The kick panel is the interior trim panel located below the dashboard and alongside the front doors in a Ford F150 truck. This decorative panel houses components like the hood release lever, fuse panel, battery access panel, etc. So inevitably, there arises a need to remove the kick panel in an F150 for maintenance, repair or replacement.
While it may seem straightforward, improper removal can result in breakage of the plastic clips and tabs that secure the panel. So it’s important to understand the nuances involved. This article provides a step-by-step walkthrough of removing the Ford F150 kick panel safely without damage.
What’s Behind the Kick Panel and Why Remove It?
Behind each kick panel is a complex assembly of components that enable various functionalities in your F150. Here are some key items housed behind these panels:
- Fuse panel – The fuse box provides electrical power to different systems across the truck. Fuses need to be checked or replaced periodically.
- Hood release lever – You need access behind the kick panel to lubricate or replace the hood release mechanism if it gets stuck or worn out.
- Battery access panel – The panel provides access to the battery terminals. It needs to be removed for battery maintenance or replacement.
- AC ducts and vents – The HVAC system ductwork routes air to the vents in the kick panels for climate control.
- Wiring harnesses – Numerous wires are bundled behind the panels that need troubleshooting at times.
So in a nutshell, you may need to remove the kick panels for:
- Inspecting, testing or replacing electrical components
- Accessing mechanical parts like hood release
- A/C system servicing
- Troubleshooting faults or wiring issues
- General cleaning and maintenance
Now that you know what lies behind, let’s get into the step-by-step removal process.
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Step 1 – Remove Door Sill Plate and Weather Stripping
The first step is to pry off the plastic door sill plate that runs along the bottom edge of the front doors in the F150. You can use a flat head screwdriver to gently pop it out of the retaining clips.
Next, peel off the weather stripping on the front door jambs. The weather strip is a long rubber seal designed to prevent water or air leakage. Carefully pry it off the door frame using your fingers or a plastic pry tool.
Removing the sill plate and weather strip provides access to the inner edge of the kick panel.
Step 2 – Remove Plastic Piece Behind Hood Release
Once the sill plates are off, you need to pull out the small plastic piece located behind the hood release handle.
There will be a cut-out in the kick panel around the hood release. Reach behind it to find the removable plastic part. Pull it straight out gently to detach it.
Pull out the small plastic section behind the hood release handle.
This grants you access to the inner tabs and screws of the kick panel.
Step 3 – Take Off Front Edge Panel
The next item to remove is the front step plate or edge panel along the door. It is a piano-black rectangular trim piece that meets the bottom corner of the front doors.
You’ll notice small notches along one side of the edge panel. Use a flat head screwdriver to carefully pry it out from these notches. Detach the plastic retainers from the door frame to remove the entire piece.
Pry the step plate off the door frame from the small notches.
Removing this front edge panel allows you to release the kick panel from the door frame.
Step 4 – Pull Kick Panel Backwards
With the above items detached, you can now pull the kick panel straight backwards to disconnect it from the door pillar.
Apply firm pressure and it should pop off the plastic retaining clips. Pull it back as far as it will go until the whole panel is released.
Draw the kick panel straight backwards to detach it from the door pillar.
Be careful not to bend or crack the panel by forcing it too hard. The retaining clips are fragile.
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Step 5 – Remove Passenger Door Sill (If Needed)
For the passenger side kick panel, you need to take off an extra component – the passenger door sill plate.
Locate the sill trim that meets the passenger door. Pop it out of the door frame in the same manner as the driver’s side.
Removing this grants you access to the inner bracket of the passenger kick panel.
Take off the passenger door sill plate to access the kick panel bracket.
Step 6 – Detach Bottom Scuff Panel (If Required)
On certain F150 models, you may need to remove a bottom scuff panel that runs along the bottom length of the front door.
This is only necessary if the scuff panel is obstructing the kick panel’s removal. Simply grab the scuff trim and pull upwards to pop it off the door frame.
The bottom scuff panel can be detached by pulling it upwards.
With this panel detached, you can fully remove the kick panel.
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Tips to Remove Kick Panel Without Damage
Here are some tips to avoid cracking the brittle plastic clips or tabs during removal:
- Use plastic pry tools instead of metal tools to prevent scratches or breakage. Apply even leverage.
- Pull the panel backwards, not outwards, to release the retaining clips.
- Detach electrical connectors like speaker or ambient lighting wires before pulling the panel.
- Apply firm yet gentle pressure to pop the clips loose. Don’t force it.
- Reattach all removed components in reverse order after the job is complete.
Why Choose Factory Kick Panels Over Aftermarket?
You can purchase aftermarket replacement kick panels for F150 trucks from many manufacturers. However, OEM Ford kick panels are often a better choice for the following reasons:
- Precise fitment – OEM panels are an exact fit without requiring modifications. Aftermarket panels may need adjustments.
- Retains factory look – OEM parts maintain the original styling and color-matching. Aftermarket panels often look visibly different.
- Higher quality materials – Factory panels use durable ABS plastic able to withstand wear and tear. Some aftermarket panels have cheaper materials prone to cracking.
- Includes all hardware – Ford kick panels come with all the factory plastic rivets, screws, brackets required for proper installation.
- Best fit and finish – Genuine Ford parts ensure gapless sealing without air or water leaks, rattles, etc. This may not be the case with non-OEM parts.
- Hassle-free installation – Factory kick panels easily bolt back into place. Some aftermarket panels involve complicated installation.
So despite being costlier, original Ford kick panels are often worth the premium for their perfect fit, finish, durability and seamless installation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common queries that arise regarding Ford F150 kick panel removal:
1. Do I need to remove the fender liner?
No, it is not necessary to remove the fender liner (also called inner fender) to detach the kick panel. The panel can be taken off by just removing the door sill plates, edge panels, and pulling it backwards.
2. How do I take off speaker grill covers?
If needed, use a plastic pry tool to pop off the speaker grill covers in the kick panel. Detach the speaker electrical connectors first before removing the grills and entire panel.
3. Will the hood release still work with the panel off?
Yes, removing the kick panel does not affect the hood release function since the cable linkage remains connected. Just pull the release handle as normal even with the panel detached.
4. Can I drive with the kick panels removed?
It is not recommended to drive with missing kick panels as they contain key components and provide cosmetic interior coverage. Reinstall the panels promptly after finishing your repair or maintenance work.
5. Is this process same on SuperCrew and SuperCab F150s?
The kick panel removal steps are identical on both SuperCrew and SuperCab body styles. The only difference is that SuperCab trucks have a smaller front door and kick panel.
And there you have it – a detailed, step-by-step walkthrough on removing the kick panels on your Ford F150 without damage. Follow the instructions closely and you can gain hassle-free access behind these panels for any repair or upgrade job.