With the newest of C4s being nearly 20 years old, interior trim service or restoration is on the minds of many who own the ’84-’96 cars.
Let’s take door panels. There are two reasons you might remove them. First: replacement and second: to allow maintenance of other door components, such as window glass replacement, window regulator repair or service of the door lock mechanism. Either way, if you’re going to pull a C4 door panel, keep reading.
The project at hand is a 1995 ZR-1 with 83,000 miles on it. A year or so ago, we upgraded the sound system with new Bose amplifier/speaker assemblies and a modern Pioneer receiver. Click here and here for those articles.
During the stereo upgrade we noted the driver side door panel which was warped. As a result, it no longer fit the door properly and, in spite of frequent attempts to secure it–even going as far as to add a new fastener to panel–it was always coming loose, so it was time to replace the OE panel with a reproduction panel from Zip Corvette.
The parts necessary for this job were, of course, a ’94-’96 coupe, driver-side, door panel (PN I-2868). Zip also has panels to fit ’84-’89 and ’90-’93. We, also, used a Zip Door Panel Inner Insulator (PN DR-715) and some of Zip’s Sealing Caulk Strips (PN WW-293). Lastly, we needed replacement plastic rivets (PN 700365) which, also, can be ordered from Zip Products.
You need the right tools. You can’t pop door panels loose with a screw driver. Well…you can, I suppose, but sometimes the narrow screwdriver blade damages the door and, if you are going to reuse an existing panel after a window repair, for sure using a screwdriver as a pry bar to pop the panel loose is likely going to damage the door panel.
Best bet are tools designed specifically for removal of interior panels and trim. The Eastwood Company has an excellent selection. Examples are: Eastwood , Eastwood 3-piece Trim Removal Set (PN 52021), Eastwood 5-piece Plastic Trim Tool Set.
A final introductory note: there are most plastic trim parts on door panels from the ’90-’96 model years which have been discontinued by General Motors and are not reproduced by Corvette aftermarket vendors such as Zip Products. The only piece we found available from Zip Corvette is the driver-side door handle trim panel (PN DR-434). If you break a piece of plastic trim, it’s likely your only choice is someone with very rare “new old stock” or used parts from a salvage yard or parts recycler. Keep that in mind when working with plastic trim from ’94-’96 doors.
Click on the images for expanded views – it’s much easier on the eyes.
01: The first step of this project is to remove the switch panel in the door which houses the sideview mirror and window controls. There are two screws holding this panel. Remove them and the panel will unsnap from the door panel. Once you have it off, carefully unplug the wiring harnesses and set this assembly aside.
02: Next, unsnap the manual door lock knob from the door lock rod and remove it.
03: Using one of Eastwood’s plastic trim panel removal tools, carefully pry the reading lamp assembly out of the door handle trim panel.
04: Remove the interior lighting bulb from the reading lamp assembly.
05: Remove the three screws holding the door handle trim panel to the door then unplug the door lock switch.
06: Separate the door handle trim panel from the readling lamp assembly.
07: Set the panel aside leaving the interior lighting bulb and reading lamp hanging from their wires.
08: Using one of the Eastwood panel tools, remove the four plastic rivets which secure the bottom of the door panel to the door.
09: Disconnect the hatch release switch wiring harness and remove the switch from the door panel.
10: Pull the bottom of the panel loose, then lift it up to disengage the window seal. If you’re going to reuse the penel, lay it face down on a towel.
11: Pop loose the hatch release wiring harness retainer.
12: Then peel off the door’s acoustic and moisture barrier and remove the old adhesive caulking strips.
13: If your goal in removing the panel is to repair window hardware; have at it!
14: Once you’re ready to reinstall or replace the door panel, after cleaning the surfaces behind the door panel, using Zip Products caulking strips, install a new Zip Products Door Panel Inner Insullator . For this step we went with the OE replacement parts but Zip also sells an upgrade inner panel (PN DR-670) made of modern materials which, once installed, offers a higher level of acoustic and moisture protection.
15: Reinstall the hatch release wiring to the door.
16: In some cases, the hatch release switch mounting tabs will have broken. No hatch release switches are available so you’ll have to improvise a repair such as we did using duct tape.
17: Reproduction door panels do not include the section of anti-squeak/anti-rattle sponge-like material which was on the inside of ’94-’96 panels just ahead of the door handle opening. We acquired some sponge-rubber sheeting from an industrial hardware store cut several strips of it.
18: We bonded sponge sections to the panel with weatherstrip cement.
19: Lift the door panel into place. Engage the window inner seals. Pull the wiring harnesses through the door handle trim panel opening and the window/mirror switch opening.
20: Reassemble the reading light assembly and the door handle trim panel.
21: Replace and tighten the door handle trim panel screws then snap the reading light back in place.
22: Reconnect the window switch and mirror control harnesses to the window/mirror control panel. If you need a new window switch, the driver-side set of switches is available from Zip Corvette.
23: Reinstall the window/mirror control panel by snapping it into the door then reinstalling the two screws.
24: Install new rivets to retain the lower part of the door panel.
25: Admire your work.
Installing Zip Products’ Repro Door Panels: Replacing C4 Door Panels
Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632
Corvette Parts List Related to Article:
- 1994-1996 Coupe Door Panel
- 1984-1996 Door Panel Inner Insulator
- 1956-1982 Strip Sealing Caulk
- 1984-1996 Door Quiet/Moisture Protection
- Shop/Repair Manuals