non-working buttons on dash | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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non-working buttons on dash


Active Member
May 14, 2007
Reaction score
City, State
Norwalk, CT
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 4.0 XLT
I have an 03 Ex 4.0 4X4 and on the dash to the left of the stereo is the 4X4 buttons (4auto - 4High - 4Low) and to the right are identical "dummy" buttons. I am wondering what, if anything others have done with these. I hate looking at them and knowing they serve no useful purpose other than filling a hole in the dash. Has anyone put anything into this space? Was thinking of drilling into them to add rocker switches possibly for the underdash lighting and maybe some additional exterior lighting. Has anyone removed them, if so is there any wiring under there that is safe to tap into? What other possible uses could these be put to?


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I installed my switch for my fog lights in there. I know that my switch blank is not removable, they are molded in. If you had the message center then the 4x4 buttons would be there and the message center buttons would be where your 4x4 buttons are now. I bought a radio bezel on eBay for the fan speed switch and noticed that the switch blank is removable on that one. The switch blank on the '03 might be removable.

My fog light switch:


Hope this helps out! :biggthump

My switch blank IS removable in my 02 XLT. I put my switch for my brown wire mod in there. It even has a part number on the back, so if you cut into it and don't like it, you can order a new one.

Mine is also removable. Slipping a thin knife into the edge it popped right out. Bought a couple of different style switches to see what would fit and look best. The one I like best a round rocker switch is a little too big, it would fit but just barely and I think it wouldn't look right, but the rectangular lighted rocker switch that seems to be just the right size. I'll do some cutting this week and see how it comes out. When I opened it up there is no wiring at all behind it, at least not within reach. Will have to figure out a run to get hot and ground wires to the rear of the panel. For now I figure to mount the switches and figure out what to use them for and run some wires. I'll post some pics when I get them mounted.

Thanks for the replies

Same Problem

Hey All, I am wondering the same thing. I have those three empty buttons on the right side of the radio... Wondering if anyone found some good replacements for them. I am going to be installing some lights on the front and would love to use those spaces for the buttons.

I also have the 3 blank spaces - but -- maybe a wrecking yard would be a good place to get the proper switches and wires to connect the stuff that goes there on the other models that are equipped differently.

Does anyone know what is suppose to go in those three slots?

"Message center"

from my research in junkyards, the XLS model got the non-removable dummy plate, while all other models got the removable one...

It might be dependant on the automatic AC system Vs. the dials though... I didn't have a large enough pool to research that. All the non-XLS models had the auto AC

I have an 04 XLS 2WD so both sides are blank, and I just repurposed mine for a future project, how’s this look?








Update added 2 more holes and switches, took a lot more work than the first! Using one switch for light bar and 2nd and 3rd for the future!




I’m looking to do a very similar mod with my 03. Do you happen to remember the exact switches you bought and what tools you used to install them? Looks great!

On my 02 Eddy Bauer the buttons on the left are for the message center and the right ones are for the 4 X 4 controls. No blanks.

On my 02 Eddy Bauer the buttons on the left are for the message center and the right ones are for the 4 X 4 controls. No blanks.
Yeah i got a base model 2wd so i have all blank lol