Change the Dashboard

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The dashboard needed refinishing and I thought It was time for it to happen.  I should have talked to others before I began.  It is a very detailed project.  I’d put it at about 7 on a 10 scale.  Even though I read everything I could find on the internet about changing a dashboard I still was baffled at a couple of places.  I’ll share what I can to help others, if they stumble onto this blog.

1.  You MUST remove the crash pad to do this job.  The re-wiring of the gauges and switches is impossible from below.  Oh, did I mention it was a P.I.T.S.?  My knuckles are still bleeding.  The vent controls were a nightmare to replace (more about that later).  With the crash pad removed you can reach behind the dash from the top… much easier with the windshield out.

2.  You might as well remove the windshield to do this job.  Getting behind the dash from within the car is not for grown sized people.  Also, I removed the steering wheel for better access.  It was easy and it helped tremendously.

3.  Be really careful when removing your windshield… Mine broke in the process of removal.  (The project price just went up!)

4.  Label each wire with where it goes.  I used a labeler from Office Max.

5.  Photograph all parts of the dash from all directions.  I also printed out a couple and wrote additional information on the photos.  This process is the slowest parts of the project.

I purchased a new dashboard from AutoWood.  The dash was not cheap, but the workmanship was great.  They produce a quality product.

The chrome windshield trim came from R.D. Enterprises.  I believe he sources it from England and it does a good job of replicating the look of original trim.  The trim that was on my car was black, hard, plastic.  I think the chrome will better fit the black car.

Putting the dash back in took about 2 hours, taking it out took about 6 hours.  Documentation takes a ton of time and it pays off in the end.

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A couple of tips.  The four fiberglass connecting tabs on the dash are all nut/bolt connected to the dash.  The two by the vents are easy to get to, once you remove the vent covers, but the center two are between gauges and very tough to get to.  I replaced them with nut-clips so I won’t need to reach behind the dash to connect them.

The vent controls are made up of two plates that are spaced by a barrel on a bolt.  The barrel is between the two plates and all of it needs to go together all-at-once.  I changed out the barrel with a pair of washers and a net that was the same size as the barrel length.  That eased the setup and installation.  It’s not ‘pure’ but it works.

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The two two controls and the barrel go between these.  The cable on the controls are too short to make this easy.  It must be done close to the crash pad with about 3 inches of gap to reach into.  I needed to use an offset screw driver to attach the last bracket.

Install off the gauges and switches before placing it into the car.  From here on it’s a breeze… 

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© Donald Shikoski 2011