How To Wrap an STi Center Console

Every time I step into my car it’s always a joy to start her up and listen to the boxer four rumbles to life. Anybody would be thrilled with but this ends when I look down at the shift console and again have to deal with the unsightly silver block of a panel. Not only do I feel like it doesn’t flow with the interior it just becomes an eyesore on a daily basis. This is compounded by the radio console being done in the same silver paneling. What was Subaru thinking?

I searched on the forums and saw many people wrapping their interior trim pieces in, usually 3M, vinyl wraps. A lot of carbon fiber wraps which I felt really has become the tacky go to vinyl, but then I came across one that was wrapped in brush metallic. It caught my eye so well that I almost immediately opted to wrap my trims in this. Thus the process of going about started.

Waiting for the pieces (3M Brushed Metallic Vinyl, 3M primer, squeegee card and alcohol rub) in separate deliveries took forever. By the time they did arrive I was ready to go for my first wrap job.

I started with taking out my trim pieces from the car. There are various how-to’s on this so it wasn’t that hard (note: I not can remove the center console in 3 minutes flat, shows how much I had to do this.) You want to do this because it will make wrapping each individual piece that much easier. After I brought them inside and the first thing I did was to clean all the pieces with alcohol rub, to get any and all debris off of them because vinyl does not want to stick to any surface with gunk still on it.

Make Sure to Clean

Make Sure to Clean

The rule of measure twice cut once REALLY is important here. Why you ask, because I wasted about two attempts on wrapping because of my impatience and the lack of a great measurement. I didn’t take any photos of this step because I was just focused on getting the job done. First try I went with the ‘don’t unwrap all the vinyl and do it piece by piece, slowly’ this didn’t work. Even though I manage to cover it in one shot I realized how many imperfections there were in the end product, bubbles, wrinkles and the likes. I wasn’t happy so I repeated this process a second time with the utmost emphasis on removing the bubbles and wrinkles. 2nd time was not a charm I might add. It was by the 3rd time I realized I should just peel away the whole vinyl and lay it down on the piece and start my pulling and stretching.

Size it RIght

Size it RIght

It is also handy to have a blow dryer or a heat gun on the premise. Vinyl is a very easy product to manipulate around corners, hard edges and curves. Add a little bit of heat and pull and stretch! Be careful not to add too much or it will lose its sticky abilities as I found out. It was only in my 3rd attempt that I was somewhat satisfied with work. But upon closer inspection there was one or two SLIGHT wrinkles and two curved edges didn’t stick well, I was still happy nonetheless. I do plan on pulling the piece and redoing it at a future date. This was to get my feet wet so to speak.

Presto!

Presto!

From here I moved onto the radio piece. With the harder of the two pieces wrapped, in my eyes, the radio seemed like a breeze, until the vinyl wasn’t sticking to the piece. Panic ensued but this is the sole reason why I bought the 3M primer. Lather on a thin layer, let it dry for a few minutes and then put on the vinyl. There is a window here of about an hour after initial application of the primer so don’t forget that. Again after this the vinyl stuck like glue and wrapping was easier than the first piece. I did mess up on the cutting of the material and the reinstalling of the air vents, so some of the vinyl does not sit flush. Holding true to the first piece I was happy to get my feet wet as this will get re-wrapped in the future.

Something seems missing after I put the trim pieces back. I GOT IT! What else was becoming bland to me was the OEM shift boot/E-Brake boot covers. They are of the plain black leather variety, nothing great to look at either. For this I opted with the JPM Coachworks Alcantara with red stitching.

I Love the Personalization

I Love the Personalization

E-Brake Cover

E-Brake Cover

Install was easy, remove old shift boot, install new one. But my god nothing is easy. Subaru designed a square ring with tabs to hold the shift boot down and in; well it sounds like a great idea but if you don’t get all the shift boot flaps to sit in the tabs they will come out and you have to do each one individually, which was a pain if one found its merry way home from the rest. They also recommend to use 3M #90 adhesive spray to attach the E-Brake to the piece that holds it to the center console. I never worked with this adhesive and it proved to be very sticky. Simply apply to both surface at touching points, let it sit for one to two minutes and then attach together. I didn’t remember to not touch anything other than the contact points so my E-Brake piece ended up with a few glue stains. It really look like some kind of OTHER stain, but I am in contacts with JPM on cleaning materials (great customer service right there!)

After it’s all said and done here are the final shots of my new center console:

Cleaner Flow

Cleaner Flow

All that is missing is the elusive ARC Titanium shift knob!

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