2003 Mercedes Benz E500

Interior problem
2003 Mercedes Benz E500 V8 Two Wheel Drive Automatic 52,000 miles

The driver side REAR seatbelt tensioner does not retract the seatbelt most of the time. I can stuff it back in the slot on occasion. What do I need as far as tools to remove the trim panels? I don't want to just start pulling the panel off and break off some little plastic mountings. Is there a secret to what order to pull them off and a special pry tool? Once off I think I can see everything well enough to replace the belt/tensioner that MB will sell me for $220. I have done lots of auto repair and have tools but cannot tell if the panels just pop off like door panels, and most repair manuals do not show anything for this. MB lists the labor at 1.9 hrs or $266. I would just try yanking the panel off, but it is $500 from MB if I make a mistake.
May 15, 2009.

I have forwarded your question to our M/B tech. He will be with you shortly, thank you for your patience

Jun 1, 2009.
Yes the rear inner c pillar pops off. The easiest way to get this off is after removing the door seal use a plastic wedge or metal pry tool (there is no special MB tool for this). With the door seal removed take a flashlight and pull back lightly on the panel. You will see an upper and lower plastic clip (similar to a door panel clip). With your pry tool pop the panel off from these points. Once the two front clips are popped out use you flash light to locate the third clip in the rear behind the airbag unit. You can unclip this by sliding your pry tool back to the mounting area and popping it out. Once these clips are off pull the panel slightly out and then towards the front of the vehicle. When remounting panel just be sure to slide it back in the way it comes out. As for the tensioner, the are relatively easy to replace just note the index on the mounting that keeps the tensioner aligned properly.

Jun 2, 2009.