I finally got the motivation to get rid of the "neutral" (is it tan, grey, beige???) colored headliner in my Sunfire. I never really get why every manufacturer is moving towards the lighter colored pillars/headliners in their cars. I know it's supposed to give the illusion of more space, or something, but IMO it looks cheap and stupid, espacially on our cars when most of the rest of the interior is a different color.
All of my info applies to coupes only, of course sedans will be different, but not anything drastic. Another note, the headliner shapes from older to newer styles are different. You will need the A-pillar pieces and rear side covers from the donor car, or there will be gaps between pieces. Donor cars with the darker headliner were available from 1995-1998
Anyways, I started with this:
mmmmmmmm..... beige-y neutral-y goodness!!!
Removing the headliner is easy. Pull off both A-pillar pieces, they have those tension tabs. It takes just a good, firm pull to remove and they shouldn't break.
Unscrew both window visors (T25 Torx bit), remove the seat belts from the rear side panels (T50 Torx socket), unscrew the clothes hangers from the covers (phillips screw driver), and pull out the plastic headliner clips using a clip tool. They look like this:
The newer beige headliners will have 3 headliner clips, one on each side underneath the sun visors, and one in the center in the back seat area.
Don't pry on the clips, because you could easily damage your headliner and/or deform the clips. Just wedge the tool underneath the clip head and pull straight out with a firm jerk. Usually the clips are in good enough shape to be re-used, but it won't hurt to get a couple of spare ones from a dealer or junkyard.
You can now start removing the headliner. First, move the rear view miror down and towards the windshield. Lean both front seats back as far as they will go and as far back as they will go. Remove the dome light cover and bulb. Do this by grabbing the rear of the cover and pushing forward to release the clip, then it should come right out.
Pull the door weatherstripping down where it comes in contact on the sides of the headliner. Then, GENTLY
pull down on the front of the headliner, there might be some adhesive holding it in place. Dont't pull hard enough to crack the headliner board. Now, you can let the front dangle downward about a foot or so. Next, pull one rear side cover out slightly, just enough to get that side of the headliner free. Now you should be able to wiggle the other side of the headliner out from behind the side panel and the headliner will be almost free. The last thing left to do is remove the dome light wiring and harness from the headliner, it's either going to be held in place with adhesive or tape, just gently pull it away from the headliner board, again being careful not to rip or crack the board.
Now, the headliner will be free from the car, and can be removed. The easiest way is to rotate the headliner sideways, tilt it slightly, and take it out the passenger door. If you are replacing the rear side panels, now is the time to do that. Start by removing the rear seat sections, the bottom just pulls up and out, the back is bolted in place with 13mm bolts. After that, the panels are held in place with more tension clips, so once again pull out gently. Remove the lower seat belt anchor bolts and fish them through the holes in the panels, and remove the panels from the car. When you have it done, the inside should look similar to this:
Now you can start putting things back together. Start with the new headliner. Don't forget to reinstall the dome light wiring harness in the correct place
Follow that with the reinstallation of the rear side covers, rear seat halves, seatbelts, clothes hangers, A-pillars, sun visors, and weatherstripping. BOOM, you're done. It took me less than 2 hours.
A few final notes that may be of some importance.
All Sunfire/Cavalier coupe headliners will interchange with each other with the exception of sunroof cars, of course. The earlier designs are slightly different shaped, so it is a good idea to get the rear side panels and A-pillar pieces from the same donor car as the headliner.
All sedan headliners interchange with each other as well.
The later design headliners have 3 push clips holding them in place. The earlier have 5, the same 2 up front and center rear, but they also have one on each side in the middle. The holes are still in the metal behind the headliner so just use the push clips from the donor car. Don't forget about these.
Some Cavy/Sunfires had seperate map lights in the dome light assembly. You can use these and retain/gain map light functionality if you grab the wiring harness from the donor car as well.
Some Cavy/Sunfires had grab handles in the headliners. On coupes, they were only on the passenger side, on sedans, they were on every door except for the drivers front. However all of the mounting holes are there on both sides, so you can add grab handles to both sides.
Some 1995 (and MAYBE early 1996) cars had a fabric insert in the rear side panels. Interesting if you want to upgrade the rear a bit.
Cleaning the headliner and sun visors before installation is strongly recommended, especially if you don't know it's history. I vacuumed twice, then used aerosol glass cleaner, sprayed directly on the fabric, and brushed/wiped off with blue paper shop towels. The headliner I used was in a smokers car, and had alot of brown tar/dirt/crap that I got off that wasnt visible. I went over everything until the paper towels were perfectly clean after wiping. Don't soak or vigorously scrub the fabric or it could seperate from the board. I went over one section at a time and let everything dry inbetween cleanings.
Sun visors were available plain, or with elastic atrap and/or mirrors on both sides. All will interchange, it's up to you what you want or can find.
All pictures were either taken by me or found freely on the internet. If anyone objects if I used your picture, I will remove it upon request.
I hope this helps someone if they take on this project, and everyone found this worth their while!!!
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