If you’ve ever attempted to remove petrified window film from an E46 coupe, you’ll know how hard it is to get the bottom 3 inches of glass with your scraper. You can try steam, heat, the trash bag method, or GooGone but chances are there will be this small bit you just can’t get without removing the hard plastic trim at the very back of the parcel shelf. This post is about how you get to it.
You will need to remove or lower the rear seat backs, and remove the seat latches and the surrounding black plastic trim to get free access to the parcel shelf and rear headrests. We previously posted a DIY on how to remove the headrests which you can view below.
Once you remove the child safety anchors, you will need to remove the C-pillar trim. Be careful because the plastic may be very brittle. And remember that there is a hex screw under each reading lamp that also needs to be removed.
Next, remove the speaker grills and speakers. Working under the parcel, disconnect and remove the sub-woofer if necessary, and remove the screws holding down the parcel shelf. The parcel shelf should now be free and will lift out. If the car was in storage or abandoned, expect very nasty things to be lurking under the parcel shelf. Be sure to wear a respirator and gloves to clean the area and disinfect afterwards.
Now you will see the four screws holding the lower window trim. They were 7mm bolts in this car (which is an odd size). With the trim removed, you can finally get to the lowest edge of the rear window.
Continue to remove the rest of the tint. I usually use a combination of heat and goo-gone with a plastic razor blade. Just be careful around the defroster elements.
Many of the parcel shelves have faded to a gray-purple color (Mulberry?) and can cause glare in the rear window. Now is a great opportunity to get some interior trim paint and respray them. Just be careful cleaning the surface as it is very delicate. Installation is the reverse of removal.
As a general rule, I try to do minimally invasive work, only removing enough paint to get the desired level of shine and clarity before coating. But occasionally there isn’t anything to work with as was the case with this fender flair. A good bit of paint was scraped off down to bare metal which had rusted.
Since this was a track car, I advised the owner that his best option was for me to just paint the flair, blend the arch, and compound the surrounding area. If it looks good from five feet, we’d call it a win. The result was better than expected.
After washing and using a clay bar to remove any rolled-up rubber on the surface, I sanded the edge down to bare metal. Given the amount of surface rust, I was surprised to see there wasn’t any pitting. There was evidence of some body filler so I didn’t roll the fender which I normally would have on a track car like this. Once sanded, I used a minimum amount rust inhibiting primer on the edge. I wet-sanded the primer flat, then scuffed the next two inches or so around it to prep for painting.
I cleaned it again and carefully sprayed the base coat on the lip and edge, blending only slightly into the fender where I had scuffed it previously. I waited 48 hours then wet-sanded the base coat along with a few more inches into the clear on the fender. This gave me about an eight inch margin to work with when I wet sanded the clear coat the next day.
After sanding, I used a wool cutting pad to compound, and finished with a foam polishing pad. After waiting a week, I coated the entire quarter panel with a ceramic coating. It’s not a lot of work and isn’t a complicated repair, but it takes a lot of time between the steps, so don’t rush it. And when someone tells you that you can’t get body shop results from a rattle-can, show them this. A special shout-out goes to Automotive Touchup Paint for such a great paint system.
This E36M3 was really loved by someone. The roof was painted black by brush and the front of the car sprayed yellow with rattle-can paint and no clear coat. Much of the factory clear is failing or missing on the rest of the car and there appear to be at least two layers of yellow on much of the car. But just because it’s oxidized and faded to different shades, doesn’t mean it won’t take a polish. You just have to be careful to balance how much you remove by polishing against how much paint remains.
This car is for sale, so the goal was to create a pop in the eyes of a potential buyer from 10 feet away. Once you get that close, the conversation shifts from how it looks to the modifications made for the track anyway. This would make a great project for anyone looking to make that leap from tracking their daily driver to having a dedicated track car.
This car is for sale. Contact TIER Car Care for details.
Services: Deep cleaning, clay bar, paint correction, paint polish, paint sealant, trim coating, and headlight polishing.
I recently had another E36 M3 in the shop for to detail for resale. A preservation detail can really help a car “pop” and make a solid first impression for any potential buyer. It also helps ensure that the condition they see is more than just temporary as is common with many used car dealers. (Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested and we’ll connect you with the seller.)
This is a 1997 M3 coupe which is getting an interior refresh, paint correction and coating, along with some paint repairs to the spoiler and rear bumper cover. The exterior color is Cosmos Black and the Interior is Mulberry. This car has an S-54 motor from the E46 M3, tuned by Dinan, along with a Dinan exhaust.
I started with a deep cleaning, clay bar, and polish before rock chip repair and paint touch up. The paint on the rear spoiler required sanding and respray as did the top of the rear bumper cover. I coated the exterior trim in Frame Pro and the paint with Reflex Pro II. The interior was first cleaned, the leather stripped of oils and conditioners, repaired, and then refreshed with LeatherFresh. The before and after photos are pretty striking.