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Community Manager

Community Question: How much fun is it to pull a dashboard?

So I am having a lot of fun (ha-ha) gutting my 1983 Lincoln Continental to fix a few issues, install a standalone transmission controller, upgraded EFI computer, etc.  and that meant I had to pull my dash and gut my interior.  

 

I'm gonna stop short of saying this was a miserable experience (it was so only because of the weather) but I wanna ask everyone: How much fun have you had pulling a dashboard? 

 

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I didn't get to rip anything out, it all was carefully removed as to be reinstalled in the future. So perhaps I didn't have any fun at all!

31 REPLIES 31
Pit Crew

Depends on the vehicle.  I am a mechanic by trade ( retired - 25 years an ASE Master Tech, 15 years a High School Auto Shop teacher ). Electrical systems was one of my specialties.  As an example; pulling a dash on a 1970 to 72 Chevelle is a 20 minute job.  The same task on a 1990 Mustang is 4 to 5 hours.  Some newer cars it is an all day affair just to get it out.  I have found the biggest problem to be people adding accessories with no real idea as to how to properly wire them in.  Most fuse blocks have spots to pull power with extra plug in ports.  But many novices cut into wires and overload circuits and cause problems.  A lot of stereo shops also do a poor wiring job.

Detailer

The newer the car is the easier it is to remove the dashboard. I think the R & I time (remove and reinstall) on most modern dashes is 4.5 hours. Newer construction has a lot of standardization of wiring looms and easy disconnects; on older cars the wiring was practically handmade.

Instructor

I would beg to differ on newer cars being easier. Of course by newer cars, I mean anything with EFI made after 1987. Trust me when I say that I would MUCH rather pull the dash or tackle the wiring on an older car than a new one. FAR fewer circuits to deal with, and at least in my classics (excepting the '79 TBIRD which was designed electronically by the spawn of pure evil), they still have subharnesses that are relatively easy to understand what they are going to, their purpose, etc. ALTHOUH.......Changing the heater core on my '68 cougar was as fun as a 4 hour road trip with my in laws. but as far as wiring goes it is pretty simple until you get to the sequential turn signals.
New Driver

Did an 85 Town Car some years back. Takes patience and extreme care not to damage anything. This car burned in the engine area, and so I replaced the harness nose to tail. Use masking tape and mark everything. NOT completely idiot proof and can be mis-assembled. All clips are easy to break too. Go slow.
Did a 68 Olds 98, loaded, and same difficulty. This time I needed to replace dash pad and add Comfortron and cruise, both of which just plug in deep inside. Old wiring is very stiff, and often needs new tape. 
if you don’t mind punishment, these are just tedious jobs, not too complicated.

Replaced the touch screen on my wife’s Caddy XTS. Substantial disassembly including the console. Thank heavens there are videos for the newer stuff! Here was a definite sequence, and you have to be extremely careful, or pay big bucks for new parts damaged. 6 hour job, and not one comfortable work position! 

New Driver

Pull a dash? Easy.

 

Put it back together properly? Not so much. 

I had considered replacing the heater core in my 02 Passat, which would have required pulling the dash. Fortunately, my son totaled the car and saved me the trouble:-)

Pit Crew

My 1973 AMC Javelin needs a dash voltage regulator replaced.  I have been putting it off for 10 years as it does work about 50% of the time.

I did have to do a complete rebuild on my 66 Mustang dash during it's restoration and I have a few small issues that I will need to go back in and fix....but as simple as a 66 Mustang is....it is still a bear!!!

Pit Crew

I worked for 8 years as a Ford Trim Tech in the 90's. I did quite a number of dashes. Mustangs were the easiest- I could get them out in less than an hour. Doing your first dash is harder, because you do not know where all the hidden bolts and screws are. You also learn to HOLD THE DASH IN PLACE as you remove that last retaining screw!  Probably the worst dash was a Windstar- they were huge and heavy!  I also bought or made some special tools to help get to those screws at the base of the windshield. Never what I would call "fun".

Instructor

I must have lucked out with my '68. At least as far as the under dash wiring is still good and pliable with soft insulation. The under hood harnesses were another story altogether.
New Driver

In 1980 someone tried to steal the radio out of my 1980 Pontiac T/A by destroying the dashboard. The insurance company paid but with a deductible. not having much money, because the car payments, I decided to do it my self. I started at 10:00am Saturday and after about 16 hrs what seemed  like 2000 screws, by hand no screw gun, at 2:00am Sunday morning it was finished. It wasn't hard to do but a lot of work. It was hard on the my nerves after the old dash was out looking at that hole with ALL those wires and stuff hanging out. My new car only 5 or 6 payments. I guess I did it right because I had no problems. I sold the car 280.000 mi and 25years later.

     PS. You should try to change a heater core on this model car.

New Driver

It's not fun at all.  I've always hated dashboard work even when I was a teenager replacing a cigarette lighter socket.  My last big dashboard job was to remove nearly everything on a '99 Chrysler LeBaron Turbo Convertible, and it was due to mice damage.  The mice even chewed up the vacuum hosing routed to the inside of the HVAC housing.  I didn't have a digital camera so I had to do the entire job in one shot so I wouldn't forget how to reverse install everything.  That included cleaning/disinfecting everything with all the mouse wee and poopie doop. The job turned out perfectly but I hated it.