Removing my own dashboard?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 2002

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee that I love. I have a habit of laying my cell phone behind the steering wheel, on the little shelf just below where the instruments are. Recently, while waiting at a drive-through, I had a small slip of paper on which I'd written something very important, and I needed it handy. So, I got a bright idea and stood it up right behind my cell phone. Dumb idea. The slip of paper slipped down in front of the clear plastic that protects the gauges ... down into the area above the steering column. Now I really need to get it out. I don't want to take it to a dealership or a repair shop -- I'd rather just do it myself. Can you help me? How do I remove just that part of the dash and retrieve my paper? It can't be that hard, can it? -- Kaye

RAY: What's it worth to you, Kaye? What was on that that slip of paper? I'm guessing it was a phone number, given to you by a cute guy, and you want to call him. Or it's a phone number given to you by a cute guy, and you want to find it before your husband does!

TOM: Well, we're happy to help you, Kaye. Even if it's just something mundane, like your dry-cleaning ticket (yeah, right!).

RAY: The piece that surrounds the instrument cluster is called a bezel. It's there to shade the instruments from direct light and glare so they're easier to see. And, luckily for you, that's the first part you take off when you remove the entire dashboard. It comes off with a couple of screws that are visible from the underside of the bezel. If you point a penlight under there, you'll see them.

TOM: Then you can work off the bezel itself and retrieve the evidence -- I mean, the piece of paper. Getting the bezel back on is a little trickier, but you can do it. And even if you can't, a loose bezel will be easier to explain to your husband than a note that reads: "Call me, hot stuff. Love, Frank."

RAY: But before you even attempt to remove the bezel, I suggest you try looking under the dashboard. If you get under there with your penlight, there's a very good chance you'll see the piece of paper up around the steering column. And you can probably reach it that way. Then all you'll have to explain to your husband is all those loose wires you pulled off while frantically trying to grab it.

TOM: I wish you the very best of luck, Kaye. And let us know how this whole thing turns out. We're on the edge of our seats.

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