Gettin’ Serious

Nothing makes a car look like a racecar like removing all the amenities, carpet, seats, dash, etc.  Today’s goal (if I had such a thing) was to remove as much weight from the car as I could find.  I actually started by weighing everything that I had removed so far.  I’ll put the weight savings in a separate post, and just update that as I go.

I started in the trunk, removing the spare tire, jack, carpet, and the piece of metal that holds the jack handle.  There is a giant pad of that tar like stuff that I removed from the passenger floor, yesterday.  I know a couple guys that have remove this…after yesterday, I’m still on the fence….it’s a lot of work.  I’m sure I’ll end up removing it, I just need some distance from my previous experience.

After I removed everything from the trunk…I began to think about the passenger compartment…airbag, sensors, computer…that kind of thing.  Of course, most of that stuff can’t be reached without removing the dash.  Well, it was early enough in the day…what the heck!

WARNING! An airbag is an explosive device.  Certain precautions are in order.  Please read your manual, before proceeding.  This is not meant to be a guide…just a basic discussion of my experience.  After following the precautions laid out in my shop manual, I set about the task of removing the airbag.  The big thing is that all the airbag connectors are blue and orange.  The orange connector comes off first, then the blue connector.  IMPORTANT: Don’t try to remove them at the same time.

Here’s a connector:

10 airbag connectors

Once I remove the connector, it was time to remove the airbag.  Then the car would be safe to muck about without the danger of setting it off.  There were four nuts on the back of the steering wheel.  Remove and voila!  No more airbag.

11 airbag bolt holes12 airbag all gone

I’m glad to be rid of that thing.  But, there is a computer and a diagnostic unit, as well as a crash sensor located behind the dash.  In addition, there is a big rubber mat and insulation on the firewall.  Every pound adds up.  So…time to remove the dash.  All things considered this is considerably easier than the dash on my ‘68 Mustang was.  it seemed like that took days to get out.

The dash in the miata is mostly a one piece unit.  There are a few bits and pieces that come off separate, but in the end the full width dash comes out as a single piece.  First, I remove the center console trim.  There were a couple of screws behind the center eyeball vents.  I used the string trick to remove the eyeball vents.  Just hook a piece of string through the vents and pull.  They pop right out. Next, I removed all the bits from the center console: stereo, heater controls.

13 stereo all gone

The heater controls have three cables that attach to the the heater and AC.  There is one on the right side of the center console, one on the left side of the center console (by the throttle pedal), and one that goes to the AC unit behind the glove box.  they all slip off the post with just a finger (no tools were required).

17 Heater cable attachment18 Heater cable number 216 Blower cable attachment

Next was removing all the bolts.  There are only 9 bolts that hold the entire dash unit in the car.  Pretty amazing really.  However, there is this one bolt, which is a bit of a pain really.  it is located directly in the center of the dash right against the windshield.  I don’t have a set of deep offset wrenches, so it took some fanagling to get this one off.  But, eventually I did win the battle.

14 stupid bolt

Unfortunately I broke the bezel surrounding the instrument cluster…I hear this is common.  it gets very brittle.  it basically just came apart in my hands as I tried to pull it out.  <Sigh> Add it to the list of replacement parts.

15 Steering wheel and instruments

I didn’t do this, but it would have made a big difference if I had.  Disconnect all the connectors going the from the steering column to the dash (see that green one?  there are about 4 connectors around it.  disconnect them all).

19 I should have removed these connectors

Once the connectors were all disconnected, and the bolts are removed the dash lifted right out.  it takes a bit of care to lift it over the accessory switch on the steering column.  Once I got it out, I removed all of the airbag components:

  • The airbag computer, located on top of the steering column
  • The airbag diagnostic unit, also located on top of the steering column
  • The airbag crash sensor, located dead center just below the windshield

I used a razor knife to remove the rubber blanket and insulation.  it came out relatively easily.  I cut out around the steering column and a couple other parts that pin the blanket to the firewall.  Then I found a piece of kit that wasn’t stock.  It was a little black box on top of the airbag computer, and a clear box strapped to the steering column.  In addition there was a small toggle switch attached to the side of the dash.  It was actually attached to one of the dash-bolt, cover-plates.  There was also a small LED mounted on the accessory switch cover.  There was also a “siren” in the engine compartment.  All of these things were connected.  Apparently it is some kind of alart system.  It was spliced into the wiring coming from the accessory switch.  It took a bit of detective work to figure out what was stock wire, and what was part of the kit.

Anyway, I figured it out and removed it.  Then put the wiring back to stock, and taped the harness back together.

20 Dash all removed21 Security system removed22 more wiring repair from security system

The firewall with everything removed.  I have to put the heater and blower back in place…but, the AC unit can be replaced by a straight tube.  Every bit of weight helps.

22 Sound barrier and insulation removed

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