I recently took the armrest and upper padding off an older set of door panels, had them re-covered and added them to my 01 door panels. The older panels were slightly different and This "How to" Will show how you need to modify your newer door panels to fit the armrests and also shows how to remove the armrest, upper padding and re-mount them on 01+ door panels.
Tools / material needed:
1500 grit sand paper
Door panel removal
Using a phillips head screwdriver, remove the 2 screws holding the handle bezel and unsnap the bezel from the door panel itself. Unplug wires (if you have power doors)
Then remove the center screw for the panel which is located under the door handle, then remove the screw in the left bottom corner of the driver side, right corner screw for passenger side.
Next lift the panel up and out, removing it from the door.
Armrest removal and upper padding removal
First unscrew the six screws holding the armrest on and remove the armrest.
Next using your dremel, cut the glued pins that hold the upper padding on the door. Try to stay as close as possible to the pin so you do not make the holes too big, and do not plunge the dremel in too far so it does not damage the padding on the door.
As you can see in the picture, the 01 armrest is different from the older style. It is plastic wrapped in rubber material. The older ones are a vinyl type material with cushioning.
Modify 01 panels to fit older style armrest and upper padding.
In these pictures you see the older panel having 3 upper screws, and 3 slots in the bottom which hold the armrest on. On the 01 panel it has 3 upper screws and 3 lower screws.
Also on the front side of the 01 panel,it has a lip in the front to support the armrest, the older panel does not
Again, using your Dremel, on the 01 door panel, you are going to cut the bottom 3 screw holes for thew armrest out into a rectangular shape to mock the older panels.
Next, you are going to chop the front lip on the 01 armrest flush to the surface, then sand it for a smooth finish.
Mounting Re-covered armrest and upper padding.
First screw in the 3 upper screws for the armrest, then clip the lower "L" shaped brackets from the armrest to the door panel.
Next line up the upper padding, making sure it fits properly onto the panel, apply some liquid nails, and clamp it to the panel so it does not move when gluing it.
Once the upper padding is clamped, and the armrest is secure, Use liquid nails to glue the bottom "L" shaped clips to the panel and fill in the holes, gluing the pins from the upper padding to the door panel.
"L" shaped brackets glued
Upper padding glued
Follow the instructions on the liquid nails for drying time. The drying time for my panels were over 24 hours.
Once the panels are dry, put them back on the door in reverse order of taking them off.
Here is the finished product!
I did not wrap the arm rests or the upper padding myself. They were sent to Drppdyllwrngr and he did the re-cover work.