Refitting the dashboard
The recovered dashboard is back in the car. Refitting is simpler as a two man job but here is how I did it on my own (after some trial and error):
- If the there is additional vinyl overlapped at the edges of the dashboard, trim it off as the fit between the A-panels is tight.
- Trim away any new vinyl from the bolt holes on these sides. You need to be able to see them through the holes in the A-pillar sheet metal.
- Fit the bezel around hole for the ignition lock and tape it back and front so that it does not come apart when you maneuver the dashboard around the steering lock.
- If you have not already removed the steering column shroud and stalks you may have to remove them now. I could not get the dashboard back in with them there (although you can definitely get it out with them still there). You will need a special ring socket to remove the hub nut and then a bearing puller to remove the shroud.
- Prepare four or five metal shims to use as guides. I used a combination of palette knives and metal rulers covered with masking tape to avoid damaging the vinyl.
- Grab a rubber mallet. When push came to shove I had to hit the dashboard with a mallet to get it back in place. I wrapped my rubber mallet with offcuts from the vinyl to avoid marking it.
- There’s a reason the factory did not put foam around the forward half of the crescent shaped vents. If you put foam there, like I did, remove it as the dash will not fit with foam on the forward half.
- Bring the dashboard into position between the A-pillars so that it is a few inches away from the windscreen
- Place the shims on the dashboard and insert them under the metal lip below the windscreen. The shims will guide the edge of the dash down under the lip as you push it into place. You need a couple of shims in the middle as the middle of the dashboard hits the lip before the edges. You’ll need at least one shim at each end to guide the ends.
- Slowly push the dashboard in, taking care to alternate each side to keep things roughly centered.
- Once the dashboard starts to be guided under the lip by the shims look along that edge to see which parts need shimming next.
- If any part of the leading edge starts to butt up to the lip instead of dipping under, back the dashboard out a few mm, reposition a shim and push back in again.
- If pushing with your hands is not enough, start tapping at the edges with the rubber mallet. I found the front corners are quite strong and will take quite a hard hit but your mileage may vary.
- Once you have most of the leading edge under the lip, check the holes in the A-pillar to see if any of the bolts can be inserted. If they can then put them in now to avoid one side of the dashboard coming out when you push in the other. I found the bottom holes lined up quite quickly but the top ones took a lot more pushing.
- To get the top holes to line up and finally get the dashboard into position I had to hit the dashboard with the mallet while pushing up. The final position seemed to need the dashboard to rotate a little around the lower bolts.
- Insert the top bolts through the A-pillar and fit the fifth bolt behind the relay panel.
Trial and error meant I had the dashboard in and out again three times before I got the procedure right. I had it in perfectly one evening without putting the bolts in, went to bed only to find it had ejected itself a 1/4 of an inch from the windshield overnight. Then another time I forgot to put the bezel around the steering lock… And so on and so on… Anyway, the final time only took about 10 minutes to go from from fully out to fully in.
Above: preparing to refit.
Above: another shim guiding the dash under the metal lip