Nissan Xterra - How do I fix a saggy headliner on my 2004 Nissan Xterra?

The fabric on the headliner is pulling away from the backing and sagging down into the cabin. I'd like a fix that is going to last for years and look good.

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1 answer

  • This project is not too difficult but it will take several hours to do it right. I originally tried the quick fix of just spraying adhesive under the sagging part and trying to holding the fabric back in place until it stuck but this left me with a messy, uneven finish. To get a good finish, you should take the entire headliner out, removed the old material and replace with new material.

    First, you need to remove all the interior components that hold the headliner in place or block it from being removed.

    Front Grip Handles and Post Covers

    On the interior side at the top, you'll find a little notch. Use a flathead screwdriver or another tool in this notch to pop it open. Repeat for the bottom cover.

    Pro Tip: I used paint can key to pop this and other elements off b/c it hooks around which allows you to catch the edge of some things and pull rather than just pry.

    Once open, use a phillips head screwdriver to remove the bolts.

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    Once the grip handle is off, get a good grip on the post cover and pull. This is held on with just a few metal clips so it won't take much force. I used a long screwdriver to get some leverage and apply even pressure.


    Repeat for passenger side.

    Dome Light

    To remove the dome light, simply get a grip and pull down. This is held in place by two metal clips so it won't take much. Once it has come away from the headliner, disconnect the power. I used a screwdriver to push in on the locking clip b/c it was a little tough. IMG_3859.JPG IMG_3860.JPG

    Visors and Visor Clips

    Use a phillips head screwdriver to remove the bolts for the visors. The visor will come away easily. Then use a phillips head to remove the bolt in the visor clip. Once the bolt is out, pop the visor clip out. I used a flat head tool.

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    Overhead Net Pocket

    Use the paint can key to pop off the bolt cover. Remove the two bolts. IMG_3882.JPG IMG_3884.JPG NOTE: This piece is attached to the headliner with plastic stanchions and metal washers and is hard to remove from the actual headliner. I was able to salvage this piece and will provide more detail later.

    Overhead Grip Handles

    Use the paint can key on the bottom and top edges right in the middle to unhook the cover and slide it out of the way. Use a phillips head to remove the two bolts per handle. IMG_3866.JPG IMG_3867.JPG

    Middle and Rear Dome Lights

    Use the paint can key or flat head to remove plastic cover. Once the cover is away, use a phillips head to remove the two screws. Once it has come away from the headliner, disconnect the power. IMG_3868.JPG IMG_3870.JPG

    Various Hooks

    Just use a phillips head to remove the hanger hooks from around the middle and rear of the truck. IMG_3871.JPG IMG_3872.JPG

    Rear Headliner Cover

    Use a screwdriver to apply even pressure and gently pry the cover off. IMG_3874.JPG

    Middle and Rear Post Covers

    You'll need to pull these covers back near the headliner but you won't need to remove them completely.

    Use the paint can key to remove the plastic bolts around the rear door. Once these are out, get a good grip and pull. These are held on buy plastic "bolts" that will just pop out.

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    The most difficult covers are on the posts with the front seat belts. You'll need to twist the belt hinge to one side, pull that side first and get it around the hinge. Once over the hinge, move the hinge to the other side and pull the rest off. IMG_3880.JPG

    Remove Headliner

    The headliner should now be free to pull out the rear door. It will require a little wiggling around the post covers but it will come out easily.

    Remove Net Pocket

    Remember that net pocket mentioned earlier? Now that the headliner is out, you'll see the plastic stanchions and metal washers I was talking about. You can try to pull these off. I simply got a pair a of wire cutters under the washer and clipped the stanchions. To reattach later, I used washers and small screws that fit into the hollow stanchions. (Sorry, I didn't get a picture of that.)

    Remove Old Fabric and Padding

    Pull the old fabric away from the headliner. This will leave behind a lot of old padding. Use a scrub brush to remove all the padding. IMG_3886.JPG

    A clean surface is going to be key to getting a good finished product. IMG_3890.JPG

    Attach New Headliner Fabric

    Using a good spray adhesive, you can now attach new headliner fabric. I found fabric at my local Joann's for about $15/yd at 54in wide. I used 3yds.

    Starting at the rear, cover the headliner liberally with the adhesive. Working in small sections from the center to the outside. Make sure you press the fabric into the vertical areas before working on the outer edges. This will ensure you aren't stretching the fabric to get to those vertical areas and creating unnecessary strain on the adhesive which may cause it to pull away.

    Let it cure for an hour. After it has cured, you can cut the fabric out of the holes and around the sides. I left a little excess to wrap around the edges of each hole and around the sides.

    Finish The last step is to put it all back together. Slip the headliner back in place and reattach the components we removed. I started with some of the the middle overhead grab handles to get it into place. This made it easier when I got to some of the smaller holes that were hard to see through to find where the bolt fit into a connection point. Pop the post covers back in place when all the other components are done. Again, the most difficult part was the covers by the seat belts. There is a thin piece of plastic that rides up and down with the adjust belt. After the belt is back through the cover, you'll need to finesse that thin piece back into it's track.


    Hope this helps.

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