This is for a 1994 e36 coupe so things may differ slightly on older/newer models.
You'll notice some of the pictures have more items removed than mentioned in the description; that's becuase I took pictures at random times lol
I invested in a couple of trim tools before taking this on and they proved invaluable. If you don’t have a set I would advise you invest in some, purely to minimise risk of damaging trim pieces by using the wrong tools.
OK, you should start with something like this:
(Yes it still needs a clean and yes that's a cheapy temp ripspeed head unit lol. This is actually the picture when it was all back in but hey ho)
Firstly pull off the door seals either side of the dash just to make room for later on, remember not to try and close the doors.
My car has an armrest so again, if yours doesn’t it may be different.
Remove the rear part of the centre console surrounding the handbrake; this is done by lifting out the ashtrays to uncover the screws underneath and unplug the ashtray lights.
(I now how the little piece that lifts up the ashtray when the top it opened that's missing in this picture)
The trim around the armrest just pops off/out and then you can pull out the ‘hinges’ either end and remove the armrest top.
Next is to pop off the handbrake leather; squeeze the sides in and ease it out.
There is then one screw at the rear end of the trim and one at the front under the hazard light switch which you need to remove.
Then remove the gear stick surround; put it in 4th (to minimise movement) and just use brute force to pull the gear knob.
Then squeeze the sides of the gator to ease it out of the surround. There is a foam piece around the base of the gear lever which you can pull out of the way. Push the window and hazard light switches through from underneath and unplug them.
There is a hole in the top of the coin tray to reach through and push the lower tab of the OBC, you can then slide this out and unplug it.
The coin tray will now be free to push out from behind. Prise the alarm light and tab out and then push them both through the hole and unplug the cigarette lighter.
Undo the plastic bolt which was hidden under the ash tray trim and then the two screws underneath the top section, the one on the drivers side top corner and the one holding it to the dash support bar.
Before you can remove the centre console completely you need to remove the glovebox and drivers/passenger kick panels.
Unscrew the two screws holding the kick panel in under the glove box and remove it.
Open the glove box and prise off the screw head covers and undo all the visible screws not forgetting the ones in either corner in the air vents. Unplug the glove box light and torch charging point.
Once the glove box is removed you can remove the lower half dash trim by undoing two screws, one at the top and one underneath.
You don’t strictly need to remove the speaker cover but it makes putting the kick panel back in a touch easier so turn the plastic fastener 90 degrees to release it.
Drivers side kick panel and speaker cover is the same as passenger side but unscrew the bonnet release first and unplug the bonger so it doesn't hang and strain the wires. FYI; there should be a little rubber cover over the bonnet release screw incase you're picky like me.
Once the glove box and kick panels are removed you can lift out the centre console.
Again, mine had analogue climate control so yours may differ, otherwise pop off all the knobs and reveal two screws and undo them.
You can see the wire with the orange label in these pictures, this is the plug for the centre vent control.
This is loose now and you can leave it in when you come to remove the dash, just be careful not to squash it.
Removing a head unit is…well..as easy as removing a head unit, enough said there.
The centre vent is held in with two screws on the roof of the HU housing, undo these and it pulls out. The main ‘hook’ is the top right hand corner so pull it towards the passenger side slightly when removing.
Again, with the analogue climate control the centre vent control is just a wire to unplug whereas I think the mechanical versions are a bit more fiddly with removing cable mechanisms.
Because mine could just be unplugged from lower down behind the OBC, looking back I could have just unplugged it and left the vent in place as it wouldn’t have hindered the removal of the dash at all.
The drivers side vent and headlight switch is held in with one screw underneath, once this is undone you can pull the unit out. The circular plug unscrews before it unplugs.
The dash illumination and headlight aim switches can be pushed through out of the way once the trim is removed. Note: the trim I am holding is broken, the bottom spring retaining tabs had snapped off, this has now been replaced.
For some reason my car didn’t have a ‘support’ on both sides and there was no evidence of one ever being there (no tell tale marks from screws and washers etc), I’ve no idea why but hey, it’s one less screw to undo. Note; I've just tried to fit the existing bar to the 'missing' side and it doesn't fit, so my guess is that cars with higher spec/more buttons may have this fitted at the factory.
Here is the support bar on the right hand side of the steering column that needs undoing.
The dials are held in with two torx screws, once these are undone you can reach in behind through the air vent holes and push it out from behind. It won’t come all the way out until you remove the wheel.
In order to remove a steering wheel with an airbag I disconnected the negative terminal from the battery the night before to give things plenty of time to drain (still didn’t stop me being a nervous wreck while doing it!).
Unscrew the 3 torx screws that hold in the air bag, lift it forward and unplug the two connections from the back of it. I used one of my plastic trim tools to pry them off as they were a bit stuck. I didn’t fancy using a metal screw driver and risking a spark but that’s probably me just being paranoid.
Once the airbag was removed I unbolted the wheel using an impact gun as the bolt was fairly stubborn and you shouldn't try and use the steering lock mechanism to hold the wheel.
Make a mark with some permanent pen or similar to make getting it back on in the same position easier.
The back of the steering wheel has a copper grease on it which on mine was very dirty, I cleaned it all off and put a light smear back on before refitting it.
For the steering column surrounds; unscrew the plastic screws very carefully, one on top and one underneath. Use your best fitting Phillips head screw driver because you don’t want to chew up the plastic. Then prise off the lower trim first and then the top.
Undo the plastic screw holding the base of the stalks in place, squeeze the tops in and slide them down out of the way for later)
By now you should have a bare dashboard which is nearly ready to take out.
Remove the A pillar trims, again these just prise off and then lift out of the corners of the dash.
There are 3 bolts hidden at the top of the dash under the vents, to remove them you just pop them off which is fiddly and imo can only be done with some of the trim tools mentioned earlier.
Because of the lack of room I sacrificed a spare 7mm socket and ground it down so only the bare minimum was left. This combined with a small ratchet worked a treat to undo these.
The centre support bar that was hidden underneath the centre console trim just unbolts.
Undo the large bolts either side of the dash and you’re ready to lift it out; you’ll see some locating studs near the side bolts you need to prise the ends of the dash over before it will move though.
Even with the stalks out of the way I found it a bit of a squeeze around the ignition barrel so if you have the EWS system be very careful not to damage any of it.
With everything undone I lifted the dash up slightly, slid it forward off the tabs underneath the screen and then lifted it out completely. The centre sits on top of the heater motor box so be careful not to catch it on this, but theeeeen:
Things worth mentioning:
The screws are many different lengths, some have washers and some don’t etc etc so be sure to either screw them back in place, take pictures or have a good memory. The screws that have covers over them are also different in order for the covers to fit, ‘standard’ ones will not allow the covers to fit.
The metal tabs that the 3 screws on the top of the dash screw into can move around; they’re just little U clips that a screw can thread into. When you go to put the dash back in place you may find they move and the holes don’t line up, this happened to me but I was able to get around it, if they keep moving though I suggest using a bit of blu tak or something just to hold them in place.
You may be tempted to undo the screws holding the vent tubing in place, you see them once you remove things like the glove box and speedo etc. Don’t. They are all part of the dash and come out with it.
It’s all pretty basic stuff but hopefully this will alleviate the ‘why isn’t this coming off?? I’ve undone everything…haven’t I??’ aspect of jobs like this.