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DIY: Fix Sagging S197 Door Panels With AmericanMuscle’s Door Panel Leather Insert Covers
DIY Door Panel Revival
No matter how much you love and care for your Mustang, sometimes things go wrong. Over the years Ford has done a nice job of improving the breed, but as the miles rack up, parts wear out. While there are many great attributes to the 2005-2009 S197 Mustangs, many owners have experienced the disappointment of sagging door panels. This occurs when the foam backing on the door panel insert dries out, causing the insert to separate from the backing, which is glued to the plastic door panel. This can occur in any model, be it a V-6, 4.6 GT, Bullitt, or Shelby GT500. No one likes parts falling off—it’s annoying and ugly. Thankfully there’s a simple fix.
We found a solution with AmericanMuscle’s leather insert covers, which are offered in black or red and can be ordered at americanmuscle.com. According to AM, the covers are made of premium Italian leather, are priced at $159.99, and can be used as a repair kit or to modify the look of your factory doors.
It wasn’t hard finding a Mustang in need, as MM&FF contributor Amie Williams has a 2006 GT with completely detached inserts. We connected with Amie, headed to our home garage, and got to work.
Before starting, you will need a can of 3M 90 HI-Strength Spray Adhesive, 3M blue painter’s tape, a cleaning solvent, and a few basic handtools (similar products can be substituted). We picked up the 3M items at our local ACE Hardware, but you can also find them at Home Depot or Lowes. In addition, you will need a 7mm nut driver or socket and ratchet, a T30 Torx bit, a small flathead screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, a wire wheel attachment and power drill, and a clean place work.
We selected the black inserts (PN 102218) to install on Amie’s GT. We were impressed with the quality, and we liked the texture of the material; in fact, we liked it better than the factory perforated inserts.
Removing the door panels is straightforward and can be done in minutes. However, we spent approximately 25 minutes per door, removing the backing and glue residue from the panels. It was recommended that we spend the time thoroughly cleaning the surface where the insert will be glued in order to ensure a good bond. We took the advice and were rewarded with a clean finished product. Ultimately we spent a few hours and just under $200 for everything, and we brought back the looks of Amie’s Mustang for years to come.
01. With the leather door panel cover insert accent kit from AmericanMuscle and a few supplies, you can bring back the looks of your Mustang’s interior.
02. You can see how the factory door inserts on our donor car were completely separated.
03. Here is a comparison between the stock panel insert (top) and the new piece from AmericanMuscle.
04. While not 100 percent necessary, it is recommended that you remove the door panel from the car. This procedure is relatively easy but requires a 7mm socket or nut driver, a small flathead screwdriver, a T30 Torx bit, and a pair of needle-nose pliers. Begin by popping off the trim cover at the top of the door and disconnect the wire to the power mirror switch.
05. Next, remove the 7mm screws on the perimeter of the door.
06. Now carefully pry up on the power window switch plate (it will pop out quite easily) and disconnect the wiring. Also, remove the lower portion of the plastic mount. We later realized that both pieces could be removed as a unit.
07. You’ll find one more 7mm screw behind the window switch plate near the center of the door.
08. Remove the small trim plate behind the door handle, along with the T30 Torx screw.
09. Lastly, remove the panel and T30 Torx screw located behind the door handle pull.
10. Pull the door panel away from the door . . .
11. ...and disconnect the power lock switch as well as . . .
12. . . . the cable that operates the door handle. This is easily handled by squeezing the black plastic cable retainer tabs with a pair of needle-nose pliers. With the cable mount free, you can wiggle the cable from the handle.
13. Once the cable is removed, you can remove the door panel and lay it on a table or workbench. Now the fun begins.
14. Because you will have to grind on the panel, you will want to protect the outer edge surrounding the old door insert. We used 3M blue painter’s tape. It sticks nicely to plastic but does not leave a residue when pulled off.
15. There is a good chance that only the outer material has fallen off, leaving the backing stuck to your panel. To remove, simply dig in and pull it off.
16. While you can get most of the backing off by hand, you’ll need a drill with a wire wheel attachment to remove the remaining glue and backing residue.
17. Before gluing, we did a test fit of the insert.
18. You want a clean surface to get maximum stick from the adhesive. We recommend using a vacuum to remove all the debris and shavings, then use surface cleaner prior to applying the adhesive.
19. Following the instructions on the 3M HI-Strength 90 spray adhesive, we shook the can and applied a liberal coating, first to the door panel.
20. . . . and then to the back of the door insert.
21. We let the glue set for a few minutes, allowing it to become tacky, then we laid the panel insert into place. We worked from the middle and went outward, pressing the material firmly into place.
22. We got the best results by carefully tucking the inside edge of the new panel into the groove of the door panel. We worked this area into place and then moved to the outer edge.
23. The door panel inserts have excess material on the outer edge, so it’s necessary to trim as you go. There is plenty of room in the groove, so don’t worry about removing too much.
24. After letting the glue dry, we removed the tape and reinstalled the door panels. The job took us a total of five hours, but that included taking photos and video of the entire process. Overall we were impressed with the AmericanMuscle door panel inserts. They are affordable, and with them and a little work, you can easily bring back the life of your interior.