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BMW E39 Upper Dash Panel Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Upper Dash Panel Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

****

Tools:

Phillips screwdriver

Applicable Models:

BMW E39 5-Series (1997-03)

Parts Required:

upper dash panel, multi-function switches

Hot Tip:

This will also get you access to HVAC components under the dash

Performance Gain:

You can replace a damaged or cracked dash pad.

Complementary Modification:

You can change the color of your interior dash pad

There are more than a few reasons to remove you upper dash pad. It is required to get access to the blower motor but you can also access a malfunctioning defrost vent servo and passenger side airbag. You may just want to replace a sun damaged, cracked dash pad or change the color of your interior.

In order to remove the upper dash pad other panels need to come off. First start off with the tech article Glove Box Removing, followed by tech article Driver Side Lower Dash Panel Removing and finally tech article Center Dash pad removing. When it comes to removing the center dash panel you only need to pull the panel out a little in order to expose the two Phillips head screws that support the upper dash.

With the center dash panel out of the way two Phillips screws (green arrows) are exposed and need to be removed.
Figure 1

With the center dash panel out of the way two Phillips screws (green arrows) are exposed and need to be removed. In this picture, you can see that the center panel is hanging in place and I did not fully remove it (yellow arrow).

The instrument cluster needs to be removed.
Figure 2

The instrument cluster needs to be removed. You start this simple procedure by removing the three T10 Torx screws (green arrows) securing the bezel of the cluster.

From the inside edge pull out the instrument cluster bezel and let it hang for the moment.
Figure 3

From the inside edge pull out the instrument cluster bezel and let it hang for the moment.

On the right side of the bezel is the fog light switch.
Figure 4

On the right side of the bezel is the fog light switch. Unplug the electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing it and pulling the connector straight back.

There are two electrical connectors on your left (green arrows) as you face the back of the bezel.
Figure 5

There are two electrical connectors on your left (green arrows) as you face the back of the bezel. Unplug the connectors by squeezing the connector and pulling them straight back.

As soon as you unplug the light switch the light are going to come on both inside and outside of the car.
Figure 6

As soon as you unplug the light switch the light are going to come on both inside and outside of the car. This is the default for the lighting module when it has lost the light switch signal. Before you disconnect the battery you should position the steering wheel in the lowest possible position and pull the steering wheel away from the instrument cluster if your steering column is adjustable. You should then disconnect the battery at this point to prevent a dead battery as a result of the drain. See our tech article on battery installing and reconnecting.

Remove the two Phillips screws (green arrows) at the top of the cluster.
Figure 7

Remove the two Phillips screws (green arrows) at the top of the cluster. Then, pull the top of the cluster out towards the steering wheel.

There are three connectors that need to be unplugged before you can pull the instrument cluster out of the way.
Figure 8

There are three connectors that need to be unplugged before you can pull the instrument cluster out of the way. Press on center tang and pull lever 90 degrees to unlock. Repeat this step for each electrical connector. If you only want to remove the Instrument Cluster then you can stop here and reverse the removal procedure for its installation. Keep in mind where the wiring harness are routed so the wires don't get pinched or damaged.

Working at the right side of the instrument cluster enclosure, remove the Phillips head screw.
Figure 9

Working at the right side of the instrument cluster enclosure, remove the Phillips head screw.

On each side of the upper dash panel there is one 13mm bolt that needs to be removed.
Figure 10

On each side of the upper dash panel there is one 13mm bolt that needs to be removed. We have the driver side one pictured here. The passenger side bolt is mounted in approximately the same position. Remove both of them.

Use a plastic pry tool to lever out the A-pillar covers.
Figure 11

Use a plastic pry tool to lever out the A-pillar covers. They snap in with plastic connectors that may break so it is probably a good idea to have some extras on hand.

With the A-pillar cover popped off pull it straight up to remove it from its dash mount.
Figure 12

With the A-pillar cover popped off pull it straight up to remove it from its dash mount.

There is a cable that runs from the center register to control a flap in the in the HVAC housing to switch between hot and cold air.
Figure 13

There is a cable that runs from the center register to control a flap in the in the HVAC housing to switch between hot and cold air. Since the dash pad and register are coming off the cable must be disconnected. With your finger push the cable end (green arrow) off of its mounting pin in the direction of the blue arrow.

You can also use your finger or a screwdriver to lever of the cable housing mount.
Figure 14

You can also use your finger or a screwdriver to lever of the cable housing mount. Keep in mind the position of the housing mount (green arrow) because you are going to have to reinstall it. It is not an easy spot to get a tool in.

You probably want to remove the steering wheel to give you more room to pull out the upper dash panel.
Figure 15

You probably want to remove the steering wheel to give you more room to pull out the upper dash panel. See our tech article on steering wheel removing.

Lift the upper dash panel up and pull it away from the windshield.
Figure 16

Lift the upper dash panel up and pull it away from the windshield. You will probably have to work each side off alternating between sides to gradually work the panel off. I suggest having a friend stop by at this point. Each of you slowly and gently lift the panel until it is free and can be removed. Check for any snagged wires or cables while removing. If it won't budge, something is still connected. Installing is reverse of removal. Start by positioning the upper dash panel into place and gradually work it in from side to side. You will probably have to push down on the dash as you are pushing it towards the front of the car to put it in the proper position. Remember you have to remount the blue center air register cable so route the cable the same way as when you took it off. Install all of the screws first before you tighten anything down so you have some flexibility during installation. This helps you align the screw holes. Make a final pass and tighten each screw when you are done. Don't forget to route any wiring the way it was when you removed it. It can easily get pinched and damaged as panels are mounted.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:05:32 AM