During longer drives on the motorway, permanently holding the steering wheel with both hands can be quite exhausting. Often, there is a fitting armrest in the car door for the left arm. The right arm on the other hand is continually “hanging in the air” which could lead to cramps and pain in the shoulder and neck. Fortunately, the accessory trade has found a fitting solution for this: the central armrest.
Practical and robust
The central armrest has several tasks. High-grade, foldable models offer a range of options for use:
– storage space for small objects such as the mobile phone, set of keys or loose change
– integrated coffee cup holders
Ultimately, the central armrest functions as an effective barrier between you and passengers when folded down. Especially when picking up hitchhikers or car-poolers, this barrier between the front seats can provide a sense of safety. If you regularly offer a ride, you will certainly value this feature.
Construction of a central armrest for retrofit
Prior to purchasing a central armrest for retrofit it is advisable to inform yourself about your choice. Ten pounds more could make a great difference.
More precisely: too cheap components of this kind do not really provide comfort. Generally, they are poor quality, wobble, squeak and do not fold down fully horizontally or they wear out quickly.
Furthermore, these cheap components are a poor fit.
Ultimately, they can easily and suddenly break off. Especially during high-speed motorway drives this could lead to dangerous situations.
If the manufacturer does not offer original parts of this kind, the specialist shop is the first address for a retrofit central armrest. No matter whether you go to the local accessory retailer or look for a fitting solution online. As long as you choose a renowned shop, you are very likely to purchase a quality product.
What to observe
You should particularly pay attention to the installation mode of the central armrest for retrofitting. Cheaper products often require drilling holes in the available interior components in order to fit the screws.
These solutions are not really optimal: the car is damaged at installation. By resting the arm on the armrest a permanent strain on the screws is generated.
The drilling holes could eventually tear out as well as the fixing brackets on the armrest. As a result you will need a new armrest and you are left with nasty damage to the car. Try to avoid this by preferring a fixing solution without the need for damaging the interior.
Even if these solutions cost twice as much as cheaper products – ultimately this is felt at the moment of resale. A centre console with drilled holes does not sell easily. Therefore consider this factor when retrofitting a central armrest. Yet, for most retrofitting solutions for a central armrest, a certain damage to the centre console is unavoidable.
In that case: work cleanly, use the best tools and always keep a cool and clear head. You always have only one chance to drill a hole properly or cut cleanly.
What you need
For retrofitting a central armrest you need:
– the retrofitting kit
– a cross-tip screwdriver
– possibly a Torx and flat-tip screwdriver
– 10 mm ring or socket spanner
– possibly an electric screwdriver
– Dremel and a cutter knife
The retrofitting kit consists of the central armrest and fixing screws. Plan ca. 15 minutes for the installation.
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Installing a central armrest
1. Cleaning the centre console
Prior to installing a central armrest it is recommended to thoroughly clean the centre console. Once the central armrest is installed, many corners of the centre console are no longer accessible. If there is still a cup containing drink or food remains, you might land yourself a stinky mess which is not easy to get rid of.
2. Shoving the front seats backwards
When the centre console is fresh, clean and shiny, shove the front seats backwards to create sufficient space and freedom of movement for the installation. Furthermore, it will give you full access to the centre console. Now comes the critical phase.
3. Preparing the centre console
As a rule, the centre console must be prepared for installation of the central armrest. If the armrest is fixed with just two or four screws please observe the following advice: Instead of using the supplied wooden screws, it is better to use thin metal screws with fitting nuts and metal rings.
Clean drilling of the required holes in the centre console and armrest leads to a neat result which will also permanently offer support. If recesses need to be cut, refrain from wildly slaying with a cutter knife.
The delicate plastic housing will permanently remind you! Preferably work with a multi-tool like e.g. a Dremel. This will give the best results, which will not negatively impact a possible resale of the car.
For every hole and every cut applies: seven times measure cut once. The cutter knife is always practical for deburring the cuts.
4. Installing the central armrest
The central armrest is placed in the provided recess with its stable, die-cast aluminium foot. This is often the little hole for loose change, ash tray or some other recess in the centre console.
This mounting provides the central armrest with its required stability. Now fix it with the provided screw connections until nothing wobbles. The installation is now complete. Ultimately, the car should be vacuum-cleaned to make it ready for the next long drive.
Cleanest solution: using original parts
For many cars, the central armrest is available as a premium accessory.
If you really want a durable and clean solution, please talk to your car dealer. As a rule, the complete centre console with integrated armrest is available as a spare part.
With this solution you have a 100% tightly fitting, highly comfortable feature, developed by the in-house engineers, leaving no queries open. Contrary to the retrofitting solutions an original part with already integrated armrest only works as a value-adding feature.
Foto: FotoIdee, Nykonchuk Oleksii, Mila Demidova, AlexandrMakedonskiy, Klaus Nahr, piriya looprasertkul / shutterstock.com