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1996 Camry LE
71 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Permatex Adhesive= $11.50 @ Advance auto parts, use coupon code makes it around only $8 a bottle. You will need two bottles to be on the safe side. ($16-$23)

Fabric: Was free for me, but you can just buy a fleece blanket. ($10) or actual headliner ($30-50)

Total: $26-$75

I just bought a 1996 Camry LE a few months ago. The car has 170K miles and it is pretty rough on the inside and outside since it’s from the NYC area.

The guy I bought it from isn’t a smoker but you can tell whoever used to own it was a smoker. I washed all the seats with Tuff Stuff cleaner, vacuumed, and bought some scent destroying spray. Tried to wash the headliner but it was heavily stained and was also falling down in some areas.

Step 1: Taking off the headliner.

Tools: Philips screwdriver, small flathead screw driver

Steps: (The order doesn’t really matter too much)
1. Take both of the headrests off.
2. Take off the center dome light. Pry the cover off with the small flathead screw driver

3. Unscrew the 4 retaining screws and unhook the center dome light, it just plugs in so just pull

4. Sun visor: pry cover off. There are two screws. Then take off the part that holds the visor up on the other side. Be careful to not break the plastic tab.

5. Take off the 3 ceiling handles. There are two covers that covers the screws. Be careful to not break the taps on both sides. I broke off two of them but it’s not a huge deal if you do. It is better to take off the left handle first and then rotate the handle 90 degrees to get the other one.
Left side:

Right side:

6. Grab the side molding and just pull outward and down. They are held by metal retaining clips, should be pretty easy. Also they are hard to break so don’t worry about using too much force. Do this for the center molding and the back side panels by the rear window.

7. Fold the front seats down and pull them forward. ( At first, I tried to take it out using the trunk but it was too small!) than just angle the headliner and take it out through the driver’s side back door. It may bend a bit in the middle but that is fine.

(This is me putting it in, but same position for taking it out)

8. There are also 3 insulation pads between the roof and headliner. Mine just fell off because it wasn't sticky anumore. When putting it back on, I use the same spray adhesive.
(Only showing 2 in the picture)

May want to wash it! It can be pretty dirty!

Step 2: Putting on Headliner
Tools: headliner adhesive spray, wire brush, SAFETY GLASSES/GOOGLES

Glue: At first I used the 3M Super trim Adhesive Yellow. Did a lot of research and this was the one people said to use. However, it didn’t work great for me. The 1st 2 sections were good but the 3rd section fell apart later when I went to move it inside. The only difference was the 1st 2 sections; I waited for 5 minutes for the adhesive to cure. The last section, I waited for 15 minutes, but the instruction said it was good up to 30 minutes! Maybe I just got a bad bottle. I ended up buying the Permatax which was half of the price. This one actually seemed to be thicker and stickier. If I could start over, I would have just bought two cans of the Pentax. I bought both at Advance Auto Parts. Buy it on their website and use 40% off coupon code.

Fabric: You can buy real foam headliner online or at JoAnne fabric, etc. I thought about using a fleece blanket. Then my landlord told me the previous tenant was a clothing importer and left behind a bunch of samples. He was going to make them into blackout curtains and offered me some. They stretchy and what is used to make those shape fitting women's dresses.

Measurement: 42 inches X 60 inches

1. Peel off the old fabric, try to get as much of the foam along with it.

2. Wash the board, just use a garden hose ( Since I live in an apartment, I used my shower) Use the wire brush to get the rest of the foam off on the edges.

3. I tried to clean the glue residue off but none of the cleaners worked! I used Goof Off and even bought the 3M Adhesive Remover. Waste of money. It did take some off but definitely not a lot. Other people have used sanders to get it off. I don’t have access to those tools and to be honest, I didn’t think it mattered too much. I did scrub it good with the wire brush to create some rough surface.

4. Do this outside. Place the board on a table or surface that is waist high. divided it into 3 sections. Spray the adhesive on both the fabric and the board. The adhesive has the consistency of silly string. Spray it in one pattern and then in rotate 90 degrees and spray in that pattern.

5. VERY IMPORTANT: Wait for 10 minutes for it to cure, and then stick it together. You can peel it up and readjust but try to keep that to a minimum. Smooth it from one side to the other so you don’t have any ripple effect.

Make sure you mold the fabric on the non smooth areas.

6. Let it dry for a couple hours before flipping it over. Glue the edges .You may need to cut excess material off.

7. Cut out the holes in the headliner. I used a sharp knife to put a hole and then used scissors. Be careful to not pull the fabric off when using the
( Spot at the back is just wet from water, I had to brush off some excess glue)

8. Let it dry and set for at least 24 hours. Some adhesive say to let it dry for longer. I let it dry for about 2 days.

9. Put the headliner back by going through the back door again. It is super helpful to have a second person hold it up while you screw in the holes. Make sure one side slid under the trim pieces before putting everything back on. Will make the job a lot easier.

Tips: Do not overspray on the edge of the sections on the fabric. It created a crease where the glue seeped through a bit since I ended up spraying that part twice.

The fabric was pretty stretchy at first but the glue actually made it more stiff which is good. I was worried it might feel too much like clothes fabric. But when I run my hand over it, it feels exactly like the top of a pool table!

My headliner has stayed up for the past 3 days. The weather has been on the cool side, from 90 degrees to 60 degrees. It isn’t perfect and there are some glue seepage and some residues from when I wasn’t careful with spraying. But overall, I think it is a huge improvement and doesn’t smell like smoke!

PICTURES of the FINAL Product:
(The driver side sun visor isn't installed yet because I'm in the process of putting in a back up camera)

(Also did the sunvisor, I used the same fabric and used mainly a hot glue gun, the trim around the mirror was from one of those school folder clips that I cut up)

(You can see where I over sprayed the glue so it seeped in a little (red arrow) Also there is a crease, should have irons the fabric beforehand (blue arrow))

Overall, the small imperfection are not that noticeable when your in the car. Also, it's an old car so I don't think anyone is expecting a perfect headliner. Let me know if you have any questions! Will be happy to answer them!

Various Toyotas
4,806 Posts
Thanks for posting this DIY. You will motivate others to save money and/or learn to do things for themselves. We'll look forward to seeing the photos of the installed product.

unofficial TN member
00 camry le 5s-fe
923 Posts
But overall, I think it is a huge improvement and doesn’t smell like smoke!
awesome diy, especially if you dont smoke or dont like the smell, that alone is worth the parts and work. my previous 98 had a moldy/urine smell even after cleaning the air ducts out with odor killers and this mod would have helped. my current 2000 has a cigarette burn marks throughout the car but i dont smell any lingering smoke.

Super Moderator
13,308 Posts
Nice job on the DIY! I swapped this thread into the sticky for headliner replacement. The old one was missing all the pics.

Super Moderator
13,308 Posts
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