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Upper Dashboard Cover Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Upper Dashboard Cover Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

8 hours8 hrs

Tab:

$500

Talent:

****

Tools:

T30 Torx driver, plastic prying tool,

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz E320 (2003-05)
Mercedes-Benz E500 (2003-06)
Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG (2003-06)

Parts Required:

Upper dashboard cover

Hot Tip:

Have a helper handy when you are ready to pull the upper dashboard cover off

Performance Gain:

Replace cracked upper dashboard cover and gain access to dashboard components

Complementary Modification:

Upgrade to AMG gauge faces with the instrument cluster out

The concept of the dashboard goes back to the early motorcars. We often think of it as a place for the instrument cluster, electrical body controls, radio and covers for the climate control housing. The concept of the upper dashboard cover and for the modern dashboard is to give a softer cushion for the driver in the event of an accident. Softer cushioned surfaces are prone to cracking with extensive exposure to sunlight making the dashboard unsightly after several years of being out in the sun.

Of course this need for softer padding was reduced with the advent of airbag systems. The dashboard is also an ideal place to hide electronic control units and wiring. Mercedes Benz, as have most manufacturers, has incorporated the dashboard frame as a significant safety feature in the event of side impacts. The dashboard is no longer a framework of metal or plastic. Large strong tubes offer strength and resilience in the event of a side impact. As a result of this change in design the dashboard is more a series of covers over a plastic supporting frame to keep noise vibration and squeaks to a minimum. Sometimes you may need to gain access to components underneath the dashboard panels. You may also simply want to replace the unsightly, sun damaged cover. In this tech article I will go over the steps to remove your upper dashboard cover.

In order to remove the upper dashboard cover you will need to remove both the instrument cluster and the climate control unit/air register assembly. See our tech articles on instrument cluster removal and climate control unit removal first then continue with this procedure.

Since you will be working near the side airbags, you'll also need to disconnect the negative battery cable. Your first step to guarantee your safety is to remove the negative battery cable and secure it so it doesn't accidentally touch the negative battery terminal.

This picture illustrates the dashboard just above the ignition switch.
Figure 1

This picture illustrates the dashboard just above the ignition switch. Using a plastic prying tool lever the wood trim strip just above the ignition switch (red arrow). Do not lever at any other point of the wood trim strip, only the left end of it behind the steering wheel. The blue arrows point to the style of the clip securing the trim. Further down the wood trim, the style of clip changes. See the following step.

Slide the entire wood trim strip in the direction of the red arrow a few inches then pull the wood trim strip away from the dashboard to remove it.
Figure 2

Slide the entire wood trim strip in the direction of the red arrow a few inches then pull the wood trim strip away from the dashboard to remove it. The blue arrows show the clip used on the remainder of the wood trim. They engage a slot in the dashboard. These clips detach by sliding them out into the slot, then pulling the trim piece away from the dashboard.

Starting on the right side of the dashboard use a plastic prying tool to lever off the right side dashboard cover.
Figure 3

Starting on the right side of the dashboard use a plastic prying tool to lever off the right side dashboard cover.

Lift the back of the cover away from the dashboard and pull the cover towards the back of the car to unseat it from the dashboard.
Figure 4

Lift the back of the cover away from the dashboard and pull the cover towards the back of the car to unseat it from the dashboard.

Remove the three T30 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 5

Remove the three T30 Torx fasteners (green arrows). 

Above the glove box remove the two T30 Torx fasteners.
Figure 6

Above the glove box remove the two T30 Torx fasteners. You do not need to remove the radio/navigation unit from the dashboard but you do need to remove the climate control unit/air register assembly. 

This picture illustrates the right side of the dashboard.
Figure 7

This picture illustrates the right side of the dashboard. Remove the T30 Torx fastener (green arrow). You will also have to remove the fastener in the same position but on the left side of the dashboard.

Peel down the right front door seal around the A pillar area.
Figure 8

Peel down the right front door seal around the A pillar area.

Pull the top of the A pillar cover away from the A pillar in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 9

Pull the top of the A pillar cover away from the A pillar in the direction of the blue arrow.

With the top of the A pillar cover pulled away from the A pillar pull upwards on the cover to removed it from the dashboard.
Figure 10

With the top of the A pillar cover pulled away from the A pillar pull upwards on the cover to removed it from the dashboard.

Push on the orange locking tab for the side curtain airbag electrical connector.
Figure 11

Push on the orange locking tab for the side curtain airbag electrical connector.

Unplug the side curtain airbag electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing the connector and pulling it in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 12

Unplug the side curtain airbag electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing the connector and pulling it in the direction of the blue arrow.

This picture illustrates the center of the dashboard with the climate control unit/air register assembly already removed.
Figure 13

This picture illustrates the center of the dashboard with the climate control unit/air register assembly already removed. Remove the T30 Torx fastener (green arrow).

This picture illustrates the left side of the dashboard just above the ignition switch.
Figure 14

This picture illustrates the left side of the dashboard just above the ignition switch.

There are two pins (green arrows) for mounting the small wood trim strip so lever up on each side of it.
Figure 15

There are two pins (green arrows) for mounting the small wood trim strip so lever up on each side of it.

This picture illustrates below the instrument cluster opening.
Figure 16

This picture illustrates below the instrument cluster opening. Remove the two T30 Torx fasteners (green arrows). You do not need to remove the steering wheel to do this job but it does make it much easier to remove the dashboard panel in the final step. See our tech article on steering wheel removal if you want to perform this job.

Working inside the opening of the instrument cluster opening remove the two T30 Torx fasteners (green arrows) already loosened.
Figure 17

Working inside the opening of the instrument cluster opening remove the two T30 Torx fasteners (green arrows) already loosened. One of the fasteners (yellow arrow) was already removed in the previous step.

Using a plastic prying tool lever off the left side dashboard cover.
Figure 18

Using a plastic prying tool lever off the left side dashboard cover.

Remove the left side panel from the side of the dashboard by pulling the rear of it to the left and then pull it towards you to release the rear.
Figure 19

Remove the left side panel from the side of the dashboard by pulling the rear of it to the left and then pull it towards you to release the rear. 

Remove the four T30 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 20

Remove the four T30 Torx fasteners (green arrows).

The yellow arrow indicates the location of a T30 Torx fastener that should have already been removed in step #7.
Figure 21

The yellow arrow indicates the location of a T30 Torx fastener that should have already been removed in step #7.

Pull the left front door seal trim off of the A pillar area.
Figure 22

Pull the left front door seal trim off of the A pillar area.

Remove the left A pillar trim panel by pushing the A pillar trim panel away from the A pillar in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 23

Remove the left A pillar trim panel by pushing the A pillar trim panel away from the A pillar in the direction of the blue arrow.

With the top of the A pillar cover pulled away from the A pillar pull upwards on the cover to remove it from the dashboard.
Figure 24

With the top of the A pillar cover pulled away from the A pillar pull upwards on the cover to remove it from the dashboard.

Push on the orange locking tab for the side curtain airbag electrical connector.
Figure 25

Push on the orange locking tab for the side curtain airbag electrical connector.

Unplug the side curtain airbag electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing the connector and pulling it out of the side airbag.
Figure 26

Unplug the side curtain airbag electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing the connector and pulling it out of the side airbag.

Carefully lift up on the left front corner of the upper dashboard and unplug the electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing it and pulling in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 27

Carefully lift up on the left front corner of the upper dashboard and unplug the electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing it and pulling in the direction of the blue arrow.

This picture illustrates the center of the upper dashboard with the climate control unit/air register assembly already removed.
Figure 28

This picture illustrates the center of the upper dashboard with the climate control unit/air register assembly already removed. Make sure the electrical connector for the loud speaker is not caught in the upper dashboard cover opening.

This picture illustrates the right front side of the upper dashboard cover.
Figure 29

This picture illustrates the right front side of the upper dashboard cover. Carefully lift up the upper dashboard cover and unplug the electrical connector (green arrow) by squeezing the connector and pulling it in the direction of the blue arrow.

Carefully unseat the right side of the upper dashboard cover from the car.
Figure 30

Carefully unseat the right side of the upper dashboard cover from the car. Be careful not to damage the side curtain airbag connectors on each A-pillar.

Carefully unseat the left side of the upper dashboard cover from the car.
Figure 31

Carefully unseat the left side of the upper dashboard cover from the car.

You can now fully remove the upper dashboard cover from the car completely.
Figure 32

You can now fully remove the upper dashboard cover from the car completely. Installation is the reverse of the removal steps. Fit the upper dash board cover into place making sure the wiring harness for the loud speaker and side curtain air bag are not trapped underneath the upper dashboard cover. Lift up both left and right sides of the upper dashboard cover and plug in the electrical connectors for each side air register. Route the center loud speaker wiring through the its opening in the center of the dashboard. Plug in the two electrical connectors for the side curtain air bags and lock the orange locking tabs. Install the bottom of each A pillar into the dashboard and push the A pillar covers into place on the A pillar. Fit the door seals on the A pillar for both left and right sides. Install the five fasteners on the left side of the dashboard, three on the side and two in front, above the headlight switch. Fit the front of the dashboard left side cover into the dashboard and push the back of it into the dashboard. Install and tighten the four fasteners, two inside the instrument cluster opening and one on each side of the steering column. Install the smaller wood trim strip on the left side of the instrument cluster. Install the fastener for the dashboard upper cover mounted underneath the climate control unit/air register assembly. Install the three fasteners on the right side of the upper dashboard cover. Fit the front of the side dashboard cover into the dashboard and push the rear of the cover into the dashboard. Install the three fasteners on the right side of the dashboard mounted underneath the longer right side wood trim strip. Insert the wood trim strip with the clips lining up in their openings in the dash and then slide it towards the left. Push the left side of the right trim strip into its opening in the dashboard until it is fully seated. Install the climate control unit/air register assembly according to our tech article on climate control unit removal. Install the instrument cluster according to our tech article on instrument cluster removal. Reconnect the negative battery cable to the negative battery terminal. Turn on the ignition key and verify the instrument cluster and the climate control system are all working.

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