SUBARUPictures of how I removed the dashboard and replaced the heater core on the Subaru Legacy Outback.

My wife said the heater smelled sweet. The heater core was leaking coolant.
But first, lets pay some bills:

  1. There's the red heater hose that I used to bypass the heater core to check if the smell went away. It did. That's how I diagnosed it.
    heater core bypass

  2. To replace the heater core you have to take out the dashboard. The entire car is built around the heater core. They start with a heater core, then bolt every piece on top of it. The heater core is the exact center of mass of the Subaru.
    Here we go. Screws by the parking brake to remove this plastic cover.

  3. Cup holder, big screw on each side.
    cup holder

  4. If you pop this top part off first, the bottom plastic may break. @#$!@%^@$&%!!!

  5. Unplug the emergency lights switch.
    emergency lights

  6. Then 2 screws hold on the ashtray / change drawer, and the bottom plastic with the lighter comes out.

  7. The little clip in the middle is not connected to anything, and the screwdriver extension is short enough to take out the ashtray.

  8. Lowered the steering wheel.
    steering wheel

  9. Four screws hold on the instrument panel cover.
    instrument panel cover

  10. Connectors.
    connectors    connectors

  11. Four screws hold on the instrument panel.

  12. Five electric connectors on the instrument panel.

  13. Pushed these tabs in to let the glove box open all the way out.
    tabs    tabs

  14. And unscrewed these on the bottom to remove the glove box.
    glove box

  15. Removed these screws and plastic tabs to get the back cover off.
    cover    cover

  16. All these 10mm gold screw bolts hold the dashboard on.

  17. Hey, there's an airbag in there.

  18. Maybe I should unplug the negative battery cable so it doesn't go off in my face.

  19. Little plastic tab reveals another gold screw bolt.

  20. Popped this cover off, three metal tabs hold it on. I pried as close to the tabs as possible so not to break the plastic.
    pry the cover    metal tabs

  21. Then two gold bolts under here.

  22. Unbolt a bunch of these... Gotta unbolt the airbag too. It comes out with the dash.

  23. There's a couple more under here...
    bolts    bolts

  24. One little connector over here. It's the airbag or computer or something. It has a sliding lock to click open before it will come apart.
    lock connector

  25. Do I have to take the radio and climate control out? I don't know. I'll do it.

  26. Four screws for the climate, six for the radio.

  27. Plug and antenna connector on the radio.

  28. Antenna and two connectors I think.

  29. Some nuts in there hold the dashboard in.

  30. Ugh, I think I gotta take this center plastic outta here too. Two screws in front and two in back.

  31. Three screws inside here.

  32. Two big screws and some metal tabs pop this cover off.
    cover    cover

  33. Have to unplug this blue one and this little black one by my pinkie on the drivers side. I'm holding the antenna with my thumb.

  34. Oh sweet Jesus.
    god help us

  35. There are four of these. Tan, white, black, & blue below.

  36. What's back here?

  37. These wires are hooked around the fuse box. Unhooked them for a bit more play.
    fuse box

  38. Looks like a dealer installed keyless entry. Black wire into the black connector, red wire.
    black wire

  39. Orange wire into the other wiring on the white wire.
    orange wire

  40. Then I tried to pull the dashboard out, but I was scared I would break the plastic around the steering wheel. Four screws from underneath and it comes off easy.
    steering column plastic     steering column plastic

  41. Still a real pain. I bet I can lower the steering column. Two bolts hold it up.
    steering column

  42. Sorta hanging half way down. Seems fragile.

  43. Unbolted the steering column inside the engine bay near the firewall. I hope I remember to reconnect this. Is this really necessary?
    steering column bolt

  44. Gave the steering wheel a yank, and down it goes, all the way to the seat. Dash came out easy.

  45. Yep, no dashboard in here. What the hell that took forever. Some guy said he did the whole thing in three hours. Just getting the dashboard out took three hours. I need a beer. My back is killing me. This sucks. Wah wah wah.

  46. Follow the link for Heater Core Replacement Part 2!

  47. Next I sold out to make 02ยข so I can fulfill my lifelong dream of owning a 1986 944 with blown head gaskets.

    But no minivans!

  48. Then I finished my beer.

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Think: Cars are expensive, powerful, and heavy.   Before I start work, I face the possibility that I will destroy my vehicle, my own life, and innocent pedestrians' lives.   If anyone messes with a 4000 lb machine capable of 100 mph, these are real possibilities.   If I get in over my head, I call a professional mechanic.   The information on this website is provided only for entertainment purposes, and it is not intended as advice on how to service a vehicle.   For all you know I made this up.   Don`t believe everything you read on the internet.

Disclaimer: The technical information in these documents is provided without any warranty whatsoever and at no cost.   All information is in general terms and is not meant to apply to your particular situation, be current at the time you read it, or even be correct in the first place.   Improperly maintained vehicles can lead to serious injury, death, or unavoidable accidents. The author is not responsible for any errors on this site, and does not make any claim at all about the validity, safety, or veracity of the information contained on this website. Any work you choose to do or not to do on your vehicle is done at your own risk. The information on this site is not intended to serve as a replacement for professional advice, professional workmanship, dealer service, union labor, or psychological counseling.   The author disclaims any and all liability directly or indirectly arising from the application or use of any information or idea contained on this or any other web site.   By opening this page, you agree to never sue anyone ever or allow anyone to be sued on your behalf.   The appropriate professional should be consulted regarding your specific condition. does not take responsibility for the information posted on other sites to which it links.

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