Ray's Chevy Restoration Site

Nova Instrument Panel and Dash Pad Removal

This page gives step by step instructions for removing the instrument panel and dash pad from 1969 through 1979 Novas. Note, I use the term "instrument panel" to refer to the entire assembly including the plastic bezel, not just the speedometer/gauge cluster portion.

Removing the Instrument Panel

  1. Remove the radio.
  2. Reach under the dash and unplug the wires from the headlight and windshield wiper switches.
  3. Remove the lower steering column cover (not applicable on 1973 & later).
  4. Remove the 5 phillips head screws along the top edge of the instrument panel housing.
  5. Remove the 2 phillips head screws located just under the heater control panel.
  6. Remove the 4 (2 on each side) screws located along the bottom edge of the instrument panel housing.
  7. On cars with automatic transmissions, unhook the cable for the gear indicator. It is attached to the steering column jacket with a clip/screw located just as the steering column passes under the dash. It is usually necessary to move the shifter down to "D" or lower in order to gain access to the screw. Be sure to set the parking brake and/or block the tires before shifting the transmission out of Park.
  8. Not absolutely necessary but very helpful is to remove the two large nuts that secure the steering column to the lower edge of the dash. That will allow the column to be lowered down which will make it much easier to remove the instrument panel housing without damage. Do not force/pull the column down too low on 1974 & earlier Novas because that can damage the "rag joint" coupler where the column connects to the steering box.
  9. On column shift cars it is also helpful to place the shifter down into its lowest position (be sure to set the parking brake).
  10. Pull the instrument panel out of the dash enough so you can reach behind and unplug the rectangular wire connector and the speedometer cable. Note that you might have to reach up under the dash to disconnect them if you can't pull the instrument panel out far enough. The rectangular wiring connector has two "latches" on each end that need to be squeezed in towards the connector for removal. The speedometer cable is held in place with a spring metal latch as well. Push the tab on that latch towards the speedometer while pulling back on the cable. Also note that 1976 & earlier instrument panels have a ground wire that is separate from the rest of the cluster wiring. It has a single plug and is located off towards the driver side of the instrument panel (next to the larger rectangular harness plug).
  11. Now that everything is disconnected, the instrument panel should pull right out of the dash opening leaving the heater control panel still in place. If it won't come out easily, stop and check for items that are still connected. Be careful not to force the panel as that will likely crack the plastic bezel.

Removing the Dash Pad

  1. Follow the above steps to remove the instrument panel.
  2. Remove the 4 phillips screws holding the cardboard glovebox liner. The glovebox door can remain attached to the dash.
  3. Remove the screws located on each end of the dash pad (accessible when the car doors are open).
  4. Locate and remove the nuts from the 5 studs that protrude from the bottom side of the dash pad. Three of them are located across the lower/front edge of the dash pad above the ash tray & glove box. Another one is located further forward on the pad above the glovebox opening. And the fifth one is located above the instrument panel opening.
  5. On Novas with A/C it may be necessary to remove some of the under-dash ductwork in order to gain access to some of the dash pad nuts.
  6. With those nuts and screws removed, gently lift up on the back edge of the dash pad and then pull the pad rearward to disengage it from the clips along the front edge. If the pad will not move easily, go back and check for remaining screws/nuts. Some of them are in hard to see locations.

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