Mon, 15 Oct 2007

DIY Project: A3 Ashtray Delete

There is a design philosophy for some aftermarket car tuners and enthusiasts called "OEM Plus". Eschewing ridiculous shopping cart-style spoilers, coffee can exhausts, and gaudy stickers (cmon, the only reason you should have a sticker on your car is that you were paid outrageous sums of money to put it on there), fans of the "OEM Plus" design are shooting for a "Isn't that the way it came from the factory?" look.

And so it's not surprising there are businesses that caters to this market, such as

Techniques that these afficionados often resort to are raiding the parts bin of comparable or similar makes and models, from trimlines offered in more expensive versions or in more upscale markets.

For example, on my A3, I can upgrade to European style aspherical side view mirrors by ordering the mirrors from the European-spec A3. The Audi TT and the A3 share the same platform, and I can upgrade my light switch, shift lever, brake pedal, accelerator pedal, and dead pedal to the shinier versions from the TT.

Which brings me to my mini DIY project: Ashtray Delete. I don't smoke (and neither should you), so the ashtray in my car is a big waste of space. True, it'll hold a pack of gum, but an iPhone?

Well that's where this product comes in.

So this is my photo essay of my "ashtray delete" install.

[Photos have since been removed... If you'd like a copy of the photos, please contact me.]

The before picture

Open the ashtray, and lift the shifter trim piece firmly from the exposed ledge

Carefully work the entire trim piece off, and angle it so you have space to work with in front of the shifter.

This exposes two of the screws holding the ashtray in place. Did I mention you'll need a hex driver and torx screwdriver?

Next step: Remove the plastic trim piece above the ashtray underneath the center console.

Once the ashtray is loose, you'll be able to expose the LED that is clipped to the ashtray housing that lights the interior of the ashtray.

The LED cable.

Removing the clip from the receptacle on the ashtray assembly so you can remove it.

With that removed, you can work the ashtray housing out. Wow, look at all that wasted space behind the ashtray!

Now you need to remove the triangular "oh $h!t" grab bar trim pieces on the left and right side of the console. Start with the two screws at the rear of the shifter.

Next, remove the screws at the front of the triangle trim pieces. Note where these screws are, it'll be tough getting them back in. Use a magnetized screwdriver. You don't want to lose these in the bowels of your car!

Almost done, except you need an allen wrench for the hidden screws through this hole.

Final step to remove the trim piece with the allen wrench.

A thought hit me... I've got an LED and wiring right here from the ashtray...

... it would be nice if my cubbyhole was lit too... Time to mark my cubby piece and dremel a hole for the LED...

Friction mount the LED into the hole I made in the front of my cubby... and turn on the lights... voila!

The final steps are basically working the new cubby into place, fitting it over the trim pieces and reversing all of the steps to put everything back together.

So, in the end, it comes down to a simple equation:
this - this + this = this

Name/Blog: Kent
Comment/Excerpt: Hi, I am writing to thank you very much for the installation guide for the removal of an Audi A3 ashtray. I have succeeded in doing the reverse of your conversion. I wanted the ashtray, even though I don't smoke because it , to me the console looks more complete. I removed the part you installed and installed the ashtray. would not have been able to do it so confidently without your help. I am also an Audi enthusiast, would like to here from you. Thank you.

Khan Klatt

Khan Klatt's photo