If you're planning to install a Starlight Headliner in your vehicle, you may opt to do it yourself rather than hiring a professional. The following guide will serve as a general outline of the installation process. Keep in mind that the installation process may vary depending on the vehicle make and model.
Step 1: Tools
The tools required for headliner removal will vary depending on the vehicle. Here are some recommended tools:
- Set of screwdrivers
- Socket and wrench set (1/4 or 3/8 driver)
- Permanent marker or pen
- Upholstery T-pins
- Contact adhesive/Super Glue
- Electrical tape
Additional Recommended tools:
- Automotive Interior Trim Removal Set
- Measuring tape
- Electric Drill with small drill bit set
- Hot Glue gun
- Spring Loaded End cutting pliers/flush cutting pliers
- Fuse tap
- Extra wire
- Wire cutters
Step 2: Headliner Removal
Removing the headliner is one of the more challenging parts of the installation process. The process will be unique to your vehicle and may require different or specific tools. Typically, interior trim pieces such as pillar covers, sun visors, map light, dome light, and roof handles need to be removed before the h eadliner can be detached from the roof. It is recommended that you conduct some research for your specific vehicle to find the process and tools required for headliner removal.
In some vehicles, extracting the headliner through the trunk or one of the passenger doors can be a challenge and may require removing seats. In certain cars, headliner removal may not be possible unless the front or rear windshield is removed as well.
Alternatively, it is possible to install the fiber optic starlights into the headliner without removing it from the vehicle. This can create a difficult working area; however, many Starlight installs are done this way.
Step 3: Plotting Stars
Once the headliner is removed from the vehicle, you can begin plotting the starscape on the topside of the headliner. Remove any excess foam and plastic from the topside of the headliner that may get in the way.
Next, you'll need to section off the headliner to plot stars equally across the entire area. Draw a grid on your headliner and start by finding the middle point on each of the four sides of your headliner. Then, mark the middles of opposing sides and draw a line in between to meet. Keep dividing the headliner into smaller grids until you have a section size that you're comfortable with. Start plotting where you would like to place lights within each section of the grid. To determine the total number of lights contained within each grid, divide the total number of lights you have in your kit across the number of sections. For example, 500 lights across 16 sections on a headliner equals approx. 31 lights per section.
Plot the lights in a manner that suits you. Some prefer to set lights equally distanced apart in a pattern, while others prefer a randomized arrangement.
Step 4: Making Holes
Next, use your upholstery pins or drill to make holes in the dots that you've marked. The holes should be just big enough for the fiber optic lights to fit snugly when inserted through them. Go section by section in your grid until you've punched all the holes.
Step 5: Determining the Location of the Light Source
To prepare for fiber optic installation, decide where you want to position your light source. When selecting the light source location, take into account the size of the light engine, the length of the power cable, the fiber optic cable's length, and the available space to run the fiber optics out of the headliner, if required.
Some kits come with small light engines that can fit directly into the headliner, while larger kits that need more powerful power sources need to be placed in the trunk, under the seats, or under the dashboard. If the light source needs to be situated in a different part of the vehicle, plan out the fiber optic light's path through the pillar(s) to the light source, and make sure the fiber optics are long enough to reach your light source's location.
Step 6: Installing Fiber Optic Lights
Begin by installing the section of fiber optics closest to the light source. If you are running the optics out of the headliner to the trunk or dashboard, begin with the section closest to the location from which you will run the lights. For instance, if you are running the lights beneath the C Pillar, start with the section at the back, nearest to its location.
When you begin laying the lights, there are two ways to do so. You may either punch them through the headliner's fabric and cut the ends later or fit them so that the lights' ends stop just before piercing through the fabric. Both methods have their pros and cons; punching the lights through will result in a brighter end product, while placing them behind the fabric will provide a more subtle appearance. The choice is yours.
After fitting a section of lights tightly into the holes, use hot glue or adhesive to secure them in place. Hot glue is preferable since the heat can assist in bending the lights slightly to fit flush with the headliner and angling them in the direction of the light engine or pillar exit.
Use tape to organize the lights and ensure they are not obstructing any gaps in the headliner intended for map lights, etc. Repeat this process until you have placed all the lights in your grid, tapering lights off toward the light source or Pillar exit.
Step 7: Reinstalling the Headliner and Interior Trim
We suggest testing your setup on a bench before reinstalling it to ensure that all parts of the star headliner light up. When ready, reverse the process of removing the headliner to reinstall it back into the vehicle. This is best done with the assistance of another person, as the additional weight of the fiber optics and light engine may be challenging to manage alone. Most headliners have certain tab locations on the ceiling where they click in, so make sure to locate them ahead of time to know where to push.
If the light source is installed outside the headliner, run the lights to that location before reinstalling the rest of the interior trim.
Step 8: Completion and Wiring
If you punched your lights through the headliner, use scissors or flush cut pliers to clip the excess fiber optic from the roof lining.
When wiring your light engine for power, there are several options. Most kits come with a power cord that enables you to plug directly into your vehicle's auxiliary power outlet. Alternatively, you may remove the outlet receiver and choose to use your wiring if you prefer to conceal the power cable or are currently using your auxiliary outlet for other reasons.
We recommend using a fuse tap to enable the starlight headliner to activate during certain functions, such as when turning the key to accessory mode. We recommend tapping into the circuit related to powering your car's interior lights, radio, or auxiliary power outlet. Consult your vehicle's fuse box diagram to locate the appropriate fuse.