Hey ya'll - I did search and found lots of threads about cracked dashes but none with info about the swap - if your aware of helpful thread it would be awesome for a link to it - otherwise any helpful tips would be great - thanks for all the info
Get a long T-20 torx screw driver (~4" min) to pull the steering column covers.
Remove the wiring harness connectors from the switches on the steering column, that is where they come off at.
Drop the sterring column against the seat - better yet is to pull it completely out of the truck.
Pull the dash assembly out of the truck as an entire unit - don't even think of replacing the dash cover without pulling the entire dash. The dash assembly is attached with five screws along the top (just below the windshield) and two hex head capscrews (one on each end near the bottom pointing away from the center of the truck - I think they are 13mm if I remember correctly).
There are many electrical connections - take pictures, make good notes, or mark them if your memory isn't great or the truck will be apart for a while.
When pulling the heater control cables off, be SUPER careful with the red plastic locking tab on the end - they love to break off.
Thanks for the info Art - one question... - When I pulled the dash cover off this truck at the junk yard the steering column was gone with just a few screws Iwas able to pull the dash toward the drivers seat and get at the rest off the screws right above the glove box - It came out pretty easy with just a few snips of some zip ties to get at the screws that mounted the ducting to the cover - I was bummed when you said don't even think of changing the cover with out pullin the whole assembly - I'm sure your right, but what are the problems with that approch
Art has been helping me with my dash replacement. I've been taking my sweet time with it. My truck isn't a daily driver, so I can get away with leaving it all undone. At first, I thought it was a complicated nightmare of poorly-made parts. However, I managed to get the entire dash unit pulled out of the truck. This is the ONLY way you can replace the dash cover. It has to come out. No way around it.
The Torx drivers that Art mentioned are imperative. I tried to use a Torx bit held by an extension in my socket set, but the diameter was too big. I made a quick run up to Sears and got a set of Torx drivers for ten or fifteen bucks. They took care of the steering column covers that Art mentioned.
One of the most difficult things I encountered while pulling this thing was that some of the plugs are a bear to get apart. There isn't always much room to work, and most of them probably haven't been disconnected since new. In addition, there is always either some sharp metal or sharp plastic in the vicinity. The vacuum line plugs were a pain in the @$$, too. Fortunately, there was only one of those.
Also, take the advice to note where everything goes and plugs in. I was kind of feeling my way around in the dark when removing the dash. I would undo some plugs and see if it came out. If it didn't, I would go and find whatever was holding, undo that, and try again. It took several tries to get the thing out. Once it IS out, it's really not all that complicated. You can get a much better look at all the harnesses, plugs, etc... Before I put it back in, I'm going to put a piece of brightly-colored yarn on each plug. The reason I plan on doing that is because it might be tough to see everything once the dash goes back in. I'll just remove the yarn once the plug or mechanism is reinstalled.
Another thing I did with my dash was to use some spray adhesive to put some dense foam rubber on the under side. I cut it up into pieces that fit between the ribs so it would lay flat on the surfaces. I was hoping to cut down on the vibration and resonance. The dash definitely seems to have more of a "dead" sound when I tap on it. I also put a few pieces in some of the other parts of the dash. I don't know if it will make a difference when the engine is running, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.
I can't think of anything else to mention on it just yet. There are a few other things I'm planning to do before I put the dash back in (door hinges, gauges, etc...). So, I don't yet have any insight into the re-installation process. The heater control cable that Art mentioned is definitely one of my concerns. When I was pulling it off, I could've sworn I cracked something and saw it go flying. However, I can't say for sure if I actually broke a crucial mechanism or not. There are a LOT of flimsy parts on the interior of this truck. Just be careful as you go and make sure you keep the VIN plate from your old dash!
I forgot to mention... When you attach the new dash cover to the dash, you'll need to attach the front side (above the glove box) while the heat/defrost vents are moved out the way. I had a heck of a time dealing with all that mess. I tried to remove the heater duct, but I only got the two screws off the tabs and that was it. I couldn't tell what else was holding it in. Nonetheless, I still managed to get the new cover in place, but the heater duct doesn't look like it's quite in place. It's quite an ordeal getting this thing replaced, but it will be nice to have a crack-free dash when it's all said and done. Now I need to do something about the worn-out driver's seat and steering wheel!
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