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How to Remove the Dashboard From a 2002 Chevy Malibu

by Eric Grosso

Vehicle owners or mechanics can gain access to the cowl support structure, supporting the steering system and other components, after removing the dashboard. The cowl structure also houses various wiring components that are only accessible after removing the dashboard in a 2002 Chevrolet Malibu. Most mechanics can remove the dashboard; however, it could be attempted by anyone with some automotive repair experience. The dashboard can be removed in about two hours, depending on your mechanical skill.

Detach the negative battery cable from the battery terminal with a socket wrench. Remove the fuse box cover on the left end of the dashboard. Pull out the fuse for the airbags. Find the correct fuse using the diagram inside of the fuse box cover. Disconnect the yellow airbag connector, located just above the fuse panel, to disable the driver side airbag. Pull the same connector from above the fuse panel on the right end of the dashboard to disable the passenger side airbag.

Remove the dash light dimmer switch trim and switch. Place a flat head screwdriver behind the switch trim piece and pry it away from the dashboard. Pull the nearby grille out a couple of inches and detach the electrical connection to the dimmer switch. Remove the dimmer switch from the dashboard.

Remove the steering column covers. Unscrew the three retaining screws on the bottom of the lower steering column cover with a Torx screwdriver. Pull the tilt lever away from the steering column to remove it. Detach the two steering column covers from each other and remove the steering column covers.

Remove the instrument cluster trim and instrument cluster. Remove the instrument cluster trim retaining screws with a Phillips head screwdriver. Place a flat head screwdriver behind the trim piece extending to the passenger side of the dashboard and pry it away from the dashboard. Pull the instrument cluster trim piece from the instrument cluster and dashboard. Remove the retaining screws holding the instrument cluster in place with a Phillips head screwdriver. Pull the instrument cluster from the dashboard, detach the electrical connections from the back of the cluster and remove the cluster from the interior.

Remove the driver's and passenger's knee bolster under the instrument cluster. Place a flat head screwdriver under the center of the retaining push-pins and pop out the center of the pin. Pull out the retaining push-pins after popping out the center of the pin. Remove the retaining screws with a Phillips head screwdriver. Pull the two halves of the knee bolster away from the dashboard to detach the retaining clips and remove them from the interior. Repeat this process on the passenger's knee bolster.

Remove the center instrument panel trim piece. Place a flat head screwdriver behind the ignition trim piece on models that have the ignition located on the dashboard. Pry out the ignition trim. Place the flat head screwdriver behind the center instrument panel trim and pry it away from the dashboard to dislodge the retaining clips. Detach the electrical connectors from the back of the panel trim piece and remove it from the interior.

Remove the glove box. Squeeze the two tabs on the lower edges of the glove box together and pull the glove box away from the dashboard until it clears the bumper stops on the dashboard. Remove it from the interior.

Remove the defroster and vent grilles. Place a flat head screwdriver behind the defroster grille and pry it away from the dashboard. Repeat this process for the remaining vent grilles located on the dashboard.

Slide the ashtray out in the open position. Depress the retaining clip on the top of the ashtray and remove it from the dashboard. Remove the retaining screws securing the ashtray housing with a Phillips head screwdriver, then pull the housing away from the dashboard. Detach the electrical connection from the rear of the housing and remove the housing from the interior.

Remove the climate control assembly and stereo. Remove the retaining screws for both the climate control assembly and stereo with a Torx screwdriver. Pull the climate control assembly away from the dashboard, detach the electrical connections from the rear of the assembly and remove it from the interior. Pull the stereo out and remove the wiring harness and antenna connection from the rear of the stereo. Remove the stereo from the interior.

Remove the steering wheel and steering wheel components. Unscrew the retaining screws on the wiper switch on the right side of the steering column, and the light switch on the left side of the column, with a Torx screwdriver. Unplug the electrical connections and remove both switches from the column. Remove the two screws on the rear of the airbag module that secures that module to the steering wheel with a Torx screwdriver. Pull the airbag module away from the steering wheel. Twist the electrical connector counterclockwise to detach the horn connector. Depress the tabs on the module electrical connector to unplug the connector from the module. Remove the module from the interior. Remove the center steering wheel nut with a socket wrench. Place a steering wheel puller onto the steering wheel, aligning the center bolt on the puller with the shaft of the steering wheel. Turn the center of the puller with a socket wrench to dislodge the steering wheel from the shaft. Remove the puller and wheel from the interior.

Remove the steering column. Depress the snap ring holding the clockspring to the steering shaft with pliers. Follow the clockspring wiring and cut any wire ties holding the wiring for the clockspring in place with wire cutters. Detach the electrical connections for the clockspring and remove it from the interior. Pull the steering column boot back from the steering column and remove the shaft pinch bolt with a wrench. Remove the two mounting bolts on the lower part of the column with a socket wrench. Place a flat head screwdriver between the lower column and shaft joint and pry the two pieces apart. Remove the two upper column mounting bolts with a socket wrench. Lower the column, turn it slightly counterclockwise, then remove it from the dashboard.

Remove the center console. Engage the parking brake and place the vehicle in Neutral. Place a flat head screwdriver under the gear shift trim on the center console and pry it away from the center console. Rotate the trim piece while lifting it over the shift knob. Remove the center console retaining screws with a Phillips head screwdriver. Lift the center console up over the shift knob and out of the interior.

Remove the pillar trim on each side of the interior. Place a flat head screwdriver behind the trim on the pillars on both sides of the interior. The pillars stretch from the dashboard to the roof. Pry the trim away from the pillars and remove it from the interior.

Remove the dashboard. Remove the retaining screws on the left and right ends of the dashboard with a Phillips head screwdriver. Remove the bolt attaching the electrical connection on the left end of the dashboard with a socket wrench. Detach the electrical connection on the right end of the dashboard. Place a flat head screwdriver under the front window trim, located near the bottom of the windshield, and pry the trim from the dashboard. Remove the bolts under this piece of trim with a socket wrench. Inspect the dashboard for any remaining retaining screws and remove them with a Phillips head screwdriver. Pull the dashboard from the firewall and away from the cowl supports and remove it from the interior.

Items you will need

References

About the Author

Eric Grosso has been a journalist since 2002, working as a staff reporter covering government events, school districts, sporting events and entertainment acts. He has been published in "The Vindicator" and "The Jambar" as well as websites including KFFL and Plugged In Online. Grosso holds a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications and journalism from Youngstown State University.

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