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Discussion Starter #1
First off, let me say thanks to Evilution for their wonderfully detailed and illustrated instructions. Without them, I would have been in for a really unpleasant time.

I installed door speakers yesterday (Polk DB651) and came up with a way to make the process a lot easier. I used the door panel removal instructions at Evilution - Smart Car Encyclopaedia

The second step (after mirror removal) reads: "Loosen the 2 Torx bolts on the back end of the door. This loosens the door handle making it easier to remove the panel later on."
Remove, do not just loosen the two screws on the back end of the door and pull the door handle assembly back approximately 1/2" to detach it.
The assembly will hang freely, attached by one cable on the passenger side or two (one for the mechanical lock) on the driver's side. These are flexible, sheathed cables like one finds on a bicycle for brakes.

The next step reads: "Pull off the rubber seal that runs along the bottom of the window."
Do not remove the rubber seal that runs along the bottom of the window.
With the door handle hanging free (see above), this step is not necessary to remove or replace the door panel. Removing it just complicates the whole process and leaves you having to reinstall, and properly align, it after you put the panel back. On the first door, I tried following the Evilution instructions to the letter and when I got to the reinstallation step, the frustration of trying to get the door panel under the door handle assembly, without damaging either, led me to discover the alternative method I described here.

I recommend not cutting the foam door insulation sheet over the speaker.
I have seen duct tape, over the years, weathering, and coming loose. Were this to happen in your door panel, it could lead to rainwater damaging the speaker. Instead, I unfastened the foam sheet from the front edge of the door and folded it back. There are a couple of spots where it goes over the interior door panel attachment points at the front edge that need to be torn/cut to free it, but don't fret this: It's obvious where and very easy.

If you really prefer to cut the foam, I recommend that you cut a flap rather than using the X cut method.
The three cuts to make the flap should be to the left, underneath, and to the right side of the speaker. You can fold this up to install the new speakers and then duct-tape it when you finish. If the tape fails over the years, rainwater that gets in will not be dumping onto your speaker.

I recommend front-mounting Polk DB651 speakers (the stock speakers are rear-mounted) and not using the Polk clip-nuts.
In order to use the clip-nuts, one would need to cut away the plastic from the raised circle in which the factory speakers mount. This reduces panel stiffness. The panel is thick enough and strong enough that the screws can be driven directly through it and they hold fine. To do this, drill a very small pilot hole at each mouting point. If you properly center the speaker, each screw will come through just outside of the aforementioned plastic ring. I snugged them down well, but I'm sure that someone determined enough could crank them down until the stripped the panel out, but just tightening until you feel them snug-up should lead to no problems.
 

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How about the panel reinstallation?

First off, let me say thanks to Evilution for their wonderfully detailed and illustrated instructions. Without them, I would have been in for a really unpleasant time.

Thank you for the tips. New speakers are on my to-do list but I've been putting it off because of all the difficulty described on other threads with re-installing the door panel - frustration and injured fingers, for example. Does your modified method make putting the panels back on as easy as everyone says they are to remove?

Thanks in advance.
 

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fmaxwell, totally agree on your first 3 pts.

Although I didn't use the 651 speaker grille or the clip nuts. I mounted them behind the factory grille, which fits perfectly as well.
 

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First off, let me say thanks to Evilution for their wonderfully detailed and illustrated instructions. Without them, I would have been in for a really unpleasant time.

Thank you for the tips. New speakers are on my to-do list but I've been putting it off because of all the difficulty described on other threads with re-installing the door panel - frustration and injured fingers, for example. Does your modified method make putting the panels back on as easy as everyone says they are to remove?

Thanks in advance.
It is still a pain. What is funny at least with my install on one door it was easier to get the panel back in place with the door handle attached. The other door liked it removed. For both doors removal was easier with the handle loose. I recommend wrapping a towel around the mirror. It will fall while you are trying to put all of this back together and you risk scratching the car.

If you have the time just do the mod. I really think 90% of the people out there could do it. You just have to have some patience. I did it by myself. Having a 2nd person would make things a bit easier.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the tips. New speakers are on my to-do list but I've been putting it off because of all the difficulty described on other threads with re-installing the door panel - frustration and injured fingers, for example. Does your modified method make putting the panels back on as easy as everyone says they are to remove?
It was really easy once I did that. I had to readjust the glass this morning in the driver's door because it was binding and powering-up slowly (different topic for a later thread.) The whole operation to remove the panel was about ten minutes and it took about the same amount of time to put it back on. I did have a helper/holder, but it was a simple procedure.

It might go even quicker with some Armor-All as a lubricant on the plastic.

There's no way I would attempt it again with the door handle assembly on. It was biting into the paint at the edge of the door panel (fortunately, the part that's hidden) before I rethought it and pulled the handle off. After that, it was pretty easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Although I didn't use the 651 speaker grille or the clip nuts. I mounted them behind the factory grille, which fits perfectly as well.
I thought about that and it's how I did the speakers in my Miata, but the grills for the DB651 are a really nice complement to the silver interior accents and are reminiscent of the smart fortwo wheels. I'm happy with the result, but seriously considered keeping the factory grills, too.

Laziness is part of what tipped the balance for me. Now I can remove the speakers and replace them if necessary without taking the door apart.
 

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Funny you should make those comments, Since doing that mod in March I have changed a few things.
The thing that really put me off about removing the door handle completely was the hour it took me to get it back on but I found a small hidden adjustment screw which eventually made it easy.
We also tried the flap cut method and the peel back method, both are better than the X cut and give much more room to play with.
I'm with you on leaving the rubber in place but it can help the first time you remove the door panel as it gives you a better view of what is going on. I certainly didn't have any problem refitting it.
We rear mounted some infinity speakers (6020cs) just to prove it would work, then the next day I mounted the same type of speakers front mount to my car to provide an alternative for people who want to fit larger speakers.
We also experimented with single sheets of sound deadening with good results.

All of this will be edited or added to the site eventually, I have lost all motivation at the moment.
 

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thanks

It was really easy once I did that. I had to readjust the glass this morning in the driver's door because it was binding and powering-up slowly (different topic for a later thread.) The whole operation to remove the panel was about ten minutes and it took about the same amount of time to put it back on. I did have a helper/holder, but it was a simple procedure.

It might go even quicker with some Armor-All as a lubricant on the plastic.

There's no way I would attempt it again with the door handle assembly on. It was biting into the paint at the edge of the door panel (fortunately, the part that's hidden) before I rethought it and pulled the handle off. After that, it was pretty easy.

That's really encouraging. Today I bought the parts at Radio Shack to put some USB ports in my glove box. I'll plan to do that and meanwhile order some speakers. Then, whenever time permits, I'll have them on hand to try out your modified technique.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Funny you should make those comments, Since doing that mod in March I have changed a few things.
The thing that really put me off about removing the door handle completely was the hour it took me to get it back on but I found a small hidden adjustment screw which eventually made it easy.
That's odd. Mine just fell back into place. I guess I just got lucky.

We also tried the flap cut method and the peel back method, both are better than the X cut and give much more room to play with.
I'm kind of paranoid about water leakage. The X-cut with duct tape is probably fine with the duct-tape hidden from UV damage, but I just don't trust duct-tape for long-term use where it's exposed to temperature extremes, water, and humidity. I sure don't want to give anyone the idea that damage is likely if they did an x-cut.

I'm with you on leaving the rubber in place but it can help the first time you remove the door panel as it gives you a better view of what is going on. I certainly didn't have any problem refitting it.
I had two minor issues: One was exact placement where the various rubber pieces come together (the few mm this way and that). Also, with my less than tiny fingers, it was a pain to put back after the panel was in place. Not miserable, but time-consuming.

We also experimented with single sheets of sound deadening with good results.
Interesting. Which panel; interior or exterior?

All of this will be edited or added to the site eventually, I have lost all motivation at the moment.
I, for one, can't thank you enough for all that you've done on your site. It's such a valuable resource -- especially for those of us on the other side of the pond where the smart fortwo has just made landfall.
 

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Door panel replacement

What I'm not getting here is specifics regarding panel replacement. I've had no problem with the door handle (which I just let hand) or the mirror (which is easy to disconnect.) I cannot get figure out how to get the tabs at the top of the panel into the slots while keeping the front and bottom of the panel hooked over their respective edges.
I can take a door panel off in 10 minutes (Thank you Eviloution!) and spend 40 minutes unsuccessfully trying to get it back on properly in those tab slots (with no problem on the bottom, front or back [handle area] of the panel in correct position.)
Are there any concrete instructions for replacing a door panel that indicate what order the tasks should be done with details.
Example:
1. Place panel in position on the door frame, hooking the front and bottom in place first but maintaining the panel in a position that is 10-15mm forward of the correct position towards the front.
2. ....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I can take a door panel off in 10 minutes and spend 40 minutes unsuccessfully trying to get it back on properly in those tab slots (with no problem on the bottom, front or back [handle area] of the panel in correct position.)
Short answer: The plastic needs to flex. You're reversing what you did to take it off and that involves snapping the lips of the door panel over the edges of the door assembly, pushing the tabs through, and then sliding the door panel backwards into position prior to attaching the door handle. Sorry that I could not provide some kind of photo essay on the subject, but that's the best description I can give.
 

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I'll give that a try.

Short answer: The plastic needs to flex. You're reversing what you did to take it off and that involves snapping the lips of the door panel over the edges of the door assembly, pushing the tabs through, and then sliding the door panel backwards into position prior to attaching the door handle. Sorry that I could not provide some kind of photo essay on the subject, but that's the best description I can give.
Although that seems to be what I thought I was doing, I may not have. I'm switching panels this weekend, so I'll give it a(nother) try. I'll report back after I'm done (or I quit as the case may be.)

Thanks fmaxwell

BG
 

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Worked well for me this way!!

First off, let me say thanks to Evilution for their wonderfully detailed and illustrated instructions. Without them, I would have been in for a really unpleasant time.

I installed door speakers yesterday (Polk DB651) and came up with a way to make the process a lot easier. I used the door panel removal instructions at Evilution - Smart Car Encyclopaedia

The second step (after mirror removal) reads: "Loosen the 2 Torx bolts on the back end of the door. This loosens the door handle making it easier to remove the panel later on."
Remove, do not just loosen the two screws on the back end of the door and pull the door handle assembly back approximately 1/2" to detach it.
The assembly will hang freely, attached by one cable on the passenger side or two (one for the mechanical lock) on the driver's side. These are flexible, sheathed cables like one finds on a bicycle for brakes.

The next step reads: "Pull off the rubber seal that runs along the bottom of the window."
Do not remove the rubber seal that runs along the bottom of the window.
With the door handle hanging free (see above), this step is not necessary to remove or replace the door panel. Removing it just complicates the whole process and leaves you having to reinstall, and properly align, it after you put the panel back. On the first door, I tried following the Evilution instructions to the letter and when I got to the reinstallation step, the frustration of trying to get the door panel under the door handle assembly, without damaging either, led me to discover the alternative method I described here.

I recommend not cutting the foam door insulation sheet over the speaker.
I have seen duct tape, over the years, weathering, and coming loose. Were this to happen in your door panel, it could lead to rainwater damaging the speaker. Instead, I unfastened the foam sheet from the front edge of the door and folded it back. There are a couple of spots where it goes over the interior door panel attachment points at the front edge that need to be torn/cut to free it, but don't fret this: It's obvious where and very easy.

If you really prefer to cut the foam, I recommend that you cut a flap rather than using the X cut method.
The three cuts to make the flap should be to the left, underneath, and to the right side of the speaker. You can fold this up to install the new speakers and then duct-tape it when you finish. If the tape fails over the years, rainwater that gets in will not be dumping onto your speaker.

I recommend front-mounting Polk DB651 speakers (the stock speakers are rear-mounted) and not using the Polk clip-nuts.
In order to use the clip-nuts, one would need to cut away the plastic from the raised circle in which the factory speakers mount. This reduces panel stiffness. The panel is thick enough and strong enough that the screws can be driven directly through it and they hold fine. To do this, drill a very small pilot hole at each mouting point. If you properly center the speaker, each screw will come through just outside of the aforementioned plastic ring. I snugged them down well, but I'm sure that someone determined enough could crank them down until the stripped the panel out, but just tightening until you feel them snug-up should lead to no problems.
GREAT INFO, DIY!!! THANK YOU, p1nball
 

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That's odd. Mine just fell back into place. I guess I just got lucky.

AND

Interesting. Which panel; interior or exterior?
Having done a few cars now I can confirm that it is the luck of the draw whether your handles slide back at all, slide back easily or the handle slides back and comes out. It all depends on a hidden adjustment screw.

If you look at the back edge of the door you will see a black plastic rivet, if you remove this rivet you will find the adjustment screw behind it, loosening this makes the handle easier to get on and off.

The sound deadening was applied to the exterior door panel on 1 and both on mine as the guy generously left me with 4 sheets, The interior door panel isn't flat but everything helps.
 

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When I did my speakers, I removed handle completely on the passenger side and I did have some problems to put it back.

CUBE
 

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All good tips, and comments similar to my experience. A helper is a definite plus, especially as a safeguard against closing the door on the dangling mirror when putting the door panel back on. If the connector will come off easily for you, I recommend taking the mirror off completely. I used the flap cut, and taped the three sides closed with a generous amount of Gorilla Tape. The two most difficult tasks for me were step one -- getting the plastic cover lifted up and off to get to the miiror, and putting the panel back on. I found it easier standing on the inside side of the door when snapping the top three tabs into place.

A successful install is definitely thanks to the great info posted on the Forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
A helper is a definite plus, especially as a safeguard against closing the door on the dangling mirror when putting the door panel back on. If the connector will come off easily for you, I recommend taking the mirror off completely.
Congrats on your success.

As to the mirror, I never considered leaving the connectors together. That said, they are a royal pain to get apart. I recommend putting dielectric grease on them after disconnection to ease disconnection/connection in the future -- and to keep out water and give better corrosion resistance.
 

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Congrats on your success.

As to the mirror, I never considered leaving the connectors together. That said, they are a royal pain to get apart. I recommend putting dielectric grease on them after disconnection to ease disconnection/connection in the future -- and to keep out water and give better corrosion resistance.
I second this. Removing the connectors on the mirror was a huge PITA.

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Discussion Starter #20
Those Polk speakers are awefully cheap on ebay, are they any good?
They are fantastic (and you're talking to someone with high-end audio like Linn, VMPS, Hafler, Rotel, Creek, Sennheiser, and Adcom at home). They are easily better than the Infinity 6022si speakers in my Mazda Miata. They have an excellent tonal balance in the smart. The bass is strong and well-controlled but not boomy. The high-end is in proportion to the bass with good detail but without sounding strident. They have decent efficiency and are driven well by a modern 18W RMS or greater internal amp -- assuming that one wants accuracy, a flat frequency response, and SPLs that do not damage hearing.

I can't comment on their use where the owner is looking for dangerously high sound pressure levels and distorted frequency response (in which the bass/treble are adjusted for inaccurate and grossly non-linear frequency response -- such as in the so-called "boom cars").
 
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