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How To: Replace the Convertible Top & Headliner

A Comprehensive Step by Step Guide for Replacing the Convertible Top and Headliner on the 2000 – 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

Tool List:

T20 & T25 Torx Bits
Wire Coat Hanger
Staple Gun
Scratch Awl
Angle Screwdriver / Bit Driver
Replacement Clips (Mitsu Part# 5853A001)
Zip Lock Bags (for screws and bolts)
Razor Knife
Measuring Tape
1/8” Drill Bit
Rivet Gun
1/8” Rivets
12 & 17 MM Sockets
Staple Puller
Masking Tape
3M Yellow Super Trim Adhesive 08090
Double Sided (Carpet) Tape

Most steps are done on both sides of the car, even though these instructions may only describe the step once.
Start with removing the rear seat and backrest. The seat has two pull tabs. Pull them one at a time and lift that area of the seat. With both sides released, remove the seat from the car.

The backrest has two bolts at the bottom. Remove both bolts using a 12MM socket and pull straight up on the backrest. Remove the backrest from the car.

Before we can remove the side panels, we must remove the seat belts from the floor. Remove the bolts holding the seat belts with a 17MM socket.

Remove the rear speaker garnish from the panel by prying out along the top and lifting up. Pull the Xmas tree fastener holding the top of the rubber seal to the panel. Pull away the trim lock at the front of the panel, it is removed easily. Remove the five screws holding the panel to the car. Pull the side panel loose at the front and lift it up. There are 3 metal clips along the edge facing the door jam. Tuck the seat belts through the panel and remove it from the car.

Note on the speaker garnish, these clips are easily broken. You may want to have a few on hand for replacements. The Mitsubishi part number for these clips is MR550999.

Behind the side panel, you will find one of the elastic straps that need to be removed.

Put the top in the half way open position.
Before we can remove the plastic cover from the header bow we must first remove the two torx screws (T20) at each end holding the headliner. Note some years used plastic Xmas tree fasteners here instead of screws.

Detach the clips from the front corner rubber seals. These plastic clips almost always break, if they are not broken already. So If I were you, I’d have some replacements ready. (Mitsubishi Part# 5853A001) To remove the front side weather-strip, pull it from the retainer and remove the Xmas tree fastener at the rear.

Next we will remove the screws (T20). Don’t forget the ones holding the handgrip. Then remove the front bow plastic cover.

Remove the screws holding the plastic reinforcements at the ends of the header bow and strip the top from the header bow.

Open the trunk and remove the rear trim. The factory used Loctite on these screws so you may need to use a little more effort in breaking them loose. I use a T25 bit and a small ratchet. The side quarter trim is held in place with one nut. Loosen the 8MM nut and the trim will lift away from the car.

Close the top to access the rear side of the headliner. Use a folded piece of cardboard or a rolled up towel to keep the top from closing completely. This allows some working slack in the top. Release the Velcro from around the window and the 4 snaps (2 on each side) from around the quarter panel area. Detach the headliners elastic straps attached to the top frame. There should be 2 on each side. Start to detach the headliners plastic rails from the bows working your way from back to front.

Disconnect the rear window defroster wires, one on each side of the window. Follow the wires down to the body and unplug the harness.

With the headliner out of the way, you will find the top listing held to the 3 bows with either double sided tape or glue. Loosen the listings from the bows. It should just pull away. Detach all 3.

If you are replacing the headliner or want to remove it for cleaning, unscrew the front of the headliner from the front header bow and remove it from the car now. (T20) Note there is one more screw at each end holding the headliner under the side pads. Open the top as needed to slacken the side pads in order to gain access to the screws underneath.

Put the top back in the half way open position.
Remove the rear side weather-strip by loosening the Xmas tree fasteners and pulling the weather-strip from its retainer. Remove the rear weather-strip retainer from the frame by unscrewing the machine bolts and flanged nuts. (T25)

Under the rear retainer, you will find a plastic reinforcement. Loosen the reinforcement from the frame by removing the four screws.(T20) It will stay attached to the top. Here is where you will need to use an angled screw/bit driver. The bottom screw is facing downward and is difficult to get to.

At the bottom of the frame, in the sail panel area, the top is held to the frame with two screws. Remove those screws. Detach 1 clip going into the sheet metal. The sheet metal is very thin and easily bent. The clips can be very difficult, if not impossible to remove in one piece. I just cut them and use these replacements I buy from my local auto parts store.

If you are installing new side tension cables, remove them completely. If you are reusing your cables, then you will only remove the back end of the cables. Bend open the spring a little at the rear and pull the cable out of the pockets from the front. Drill out the rivets at the front of the cable to remove them completely.

Bow #5 holds the top at the rear of the car. To release bow #5, you must remove two bolts, one at each end of the bow with a 12MM socket.

Remove the trim lock from the well opening and release the rain gutter from the body.

Before proceeding with this step, cover the trunk area with moving blankets.
Lift bow #5 with the rain gutter and top attached from the car. Pull the blanket under to rest the bow on.

Pull the staples from bow #5 and the top and gutter will come away. Under the rain gutter, you will find the rear of the well liner attached to bow #5. Do not remove the well liner from bow #5.

This concludes the removal of the old top.

Maintenance note: while the clamps are accessible, remove and clean them. They are usually full of crud and can be difficult to operate sometimes. Since everything is easy to get to while it’s apart, clean and lubricate them at this time. Removing the little spring first is necessary in order to remove the clamp from the header bow. Note how the end of the spring tucks under the pivot point of the clamp handle for reassembly.

Next is the installation of the new top. Lay the new top over the frame and center it on bow #5. If the center is not marked on your top, measure and mark it now.

Staple the top to bow #5. Begin in the center and work towards both ends, staple between the seams. Have someone here to help stretch the fabric tight as you work towards the ends. Trim the top around the bolt holes at the ends of bow #5. Do not cut the seams. Then finish attaching the top to the end of bow #5 with a few additional staples.

Use the old top as a guide, mark and cut out the angle cut-outs where the top attaches to the bottom frame.

Place bow #5 back into the well and install the end bolts.

Cut the rain gutter ½ - ¾ inch above the edge of the well opening, this will make it easier to fold over the edge without ripping the liner. Apply glue to the edge of the well opening and the rain gutter. Secure the rain gutter to the body when the adhesive is ready.

Replace the trim lock onto the well opening over the new rain gutter. Start from the center and work towards both ends.

To install the side tension cable in the top, straighten a wire clothes hanger and create a loop on one end. Slide the wire through the cable sleeve from the back to the front. Hook the spring into the loop in the wire and pull it through the sleeve.

Rivet the front of the cable to the header bow with two 1/8” pop rivets if you are completely replacing the cables. Put the end of the spring into the frame tab and bend the spring closed.

Attach the front edge of the headliner onto the header bow if previously removed. Don’t forget the one screw at each end under the side pads.

Apply contact cement to the header bow and the underside of the top. When the adhesive is ready, glue the top to the bow. Begin in the center, do the ends, then in between those areas. Close the top and check the rear area around the window for looseness. If the top is too loose, the front edge of the top must be stretched further. I put a couple screws in temporarily just to hold it.

Apply contact cement to the sail panel flap and the corresponding frame area. When the adhesive is ready, glue the top to the frame.

Trim any excess material from the flap.

Install the plastic clip at the bottom of the sail panel area and attach it to the sheet metal, then replace the two screws holding the flap to the frame.

Install the rear weather-strip retainer to the rear side frame. With the retainer in place, we can install the rear weather-strip. The weather-strip has two lips along its length which fit into the two grooves on the retainer. Insert the outboard lip first under the top and into the retainer, then insert the inboard lip with a staple puller or screwdriver. There is 1 Xmas tree fasteners to install at the forward end of the weather-strip.

Trim the front of the top and glue the corners. Secure the 2 plastic reinforcements at each end of the header bow. Cut off any excess top edge binding and glue it down.

Close the top and use the cardboard or rolled up towel again to keep the top from closing completely.
Using double sided tape attach the top bow listings to the bows. Leave a little slack. It is not necessary to pull the listing tight. When you have the top listings installed, replace the headliner listings. Snap one end of the headliner listing extrusion onto the bow and work your way across the bow. Work front to back. Attach the Velcro around the window and don’t forget the 4 snaps in the back. Attach the elastic straps back onto the frame.

Reconnect the defroster wires.

Install the side quarter trim and fasten it to the body.

Replace the rear trim.

Install the plastic cover and hand hold onto the header bow.

Install the front side weather-strip. The weather-strip has two lips along its length which fit into the two grooves on the retainer. Insert the outboard lip first, then insert the inboard lip with a staple puller or screwdriver. There are 4 Xmas tree fasteners to install, one at each end of the length of the weather-strip and two on the front corner that push into the header bow.

Attach the front corners of the headliner to the header bow garnish with the screws or Xmas tree fasteners.

Set the side panel in place and thread the seatbelts back through their openings. Insert the trim into the openings in the panel. Push the panels into place.

Install the 5 screws that hold the side panel to the body.

Replace the trim lock at the front of the side panel and insert the Xmas tree fastener at the top. Replace the speaker garnish.

Bolt the seat belts to the floor and we are ready to put the seat in.

Hook the backrest onto the body in the back and replace the two bolts at the bottom. Slip the seat belt buckles through the seat and clip the seat into the latches in the floor.

Latching the top for the first time can be difficult. When you get it latched, leave it latched for two weeks. The material will stress relieve itself and close easily after that. Take a step back and admire your new top.

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