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Username Post: Rear Interior Side Panels gap Fix & Arm Rest support & Back Seat - how to M        (Topic#369874)
Posts: 1

Reg: 10-15-22
10-26-22 12:19 PM - Post#2849094    


Fix I found for the difficult problem I noticed on my 2007 Chevy Monte Carlo LS, concerning the rear plastic interior side panels & arm rests.

Where the top window trim panel's bottom edge meets and connects to the bottom arm rest panel, there was a distinct gap as it progressed wider towards the trunk, you could put your finger through in it. (see pic pointing at seam gap problem area).
This is because the arm rest is totally unsupported directly underneath, allowing the panel to sag.
There is an internal very strong styrofoam wedge below the arm rest however its designed only to provide side impact to the interior panel's lower area.
Yet if it is made taller, it would provide much needed support to the arm rest and so panel.
So the armrest panels are only supported by their clips attachment and their bottom edge sitting on the floor. 
This could also lead to the arm rests plastic tops cracking from heavy elbows. 

Tools needed:
Fabric adhesive spray that will not melt styrofoam and used carpet padding or similar material & Scissors.
16mm & 10mm socket & torx seat belt bolt removal socket & ratchet wrench with extension.
Panel clips removal tool.
Super glue & might need some baking soda.
Some vaseline.
Scotch tape.
New gm plastic push in panel clip-fasteners(like the door panels use)-about 10 suggested.
Option-white paint pen & scotch tape.

Remove the rear seat and rear interior side panels.
Add carpet foam on top of the inner styrofoam arm rest supports.
Replace any broken/missing panel clips.   

Remove covered wedge piece:
Pull up and slightly pivot down and out/remove the long fabric covered wedge piece which is tucked between the top and bottom rear bench seat. 
It just sits tucked around the seat's fabric, on 2 ribbed metal studs, about a foot from each end, there is no other real attachment. It does have 2 plastic flaps that require you to pivot it down slightly as you pull up on it.
This piece is all plastic and kind of fragile. When pulling, be gentle and slow and also move the seat's surrounding fabric away to provide room to come out.
Place it somewhere it will not get bent. 
Option: Inspect its back side for any detached fabric and reattach using spray adhesive if needed.

Rear bench seat bottom removal:
Now see the more visible child seat chrome anchor bars and 16mm head attachment bolts and nuts. 
Option: if you wish to make the child seat anchor bars always more visible for users, use a white paint pen on their centers, then place a piece of scotch tape over the dried paint. You can also do this to the upper child seat anchors behind the head rests. 

The bottom seat has the 2 rear metal tabs, about 10" from the side panels, which are bolted down. Use the 16mm socket to remove the 2 bolts.

Now its front attachment is 2 metal bars, about 12" from the side panels, which are sitting in black rubber snap in/out biting pockets which sit in the sheet metal front edge.
Feel for the bars and pull up with your hands on both sides of one of the hidden 2 metal bars until it snaps up and out. Then move to the remaining bar. 
Now the bottom seat is detached and can be removed from the vehicle and placed in a safe place. 

You may find that one or both black rubber snap in/out bar biting pockets is still attached to the seat  bar, instead of still in its sheet metal hole.
If so, you Must remove the rubber from the bar, using a screw driver to open its mouth off the bar. THEN you Must clean the sheet metal surface and the bottom of the rubber where they mate. Then apply super glue liberally to both metal and rubber mating surfaces and place the rubber back into its sheet metal hole and apply a good amount of fingers downward pressure for 2 minutes to be sure the glue is dry. Only common super glue(not the gel) will provide the needed strong hold, you should not have any problems when reinstalling the seat. 

These rubber pockets bite onto the bar is stronger than needed. Be sure to liberally apply some Vaseline to the rubber mouth when reinstalling the seat.  

Rear bench seat top removal:
Remove the top seat's bottom attachment using the 16mm socket to remove the seat belt anchors related nuts. 
Note the seat belt positions for reassembly. Place the seat belts out of the way.
Pull grab loop releases to fold seats down, exposing the 4 top attachment bolts.
Use the 10mm socket to remove the 4 bolts. 
Now remove the seat top from the vehicle.
Caution, this is heavy and the bottom is kind of sharp metal which can damage the door's plastic threshold. 2 people are recommended to remove.
Optional: To make the fold down seats and center fold down arm rest features more visible for users(the owner didn't even know the seats can fold down), use your fingers to hold their pull grab loops front edge and white paint pen on the edge.

Interior side plastic panels removal:
Top window surround:
Option: the side panels have these little shoulder belt bungie clips for children/short people shoulder to use. If you want users to know what this is for and have a labeler, you can add a sticker to them such as "kids shoulder accommodator" or just write "kids" with your white paint pen.  

You must remove the top shoulder seat belt anchors for the front driver and passenger that bolts through the top panel:
There is a plastic hinged at the top cover over the torx bolt. Use your fingers from behind to pop the bottom edge of the cover, swinging it up and open.
Use your torx bit to remove the bolt.

Note how the bottom arm rest panel's top edge sits in the pocket edge of the top window panel's bottom edge.

Generally, remove the top window panel first, then the bottom arm rest panel.  
Detach the top panel from its top edges first. 
You pull the panels towards you, the inner clips will release their hold.   
Slowly work your hands behind the plastic panels as much as you can as you work, to support it well to avoid any breaking.
AT the same time, work with the top panels front and back legs, because the front leg tucks some under the headliner forward strip trim.
Use your clip removal tool if you can get behind any stubborn clips to pry them out.

Note: Avoid lifting the forward headliner trim more than needed because it's attached slightly forward by a very aggressive metal bite clip that tears and damages the internal plastic surface it bites on, upon removal. If it does pop out of the metal bite clip, super glue any damaged internal plastic area from the bite clip and sprinkle with baking soda.
Then use scotch tape over the plastic that the metal bites on, so it will reinstall into the bite clip easily when reassembling and won't be so aggressive next time it is released.      

The back leg sits on the rear speaker deck and has a short plastic tab which sits in a hole in the rear deck.
If the short plastic tab gets bent damaged or broken off, use super glue and baking soda to reattach it or strengthen its seam.

Once top panel removed, note:
The bottom of the panel has some molded fingers which the arm rest panel's top fits into upon reassembly.
Around the window has odd protruding internal rigid fingers which locate and support the backside of the panel. When reinstalling the panel, be sure these fingers are kept on the backside of the panel. Use your white paint pen to mark the finger tips so they are more visible when reassembling.
The panel backside has a rubber anti squeak cap on a plastic leg that can easily come off. Use super glue to firmly attach it to its leg.  
The panel backside has 2 metal reusable clips and plastic clips-which wear over time and removal and should be replaced.
Place a small piece of scotch tape over each of the metal clip tips. This will very slightly reduce their aggressive hold and reduce the chance of broken plastic upon any future panel removal. 
Optional: There is a rearward larger clip pocket without a large hole style plastic clip. The factory seems to have not used it, perhaps because it's difficult to get in its metal hole upon reassembly. and they decided it wasn't needed after all to keep that area of the panel tight to the rear window/headliner. If you have a large clip which will fit the pocket, you might consider using it. If so, dry fit it first to make sure your clip will fit and hold. 

Bottom armrest panel removal:
Use your clips removal tool behind the panel to help you release the clips.
AT the same time, work the panel's front leg out from where it tucks slightly under the carpet forward plastic trim.  

Once bottom panel removed, note:
The plastic clips, which wear and should be replaced upon reassembly. 
Remove all the plastic clips for now so you can dry fit the panel once you've installed the armrest supporting carpet pad. 
See the solidly affixed styrofoam block under the arm rest area. 
Inspect the arm rest for any cracks in the plastic from people's elbows. If there are any, from the underside, carefully flex open the crack and apply super glue and close the gap.
Then wet the crack seam with super glue and sprinkle it with baking soda.  If the arm rest is quite broken from heavy elbows, you may need a salvage yard replacement or add fiberglass & resin to its back side to reinforce/repair it.

Install carpet padding on top of the styrofoam block:
There is an appropriate 3.5" gap between the top of the block and the bottom of the arm rest panel. So there is no support for the armrest from the block.
Adding carpet padding layers will change this and their spring action will allow for variations in the gap closing.
So cut carpet padding strips approx. 12" long and 3.5" wide expanding to 4.5" wide. 
If using 1/2" padding, you will need 7 strips for each arm rest. Additionally you will need a 4" long final topper strip to place towards the front of the arm rest area. 
Dry fit the padding strips width to make sure they generally do not protrude past the long lip edge of the styrofoam. (see pic).
Use spray adhesive to attach them to the top of the styrofoam block, one strip glued on top of the other.  
Now dry fit the arm rest panel placed over the foam.
Press down on the arm rest and feel the much needed support it is getting from the pads.
Look inside the panel and you should see the clip towers approx. aligning to their sheet metal holes. 
Ideally the panel should sit just slightly higher than the holes when not pushing on the arm rest. 
If the panel sits low or too high, add or subtract a foam strip. 
Also cut a 12" x 1.5" wide foam strip or two and glue to the bottom-underside of the panel molded bend area where it touches the floor, to help it the panel sit up higher. 

This all will keep the panel from ever sagging again and showing a gap at its seam with the top panel.

Optional: If you have any after market electronics wiring/components to add/tuck behind the panels, now is the time. If you will add wires in the future, you may be able to add a simple pull string so you can pull the wires through at a later date.
There might be some cool nite time led show lighting accent strips that could be added inside the panel's molded groves just above the arm rest, to be over the top groovy or with a light switch for a back seat driver reading a map old school lol.

Now reassembly the panels and the seat in reverse order, starting with the arm rest panel. 
Note the panel's clips positions and make sure they go in their sheet metal holes, pushing on the panel in those areas.
The top panel is a bit tricky, take your time. Make sure none of the window fingers are on the outside of the panel, the panel goes over the fingers.

Take care


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