Im new here, but iv owned my 1999 GS300 for just about 5 years now. By far, the best car iv ever owned. It has never let me stranded nor gave me any issues. I just recently crossed over the 150k mark and some parts of my interior are showing clear signs of wear. I took care of everything quite easily but i could not find a practical solution for repairing my worn, torn, dirty center armrest. I didnt want to pay the $550 that i was quoted from my Lexus dealer, and i didnt want to buy a used one either. So i search around untill i found a pretty decent looking leather cover replacement for $37 on ebay of all places. I looked on CL and couldnt find much information/feedback on it but i bought it anyway. I thought to myself,"eh, it cant look any worse than my armrest looks now and in only out $37".
When it came in the mail a couple days later, i was surprised to see that it was in fact GENUINE 100% leather and the color match was damn near perfect. I was initially very pleased with my $37 purchase.
I searched and could not find much of DIY for this so i thought to myself that i would give it a shot on my own. I took some pictures of the process and procedures i used but obviously you can do things a bit differently to suit your needs.
On the instuctions that came with the leather cover, it states that it should take about half an hour to perform this swap but in reality it may take a tad longer (took me 2 hours).
With all that said, lets get right into it.
- 2 phillips screwdriver (1 big 1 small)
- upholstery glue/adhesive
- super glue (any kind, just make sure its "super")
- leather armrest cover (duh!)
- putty knife/blade
- 1/4 foam 1x1 feet (optional)
- box of binder clips, clamps, or clothspins
1. Here is the BEFORE. My armrest was pretty beat up.
2. When your in the car, look inside your armrest and you will see 8 small phillips screw, remove those and take the black plastic cover off. After that, look by the hinges and you will see 4 larger phillips screws and remove those. Thats it! Armrest should just pop right out.
3. When you take out the black plastic inside cover, you will see that the OEM leather is attatched with a combination of glue and staples. Simply pull on each inside leather tab one by one and remove the old leather cover. At this point, you can do 2 things: a) steam the old foam underneath to make it feel soft/flush again OR b) re-wrap with 1/4 thick foam before installing new leather for that soft/plush feeling. I opted for the foam.
4. Simply cut out however much foam you need to cover the armrest and super glue that bad boy on there like so. Once you are done glueing on the foam, simply grab some scissors and cut off the excess foam around the rim of the armrest.
Here is the Leather armrest cover that i got on ebay, looks like excellent quality!
5. Now that were about halfway done, its now time to put the new leather on. The good thing about the one that i bought off of ebay is that it is already stitched and conformed for a slip on design. Now, BE VERY CAUTIOUS as to how you line up the new leather with the armrest. Make sure everything fits snug before you apply your choice of glue/adhesive. Simply slip the leather on carefully making sure not to rip, bend the foam or leather.
6. Now comes the hard part
! Dont freak out, its really not that bad, just real messy. All you have to do now is just stretch/pull the leather as much as you can and apply the upholstery between the leather and the inside hardcover. I started from the back and worked my way all the way around. I also used binder clips to help set and seal the glue so that the leather never comes undone or peels off after install. I highly recommend you use some sort of clips to help set the glue in place.
It should start to look like this when the glue dries.
7. Now you are home free! Just re-install everything in reverse order and let everything dry for a full day before using. Look at my center armrest now and let me know what your input is guys!
Thanks and good luck!