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How to: How to: Remove 1991-1994 Dash with lots of pics

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Well-Known Member
February 28, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Ogden, Utah
Year, Model & Trim Level
1993 XLT, 5 speed
This writeup will show you how to remove your ENTIRE dash out of your 1st gen Explorer. Whatever your reason for taking out your dash I am sure this will be helpful. I took mine out because I really don't like the brown interior and it was the last step in my interior color conversion. I got all of my interior pieces out of a parts explorer I had.

This was done on a '91. There are a few differences between 91-92's and 93-94's which I will explain as we get to the areas where they differ.
Old brown interior

New dash

First off, if you have a Manual Trans you are going to want to remove the shifter. There are three bolts that hold it to the transmission after you remove the boot.
If you have an Automatic you can just put it in 1st gear (all the way down).

You are going to want to take off the Cluster bezel/radio piece.
First open the ash tray and take out the two screws holding it in

Then remove the ashtray assembly unplugging the wires to it.
You can now remove the cluster bezel by pulling around the perimeter of it releasing all of the clips that hold it on. If you have a '93-'94 you will have to remove your radio first. If you have a '91-'92 you remove the radio after its out of the way Be careful not to break these clips, it's a PITA if they are broken.
Now remove the 4 screws holding in the AC/Heater controls

Now remove all the wires, cables, and vacuum lines
First the wire plugs. On the big one just push where it says to push then pull the plug off. On the small one use a small screwdriver or pick to lift up the clip then pull.

The vacuum lines should pull off as you press the white plastic tabs.

Now the Vent Cables. you need to push in both sides of each clip to get it to come out. this can be a little tricky. I'm sure there is a specialty tool for this but I just lightly used a pair of needle nose pliers.

Now that those clips are off you can remove the end of the cables.
One of them you just tun it and take it off.

The other one is pretty self explanatory.

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Now, we remove the cluster, only 4 screws hold it in

And the other 2

Now you have to remove the speedo cable. Too tight to take a pic of that but all you have to do is pull the cluster out enough to fit your hand back there. There is a clip where the cluster and the cable meet. Just squeeze the clip and pull out the cable. If you can not get enough slack in the cable to fit your hand back there or you think you need to see the clip while removing the cable you may want to disconnect the cable from the transfer case so you have more slack. To do this you will need to get under the truck and remove this bolt. Then the cable will pull straight out of the T-Case and you can feed the slack through the firewall.

Once the cable is disconnected from the cluster you can turn the cluster in the dash to get to the wire plugs. These disconnect by squeezing both sides of the plug and pulling.


Now you can take out the cluster and set it down somewhere safe.

Remove the Headlight switch by removing these two screws

To remove the wire plug pry these clips out and pull the plug out.

Now remove the plastic interior piece under the steering column, there are 4 screws.

If you have a 93-94 there will be a metal plate behind that that I assume is a security feature so its harder to get to the wires to hot wire it. This plate has 2 more screws that need to be removed.

Now you can remove the steering wheel. There are two screws and a clip holding on the face of the steering wheel. First remove the two screws, they are on the back of the steering wheel.

Once those two screws are out pull on the top of the steering wheel face and it will pull off. Now you can unplug the wires and remove the center bolt.

Once the bolt is out remove the weird weight thing and you will see this.

Now you can either do this the easy way and use a steering wheel puller (available for rent at most auto parts stores). Or you can get angry at the thing and just keep pulling with all your might hoping it will come off. I suggest the puller.

Now you can remove the plastic around the steering column. There are two screws. The other one is in the same spot on the other side.

Now you need to drop down your steering column so its out of the way. Don't worry its only 2 bolts. Here is one, the other one is is the same spot on the other side.

Now you need to remove the kick panels and column interior pieces. Mine where already missing so I don't have any Pics, but its pretty simple. The kick panel has one screw half way up the door and a clip on the inside by your feet. You will also have to remove the screw holding the bottom door sill piece in.
For the Column pieces you will have to remove the screw holding on the coat hanger peg. Then if you have a 93-94 just pull it off of the clips. If its a 91-92 there are 2 screws you have to take out.
After those are out of the way there are 2 bolts holding on the bottom of the Dash, one on each side near the door.


Now you can remove the 4 bolts across the top of the dash, this is one of them.

Then there is one more above the steering column. Too tight to get a pic but in this pic you can see its threads coming out the other side.

When all of those are removed the dash should come off a little, but there are some wires holding it in place. Pop your hood, you need to disconnect the harness. To do this you need to use a 10 MM socket to loosen the bolt that I have circled in the picture. Keep on loosening it until you can remove the plug from the firewall. The arrow points to the Cruise control wires, you need to unplug them from the cruise control unit and push the rubber grommet through the firewall.

Now, once the plug is off there are three clips that you need to push in as you push the plug through the firewall. Once that is done you can pull the dash out a little more. But there are still wires you need to unplug.

I will now show you all of the wires you need to disconnect.
This one is on the top of the steering column. The arrow points to a clip that you need to pry outward to pull the plug up and off of the column. There is another clip just like it on the back of the plug.

This one is on the side of the master cylinder, so if yours is an automatic this plug will just be capped off and hanging. use a small screw driver to pry out the clips as you pull the plug off.

This plug is for the 4X4 push button. It is behind the dash in the middle of the 2 doors. Push on the clip and pull at the same time.

These plugs are for the speakers. The one with the arrow you need to pry up as you pull, the other plug has a clip on the back that you push as you pull.

These are the cables for the AC/Heater controls. Pull up on the cable so is snaps out of the silver clip then turn it and lift up on the end of the cable.

This is the antenna cable, simply pull it.

All of these are located near the passenger kick panel where the ECU is. Picture is self explanatory and arrows point to clips that need to be pried up as you pull. The vacuum hose (A) simply pulls off of (B).

This pic was taken after the dash was all the way out but these are two other plugs that need to be disconnected

Then where its too tight to take a pic there is a plug attached to the top of the brake pedal and one connected to the parking brake assembly.

Now you should be able to remove the dash entirely and take it out of the truck.

feel free to give your input and remind me of anything I forgot.

Also don't hesitate to ask any questions.

If you screw up your vehicle its your own darn fault

Excellent write-up!

Sticky this one! My write up on removing a 2nd Gen dash is a Sticky...

Good job!

I've removed 6 or 7 1st Gen dashes. The first one took me almost 3 hours. Now I can do it in about 45 min. With this write-up, ANYONE should be able to complete it in less than an hour.


Very nice write up: lots of details, lots of pictures. One suggestion for others reading this: pop the hood BEFORE you unscrew the hood release below the steering wheel, other wise it can be a pain, especially with an older truck. Also, I'm not sure that you need to remove the steering wheel. Just lowering it down by removing the support should be enough.

nice write up!! Ive done this a few times. you dont need to pull the steering wheel, HVAC controller, or the headlight switch to pull the dash.
Also, if its auto, disconnect the PRNDL cable from the column before removing the cluster.
Since your making it so easy for people, might want to add bolt sizes:
4 bolts across top,
1 bolt above column,
2 bolts behind ashtray,
2 bolts on panel under column,
2 hood release bolts,
4 instr. cluster bolts ---all 7mm
2 lower dash mount bolts---8mm
2 steering column bolts---14mm

Nice writeup!! This will help a lot.

Nominate for list of useful threads!!

thanks guys . . .
first writeup I have ever done

nice write up very useful. would it be about the same removal for a 91 ranger 2wd with manuel trans. I race the truck and i just need to get rid of some weight. thanks for any help.

GREAT post! I am going to be doing this to my 93 x just to have more room since I made it into a reg. cab truck basically.

Great write -up !!

First off, excellent write up. I just bought my first Explorer and love it, but it has a few issues and there is sure NO room to reach under the dash to fix anything, so this is a great source of info for me for repairs.
Im stumped on some problems with vacuum leaks. I just put in a new deck and in the process created (Im pretty sure) more than one vacuum leak. The fitting you showed that goes on the back of the heater/ac control has snapped off and is leaking, but after temporarily plugging it off the Cruise control suddenly stopped working and now the engine intermittently surges when idling.
When at an idle I can still hear a vacuum leak but cant find any info on where the lines are routed and or what they connect to under the dash so Im at a loss to troubleshoot any further .
Do you have any pics showing vac hose routing under the dash or have pics of the backside of the removed dash that would shed any light on whats going on back there as far as vac connections?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

feel free to give your input and remind me of anything I forgot...

Please shoot me a PM, with your email address, if you want. I have some photos that you may want to add for those of us doing this with a colum mounted shifter.

Thanks for this posting! It has helped me over a couple issues that were beating me up while doing my tear down. You have saved me a good deal of time and days of anger management...

Seriously wish that I had read this about 9 hours ago...:banghead:
Very awesome write up and It will be invaluable to me if I decide to put the stock dash back in! Thank you!

Great write-up...the pic's saved the day! One BIG question--it appears the replacement dash and harness I am putting in does not have cruise control and my truck does, so what now? I can't locate the wires/connector from the new harness to connect the cruise control. Am I missing something?

Thanks for your help,


Very Very Nice, I have 94 XLT, heat is on all the time,I am told to remove govebox and remove some electric part that no one can see, do you know what they are talking about?

Is it even on a 94 model because what I read was about a 97 model,

If it on this model does any of pictures above show it, if it where, I need to see it so I know what I am looking for.

Middel of summer in a truck with heat running all time! NO FUN

...If it on this model does any of pictures above show it, if it where, I need to see it so I know what I am looking for.

Middel of summer in a truck with heat running all time! NO FUN

Don't know if this will help. These were behind my glove box on my '92. They are packed away in a box right now so I can't pull them out to get a cable number and see what they do for you...


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I am not sure, do any of those parts connect or operate the "blend cool/heat door?

This is the where I got my info from:

But it is for a 1997 model, I noticed on your pics when removing the heater control unit, there was a cable connected to the blend cool/heat slider

I am thinking that could be where my problem is I am going out to remove it now, what I am worried about about if it is broken, is it broken at the heater control unit or at the door inside the dash

i will let you know what i find

found my problem


Thanks for the help it pointed me in the right direction, now how does that cable connect to the slider? Is it broken? should I get a new control unit.


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Thanks for the help it pointed me in the right direction, now how does that cable connect to the slider? Is it broken? should I get a new control unit.


If you go to the hardware store, I think they are called Quick Nuts. Look like little washers with slits/teeth that dig into the stud when pressed on.