Dash removal & installation, repairs


New member
Has anyone ever removed an 1984 Westie Dashboard? I need to remove mine in order to connect some heating stuff up. I have a hose pumping out air it's just not connected to any of the vents. I need to remove the dash in order to get things working again. How difficult is it to remove the dash and put the dash back? Thank You in advance. <IMG SRC="cool.gif" border="0">

[This message was edited by Capt. Mike on February 16, 2004 at 08:14 AM.]

Tim Hannink

New member
I posted this to the Vanagon List as a general guide to removing the dash.

I have done this 3 or 4 times and it takes me an hour to remove and two
hours to re-install. The toughest part is figuring out how all of the
switches come off without breaking any of the little plastic tabs.

This is the order I do things in:

Disconnect primary battery
Remove ashtray
Remove center defroster vents
Remove fuse box cover
Lower fuse block
Remove glove compartment
Remove outer defroster vents
Now I can remove my dashboard cover
Remove Steering wheel - You don't have to but it makes the fascia easier to
get out of the van.
Remove instrument panel cover
Remove instrument panel (I typically leave the switches connected and push
them through the holes in the fascia)
Remove hoses from the front fascia vents
Remove the steering column cover
Remove the two bolts with conical heads holding the column to the fascia (I
use a pair of channel-lock pliers)
Those two bolts are threaded into two braces that run between the fascia and
the front of the van. Swing those braces away from the fascia or they will
hang up when removing the fascia.
Pull knob from rear heater fan switch
Remove rear heater fan switch
Pull knob from front fan switch
Pull levers from heater controls (be careful, its easy to pull the
indicators off of the lever controls, the levers also tend to get caught on
the faceplate)
Gently pry off heater control faceplate
Remove light assembly from back of heater control panel
Remove 3 screws holding heater control lever mechanism to the dash (2 are on
the front of the fascia, one is in the instrument panel opening)
Remove radio (if your unable to get the radio out you can remove it with the
fascia, you will need to pull the fascia out a couple of inches to access
all of the connectors on the back of the radio
Remove the A/C control knobs
Remove the A/C switches from the fascia
Remove the lighter socket from the fascia
Remove the 5 Phillips screws from the top area of the fascia near the
Remove the 4 Phillips screws holding the fascia in each door jamb
Pull out on the fascia rotating the front upward and the assembly should
come out

Of course, assembly is the reverse of removal. Pay close attention to the
routing of the heater control cables especially near the radio, A/C controls
and rear fan switch.

A couple of related items:
This is a good time to lubricate the windshield wiper mechanism and
repair/replace any windshield washer hoses.
If you have a manual transmission, this is a great time to check the pedal
assembly, especially if the clutch pedal is squeaking. The pedal assembly
and power brake booster can be removed without disconnecting any of the
hydraulic lines.
Clean up the ground connector behind the fuse block
Note the position of the fuses and relays located behind the fuse block for
future reference
I have a supply of Ziplock bags that I use to keep all of the small parts
(i.e. knobs, switches, screws etc...) together
If you're really anal, clean and wax the sheetmetal ductwork behind the
fascia.:> )

Good luck,

Tim Hannink
Goldibox 1987 Vanagon Camper
Winter Park, Florida http://home.earthlink.net/~tjhannink/

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

floyd Junior Member posted February 14, 2004 01:28 AM

Some thieves trying to steal my stereo damaged my dash. The dash was replaced but the insurance company ordered and installed one where there is a notch cut out above the steering column brace. I assume that on earlier models the steering column brace was higher. The insurance company told me that if I find a correct replacement that they will install it.

I was wondering which years are compatible and the same style as my '79 Westy because I'm having trouble finding one from a '79.

Capt. Mike

Guideline #8: Go to your dealer and ask him to look up the dash panels -- the parts fiche shows 4 and which serial number range each fits. It appears, the main change was in 1974 but my ancient fich shows substitutes for some. This is a steel panel and as such, the body shop should have been able to splice in a salvage dash in the damaged radio area without affecting the steering column area.

If you are talking about the plastic dash cover, any good upholstery shop can replace the harder shell plastic cover with a good padded cover with the material and color of your choice -- not original but quite sufficient.

The site does not support locating obsolete or discontinued parts beyond the member recommendations in the PARTS & SUPPLIERS forums.


New member
Removal Dashboard 1970
Hi I am trying to remove the dashboard on a 1970 VW Bus. On my '79 I can just pull off the heater levers. But here there are those platic pins. The bentley manual states i can just push out those pins. That seems to be impossible to me, maybe they have just been in there to long and are now so harded. Does anybody have a tip how to "push" those out?
thanks for all tips

Capt. Mike

An example of production not considering repairs afterwards, huh? I see it took them through the '72 model to figure it out.

Never had the misfortune, but the pin, P/N 211-259-377 is actually called a plug and looks in the parts fiche very much like a flanged plug. That would lead one to believe it prys out much like a paneling clip. The secret would then be to find a tool that will slide tightly down each side under the flanged head to pry out with. I suspect it is smaller than the standard upholstery removal tool.

The picture looks like the plug body is hollow, so could be driven with a pin punch from the opposite side. Either way, considering the age, I wouldn't be optimistic of removal without destroying the plug so I think I'd check for replacement availability first. And if not available, then I'd look for something like the small body plugs or upholstery clips to see if you can find a substitute that will still clear the lever motion.

The actual control levers are shown as a complete assembly. And yes, they did change after '72. I'm trying to dredge up my half-heimers memory but didn't the earliest buses have only 3 levers instead of 4? What I'm getting at is did the change of control assemblies change the lever mount or will a later lever end fit the older assembly? The slide-on type? The later lever ends had a built in leaf spring for tension and a little button on the end that dropped into the hole on the control lever when it was home and in position. Same hole?

Do let us know how it works out. The Bentley is remise on that area.


New member
Hi Capt.
Okay I figured it out how to get those levers out!
I hope this helps someone else
Yeah the pre '72s have 4 levers, later only 3.
So what I did is I loosed the two selflocking nuts that hold on the heater lever assembly. They are quite easy to access. The two are opposite each other. Then I slide off the lower part of the levers (watch out for all the little parts!), so that I could at least lift the instrument panel a little. Then I could access the plastic plug. You can pop it out then quite easliy with a flat screwdriver on the big flat side of the plug. You must get it from the top though, since otherwise there is no spot to get the screwdriver under. Yeah talk about bad design!
So i was kinda hoping i could put on the later type of levers, but you would have to replace the whole assembly, too much work for that.
but the plugs were still okay. you just can't push them out since they are split on the small end, and you end up widening the plug.
Oh yeah and if anybody follows my procedure, slide the lever back on and replace the nuts and spacers before you put the instrument panel back on. It's really hard afterwards!
thanks for all your help!

Capt. Mike

The glove box in the Vanagon is a 'bin' hinged at the bottom. When released, it drops open to catch on two hooks. To remove the bin , open as far as possible but hold OFF the stop hooks. Reach over the top and deflect the catch hooks inward just sufficient to clear the section of dash they catch on. The bin can then open past the dash and rotate towards the floor. Continue (bin empty) until you can line up tabs on the hinge posts and slide the bin towards the center of the vehicle to remove.

Caution: The catch hooks are plastic. Excessive force can break them off, necessitating a new bin. Deflect -- gently push the ends towards center. You want the deflection to curve over its entire length, not 'fold' at some midpoint. Do NOT use any tools.


New member
Steering Column removal from facia

In the theme of dashboard removal I have come to an impasse with removing the sheer bolts that hold the steering wheel column to the facia. Having no center punch (as Haynes recommends) I tried chiseling a notch to turn them and the metal just bent, tried using channel locks and vise grips, both would grip and simply score the cone shaped head. I have now drilled out the bolt, but still cannot get this thing to release. HELP!!!