Wrapping a car roof with vinyl

I’ve always been disappointed that Lexus didn’t make a glass roof available to the 2014 IS350 F-Sport, because I love the look of them. Especially on a white car. I decided to do something about it and wrap the roof myself to give the glass roof look. Rice? Maybe.. but I think it looks cool.

After reading a few tutorials online, I figured it was going to give me at least some trouble, so I tried to prepare as best I could. The first thing I needed was a black antenna cover. I was going to do this the right way and remove the antenna cover, so I didn’t have a seam near it. I also saw some examples of wrapped antenna covers, and they look horrible in my opinion. So I needed a color matched antenna cover. Obsidian Black is Lexus’s plain black, so I ordered the cover from House of Lexus. Fast shipping and great customer service.

Now I did a bit of research on the type of vinyl to use for an auto external wrap. I ended up choosing the 3M Wrap Series 1080. It seemed to review quite well for both durability and installation. I found the size I needed (5ft x 6ft) on amazon, and ordered it up in gloss black.

I also did some research on cutting the vinyl, since the IS350 roof gutters are molded into the panel. This means there is no trim to hide the vinyl seam under, so I needed something that would give me a nice clean, straight cut. Also after a bunch of research, I settled on the 3M Knifeless Tape. Amazon had a kit that included the tape I needed and some vinly applicators, so I just ordered that.

Roof Before starting.

Time to get started.. I needed to remove the antenna cover first. This proved to be a bit difficult, as I didn’t feel like removing most of the interior trim. So I went with the method of unclipping the headliner from the back, and unbolting the antenna from the inside through the hole from the overhead light.

It wasn’t the easiest, but I got it done.

Bare roof

Now I started to lay down the knifeless tape exactly where I wanted the vinyl edges to be. This stuff is a bit difficult to work with and get it to stick properly, but stick with it…

Now start laying out the vinyl to get the correct orientation to cover the entire roof before peeling off the backing.

Once laid out to your satisfaction, peel off the backing. Since I was working alone, this was tough. It was hard to get the vinyl to stay where I wanted it and get the back off smoothly without the vinyl really adhering to the roof. I ended up with creases and bunches, but the 1080 vinyl works well in unsticking itself until you really push it down.

I started working from a front corner, lifting and stretching the vinyl to get good, crease-less adhesion. Using a [heatgun](http://amzn.to/2BS0Bv3) helped to smooth out the creased vinyl along the way. **Beware** A strong heatgun will melt the vinyl quickly. Use short bursts of heat from a distance. I nearly ruined my vinyl near the edge but using the gun too close:

After much swearing, I finally had the roof covered. Half the battle is over.

Now it’s time to trim. I cut the vinyl as close to the knifeless tape edge as I was comfortable with. After watching some tutorial videos, I needed to really secure the vinyl to the roof on *both* sides of the tape in order to get a clean cut. Then you can peel the line off the tape and slowly pull back at a 30 degree angle to the roof to start cutting the vinyl.

This actually went smoother than I thought, and now I had the sides done.

For the front and back, I sliced the vinyl with a razor leaving about 2mm in front of the trim seam. Then I used a thing store rewards card to push teh vinyl down into the seam between the trim and roof panel. It worked out pretty well. The front turned out great, but I got a little too close with the razor on the back, leaving the tiniest amount of white visible near the trim. Oh well.. I am *not* re-doing this for that small sliver. Black antenna cover was also installed

The sunroof was pretty straight forward. Slice out the middle, and tuck up the ends under the sunroof opening. The heatgun helped here around the corners.

After about 3 hours of intense heat, and much yelling, I think the end product turned out pretty good!

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List of purchases for this project:

Amazon

Qty Product Price Notes
1 3M 1080 G12 GLOSS BLACK 5ft x 6ft (30 Sq/ft) Car Wrap Vinyl Film $56.85
1 Knifeless Vinyl Wrap Cutting Tape Finishing Line 10M Plus 3M Toolkit $19.99
1 Wagner Power Products 1,200-Watt Heat Gun $21.97

2012 Nissan Maxima Brake Pads and Rotor Replacement

Even though our 2012 Nissan Maxima only has around 36K miles on it, the brakes have been horrid. Vibrating, squeaking and making all kinds of noises. Rather than do the back and forth with the dealer I decided to just replace all the rotors and pads myself. I found a reasonably priced kit on Rock Auto that contained all 4 rotors, all pads and hardware. I had it shipped to my house and it took a few days.

Starting on the fronts. I jacked up the car from the front on a cross member. I put some jackstands on the jacking points on the frame rails. Please *Never* work under your car without properly setting jack stands. Jacks fail all the time. Breaking loose the lugnuts before jacking may be a good idea here if you don’t have an impact gun.

Front wheel off. I removed the caliper slide pin bolts (19mm for front). These came out relatively easy and will release the caliper from the wheel. Do *not* let the caliper hang from the brake lines. That’s a good way to get yourself into a real mess. I used a wire coat hanger wrapper around the front spring, and through the slide mounting holes. Maybe some day I’ll learn to take clear pictures.

With the caliper removed, I removed the pads from the caliper bracket. I can now work on removing that caliper bracket. This is secured with 22mm bolts on the front. These needed some time to soak in the glory that is PB blaster. After a while the impact gun got them loose. You can not replace the rotor without getting this bracket off.

With a few smacks of a small sledge, the rotor should just pop off now.

Now to be able to fit the caliper back over new brakes, the piston needs to be compressed back into the caliper. Remove the brake fluid reservoir cap in the engine bay to make this easier. Using one of the old pads and a C clamp, screw the piston back into the caliper. At this point I would normall say spray everything in the caliper down with brake parts cleaner, but I didn’t check to make sure I had any before starting… whoops.

Time to prep the new pads. If the new pads came with a wear spacer, put that on the new pads (Usually on the lower end of the inside pad). Use the included grease to coat the backing plate of the pads (Some new pads say not to do this). Also lube up the tabs that hold the pad into the caliper bracket allowing it to slide.

Replace the old metal clips on the caliper bracket with the new ones provided. Reassemble everything and then you get to do everything all over again on the other side! The new rotor will feel lose if you don’t have the screw that holds the rotor to the hub. This car’s old rotors didn’t have any. Once the wheel is on, this will tighten the rotor up.

I decided to bed in the front pads first before working on the rears. Follow the instructions that should have come with your pads, but it usually involves a few quick stops from 60-15, 45-15 and 30-15, making sure to never come to a complete stop. You should be able to smell the brakes. Then drive around for ~5 minutes to let them cool off, again avoiding coming to a complete stop. After the bedding process you should see your new rotors change color from the heat dissipation.

On to the rears…

I’ve read that are some gotchas with the rear brakes online. Apparently one of the caliper slide bolts is really hard to get out. But if you take off the bracket to replace the rotor, you don’t really need to remove the lower slide bolt. So I figured I’d give it a shot and see how it goes.

Rear wheel off. The parking brake assembly is inside the rotors here, so I don’t have the parking brake on. I couldn’t really find any information on if the parking brake would fly out everywhere when I took off the rotor, but no one really mentioned anything about so I figured I was safe.

Trying to get a picture of the “impossible” bolt. There is not a lot of clearance behind this bolt to get an impact gun on, and big sockets can’t even fit.

Now I get to move into the garage. Check the forecast before you start some auto maintenance outside. You don’t want to have to put brakes back together and the wheel back on in the middle of a Florida downpour!

Back to work…

I used my tiny 1/4″ ratchet with a 14mm socket that barely fit onto the bolts and was able to crack it free with a sledge hammer. I’m actually suprised the ratchet didn’t break apart. Well I loosened the bolt, but definitely couldn’t get it out. You can see a tiny clean spot here where the bolt hits the suspension arm. This caliper is staying on the bracket. At this point you could just change the brake pads.

Now I got to work on the 19mm caliper bracket bolts. And kept working on them… I tried a ratchet and hammer. I tried letting my impact gun sit on the bolt for minutes at a time. Multiple applications of PB blaster.

You know what? The rear rotors are still looking pretty good here. I think I’m going to just go with replacing the rear pads…. Anyone want to buy some new 7th gen Maxima rear rotors?

Following the same steps from the front, I pushed the caliper piston back in using the C clamp and one of the old pads. Replaced the hardware on the bracket, and lubed up the new pads making sure not to get any lube on the braking surfaces.

Loaded up the brake pads into the bracket and reattached the caliper. Rear brakes done! I followed the same break in procedure as the front. The rotors didn’t need it this time, but the new pads did.

Braking is now much smoother and feels better all around. Good day to save some money!

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List of purchases for this project:

Rock Auto

Qty Product Price Notes
1 POWER STOP KOE6075 Autospecialty By Power Stop 1-Click Daily Driver Brake Kits Front And Rear $175.79 Info