How to: Replace Ford Explorer Armrest / Center Console Leather Cover

When I bought my 2017 Ford Explorer Platinum, the first thing I noticed was how scratched the center console lid was. It looked like the previous owner had a pet wolverine. The picture above doesn’t do it justice because the glare hides most of the scratches. So one of my first priority was to change out the center armrest cover to give it that new car feeling. I was happy to find out they sell replacement covers from Amazon. Overall this project was simple and made a tremendous difference on how the interior looked and feel.  Here’s how I replaced the center console cover:

What I used:
Step 1. Removing the center lid console

I inserted the trim removal tool in-between the leather and the plastic piece to disengage the clips. Added arrows to show where I inserted the trim tool

Once I pried off the plastic piece, I went ahead and removed the hinge with a T20 screwdriver.

Step 2. Removing the previous cover

This step was a little therapeutic in a sense that it’s going to take some time and patience. You’ll need to remove all the staples that are holding down the leather cover. I accomplished this by using a flat-head screwdriver to pry out a leg first and then using a plier to pull out the rest.

Incase you’re curious, here is what it looks like without a leather cover. 

Step 3. Install the new cover

I went ahead and fitted the new cover over the lid and noticed it fit perfectly! There was a minor difference, the leather grains are different but it didn’t bother me since I actually like the replacement grain texture. I’m pretty confident my passengers won’t even notice the difference. I also went with the black thread design because the white threads will become yellow and dirty over time.

Once I fitted the leather on the lid. I added what I called starter staples to hold the leather in place. During this process, I tried my best to stretch out the leather so that it’s tight as a glove. A helpful tip for the stapling, I used a heat gun to warm up areas of the plastic where I plan to staple. The plastic becomes softer and it makes a significant difference in stabling. Majority of the heavy staple guns have a difficult time penetrating thick plastic. It’s possible to use a pneumatic staplers can, but who wants to spend that much? 

After the starter screws, I applied more staples. I had to cut slits near the clip inserts so the leather doesn’t block the opening.

Here are a few more helpful tips:

  • The leather cover from Amazon might have creases on it due to the folding and packaging. I used a hair dryer to lightly warmed up the leather and then massaged the creases. It’ll slowly start to flatten. I still had like a very small crease, eventually it’ll fade with time.
  • Towards the tip, there was a lot of overlapping leather. I simply cut slits and folded one side over another and then stapled them.
Step 4. Reinstall everything

Reinstall everything now. I took a good half hour admiring my new looking center console.

Before and After:



14 thoughts on “How to: Replace Ford Explorer Armrest / Center Console Leather Cover”

  1. Thanks for the reply. I got my new cover mounted and it turned out great. Having the pictures and the commentary in your article really helped. Much appreciated

  2. Thanks for this! I had already purchased the new cover but was unsure how to get the bottom clips off, this showed me right where to push and as well the hint about using the heat gun to allow the staples to go in was perfect!

  3. Thanks for the instructions. Worked great for me! As you say, heating up plastic frame first helps. I had zero luck using a heavy duty stapler with 1/4″ deep staples. They were simply too thick. For me, the key was to switch to LIGHT duty stapler with JT21 staples (1/4” as well but thinner like regular staples).

  4. Howdy…I may be the dummy here but I bought the trim removal kit but I can’t figure out which tool to actually use. Also are you pushing a clip in or pushing down? I’ve tried several times and can’t disengage the clips. I’m worried I may break something and end up with a bigger problem.

    Your help would be appreciated.

  5. I guess I’m a dummy. Can you post the company and model number you ordered to replace your cover? I see some out there but they all seem to be slip-overs instead of replacements. Mine is black with black stitching along the sides as well


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