Ford Explorer & Mercury Mountaineer: Removing Instrument Panel Mounting Bolts

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The instrument panel contains a few screws that must be removed before replacing your car's heater core. Find out more about removing the instrument panel from a certified mechanic in this free automotive video.

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Video Transcript

Here we're demonstrating how to change a heater core on a late model Ford Explorer or Mercury Mountaineer. In this step we're going to talk about the proper service procedure for removing your instrument panel mounting bolts. Now there's generally four or five very large bolts that hold the bulk weight of the instrument panel to the fire wall and the pillars of the vehicle. This particular one has some on the driver side and some on the passenger side. I'm going to go ahead and take the driver side ones out right now while I'm over here. It's going to take a 13 millimeter socket. Alright, there's one of them right there. Put that in the magnetic tray, and for the second one on this side. Alright, now that I have the ones out of the driver side, I'm going to take and slip over to the passenger side and deal with these ones. As you can see I have one right here I need to work with. Okay, we have all the bolts out of the sides, and the lower portion of the instrument panel, I'm going to indicate that just by grabbing a hold of it and giving it a wiggle. As you can see, the panel is free moving on the lower portion. What that's going to indicate is there are some hidden bolts on the top. I know where these hidden bolts are on this particular vehicle, they're underneath this black piece of plastic here. What we're going to do is be real careful, use a flat blade screwdriver to take and pop this plastic up and remove it so we can get access to the upper instrument panel mounting bolts. We'll go ahead and do that right now. Just take and slip my screwdriver down inside, and use gentle, very gentle prying action to get these clips to release. Let's slip over to the driver side now. Alright, once you have all the clips out, you can take and slip it out of the way. Now there's a light detector on this vehicle for automatic headlights, you can see it right there. We're going to go ahead and take and unplug that, just like so. Once you have it disconnected, you can take and lay this in the back of the vehicle for later re-installation. Now that we have that out of the way, we can get access to the upper mounting bolts for our instrument panel. We have several along the top here, they're going to be the same as the side and lower bolts. As you can see I'm using what they call a "swivel extension". What that does is keeps me from operating my ratchet up close to the windshield, but of course you can kind of imagine what would happen swinging a ratchet around up close to that windshield, you may chip or break it. Alright, there's one right there, take and put them in your magnetic tray, we should have one more to deal with. Alright, we're working on our last instrument panel mounting bolt here. Alright, I'm just going to indicate that the instrument panel is loose by giving a tug on it for you, just like so. That is the proper service procedure for dismounting your instrument panel from the fire wall. Now that we have all the mounting bolts out of our instrument panel, we can take and slide it up and out of the way, gaining access to our heater core.

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