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Edit - just realized my heading says "driver side" ... this was on the passenger side.

Hi everyone.

As most of you, I love my Volt and how it drives like a luxury car and is so quiet.

However, I've had this persistent rattle from the passenger side that I first thought was the air bag cover but recently noticed that when I reached over and pulled on the passenger door arm rest, that the rattle would stop. I figured it's gotta be in the door somewhere and being no novice to fixing my own problems I went to it and figured it out.

In a nutshell, it's the little silver clips that are attached to a bracket that allow the 2 screws that hold the passenger arm rest to the door to screw in. They're loose in their spot and rattle. It's not because they're not doing their job, it's just that GM should've put a felt liner or something under them.

You'll need to remove those 2 aforementioned screws and another 1 behind the little silver door handle you pull to unlock the door.

I did the following with the window all the way down and recommend it for ease of panel removal.

Steps:

1. Lift up on the little black rubber mat inside the arm rest to expose the 2 screws and unscrew using a 7mm socket.

2. Behind the silver door handle pop the cover off by using a sharp knife or an eyeglass screwdriver from the little space on the top right. Remove the 3rd and final 7mm screw.

3. The door is snapped into place with several clips around the perimeter and you'll need to get your fingers behind the panel and pull hard. I started at the bottom right corner with both hands and even used my foot on the bottom right door corner (the metal part) to brace the door while I pulled.

4. Work your fingers around until all are popped off.

5. Now pull a few inches outwards toward you and lift the door panel up towards the sky and off of the top of the door and the silver door lock thingy that sticks up near the top. The panel will still be connected by the wiring but just lower it and you've got plenty of room to work with.

6. You'll see the 2 metal clips where the 2 arm rest screws go into ... they're loose and rattle when the door is shaken.

7. I popped mine off by squeezing with needle nose pliers on the bottom and then tried a couple of things that weren't the best solution ... in the end, you don't need to remove them. You just need to find a way to keep them from rattling around. I ended up wedging some 3M double-sided tape under the "wings" of the clips and again over them but in hindsight, just put a bit of epoxy, silicone, or other glue under the wings so they don't move and you'll be golden.

Watch for some of the door clips that stay in the door and not the panel ... pop any off (use a suitable pronged trim removal tool or scissors opened a bit and slid under the clip) and slide them back into place on the door panel for proper snapping back into place - you'll know what I mean when you see them.

Here are some pics because, well, they're worth a thousand words. :)

The 2 screws in the armrest:



The 1 screw behind the door handle:



The 2 silver clips with wings on each side:



My 3M tape solution:




1 clip stuck in the door that I needed to attach back to the panel (middle of pic):



Anyway, hope that helps someone out there!
 

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In a nutshell, it's the little silver clips
They're called tinnerman clips. You might have tried pulling them out and squeezing them with pliers so they seat firmly when you slip them back in.

Also, are you sure those 2 bolts were snug? Usually when the screw/bolt is tight it eliminates any slack in the tinnerman clip. That might have been the simplest fix.
 

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The door is snapped into place with several clips around the perimeter and you'll need to get your fingers behind the panel and pull hard.
This is a good way to damage the door card. An $8.88 Walmart purchase will get you this tool:



For as often as you'll use it a cheapo Walmart tool is fine. This tool gets under those clips so they come off with the door card.

For $16 you can get this set from Amazon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
They're called tinnerman clips. You might have tried pulling them out and squeezing them with pliers so they seat firmly when you slip them back in.

Also, are you sure those 2 bolts were snug? Usually when the screw/bolt is tight it eliminates any slack in the tinnerman clip. That might have been the simplest fix.
Judging by the way the screws came off (ie. they required some effort), I'd say they were tight, yes. Could they have been a wee bit tighter? Yes.

Thinking about how the clips looked, I suppose a tightening of the screws would flatten out the clip and tighten it up ... good suggestion for anyone else before removing the panel ... it may fix the issue for you. Thx for that!
 

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Pish tosh. Yes plastic won't scratch paint (much). I have 2 of these from Snap-On - used them for years and never scratched any paint or cracked a door card.



It's a door card, not exterior trim. That said, the kit Fulgerite shows can be had for $15.69 here (might be the best buy yet in fact):

http://www.amazon.com/Panel-Window-Molding-Upholstery-Removal/dp/B009QLBDSW

Close-up:
 

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Pish tosh. Yes plastic won't scratch paint (much). I have 2 of these from Snap-On - used them for years and never scratched any paint or cracked a door card.
I have used both. I am not saying the metal tools don't work. They do. But these plastic sets come with a wide variety of sizes & shapes that make it easier to pry the panel apart without chewing the edges of the panel or scratching the paint on the door. For example... some cars have leather stretched over the panel. The wider tools allows you to pry without damaging the leather edges. And even the plastic panels used on the Volt can get kinda ragged if you use a metal screw driver to pry.

I was just saying these plastic tool sets are a better bet for a beginner. (Less likely to bugger up the finish.) And they are inexpensive.

P.S. Snap on tools are generally pretty great quality too.
 

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if you use a metal screw driver to pry.
FYI for Joe Average: A screwdriver is probably worse than the OP's method unless it's pushing a plastic tool (like those shown above) at its center. The point of the panel removal tool is to get under the clip and apply equal pressure to both sides.

The wider tools allows you to pry without damaging the leather edges.
I suppose, but it depends on how you pry it. I use the back of the tool as a fulcrum so my tool isn't getting onto the edges of the card. It's supposed to pull the clip and not the card from the clip. Yes, sometimes it's hard to know if you've got it seated right. I'd be afraid that plastic would either not be strong enough to pop the clip, or it would crack in two after several uses (which might lead to excessive screwdriver use).

GM also recommends replacing the plastic door card clips but I think it's overkill. I've removed dozens of Caddy and Lincoln door cards and re-used the clips without issue. The ribs on the clips take some wear-and-tear if you're pulling door cards on and off a lot, but otherwise they're fine for the one-off job.

(Less likely to bugger up the finish.) And they are inexpensive.
Yes they are. That Amazon price is excellent.
 

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Yup... The car manufacturers always recommend replacing the clips each time you remove the panel. I never do... Unless they broke.

I seriously doubt the dealerships do either.
 

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Thinking about how the clips looked, I suppose a tightening of the screws would flatten out the clip and tighten it up ... good suggestion for anyone else before removing the panel ... it may fix the issue for you. Thx for that!
We learn by doing, and you're clearly a doer. Now you know more than you did before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Problem was not random at all ... happened every time I drove over bumpy roads.

I also have those red trim removal tools but the issue is you need to place the pronged tool under the clip and you don't know where the first clip is because the panel is still on.

You might be able to guess by pulling the panel a bit and looking in the gap but using 2 hands with a gentle pull works fine too, esp for the first clip ... I'd wager half or more dealers would do it the same way .... and you'd get it back with clips missing or broken (been there before and why I prefer doing my own work whenever possible).
 

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Yesterday I saw this thread and as many here I had the "rattling under the airbag" problem. I tightened the two 7mm bolts at each front door and the rattle seems to be gone. I am still skeptic but have driven over surfaces where it always rattled and again they seem to be gone. I will report back after more driving but many thanks to the OP for this.
 

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Update: After driving the car over areas where the "passenger airbag rattle" always came up, I can confirm that for me, tightening the 7mm bolts at the door handle fixed the rattle. Thanks again to the OP.
 

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Update: After driving the car over areas where the "passenger airbag rattle" always came up, I can confirm that for me, tightening the 7mm bolts at the door handle fixed the rattle. Thanks again to the OP.
For the tl;dr crowd that would be these 2 bolts:

 

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When I first got the car, the panel was making some noise. I gave it a few raps with my fist and it's been quiet since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update: After driving the car over areas where the "passenger airbag rattle" always came up, I can confirm that for me, tightening the 7mm bolts at the door handle fixed the rattle. Thanks again to the OP.
You're welcome! That's what makes these forums so great - we share & learn from each other.
 
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