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Two Piece Dash Removal Procedure

Two Piece Dash Removal Procedure

Written by Chris Blumenthal Monday, 05 September 2005

Disconnect your battery by removing the ground cable and securing it out of the way so it can't spring back and make contact. Safety first!

Instructions:

  • Disconnect your battery by removing the ground cable and securing it out of the way so it can't spring back and make contact. Safety first!
  • Remove the fiberboard underdash panels. Put your safety glasses on before this part of the procedure... you would not want an errant screw falling in one of your eyes. First, label or mark the panels with numbers on masking tape or the like. This will help you remember which panel goes where when it is time to reinstall the panels. Alternately, if you have a digital camera, taking pics of the layout before removal will help you get everything back in straight. Remove the screws holding each panel in place, put the screws in a container like a coffee can or plastic margarine tub, and put the panels in a safe place. This advice regarding putting fasteners and other small bits in a secure container applies to this procedure in its entirety. You will find that reinstallation of your dash will be infinitely easier if you haven't lost any of the bit and pieces, and they are all in one, convenient location.
  • Remove the glove box. Remove the three small (8MM head) bolts that attach the glove box hinge to the sheet metal bracket attached to the firewall in the passenger footwell. You will be able to see these bolts if you lie in the passenger footwell with your head as far toward the firewall as possible. Look straight up and you will see the bottom of the hinge at the rear of the glove box. You may have to move the right dash vent hose slightly to have a clear view. Access is somewhat difficult because the hinge is at the top of the rear part of the glove box, but a 1/4" socket wrench with a 6" extension will do the job.
  • Remove the console. The console can be removed as a unit. It is held in place by only 2 screws- one in an angle bracket that attaches and locates the upper right side to a sheet metal finger at the bottom of the dash. The other screw is hidden beneath the inner console base, which is the flat piece that fits inside and forms the bottom "deck" of the console. The base is just sitting in the bottom of the console (no screws). After you remove the locating screw from the top of the console, you should be able to move the console from side to side a bit and insert your fingers or some flat object between the transmission tunnel and the side of the console, pushing the base panel up several inches at the end toward the shifter. Then, you will be able to see where the "console tray" (the piece on which the shifter boot mounts) is attached by a single screw to the sheet metal of the transmission tunnel. After you remove these 2 screws, you can pull the console back a bit, and then use a screwdriver to pry off the connector from the back of the emergency flasher button (Note: in early cars the hazard switch is not mounted in the console, so disregard this step). Remove the shift knob by unscrewing it counterclockwise, and pull the console back, up and over the shifter. Remove it from the car and put it in a safe place.
  • Remove the screws that hold the front of the dash to the underdash sheet metal. All are obvious except for the two behind the upper steering column trim piece.
  • Remove instrument panel. Get on your back in the footwell on the driver's side of the car with your head pushed up against the clutch and brake pedals, and shine a flashlight straight up under the dash. Still have your safety glasses on? You should be able to see the round aluminum nuts on each side behind the instrument panel pod, and the spot where the speedo cable is held to a threaded attachment point on the back of the speedo with a round, aluminum end piece. Both the aluminum nuts and speedo cable end piece are intended to be removable by hand- you should be able to stick your hand up under the dash, loosen and remove the aluminum nuts and the speedo cable end piece with your fingers. First remove the speedometer cable attachment, and then the round, knurled, aluminum finger nuts that hold the instrument panel in place. If you cannot loosen by hand, use an appropriate tool (a simple pair of pliers may work best). After you have removed the nuts and speedo cable, pull the instrument panel gently forward, just enough to gain access to the back of the panel. You will need to remove the wiring harnesses attached to the back of the instrument panel (a circular plug connected to the left rear of the panel, and a wire connected to the right rear) before you can completely remove the panel. These wiring harnesses can be gently pried off with the end of a long, thin flat blade screwdriver inserted between the connector and the instrument panel. It may help to shine a flashlight behind the panel to get a better view of the wiring attachments. After the wiring harnesses have been removed, you can pull the instrument panel up and out of the dash board assembly.
  • Remove the 8MM dash attachment nuts from behind instrument panel. There are two studs from the upper part of the instrument panel that insert through the sheet metal on the right and left side of the instrument panel pod- remove the small nut on each. Note that you will have to remove the lower switches from the dash around the instrument panel in order to gain access to these nuts.
  • Remove the wiring harnesses from behind the switches around the periphery of the instrument panel area. If you are removing the upper part of the dash completely, you will need to disconnect and remove all of the switches that are mounted in the dash around the outside of the instrument panel area (e.g., switches for lights, wiper speed, rear window defroster, etc.). Grasp the connectors on the rear of each switch and pull off toward the front of the car. It should be fairly self apparent how the switch assemblies come out, but here are a few clues: for most of the switches, the knobs screw on and off. After you have removed the knob, you will see that there is a bezel with slots at the base of the shaft of the switch. These bezels are nuts that are threaded on to the switch and hold it in place in the dash. Take a small, flat blade screwdriver and a hammer and carefully thread the bezel off of the switch by lightly tapping against the left side of the upper-most slot (you will want to move the bezel off the switch in a counter-clockwise motion). Note: extreme caution is appropriate with this procedure; if you slip with the screwdriver, you may damage your dash. After you have removed the threaded bezel from the switch, the body of the switch assembly will pull out from the rear of the dash into the instrument panel pod area. You can then remove it from the car. The power socket (OK, cigarette lighter as it was known in the day...) can be removed by unscrewing the cylindrical piece that is mounted on the rear of the socket.
  • Remove the nuts from the studs on the far right and left of the upper dash piece. These studs are part of the upper dash piece, but point toward the floor and extend through two holes in the lower dash piece and the sheet metal under the dash. Look under the dash at the far right and left, approx. 3" from the side and front, and you will see a small nut attached to each stud that must be removed. Hint: you will have to lie on your back and look straight up at the bottom corners of the dash to see these studs/nuts. Note that you cannot remove the lower dash piece until you have removed the nuts from these studs, and pushed the upper dash piece up on each side to move the stud out of the way of the hole in the lower dash piece.
  • Loosen the clamps from the vent hoses attached to the front of the dash. On each side of the dash, there are vents that provide the defroster air at the base of the windshield. These clamps are attached to a sheet metal extension behind each plastic vent; the vents are attached to the dash. Let the clamp drop off of the vent so that vent is no longer constrained by the clamp/sheet metal. You are now ready to pull the top piece of the dash up. You may find the front of the dash (toward radiator) to be a bit wedged under the windshield, but the bigger problem in getting the dash out may be that the far right and left sides of the upper dash piece are stuck in. You may need to get under the dash and push up on the studs in order to break each side loose. Then, you can tilt the front of the top piece up a bit toward you and pull the whole thing up and out. You may have to move the dash around a bit to get the lower part of the vents on each side (which remain attached to the dash when you remove it) to clear the sheet metal underneath. After you remove the top piece, the bottom piece should just pull right out toward you.
  • Installation, as they say, is the reverse of removal. Note, however, that there are two locating pins attached to the dash near the center. These pins fit into sheet metal slots that are attached to the bulkhead at the base of the windshield. You will see them when you remove the dash. When you reinstall the upper part of the dash, you will need to align the two pins with the slots and tilt the front of the dash down so that it fits under the windshield seal. Note: on later cars, the dash is attached at the same points with two screws; it is necessary to remove the windshield in order to gain access to these screws.
    Good Luck! If you have any questions please direct them to info@bmw2002faq.com or post them on the FAQ message board!

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