Modifying The Front Cup Holder

Let's be honest. The standard cup holders in the 2005 Infinity FX 35 are garbage!

Frankly, itís disappointing. The Japanese are usually good at this sort of thing. However in this instance the Infinity designers blew it.

Looking at the cup holders in a entry level 2005 Honda Accord you will find that it will hold securely virtually any cup size. The FX 35 cup holders seem to be designed to hold a big gulp container and nothing smaller. It will hold a large Dunkin Donuts coffee without spillage, but a 16 ounce bottle of water will literally fall out of the cup holder if you happen to change lanes on the highway. I can't help but think that the designers believed that the American buyer of SUV's do not drink water.

In looking at the front cup holder (photographed below), the "flapper" (red arrow) at the back is inadequate. If the flapper is pushed down by a large cup, the cup holder's opening changes from circle to oblong. The flapper is not unique to one side. Change the size via the flapper on any side and the other size changes as well. The design needed another flapper at the front of the cup holder, with both flappers independently operated. In addition there was no center section to hold the cup/bottle from tipping to the side.

It became apparent to me that the design could not be fixed. I could only hope to make it functional for my needs.

First decide what you need to carry in your vehicle. For me I needed the cup holder to handle the following:

A medium Dunkin Donuts coffee

A 16 ounce bottle of water

A 20 ounce bottle of Gatorade

Place a 16 ounce bottle of water in the cup holder and it becomes apparent that no modification will allow the bottle to fit properly. (photograph below)

A 20 ounce bottle of Gatorade does not fare much better.

A medium Dunkin Donuts coffee does manage to fit somewhat securely in the cup holder. Just showing that all is not lost.

The project starts by removing the "Flapper Tray" from the center console. Grasp the tray by the flapper end and pull straight up. (photographs below).

The empty cup holder bay is photographed below.

Here is where the compromises start. The empty bay measures approximately 6.5 inches across. The goal is to install two cup holders in that space.

I procured two plastic cup holders designed for boats from "SEACHOICE". They are made of black plastic. Ignoring the "ring" around the top of the cups, they have an inside diameter of 2 3/4 inches, with an outside diameter of 2 7/8 inches.

Test fitting a 16 ounce bottle of water in the cup holder indicated a perfect fit. This would be the passenger side of my modified cup holder.

Placing both cup holders on the Flapper Tray indicated just how little room I had for any modification. The cup holders were obviously too high. The cup holder door would not close. In addition, installing both cup holders made little sense. I wanted the cup holder to handle not only a 16 ounce water bottle, but a 20 ounce Gatorade bottle and a medium coffee as well.

Both cup holders would have to be shortened. Start by placing a cup holder in the Flapper Tray and marking the height. I then used a carpenter's technique for scribing the line properly around the cup.

A hacksaw made short work of the plastic material. Make sure you follow the height markings. Screw up here and you might be purchasing new cups.

Check the height of the cut cups to make sure they are exactly the height of the Flapper Tray's side panel.

Note that the passenger side of the cup holder would hold a 16 ounce water bottle. The problem now was the driverís side. As the photograph below shows, neither a 20 ounce Gatorade bottle or a medium Dunkin Donuts coffee cup would fit in the cut down cup holders.

Place one cut down cup holder in the Flapper Tray and using the side as a template draw a line down the side of the cup.

Holding the cup in its present position without moving it, mark another line 180 degrees from the first, following the line of the Flapper as you compresses it fully. Make sure the line allows the flapper to operate properly.

Based on the initial markings, your first cut should look something like the photograph below.

This is just a start. Notice that a trial fit to the 20 ounce Gatorade bottle shows that more has to be cut away, including cutting all the way to the bottom of the cup. Continue to trim on the side opposite to the Flapper until the Gatorade bottle fits.

When finished the modified cups should look like the photograph below. Notice that there is virtually no "edge" to the bottom where the sides of the plastic cup have been cut away. Note carefully the position of the right cup. The cut portion should be next to the Flapper on the left side and enough material should be cut away to hold a medium coffee cup or a 20 ounce Gatorade bottle.

The primary reason I wanted plastic cups is to bond the modified cups to the base of the Flapper Tray. Itís always better to bond like material. I choose JB weld for this purpose. Itís a two part epoxy and when dry hold like the devil.

Sand the base of the Flapper Tray and the bottom of the modified cups. Place the modified cups in position on the Flapper Tray. I am pop riveting the cups to the base of the Flapper Tray to hold them in position until the JB Weld dries. I am marking the pop rivet holes using tape for clarity. Drill at least two pop rivet holes to ensure that the precise location of the cups does not change. Instead of pop rivets, self tapping screws will work as well.

Drill with the appropriate size drill bit based on the rivet size to be used.

If you decide to leave the rivets in, make sure to counter sink the holes on the back side of the Flapper Tray

Mix the JB Weld using equal parts. Apply to the back of the modified cups.

Note the sanded base of the Flapper Tray. Place the right cup, with JB Weld applied, in position based on the holes drilled earlier and pop rivet them. Duplicate for the left cup. When the JB Weld dried, I drilled out the pop rivets and filled the holes with a small amount of JB Weld.

If done properly, when completed, the modified Flapper Tray should look like the following photographs.

Install the modified Flapper Tray into the cup holder compartment by installing the front first, then pushing the back down.

The completed Project is photographed below.

Now I can actually have a Dunkin medium sized coffee and a 16 ounce bottle of water at the same time in a cup holder that actually functions.



FX 35 Home Page

Bernard Embden's Home Page