Installing a Starlight Headliner isn’t necessarily a difficult process, and many choose to perform installations themselves, instead of seeking a professional installation. If you are looking for a shop to install your starlight headliner, click here to find our guide on finding an installer in your city.
Installing a starlight headliner will be a somewhat different process for each vehicle. However, this article looks to serve as a general guide to the, process of Starlight Headliner installation. For vehicle specific processes like removing the headliner or extracting it from the vehicle, we recommend searching online forums dedicated to your car.
Step 1: Tools
Tools required to remove your headliner will vary based on the vehicle. As a general rule, these are the tools we recommend for starlight headliner installation.
- Set of screwdrivers
- Socket and wrench set (1/4 or 3/8 driver)
- Permanent market 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 will be a process somewhat unique to your vehicle, and may require different or specific tools to do so. In general, interior trim pieces like pillar covers, sun visors, map light, dome light and roof handles will need to be removed before the headliner can be detached from the roof, we recommend conducting some research for your specific vehicle to find the process and tools you may need to do so.
Removing the headliner from the vehicle is one of the more difficult processes of the installation process. In certain vehicles, it can take some clever maneuvering to extract the headliner through the trunk or one of the passenger doors, and may require seats to be removed in order to do so. You’ll find that in some cars, headliner removal may not be possible unless the front or rear windshield is removed as well.
Luckily, it is possible to install the fiber optic starlights into the headliner without removing the headliner from the vehicle, this can create a difficult working area, however, many starlight installs are done in exactly this way.
Step 3: Plotting stars
Now that your headliner is detached from your roof and/or removed from your vehicle, you can now begin to plot the starscape on the topside of the headliner.
If necessary, remove the extra bits of foam and plastic from the topside of your headliner. Many of these pieces may get in the way and restrict you from creating a good starscape.
Next, we’ll need a way of sectioning off the headliner in order to plot stars equally across the entire area. You may do this in a multitude of different ways, however, this is the one we prefer:
Draw a grid on your headliner, start by finding the middle point on each of the four sides of your headliner, preferably by using a measuring tape to find the length of the side, and then finding the middle from there. Mark the middles of opposing sides, and then draw a line in between to meet.
Then, 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 containing 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 them in the manner you prefer, some prefer to set lights exactly equally distanced apart in a pattern, others prefer a randomized arrangement, it’s completely up to you.
Step 4: Making holes
Next, take your upholstery pins or drill, and start pining holes into the dots that you’ve marked. You want them to just be big enough that the fiber optic lights will fit sung with inserted through the holes. Go section by section in your grid until you’ve punched all the holes.
Step 5: Determining Light source location
Before we start setting fiber optics, determine where you’d like to place your light source. When determining the light source location, consider the size of the light engine, the length of the power cable, length of fiber optics and available space to run the optics out of the headliner if necessary.
With some kits, light engines can be small enough to place them directly into the headliner, while larger kits which require stronger power sources, need to be relocated to the trunk, under the seats or under the dash. If the Light source needs to be placed in a different area of the vehicle, plan out the path of the fiber optic lights through the pillar(s) to the light source, make sure you have adequate length in the fiber optics to reach your light sources’ location.
Step 6: Setting fiber optic lights
The first section of fiber optics you should set is the ones closest to the light source. If you are running optics out of the headliner to the drunk or dash, start in the section closest to the location you will run the lights out of first. For example, if running the lights underneath the C Pillar, cover start with the section at the back, closest to its location.
When you start laying lights, there are two different options as to how to lay the lights, you can either punch them directly through the cloth of the headliner, and cut the ends off later, or fit them so that the ends of the lights stop right before they pierce through the fabric, both styles have pros and cons within their own right, punching the lights through will make the end result brighter, but setting them behind the fabric will provide a more subtle look, it’s up to your preference.
After setting a section of lights snug into the holes, use hot glue or adhesive to set the lights into place. We prefer to use hot glue as the heat can help bend the lights slightly to fit flush with the headliner and to angle them into the direction of the light engine or pillar exit.
Use tape to tidy up the lights, be sure that they are not blocking any gaps in the headliner that are for the map lights etc. Rinse and repeat until you have laid all the lights in your grid, tapering lights off towards the light source or Pillar exit.
Step 7: Re-install your headliner and interior trim.
We recommend bench testing your setup before reinstallation, to ensure all areas of the star headliner are lit up. When you’re ready, reverse the process of removing your headliner to re-install it back into the vehicle, this is best done with help from another person, as the additional weight of the fiber optics and light engine can be potentially difficult to manage just by yourself. Most headliners will click in with certain tab spots on the ceiling, so be sure to locate them before hand so you know where to push.
If the light source is installed outside the headliner, be sure to run the lights to that location before reinstalling the rest of the interior trim.
Step 8: Finishing up and wiring.
If you poked your lights through the headliner, use a pair of scissors, or alternatively, flush cut pliers to clip the excess fiber optic from the roof lining.
When it comes to wiring your light engine for power, there’s a few different options.
Most kits will come with a power cord that allows you to plug straight into your vehicle’s auxiliary power outlet.
Alternatively, you may cut the outlet receiver off and choose to use your own wiring if you prefer to hide the power cable from view, or are currently using your auxiliary outlet for other reasons.
We recommend using a fuse tap to allow the function of the starlight headliner to activate during certain functions, when turning the key to accessory mode, for example.
We recommend tapping into the circuit related to powering your car’s interior lights, radio or auxiliary power outlet. Refer to your vehicle’s fuse box diagram to find the appropriate fuse.
This concludes our guide to installing your very own starlight headliner. If you’d like to find the appropriate starlight kit for your vehicle’s size, you can get started here. It’s a simple workflow that allows you to find the right starlight kit for your car based on size and star preference.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via the form below.