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iflypa28 07-27-2012 09:42 PM

32 steps to removing a ZJ dash(96-98)
10 Attachment(s)
This writeup will basically follow the 1998 factory service manual (FSM) for removing the dash. This should apply for all 96-98 ZJ's Unfortunately the FSM has text only instructions and is not always very clear, hence the reason for me doing this writeup. I have added steps the FSM left out as well as removed a couple unnecessary ones. Some of this may be a little simplistic for a lot of you but I wanted to cover everything for any beginners that may want to try to tackle this. The FSM has 32 steps and I will keep them in the same order here. I believe this is something everyone can do with a little patience. It is very important to keep screws, nuts, bolt, and misc. items separate and labeled. It is very easy to get confused when putting everything back together and this will help immensely. I used some plastic containers and labeled them for each section of the dash, ex. glove box or center console. Zip lock bags work great too.

Tools needed:

A/C fitting disconnect tool. Honestly the cheap plastic kind work best in my opinion. They are about $10 at harbor freight or an auto parts store.

Phillips screwdriver

Stubby, offset,or ratchet style Phillips screwdriver

Assorted ratchet wrenches and extensions

8,10,11& 13mm sockets


Anywhere you see the word PRY here it is best to use a plastic trim stick, harbor freight sells a set for something like $7. A flat head screwdriver can also be used with caution not to scratch the crap out of the trim pieces.

Here we go...

1 Disconnect the battery. This is very important because it prevents the airbags from going off while disconnecting wires under the dash. The FSM suggests waiting at least 10 minutes before continuing after doing this.

2 Now its time to recover the refrigerant from the A/C system. However you choose to do this is your call. Keep in mind there is actually a federal law against releasing it into the atmosphere. Most shops will be able to recover it properly. It is important to make sure the is zero pressure in the system before you take the lines apart.

3 Now its time to move inside the vehicle. Remove the shift knob. For those who don’t know it just pulls off, but it takes some real force. Its easiest to put it in first gear to get a good grip and yank hard.

4 Place the transfer case in neutral and then pry up the two shifter bezels. Make sure to unplug the bulbs as shown here in the picture

Attachment 441666

5 Now apply the parking brake and pry up the trim piece under it. Then remove the six screws holding the center console in as shown in the pictures. Remove the center console.

Attachment 441667
Attachment 441668

6 Next, its time to remove the passenger side knee blocker. First remove the two Vehicle Information Center (VIC) bezel screws.

Attachment 441674

Now remove the single end screw, you will need a short or offset screwdriver. I used a socket type that went on the end of a ratchet wrench.

Attachment 441669

Remove the 4 screws under the glove box and the single screw holding the courtesy lamp

Attachment 441670

Remove the ash receiver by pulling down on the top until it pops out. Remove the 3 screws behind it.

Attachment 441671

Open the glove box and remove the 4 screw behind it. Keep in mind the two end screws are the longer ones while the two in the middle are shorter.

Attachment 441672

Lower the panel CARFULY and unplug the lamp connector. Be very careful here, there arestill 2 screws holding the panel to the VIC bezel and they are easy to break. To remove these screws, you will need a very short or offset Phillips screwdriver. If you cant remove them you can wait and take the whole thing out as one piece with the driver side knee blocker, but remember to support the weight of the panel to prevent it from breaking while you do so.

Attachment 441673

7 Pry out the pod switch bezels on both sides of the steering wheel. Careful not to break the tabs.

Attachment 441675

iflypa28 07-27-2012 09:45 PM

9 Attachment(s)
8 Now its time to remove the driver side knee blocker. Remove the single end screw like you did on the other side. Remove the two screws on each side of the steering column

Attachment 441677

Remove the 4 screws under the panel

Attachment 441678

Now disconnect the lamp and 3 connectors at the cigarette outlets there is also one tab here attaching the VIC bezel to the knee blocker. It is best to detach it and prevent breakage.

Attachment 441679

9 Remove the cowl trim by prying up the front and then pulling it out.

Attachment 441680

Unplug the solar sensor an Automatic Temperature Controlled (ATC) vehicles. It just twists out

Attachment 441681

10 Remove the A post trim pieces (these are the long plastic pieces on each side of the windshield). Start prying carefully from the top, there are two tabs on each one.

11 Remove the bolts that attach the lower instrument panel reinforcement to the armature (this is basically the structure behind the dash) and remove the reinforcement

Attachment 441682

12 The FSM says to disconnect the parking lamp switch for step 12. I found no reason to do this so I think its fair to say you can skip this step.

13 Pull back the carpet a bit at the transmission tunnel. There are 2 nuts and 2 bolts holding a braket to the bottom of the dash. Remove all 4 and remove the bracket. They are 13mm

Attachment 441683

14 Just to the left of that is another bracket attached to both the dash and transmission tunnel. Remove the bottom 2 bolts. They are 13mm

Attachment 441684

15 Remove the 3 screws attaching the VIC

Attachment 441685

iflypa28 07-27-2012 09:48 PM

8 Attachment(s)
16 Just to the right of the VIC is either a vacuum harness (for non-ATC vehicles) or a vent tube (for ATC equipped vehicles). Either way disconnect it. The picture shows a vent tube.

Attachment 441686

Disconnect the two connectors pictured under the passenger side dash

Attachment 441687

17 Remove the 2 screws attaching the passenger side kick panel and the 1 screw next to it

Attachment 441688

18 Behind this kick panel just above the fuse box somewhere is the antenna cable, find and disconnect it

19 Also behind the kick panel, disconnect the 8 wire harness connectors in the top right corner of the junction box(fuse box). This part is fun! They area little tough to get unplugged and I probably cut my hands about five times trying. In my opinion the most frustrating part of all this.

Attachment 441689

20 Remove the 2 bolts that secure the armature to the windshield fence(where the dash meets the windshield). There is one one each end. They are 10mm

Attachment 441690

21 Now remove the 4 nuts that also attach the armature to the windshield fence. They are 10mm

Attachment 441691

22 Remove the 2 bolts on each end of the dash attaching it to the side panels. They are 10mm

Attachment 441692

Attachment 441693

iflypa28 07-27-2012 09:52 PM

9 Attachment(s)
23 Remove the 2 bolts that attach the steering column to the brake pedal support. They are 10mm

Attachment 441698

Remove the plastic cover over the junction box under the driver side dash, it just pulls off.

Attachment 441694

Unplug all the connectors underneath.

Attachment 441695

Disconnect the brake pedal switch connector

Attachment 441696

Disconnect the connecter near the steering column.

Attachment 441697

24 Remove the single bolt attaching the brake pedal support to the armature. Its 10mm

Attachment 441699

25 Now...the worst is about to be over. Find something to cover the front seats with to prevent them from getting cut or dirty. Lift the dash up over the steering wheel and set it on the seats. I did do this by myself but it was interesting.

Attachment 441700

26 Now back to under the hood. Disconnect the 2 A/C refrigerant lines using the special tool. Just push it into the back side to release the coupling, then pull it apart. DO NOT get anything in these lines. It is a good time to replace the accumulator/dryer at this point, and is recommended when you open the system up. At the time of this writing it is only $40.70 on

27 On non-ATC there is a vacuum harness that passes trough the same spot as the refrigerant lines. If you have this also disconnect it.

28 Disconnect the 2 heater hoses at the firewall. If you can clamp them off you will have minimal coolant loss.

Edit: I replaced both the heater core and heater hoses so I just cut them off at the fire wall. If you are not replacing the heater core it is best to disconnect the hoses at the other end and leave them attached at the heater core as MoparCharlie suggested below. However you will need to turn the claps towards each other so the will fit trough the firewall. The rubber hoses tend to bond to the copper heater core and can be a real pain to get off. To much bending and pulling will cause metal fatigue in the copper heater core which will quick lead to failure/leaking.

29 Remove the coolant overflow bottle. 3 bolts/nuts(10mm), one hose, and a electrical connector.

Attachment 441701

30 Remove the 3 bolts attaching the Powertrain Control Module(PCM), they are 8mm

Attachment 441702

iflypa28 07-27-2012 09:53 PM

3 Attachment(s)
31 Remove the 4 nuts from the heater box studs on the engine side of the firewall. They are 11mm

Attachment 441703

Attachment 441704

Remove the single nut on the inside of the vehicle holding the ground strap. It is 11mm. When reassembling it is very important to make sure this strap is properly grounded. Apparently this prevents stray current from going through the cooling system and causing corrosion.(this is a new thing I learned trough this process.)

Attachment 441705

32 At this point the heater box can be removed from the vehicle

iflypa28 07-27-2012 09:56 PM

8 Attachment(s)
This section will be a little about the actual heater box disassembley.

1 If your just replacing the heater core, you are in luck. It can be removed without opening the case. Just remove the 3 screws securing the pipes and slide it out.

Attachment 441711

Attachment 441710

2 If your going for the A/C evaporator then follow the rest of these steps. Remove the 15 screws holding the box together. Also the connector at the green arrow.

Attachment 441715

The 15th screw is under this cover. Pry up the to tabs and it pops off

Attachment 441712

Attachment 441713

3 Disconnect the mode door connecting rod, the end with the arrow pops right out.

Attachment 441714

4 Pull the heater box apart and be careful to pay attention to how the doors are positioned because they will fall out. The A/C evaporator will now slide out easily.

5 The heater box,as you will notice, originally had some foam around the A/C lines and heater hoses. This seals the holes in the firewall. Mine was very decayed and falling apart, therefore not salvageable.

Attachment 441709

I used some sound deadening/heat shield that I had laying around to make new ones. It worked great. Be careful not to get anything in the A/C or heater lines.

Attachment 441708

Dyn0mitemat 07-27-2012 10:25 PM

Nice writeup!

coralman 07-28-2012 12:55 AM

Very thought out!

torchd 07-28-2012 01:46 AM

All I have to say is....... TOO MUCH WORK!!! :laugh::laugh:

KoreaZJ 07-28-2012 05:46 AM

Wow! Great effort and nice pics!
How long to disassemble? And reassemble?

Make sure this is added to the FAQ.
Everyone watching at home will want to try this! :rofl:

coralman 07-28-2012 06:57 AM

Alot of work but this pictorial takes alot of the hassle of doing it away!

iflypa28 07-28-2012 07:22 AM

I think it took about 3 hours to disassemble it, but it took less than 2 to put it back together once I knew what I was doing. I think I could do it pretty quick now. It is a lot of work but it saved a TON of money. It would cost $1000-$1500 for most shops to do this unless you find a really good mechanic. It cost me about $150 for the evaporator core, heather core, refrigerant, and a few other little things like new heater hose.

MoparCharlie 07-28-2012 08:59 AM

For all you DIYers this is a great write up... :congrats:

It probably took you longer to post than do.... :bowdown:

There a few more steps than I do but I've done hundreds ......

Just one change I would suggest...

Step 28 ...when removing the heater core hose DO NOT remove them at the firewall, but remove them from the engine.
The reasoning for this is the hoses like to stick to the tubes over a long time. Getting them off can be a bear and if you get a little agressive you will distort the heater tubes and you'll have a leak.
Just turn the hose clamps in so they clear the firewall and remove the HVAC box with the heater hoses attached.

Just for the record:

Warrantee time: 2.1 hrs

iflypa28 07-30-2012 11:52 AM


Originally Posted by MoparCharlie (Post 13933155)
For all you DIYers this is a great write up... :congrats:

It probably took you longer to post than do.... :bowdown:

There a few more steps than I do but I've done hundreds ......

Just one change I would suggest...

Step 28 ...when removing the heater core hose DO NOT remove them at the firewall, but remove them from the engine.
The reasoning for this is the hoses like to stick to the tubes over a long time. Getting them off can be a bear and if you get a little agressive you will distort the heater tubes and you'll have a leak.
Just turn the hose clamps in so they clear the firewall and remove the HVAC box with the heater hoses attached.

Just for the record:

Warrantee time: 2.1 hrs

Great point! I knew I was replacing both so I didn't put much further thought into it. I edited it above as well, thanks.

ZJMTL 07-30-2012 12:03 PM

WOW thanks so much... I have to do this soon and this is going to make my life a million times easier. Sticky please!!!

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