butter knife again) and you will see the two 8mm nuts.

D) One last thing you will need to do is to remove the brake handle grip. You might be able to get the console to slide off otherwise, but I found it easier in the final motions to have the brake handle pulled all the way up.


This is where most descriptions seem to stop, and yet this was where it got harder in my opinion . . . first because there are still a lot of difficult wiring connections to deal with, and secondly because there was some adhesive sticking the edge of my console to the carpet just next to the brake handle.

I just had to use a little finesse (and the butter knife) and then a little brute force to work the console free from the carpet. The connectors were also a bit difficult since I wasn't sure how many there were or how they worked. Also, the short wire lengths tended to hold the console down making it difficult to see and work under . . . so I hope this part will be the most helpful to anyone else.


E) Looking at the bottom of the console you will see 6 spots where something is connected to/through the console. They are; 1) the mirror switch, 2) the top switch, 3) lighter, 4) central locking console compartment vacuum line, 5) a hole for the information & maintenance (I/M) phone button lines, and 6) a hole for the phone cradle power and signal lines.

f) I'm not sure that I have these in quite the right order, but these are the front four connectors.

The two switch connectors (1 & 2) are really tight and have catches to hold them in place. I'm not sure I ever got the catches to disengage, but the pins/contacts are really tight and I needed to use a small screw driver to help pry/ease them apart.

The yellow vacuum line (3) is held by a four fingered plastic clasp. It can seem to withstand a fair amount of direct pulling so, not wanting to break the hose; I managed to pry two of the clasp's four fingers apart and was then able to pull it free. There are also one or two plastic fingers along the length of the console's underside to help to guide the hose.

Lastly, it took me a bit to figure out how to detach the lighter (4) connector. The trick here is that (since you can see the angle in the picture) it doesn't pull out; it pulls away from the lighter body.

G) MIA . . .

H) The rear connectors all have to do with the phone equipment in the console's rear compartment. There are 3 sets of wires coming up through the console's two holes.

If you look back at C1 you will notice two small screws, one on the right hand side of the caddy, and the other just to the rear of the I/M switches. Taking those two screws loose will let you get to the back sides of these components so you can disconnect them and push them through the holes, freeing the console.

On the I/M switch, its mount actually runs across the entire compartment and is wedged in with the screw just holing it in place.

On the phone caddy, the front of the caddy has a tongue that sticks through the front of the compartment. It was a little tight on mine so I had to work it out a bit at a time.

Once free I could just disconnect the wiring. Since this phone system will never work again, I may not reconnect these. This would also give me more compartment space . . .


Now my console was free and I only needed to work it up over the end of the brake handle . . . One other thing I noticed was that, the more I struggled to get the console out . . . the more of the coating came off!! A self fulfilling need!!

:mad: But still, progress made!!!

(Pics below!)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Rear Center Console Removal Pictures . . .

Since they seemed to be bumped out of my long post . . . . (Hopefully I've kept everything coordinated!)
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Rear Center Console Removal Aux Pics . . .

The first 3 are of the console compartment's phone stuff . . . . Note, there was no screw in the rear hole of the caddy, but there is a screw that holds the handset pigtail to the caddy. Also the RJ-45 type connector (wrapped in foam in the first set of pictures) is just clamped under the caddy.

(Added the trim ring pic. Note the lengths of the tabs . . . and the long tabs are uneven in length.)
 

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Thanks for the write up and pics. Harbor Freight has a trim removal kit with four different tools for less than $20. Comes in real handy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Arrrgh!

Stripping this all down and cleaning off the old coating is a lot tougher than it sounds!! (Dollars/hour wise, it would be much cheaper to buy a new one!) These are all the major parts in rear console. I've had to cut and paste a little to make everything fit in the page, but you should be able to recognize most of the components.

The one conclusion that I'm drawing from this is that MB should have NEVER painted over the ABS plastic. There isn't anyone (Krylon for example) that really thinks that they can do a good job on this. ABS is great for molding and impact resistance, but it is difficult to paint at best.

Well I'm halfway across the river here, but a bit discouraged . . .

See the picture . . .

1) The main housing - Pre cleaned.
2) Arm rest/rear compartment door assembly - held in place with a snap in clip (shown) and 2 screws.
3) Lighter/storage assembly - Held in place from beneath with the small screws from item 2. This must go back in prior to 2.
4) Switch (mirror & roof) assembly - Held in place from beneath with some small screws.
5) Hand brake "gate" W/central locking cylinder (a) - Held in place from beneath with some small screws. (Shown upside down.)
6) Handbrake gate slider - is just trapped in place when the gate is mounted.
7) Compartment lock - this just snaps into 1 and has an engagement fork that fits onto the actuation cylinder (a).
8) Rear compartment "rug" - stuck down with a double sided tape; two pieces. (Shown upside down.)
9) Sound deadening mat - 3 pieces. (Adhesive'd on.)

I have the shell mostly cleaned, but it's not looking as nice as the piece I tested with earlier . . . :confused: . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Results so far . . .

90% of the console's outer coating comes off after 30 min of soaking (in warm/hot tap water W/some Clorox CleanUp and a little rubbing) . . . then there is the rate of diminishing returns. (And the paint on the inner surfaces is just a bear!! Older on the left . . .)

The real negative that I'm finding is that the harder I work at it, the more "buff" the surface becomes, particularly compared to the Steering column "V." This might be good for paint adhesion later, but it sort of prevents the use of just the black surface. I don't know if I could "shine" it back with like a tire refinisher, but that wouldn't do any good for future painting.

One other thing, while I was thinking about color combinations, if you want to do something different, one problem will always be the steering wheel. Since these are color coordinated as well, one would have to try to match that too. Would be easier for me then to just go back to the anthracite . . .

What to do, what to do . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Feeling a little better . . .

What are you "Soaking" the pieces in?
Just hot tap water with a little bit of Clorox "Clean-Up" for about 30 minutes, rewetting as needed. I suspect that the warmth helps the most at this point . . . (I originally added the cleaner just to help break through any surface grease.)

So after a day of "fooling" with it, the results!! It does take a bit of effort to work through all the crannies, and the other visible edges. I certainly didn't get even half off the underneath, but I'd say I have 99.9% off the visible areas. It also takes a bit of effort to get the surface finish to even out. In the end, I spent a lot of time just using my fingers to rub at the surface (a little bit of skin oils?) until it appeared more even.

I'm also a bit happier about the grey/black coloration. Short of redoing the entire interior, I'm never going to be totally happy with it, but I think I can live with the “accenting” of the slight two-tone. (I'm probably never going to be willing to pay the price to get the steering wheel re-worked anyway . . .) So the black won't look too bad, and all you need to dress it up would be an Amor-All wipe, or a bit of some other surface conditioner . . . I couldn't have done anything like that with the state the OEM finish was in.

I still need to mount some Dynamat just to be consistent with the original installation before I put the console back in the car. I'll also need to do something eventually about the rear storage compartment since I totally messed up the lining taking it out. It was the best "stuck" of anything on the console!! (The phone equipment holes didn't make it a great plus to begin with though!) I'll have no problem doing that later; I still have the old pieces for a pattern; and some peel and stick drawer liner or carpeting should work ok. (And I'll have a lot more room without the phone cradle!)

One of the reasons I pulled everything out of the console was so I could soak the entire unit. I was hoping that ALL the coating would just come off. Although that worked well for the outer surfaces, it didn’t work nearly as well for the inner . . . so I’m not so sure that soaking is completely necessary at this point. (Less soaking = more elbow grease as a trade off, but not hugely so.) Perhaps a heat gun would work, but I can see problems using that method as well.

I also pulled the console so I had the chance to clean everything else up; slides, covers, switches, etc. (You wouldn't believe the amount of dirt I got out of the mirror switch!!)

I think I would still recommend pulling the console from the car even if you don't intend to soak it. The old coating gets everywhere when it starts to abrade and it was nice to be able to turn the work as opposed to trying to do it in the confines of the car. (Obviously if you have a garage and a good vacuum, that might split the difference.)

So once I get some Dynamat, I'll try to get it back into the car and take one last picture out in the daylight. That should make for a good before and after comparison. (Then maybe I can call this one done!!!)
:Beer:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Side bar note . . .

I got some Dynamat Xtreme and I wasn’t very happy with it. (It's too gooey for my taste!) So I decided to remount the OEM matting which seemed to be more like 1/16" vinyl sheet. I bought some "Loc-tite" epoxy that is supposed to be good on both vinyl and ABS so we'll see how well it will work. I also raised the bottom edge on the smaller piece of vinyl where it had previously been sticking to my carpet. (Which made the console removal rather difficult.)

In doing this I was surprised to find that the rubbing alcohol I was using (70% in this case) to clean the areas where I was using the epoxy also seemed to dissolve the console’s paint/coating. I'm not sure I'd use it on the outer surface since it seems to leave the plastic a bit hazy. It could be an option though if you intend to paint anyway.

I’ll let the epoxy cure tonight, so by tomorrow afternoon I should be able to remount the console in the car.

:biglaugh:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Done . . . (for now!)

Still a bit of mixed feelings I guess, but it beats peeling paint!! The abrasion needed to remove the OEM coating sort of dulls the finish I think. Perhaps the tones might even out a little over time . . . Or I'll have to paint it.

(The fill flash really seems to bring out the dullness and the color difference; I don't think I see as much color difference sitting in the car. The "charcoal" grey doesn't ever look that grey to me in real life, particularly in the carpet!)

So, it is doable though. At some point I'll have to try the front console . . . or I might go back to a painted shell and hope MB has made it a bit more durable in the mean time.

Patience is very valuable if you want to try this. :Beer:
 

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Is the yellow central locking console compartment vacuum line necessary to have hooked up? Mine broke off when I was removing the center console. Everything appears to be working just fine now. Do I need to replace this or can I just leave it broken in two? Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Is the yellow central locking console compartment vacuum line necessary to have hooked up? Mine broke off when I was removing the center console. Everything appears to be working just fine now. Do I need to replace this or can I just leave it broken in two? Thanks.
I ran for the better part of a week with the console out of the car and everything worked fine. It did "wheeze" though as I got in and out as it tried to activate the central locking. I would suspect that this might not be a great thing if your PSE unit was a little weak, so I would probably try to cap it off if I was going to leave it out permanently.

As far as the usefulness of the locking that you would lose . . . I'd say probably very little. Perhaps it would discourage a Valet from going through the compartment, but anyone with a screwdriver of any size could get the compartment open in a heartbeat, locked or not.

(There is like a swival "joint" in my line under the console so that might be a good place to cap it, or, just find a screw the right size and screw it into the end of the hose. (I do this often in my job designing/building automation equipment and it works just fine . . . the central locking is a very low pressure system.) Replacement hose isn't very expensive either so don't feel too afraid to replace it. ($.10 to $.50/foot in bulk . . . Though maybe the retail folks won't be as cheap. A few $ maybe depending on the extent of your issue.))

Hope that helps.
 

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Brake handle pad removal

Hello lilred, I am in the process of my console removal and have not been able to remove the parking brake cover or the cigarette lighter switch. Any insight you give would be much appreciated! I'm ready to break out the hacksaw and blowtorch!
 

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To remove the parking brake cover, put a few drops of liquid soap between the plastic cover & the metal handbrake.
It should slide off with with a bit of twisting & pulling on the cover.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hello lilred, I am in the process of my console removal and have not been able to remove the parking brake cover or the cigarette lighter switch. Any insight you give would be much appreciated! I'm ready to break out the hacksaw and blowtorch!
I'll assure you that no torches or saws are needed. Sometimes one does have to step back though and think a bit. (I couldn't understand why the rear console didn't come up when I had it all disconnected. I wrestled with it a bit, and eventually using a butter knife just pulled it free . . . the "mat" glue was sticking it to the carpet. No body's fault really, but still really frustrating if you don't know any better.) Leapyfish's idea would probably help. I just used grim determination. I don't have a lot of hand strength but the brake handle is mostly just a tight fit. You can work it's way off by sliding it a little at a time. (I will say I have a pretty grime free car, so the soap could help a lot if things are a bit sticky.)

The part of the lighter that got me was the plug comes out sideways to the plug, not axially. If you get the wire disconnected you can then pull that assembly from the console. There are several small screws located around the perimeter of the lighter bracket. I can't remember if I actually had the lighter unit out of the bracket though. I've reviewed my hi-res pics and none show it out. I thought I remember pressing it out from the back, (there may be some nubs or tangs that hold it in place) but if you get the plastic mounting bracket out, you should be able to do a pretty good job cleaning it up even if you can't press it out.

After over a year now, I really don't feel a great need to repaint my console. I'd rather get the rest of my dash to match the black ABS! lol

Hope that helps; tell me if the lighter presses out as I think it did. (Might have to renew my memory pill prescription otherwise. :confused:
 

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Brake handle

Thanks Lilred, I have posted two replies but don't see either of them on here.
I got the brake cover off after heating it with a hair dryer. It definitely was not interested in coming off. I'm still not sure how I got the lighter disconnected but mine popped out the top for easier access.
A mechanic working on the top had broken the screws holding the ashtray and top switch in place. That convinced me to try the refinish job while I had it apart to try and fix the switch. I had most of it resprayed and reassembled when I found the console lock vacuum is not working. I must have broken the connection during reassembly. Maybe I'll find out where all those extra screws go to the second time around. Great fun with bouts of Tourette's Syndrome.
The previous owner had tried repainting the console and had broken numerous bits along the way, and I have added a few myself. Love that Gorilla Glue and ColorBond paint. It looks tons better if I can ever get it all back together. This forum has been a Godsend. I would have never tried this on my own. Thanks again. I'll post pictures WHEN I get it finished.:tu:
 

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Great Thread! :tu:

I do have a question since we are talking about the console. I let someone borrow my car and their elbow put pressure on the switch assembly and broke the tabs that hold it. Now the ashtray and switch assembly fold in on themselves. Do you have any idea where I could get a replacement part? I have the console out. Now I just need to find the part. Thanks in advance.:)
 

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post your vin, get a datacard for yourself and the part number(s) you are looking for. Posting your pics should help us identify the part from epc though
 

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ScottG, I do have an extra compartment that houses the cigarette lighter with the rolling lid. Would this be what you need?
 
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