This was originally posted by me on the old .com site on April 17, 2010. I copied and pasted it here verbatim, with the exception of steps 3 and 4. .com site user Patrick C noted that while my car may have had the mirror switch fit into its escutcheon, that is not normally the case. Procedure order has been reversed to clarify, although photos still show the mirror switch being removed from the escutcheon.
This is the method I have been using to remove and install my inner door panels. Just like it says in the title.
PLEASE NOTE: This is a method that has worked for me. Other people may have used different methods, which proves this is not 'the' definitive way of doing this. Nobody but yourself can be held responsible for any issues or damage/pain incurred by using the methods listed here. Your Mileage May Vary.
All rights reserved. All wrongs reserved.
-Philips large head screwdriver, maybe a small prybar
-Tin Snips or similar cutting tool.
-Electrical Tape (some duct tape too, if handy)
-Spare/Replacement Fir Trees
(You may also need a 10mm socket with accompanying ratchet and long extension)
Estimated Time for Completion: First time, could be 30 minutes. Time will shrink with experience.
Difficulty Level: *meh* it gets easier each time. 1-2 out of 10?
1) You will start working with the doors closed. Lower windows like so:
2) Carefully use a flathead screwdriver or pry bar to lift the top of the upper door panel through the window opening. There are seven fir trees spaced evenly along the top of each panel. You will first have access to the center ones. You can carefully lift the rearmost tree from the back of each door once opened. In my car the panel is a thick plastic, but I have heard that earlier car panels are fiberboard.
3) Remove escutcheon. You need to lift the door release, and release the molded 'clips' holding it to the door. Work gently, as these are often delicate.
4) Climb in the car and close the door. CAREFULLY!!!! remove the mirror switch (or switch blank on the passenger side). Last I checked the mirror switch was $150 (EDIT: Is it even available in 2012?). I lightly worked at the top and bottom of the switch.
5) There are two spaces now revealed.
The view under the door release:
The view under the switch/blank:
Here you can see the screws holding the pull handle in place (red scribbled circles). There could also be little bolts, requiring the ratchet and socket. Remove them.
This is where I usually open the door, and work standing up. It won't matter if you lose them in the door because all will be exposed soon.
6) There are screws along the top of the lower panel in three separate places:
You will be able to see what is only holding the lower door panel in place, as opposed to holding the interior door release/lock plate. Remove necessary screws.
7) The only thing now holding the lower panel in place are more fir trees along the bottom. Gently pry the panel along the bottom of the door to release them.
The door panel may get caught up on the door release/lock plate, requiring you to maneuver it free.
Now that you are in here, PLEASE take a moment to wrap electrical (or duct) tape around every opening inside the door. You'll thank yourself for that later on when you have no deep cuts on your hands or fingers.
Installation is the reverse of removal, with some notes:
-The pull handle in the door will be sitting loose in the lower door panel after removal using the method I have described. It fits back into place quite easily, and can be held while positioning the screw/bolt holes back into alignment.
-To make it easier on yourself, lightly wrap some electrical tape around the screw/bolt, and stick it to the screwdriver/socket so it doesn't fall into the door while trying to line everything up.
-When I removed the upper door panel this time, I broke the head off one fir tree.
You can get these at most good auto parts stores. This is the packaging mine came in (I like to keep spares, just in case)
In my car, the right door panel allows you to insert the top into place, then slide it over to 'lock' it in place. The left side panel is only a circle, too small for the fir tree to fit in. This required some modification to the top.
Using the tin snips or similar, cut out two notches that will leave a stylized "S" shape. Why? It's what was in place beforehand, and it worked fine until it broke. It also allows you to insert the fir tree, wile still being strong enough to hold the panel in place.
Quick little image of how I like to cut it to look. The outer ring is the lower flat level of the fir tree, the middle is the level you cut the notched in, and the center circle represents the stem between the two circular levels.
-I usually close the door to install the upper door panel.
There are three thick 'tabs' on the bottom of the inner door panel. If the panel is aligned to fit, the tabs will go back in place as you press down on the fir trees on top of the panel. You may need to align the fir trees to line up with their mounting holes.