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I'm not sure if there is a tutorial like this on the site somewhere already, but I had to search several places to get the information I needed so figured I would save someone else the trouble.

This will cover the removal, re-finishing and re-installation of the 2011+ JK A/C vents, passenger grab bar, door boomerangs, speedometer bezel and steering wheel trim.

TRIM REMOVAL:

Door Boomerangs - I'm not sure what these are actually called, but it is the plastic trim piece on the door grab.



This is the easiest piece to remove. It is held in by plastic clips, so just insert a flat head screwdriver or trim removal tool between the plastic and the vinyl and pry it away. The clips aren't the easily breakable kind, so it should come out without any issues. I took all of mine out three separate times with no problems.

Once out, remove the decorative hex bolts. These serve not structural purpose in holding the door on, so you can remove the trim from the door panel without taking them out. You will want to remove them before painting though, Just use an allen wrench and the screw right out.

Passenger Grab Bar Trim - This is the "Jeep Since 1941 piece. It comes out just like the door boomerangs. The allen bolts are, again, simply decorative. Pop the piece out with a screw driver then remove the screws.



A/C Vents: The air conditioning vents are actually pretty simple once you know the trick. There is a small hole at the 1:00 position on the inside of the vent. You'll want to use a flashlight to see it, then spin the vent around until the other hole lines up with it. Once it does, just stick a small screwdriver into the hole, turn the entire A/C vent a quarter turn to the left, and slide it out.



This video will show you exactly what I'm talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GUE4pAyrnk

If you did it right, the whole assembly slides right out. Repeat this process for all four vents.



Speedometer Bezel: This one seems intimidating, but it's not. You'll need a ratchet, 7mm socket with extension, and a flat head screwdriver or trim removal tool. You need to remove the upper dash to access the bezel. To do so, start at the top. Remove the rubber upper dash tray (just pull it out) to access the 7mm screw on top. Remove the screw.



Next, remove the lower dash trim piece below the steering wheel. Just pop it off with a screwdriver, it won't give you any issues.



Behind it, you'll need to remove two 7mm screws on either side of the steering wheel. I don't have a picture of them but they're easy to find.

Finally, remove the electric window switches. Like most of the interior, this piece just pops out as well. It takes a bit of force to come out, but it will. Just pry at it gently from a few angles. You can also stick your hand in the hole where the A/C vents were to push it from the back if you prefer.
Then unclip the wiring harness on the back. If you're having trouble getting the window controls out, there is a red latch on the passenger side of the wiring harness where it connects to the controls. Use your flat head screwdriver to pop it up if it is giving you problems.

Once the window switch is removed (or whatever is there for the manual window Jeeps) remove the final 7mm screw behind it. The upper dash will now come loose. Just pull up and out and you should hear the plastic clips popping loose.



Now you can remove the speedometer/gauge cluster. It is held in by four 7mm bolts. I forgot to take a picture of this step, but it's the easiest part. Once the bolts are removed, simply release the plugs on the back and it's out. Don't worry about moving the needles or anything. They will reset automatically once hooked back up.

The gauge cluster is basically three layers: the outer clear plastic cover, plastic trim panel that surround the gauges (this is the piece we're going to paint), and then the main assembly. Each is held to the other with about 8-10 plastic clips around the outside.

Start by removing the clear plastic cover. Gently push the clips through one at a time and move your way around the piece. I used the flat head screwdriver to push each clip down and through hole. Once the cover is off, then remove the black decorative trim piece the same way. Just take your time and go slow to ensure you don't break any of the clips.



There are also chrome rings around each of the gauges. You'll notice in the picture above that I removed them since I did not want them painted. To do this, simply push them through from the bottom with a screwdriver. There are about a half dozen small pegs going through. If you want them painted with the gauge bezel trim, you can just leave them in.

Steering Wheel: Unfortunately, there is not way to remove the trim from center of the steering wheel. You have to take off the center airbag assembly and tape it off. I left it alone the first time and just painted all of the other trim mentioned above. But i came back this weekend and painted the center jeep logo and chrome trim ring as well. To remove it, all you need is a ratchet with a 10mm socket and extension.

There are two recessed bolt holes on each side of the back of the wheel. You need to remove the rear bolt (closest to the dash) on each side. This will release the center airbag section of the steering wheel. There are three clips on the back of the airbag you'll need to remove. The two in the center come off by pinching it from both sides with your fingers. The third black plug simply pulls out.

A word of caution: Yes, you are removing the airbag, so be careful. I talked to a technician who removes them all the time without unplugging the battery. But if you want to be extra safe, go ahead and remove the negative terminal on your battery. Once the assembly is off, there is very little risk. It won't just go off if you drop it. As long as you don't hook it up to a 12V battery, you should be fine.
 

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Now that all of the trim is out, it's time to paint. Here is what you will need:

2 cans Krylon high gloss spray paint for plastic
1 can Krylon high gloss clear coat
1 can Bulldog Adhesion Promoter (optional)
2 sheets 320 grit sand paper
Rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, or mineral spirits
1" roll of blue painters tape



I got everything from O'Reilly Auto Parts. Lowes and Home Depot should carry it as well.

Here's the key to a quality paint job: PATIENCE and PREP. I went through this whole process, wasn't satisfied with the quality of the paint job, then removed it all again and redid it. Trust me on this, spend the extra time and do it right the first time.

The first thing you'll need to do is lightly scuff all of the pieces to be painted. This will help the paint to adhere to the surface. All you're trying to do is take the shine off, not sand grooves into the surface that will be noticeable after painting. That's why I used 320 grit sandpaper. Anything more coarse than that may leave noticeable scratches. Just give everything a light buff as best you can, especially anything with a shiny finish.

After you've sanded, wipe everything down with mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol. I use a microfiber towel so no lint is left behind. You can pick one up at the auto parts store where you buy the paint and supplies. You could also use a soft old tshirt.

The adhesion promoter is optional. I did not use it on anything except for the steering wheel. The chrome plastic rings around the trim are the hardest thing for paint to stick to, so I wanted to make sure it stuck. The stuff is about $22 a can though, so it's up to you whether or not it's worth it. If you are not painting the steering wheel trim or the chrome plastic rings around the speedometer gauges, it's not necessary. Mine came out great without it.

If you ARE using the adhesion promoter, you'll want to spray it first. You're going to do three light coats. Spray the first, then wait 3-5 minutes and spray another light coat, then wait 7-10 minutes before spraying the third and final coat. Then wait 15 minutes before starting the painting process.

If you are NOT using the adhesion promoter, skip the last paragraph and start here after you have wiped all of the pieces down with alcohol and let them dry.

Set up an area to paint that is well ventilated (i.e. outside) but not in a windy area where dust and dirt could blow onto your project. I made a mini paint booth in the corner of my complex with some USPS boxes and painters tape. If possible, do it against a wall or two to limit any wind or debris.

 

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PAINTING PROCESS

I did 6-8 coats of paint. The white took a lot to get full coverage, so you may be able to get away with a few less if you're doing a darker color. The trick is to several light coats instead of a few heavy ones. Heavy coat = runs in the paint and poor quality. Wait 15 minutes between each coat. It will be tempting to lay it on heavy but don't. Spray from 8-12 inches away in a smooth back and forth pattern, slightly overlapping with each stroke. Just watch some TV and set a 15-minute timer after each coat.

I like to move the pieces in different directions to make sure I hit it from all angles. And whenever possible, stand each piece vertically. This will allow you to keep the spray can upright when painting. You'll want to minimize spraying with the can facing down or upside down. This causes it to spit paint and not lay down as smoothly.

Once you have full and even coverage, it's time for the clear. The clearcoat process should only take about 15 minutes since you only need to wait 60 seconds between each coat. Just like with the paint, several light coats is the preferred method. I did about 12 coats of clear. You only have to wait a minute each, so why not. There's plenty in a single can.

After you're done laying the clear coat, LEAVE IT ALONE. Don't pick it up to look at it from a different angle. Don't touch it to see if it's dry. Leave. It. Alone. Wait 30 minutes then move the pieces inside, one at a time, very carefully. You don't have to bring them inside, I just did it to ensure nothing gets on them while they are drying. The less time in the elements, the better. You'll want to let them sit overnight to fully cure. Yes, I know it's tempting to re-install them and admire your work but trust me, it's worth the extra wait. There's nothing worse then screwing up a single piece and having to spend another three hours sanding and repainting it.

The next day, once everything has fully dried, reinstall the allen screws into the grab bar and door boomerangs. Reassemble the gauge cluster, and put everything back in the reverse order.

 

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Great write up thanks and I will be following
 

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PAINTING THE STEERING WHEEL TRIM

This is the most difficult piece to paint since it cannot be removed. So you'll have to mask it off and paint it still attached. I wanted to paint the outer trim ring as well as the Jeep logo in the center, so i taped off each individually. It took me about 45 minutes to tape everything up.

Starting with the outside edge of the outer trim circle, cut your blue painters tape into 1/2" to 1" sections. I used scissors so i could get a straight edge on each piece. You need to lay each piece into the groove between the leather and the plastic you are trying to trim and then use a small screwdriver to push the tape into the edge.





Once you have gone around the entire ring, run your fingernail around the edge to tuck the tape into the groove. Go back with the screwdriver for anywhere you see the tape covering the plastic trim, and lay new tape in any gaps exposing the steering wheel leather.

Repeat the process for the other side of the outer ring as well as the center emblem.



I cut the pieces a little smaller for the inner emblem since the circle has a smaller circumference, thus a sharper curve. Just cut the pieces of tape, slide them between the wheel and the emblem, and lay them down.





Once you finished your 45-minute tape-a-thon, it should looks something like this.



Now tape up any remaining parts of the airbag leather that are exposed. Once you're finished, follow the same painting process from before.
1. Lightly sand the plastic with 320 grit sand paper
2. Apply 3 coats of adhesion promoter
3. Spray 6-8 coats of paint
4. Finish with 10-12 coats of clear

After an hour, CAREFULLY remove the painters tape. Don't remove it sooner or you will almost certainly mess up the paint. Now once again, leave it alone overnight to cure. The final product should look something like this.



I hope this helps anyone who has been thinking about adding some color to their interior.
 

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Great write up!

Did you have any issues removing the vents? When I tried to do mine it was all that I could to get them off. I think I even started a thread about it....

This should save some folks a lot of aggravation.


Exco
 

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Great write up!

Did you have any issues removing the vents? When I tried to do mine it was all that I could to get them off. I think I even started a thread about it....

This should save some folks a lot of aggravation.


Exco
No. Just watch that YouTube video. It's really easy once you know hot to do it.
 

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Looks great on mine i would like to paint the vents grab bar and boomerangs however i would like to paint the lettering and allen bolts black as a accent ive seen it done but there are no writeups on how they did it any ideas?
 

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Looks great on mine i would like to paint the vents grab bar and boomerangs however i would like to paint the lettering and allen bolts black as a accent ive seen it done but there are no writeups on how they did it any ideas?
Check the cheap mods thread. I know there is a tutorial somewhere cuz I read it. I did attempt to paint the lettering on my trim and after several tries I gave up. I just couldn't get the hang of it but others have been successful. The allen bolts were simple though. Remove them, paint and reinstall just like the trim. Good luck
 

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Speedometer Bezel: This one seems intimidating, but it's not.

There are also chrome rings around each of the gauges. You'll notice in the picture above that I removed them since I did not want them painted. To do this, simply push them through from the bottom with a screwdriver. There are about a half dozen small pegs going through. If you want them painted with the gauge bezel trim, you can just leave them in.

Thank you!
One day I'm going to paint these damn chrome bezels. If the sun is out and I'm driving, then sun is glaring into my eyes 100% of the time. I hate them!
 
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