Remove dash

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How to remove the dash

I looked at several references when I did this. One of the best is BenT's photo-with-caption version. For a very concise textual list (might be most useful to someone who has done it but just wants a refresher), you can see the vanagonaut btdt on it.

Disconnect the battery

Any major work you do on the car should, by default, be preceded by disconnecting the ground strap (the thing connected to the negative post) on the battery.

Pull the instrument cluster

Sit in the driver's seat and reach your hands to the back of the little hood thingy that's on top of the instruments. There are finger holes back there. Put your fingers in the holes and pull upward and toward you. It is likely to come off really easily. If it hangs up, some people recommend whacking it lightly on the bottom front corner or side with the palm of your hand. It would be good to have a picture of what it looks like when it's out so you know what is hanging up and how to flex it to help.

Remove heater knobs and faceplate

The switch for the fan and the heater levers "just" pull off. I have "just" in quotation marks because, when I did it, it was really difficult on three of the levers. I put a screwdriver down the instrument cluster hole and pushed on the lever covers with one hand while pulling with the other hand to get them off.

The faceplate for the heater sliders is connected at the top right and bottom left by round plastic posts. I would pull this from the top right and bottom left corners to avoid breaking it. In my case, it pushed out accidentally when I was taking off the heater slider knobs.

There are two screws visible on each side of this opening that have to come out, they hold the lever assembly to the dash.

If you look down through the hole that the instrument cluster left, up near the top on the passenger side you'll see a third screw that also holds the lever assembly. It needs to come out, too.

The light that illuminated the slider faceplate needs to be unplugged, have the wire pulled out the hole, and then plugged back in so you know where it goes :). I marked the light and the hole with the same letter (I'm using little paper tabs taped to the components to keep track of what needs to be connected back where) so I would know which hole it went through.

Remove radio

I didn't have a radio, I don't know how to do this :).

Unplug cigarette lighter socket

Reach through the radio hole, pull the wiring harness off the back of the lighter socket, and also the light bulb that illuminates it. I marked them with the same letter to remember they go together. I should probably mark the socket too.

Remove the main dash screws

There are ten screws that hold the dash to the body. Remove all of them. Be careful not to remove the large screws that hold the wipers in place. You can see that the dash has cutouts to avoid these so that those screws can remain on when you remove the dash.

(Note--You do not necessarily need to do this at this point, people remove them at different points in the process. YMMV.

Drop the steering column

There is a roughly cylindrically-shaped plastic piece that goes down the length of the column that comes between the driver and the steering column and all the wires that run along it. It has two screws near the top (very easy to find, on either side of the column). There is also a metal clip holding this cylindrical piece to the steering column, so after you get the screws out you just have to tug a bit to get it to let go.

There are 4-5 wiring harnesses here. All of them are shaped differently, you can just pull them all, there's only one way for each to reattach.

Now to take off the steering wheel:

Pry off the "horn button" (the big thing you press to sound the horn). You just pull it off (my PO had bypassed the horn so there probably should be two wires connected to that piece via spade connectors, but they were already taken off in my case). Under here you will see a big 24mm nut that holds the steering wheel onto the column. Remove that nut and pull off the steering wheel.

There are four bolts that hold the steering column up. Two have an anti-theft head (cone shaped). The idea is to make it a pain to get them off. You can use vise-grips or whatever. I was able to grab them with the rounded part of slip-joint pliers. Many people just replace them with real bolts when they reassemble. The other two bolts are 13mm. Take these out and let the steering column drop.

When I did this, at some point the whole outer part of the assembly turned to the right. I haven't put it back together yet, so I don't know what you have to do about that. Putting this in here so I remember to note it and say what it turned out to be. Maybe the lock thing where the steering wheel locks until you turn the ignition? I don't know.

Pull the panel in front of the shifter

There is a trapezoid shaped pane between the shifter and the front of the vehicle. It deflects air down to the driver and passenger feet. There are two slots in it on the front face somewhat close to the top. Put your hands, palm up, into these slots. The tabs that need to be released are now near your index fingers, so that's where to apply the most force. Pull straight back to the back of the van.

Pull heater channels

The ducts that channel the heat/fresh air/whatever slide off easily, but probably a little more easily if you do it before you start trying to pull the dash at the end. Just use the vents as a guide, reach behind the vent and pull the duct thing off.


I'm writing this as I do the removal :).

Pull out the dash

I found that it was kind of hung on the brackets that the anti-theft bolt things attached to. I got the bottom of it wiggled off of those first and then it wasn't too terrible after that. I had to pull pretty hard but I couldn't see what was causing the resistance.