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
Only reason I can think why a dash is one piece is the cosmetics of an
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
Maybe I'm missing something.
Followup to the airbag going off for no apparent reason in the
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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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