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Dashboard removal question


Trey

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I am trying to remove the dashboard on my 1988 Reatta. Per Ronnie's instructions on his website, the defroster vent trim is supposed to pop off or have three torx screws. What is the best way to pop off this trim (or where are these toox screws)? I tried prying if off with a screwdriver, but then I made a little dent in the padded part of the dash, so I decided to ask for help.

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The defroster vent is a very small portion of the whole dash. if you made a dent in the padded part, you're probably prying in the wrong place.

If you look closely at the vent, you'll see that it's a separate piece from the rest of the plastic dash top. I don't have a picture on me at the moment.. maybe someone else will.

The three torx screws are underneath the vent. it must be removed to access them.

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OK, I will go look at it some more. So it is a three step process. First, I will pry off the smaller inner part of the plastic trim and get the defroster vent off. Then I will remove the torx screws to get off the bigger plastic part. Then I will bend a thin metal bar into the shape shown by Ronnie to get off the padded part of the dashboard. Then, I will replace the the photosensor so I can get some lights to work in my car at night.

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I tried to pop off the defroster vent by putting my fingers into the vent and pulling up, but the vent does not want to come off. Should I just pull harder - or am I even pulling in the right place?

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I've had some success sliding credit cards (actually they were expired PBA cards) between the defrost grill and the dash top to get the defrost grille removed. Used a bunch simultaneously to keep the tabs disengaged.

The torx screws are exposed by the removal of the defrost grill.

The edge of the dash top closest to you is held by friction clips. Be VERY VERY careful about prying as the soft dash front is likely to crack if you use it as a point of leverage prying the top up. Try laying something flat and rigid across the soft part of the dash to evenly distribute the force you'll be imparting into the dash front by prying.

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When you finally get the small vent grille off grind off the small tabs on the windshield side with a dremel tool. Then lay the vent grille back into the dash pad [you will have removed the pad as well using the tool on Ronnies site] and drill three holes in the grille where the torx screw holes are in the pad.

The next time you have to go back into the dash to work you will thank me.

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On the hard plastic vent piece there are 6 tabs on either side of the 4" center section. I start prying just past where it angles down to the larger vent slots. Your first tab is 3/8" on center from the bottom of the slant, 2nd 3", 3rd 5 1/2", 4th 8 1/8", 5th 10 3/4", 6th 13 1/4" [same both ways]. You might want to use something in the way of a nail pulling screwdriver [what I use] and "roll" your wrist in a clockwise [or counter clockwise] motion to pop them off.

If you break it don't worry, I [and others] have replacements. I have an extra Red,Gray,and Tan one. Let us know how it came out or if you need to buy one.

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First off like Dave said, If you break the vent or dash top it isn't the end to the world.

I have some pics with me on my laptop.. They weren't taken for this purpose so bear with me.

Here's the vent:

Vent2.jpg

If you look here you'll see the little tabs that lock it to the dash top.

Vent.jpg

The reason I suggested credit cards or the like is it allows you to keep each locking tab unlocked. moving along the seam with say a putty knife will work, but as you move along the line in my experience the tabs re-engage the dash top. Very frustrating.

...and yes, you want to work the seam closest to you.

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OK, I will go look at it some more. So it is a three step process. First, I will pry off the smaller inner part of the plastic trim and get the defroster vent off. Then I will remove the torx screws to get off the bigger plastic part. Then I will bend a thin metal bar into the shape shown by Ronnie to get off the padded part of the dashboard. Then, I will replace the the photosensor so I can get some lights to work in my car at night.

If you are doing this just to replace the photocell make sure the photocell is bad first. I had the same problem and fixed it by following instructions I got from this forum. It involves spraying the slider switch in the headlight switch with I think WD40 or a similar lube. My lights started working properly almost immediately on my 89.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Claret Red 89, I ran the test where I cover the photosensor, but it did not go above 74 (just 20). I got the little vent off and I took off the three torx screws. I bought a piece of metal from the hardware store and I tried to bend it like Ronnie's instructions - now my question is where do I insert this tool? Do I insert it from the cabin side towards the windshield, or from the windshield side towards the cabin. Am I trying to take off the plastic next or the pad?

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The groove is the gap between the dash and the plastic panel.

I would suggest you go back and review the instructions written on Ronnies site at least one more time. If the "tool" you made looks like the one pictured, the little lip of the tool [the end shown at the 2" mark]goes under the the large plastic panel. Make sure you lift at the points noted in the instructions or you run the risk of breaking the little locking clips in the plastic panel. Also be careful not to push against the top of the dash or you will crack the dash [most dashes are very brittle after 20 plus years of exposure].

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The tool you made looks different then the one shown on Ronnies site, but if it fits in the groove/gap between the dash pad and plastic panel and extends under the plastic panel slightly then it should work.

Good luck...

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Update - I just got the plastic dash part off. I will now look for where that photosensor is located. I have the part that I bought from GMdirect.com - with the part number from Ronnie's site.

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From what I can see in your photo, your tool is in the right place but the tool does not appear to be made correctly. The tool is NOT intended to be used as a pry bar as your photo seems to illustrate.

When you have the tool made correctly with the 1/8" lip on the end, as shown in the photo below, you want to slide the lip into the crack where you have your tool and carefully pull straight up on the tool to disengage the tabs holding the dash pad. Be sure to insert the tool in the correct locations as described in the tutorial on my website. Do NOT use the tool or a screw driver as a pry bar against the other plastic parts or you will end up breaking the plastic.

post-52331-143138954882_thumb.jpg

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How did you bend the metal bar so sharply? Did you have vice grips and a hammer or one of those sheetmetal bending tools? I ended up getting a metal bar longer than 5" because that is all they sold at the Home Depot. Also, I ended up putting the 2" section under the dash instead of just the 1/8" lip - I used the lip to pry up so I could fit the 2" section under the dash. Maybe a picture in the tutorial would help. I will now try your tutorial on how to change out the photosensor.

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I used a bench vise to make the 1/8" lip. I had to grind it some as well.

If you go back and read for the "lift points" you will see that there really is no need for other matierals to slide under the panel.

Also if you would go look in the hardware section of any hardware store or home center you will find a number of different sized "corner irons" or "L brackets. Just buy a 2" one and most of the work is done except for making the 1/8" lip.

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  • 1 year later...

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