ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
9/23/19 8:48 p.m.

I'm suffering from the common e46 headliner sag, and its getting worse.  I've been putting this off because it seems like a real PITA to fix.

Is there a trick/clever way to reattach the old headliner fabric, or is it the kind of thing where you're just better off stripping off the old and springing for $30-50 of new ebay fabric? 

glueguy GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/23/19 9:20 p.m.

Once it starts to fail there is no way to repair it and make it look decent without removing it.  It's not fun but not as awful as you think, plus there is a lot of gratification because you can see the improvement every time you get in, as opposed to say, a full cooling system refresh because BMW.


Remove the A, B, C pillars, handles, visors, dome light, coat hooks, third light.  Nothing else holds it in.  Coupes are easy, sedan is just a puzzle that is easier with 2 people and passenger seat reclined.  Sand the backing smooth, 3M high temp glue, trim and reinstall.


ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
9/26/19 11:00 a.m.

Thanks. It’s not removing the headliner that bothers me, it’s the tedious, messy removal of all the old adhesive, so the new fabric will be smooth. 

Has anyone used something like this dashboard “flocking” product on a headliner? dash flocking kit I feel like it might be easier to get a good application, instead of trying to stretch the new fabric smoothly without bubbles. 

procainestart Dork
9/26/19 11:24 a.m.

If the headliner is cloth with deteriorating backing foam, you might be able to put off the crappy task of replacing it by holding it up with a bunch of corkscrew-shaped upholstery pins, available at any fabric store for a couple bucks for a fistful (just depends whether the backing material will accept the pins):

Turbine Reader
9/26/19 11:28 a.m.

In reply to ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) :

I had the same thought about flocking. I actually bought the kit to redo my e36's headliner, but I haven't messed with it yet. 

914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/26/19 1:10 p.m.

You can't cut a 1" slit in the middle of the sag, shoot some glue up there and roll it with a wood roller?   Plan B isn't as hard as you'd think.

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/26/19 1:33 p.m.

I did that same job to my E36. Granted mine was easier because it was the Ti, the headliner went right out the hatch.


BMW headliners of that era are not smooth. They are chopper gun glassfibre into a mold. There are quite a few voids, a few holes, and more than a few bumps. I did it in ultrasuede after buying the headliner material from Joanns.


I used the headliner material from JoAnns simply because it was the thinnest foam I could get. After taking a wire brush to the headliner to get all the old foam off (not at all hard, it basically disintegrates) I applied spray adhesive in small 6 to 12 inch sections at a time, making sure everything was well tacked. I even used rubber cement in a few areas. Once it was all down and dry, I peeled off the headliner material and started all over again with the Ultrasuede. Just take your time and break it up into small sections. Make sure the glue starts to "set" before applying the fabric and you will be golden.

MINIzguy HalfDork
9/26/19 1:57 p.m.

I've heard steam and a paint roller can work.

But if you decide to replace the fabric, I've done it on two E36's already. One was a ti and one was a sedan. Take a shop vac with a brush attachment and you can get all the old headliner foam residue off. JoAnn's headliner fabric was best. I used two cans of spray glue to stick the headliner up (mine were both slicktops) as one can will not be enough.

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