Dashboards - I don't get it

Since the passenger airbag went off on my kid's '95 Bonneville he's replaced the dashboard and seats. He picked up a clean console dash he liked at the boneyard, and bucket
seats. His split bench seats are in my garage. Next week he's going to fit the driver's Pontiac seat into my '97 Lumina, which has collapsed on the left side. Every Lumina seat he's seen in a boneyard is likewise collapsed. Can't get them from GM, but an upholsterer can fix it. I spent some time watching him replace his dash and seats. Dashboard is a huge job. Not for the faint at heart. It got me to thinking why dashboards aren't designed with multiple segments - maybe 3 pieces. If you've ever replaced a heater core or instrument cluster, you know what I mean. You've all heard the dreaded words, "Have to remove the dashboard, so you're looking at $6-700 right there." There's plenty of connection brackets behind the firewall to secure the pieces. Only reason I can think why a dash is one piece is the cosmetics of an uninterrupted line. A windshield-length, fairly easily detachable piece could cover segment lines if the public wouldn't go for 2 simple gap covers. You can do a lot with modern plastics. Wouldn't look bad at all. Besides the common issues requiring pulling the dash, now, with airbag deployment wrecking a dash, you would think at minimum, the airbag would be in a dash segment so you don't have to replace the entire dash. Maybe I'm missing something. Followup to the airbag going off for no apparent reason in the Bonnevile. When my kid was walking on the floor after he pulled the passenger seat, he heard water dripping on the garage floor. His walking had popped an underbody drain plug. It's directly under or very near the airbag control module, which sits on the floorpan under the carpet there. Maybe a cup of water drained out. I felt the carpet over the control module and it was dry. He'll find where water is coming in when he puts it on the rack at his work and fix that. He didn't pull the carpet to get at the control module. It's just a bump in the rug now. Has a bagless car now, new steering wheel, new dash with console, and bucket seats. Cost him about a hundred bucks. And lots of labor, maybe two 10 hour days this weekend. And a full workday at the boneyard. But he loves doing this stuff.
--Vic
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One big mold is often cheaper than many small molds. The assembly of one big piece generally costs less than the assembly of many small ones. Essentially it's just designed for assembly. I can see how it all goes together in the factory. Easy to put together... a pain to take apart.
What really should be done is design for service where the components under the dash can be replaced without removing the dash. I replaced the heater core in a mazda once... manual said to remove the dash. I didn't. The whole thing would have been relatively easy except for the fact that one of the pieces in the way... part of the duct work as I recall had closed slots instead of open slots. With open slots it would have come off the studs easily without removing the dash. I broke bridges at the end of the slots and removed it making the heater core accessible.

Could be the AC condensation line.
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On Mon, 6 Jun 2011 23:51:35 +0000 (UTC), Brent

The molding issue might be it. But it's big bulky piece and it's a PITA to put it in too.

I've done a couple cores without pulling the dash. Upside down work. Think I read the evap on my Lumina requires pulling the dash. As you say, the shop manual isn't always the best place to look. I was ready to junk my Lumina when I read the shop manual procedure for replacing the lower passenger motor mount, which was almost gone. Found a procedure on a Chevy forum which took a tenth the time and had none of the "gotchas" in the shop manual procedure.

I'll mention that to him.
--Vic
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With factory fixtures it to hold the weight it isn't difficult at all.
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The entire, complete dashboard assembly is attached to a giant arm. The arm swings into the vehicle body, locates the assembly, then the line workers buzz in a few bolts, hook up the connectors, and pop a few covers on. The ones I saw in action took, I'm sure, less than a minute each.
--
Tegger

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Tegger wrote:

Yep, much easier on the line. Makes me wish I had some of that gear at the shop. Would make working on the cars easier. Pull a few bolts, lift the entire body shell up. work on the driveline and put it back together.
--
Steve W.

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wrote:

If the production engineers want to stay with one piece dashboards, nothing I can do about it. I don't see a problem designing a 2 or 3 piece modular dash for the assembly line, or it costing hardly any assembly time. If a couple robot arm moves made a big difference all cars would have bench eats. The bottom line is the builders are afflicted with inertia, and don't want to spend the tool up costs. Why should they care? It's a low incidence failure, and everybody makes money when it happens. I don't know what the frequency is of airbags destroying a dashboard when the car isn't totaled. Just know the airbag busted my sons dash. I suspect many cars are totaled because of the expense of replacing the dash, and that has an effect on insurance rates. I expect more of this as airbags become more prevalent. At least they could do as Brent says, and provide dash access panels. Here's a good example for that I ran across.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-eK5fH9f3s

The Mazda looks easier than doing the '95 Bonneville. Wiring looks cleaner and more modular. Dash is much smaller. Looks like it's steering by wire, so you don't have to pull the wheel and drop the steering column. In the comments section somebody says the sensor can be replaced without pulling the dash. Might be blowing smoke, maybe not. It's been noted before the shop manual isn't a bible.
--Vic
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Let's say it takes 1 minute. UAW worker with benefits is what? $70/hr? Let's call it $60 for easy math. So it costs $1. When production is 6 and 7 figures that's real money. Now then there are other costs. many more part numbers to manage. to tool. to make. to ship. to track. to check. to maintain tooling on. and probably some stuff I am neglecting. all these costs snowball... for a 100k runner you're looking at a million dollars easy.

Customers don't want bench seats. As you mentioned, customers either don't care about the dashboard being one piece or three or want it one piece for cosmetics. The small minority who want multiple pieces for service aren't going to decide not to buy a car because of it.

Molds that size aren't exactly chump change.
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On 06/07/2011 06:25 PM, Brent wrote:

big molds are disproportionately more expensive than small ones so unit costs for single pieces are higher.
conversely, while it may take only a minute to clip in a dash, they don't do 60 per hour, they do say 10 per hour - big difference to expenses. multiple pieces will only decrease that rate, even if fractionally. so, this is the reason for the single piece - it may cost more, but it's cheaper to assemble, and that saving is greater than the large size cost increment.
--
nomina rutrum rutrum

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Who is the "they" to whom you refer?
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On 06/08/2011 02:50 PM, cavedweller wrote:

who are.
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-mythical-they /
--
nomina rutrum rutrum

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Quite. Are "they" installing 10 IPs per hour?
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On 06/08/2011 06:19 PM, cavedweller wrote:

looks like there's something you're just itching to say - don't beat about the bush dude, spit it out.
--
nomina rutrum rutrum

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On Wed, 08 Jun 2011 01:25:20 +0000, Brent wrote:

This customer does. I hate center consoles that bump my knees and make me feel cramped into a small space. All my cars have bench seats.
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On Mon, 06 Jun 2011 23:51:35 +0000, Brent wrote:

Old joke about the "car being built around the heater core"...
I had a '97 Chrysler LHS. I was working for a Toyota dealer, but my shop was located in the neighboring Chrylser dealer.
I filled the system with a "blow up can" of R-134, and it actually blew cold air for about 2 days, then back to hot...
One of the real good techs in the Chrysler repair shop said they would have to replace the core at the exchanger, and that would mean removing the dash, and even with my discount would be about $2500.
That car made a REAL nice winter car...
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wrote:

Sounds like the perfect car to try a can of AC sealer on.
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On Tue, 07 Jun 2011 15:30:34 -0700, Ashton Crusher wrote:

Traded it for $600 towards the Scion in 2006 :(
STILL kicking myself...
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wrote:

I rode in one of those Scion's that look like a refrigerator on it's side. It was the worst riding car I've ever ridden in except for an International Scout with one completely broken rear left spring (main leaves all broke at the shackle) that was replaced with a chunk of railroad tie between the axle and frame for the trip home.
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On Wed, 08 Jun 2011 00:47:52 -0700, Ashton Crusher wrote:

Since I play in a band, I looked at one of those. Nah, it was NOT going to take my cabinets and basses! At that time it was only a 1.5L Tercel engine.
I opted for the tC, the "touring coupe", but had to install a Celica seat since I didn't like feeling like I was driving a kitchen table...much better with the lower seat!
BTW, the car is FAST! I didn't get the Supercharger...I can't even IMAGINE 205 HP in that car! 165 is PLENTY!
That said, I think I'll go have a look at a Civic Si... ;)
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