Question about 1986 Ford Thunderbird

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Dash lights are out 1986 t bird its the digital type

Do get behind it or remove the dash

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Yes, pretty easy to remove. You'll get behind it by taking off the "collar" plastic, pops right out. After that, there is a panel that holds bulbs. The panel folds forward to get it out. I cannot remember the bulb numbers, but you'll wind up buying like 12 of them or so. It takes less than an hour for me now, but the first time I did it took me like all day.


* Be careful with the gear selector pointer.
* Since your car is twenty years old (I have a 1987), I'd suggest replacing all of them.
* Use bulb grease, will reduce the opportunity for corrosion.


Posted on Feb 02, 2009

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Early 90's lesabre dash face removal - access radio - replace stereo

OOK... this is a little lengthy process... but after the second or third time it becomes second nature.
What you'll need:
- 7mm nut driver (all of these bolts-screws also have a torx insert in the head, I cannot remember the size however)
- Philips screwdriver
- Ignition keys(aka your car keys)
Flat-blade screwdriver

1. You can begin with removing the woodgrain paneling-strips from the dash(this strip is found below the glovebox door and surrounds the heater/vent controls, as well as the trunk release button -on both sides of the steering wheel), either with your fingers or a wide, flat-blade screwdriver and pry the pieces straight out from the sides, or a combination of prying down & out from the top edge. They have these springy clips that will fight you, but, so far for me, have always been forgiving enough to come free of the dash without breaking or cracking the trim, so you shouldnt have much to worry about as far as this step going sour.

2. Dash vents - these all have-to be removed. The removal of all of these uses the same method - turn the vent-thing to it's far left or far right aiming position. Once it comes up against its stops, get one or both hands on the side of it that is sticking out from the dash and pull on it like you are trying to turn it farther in the direction that it currently doesn't want to turn any farther towards(either the left or right). These vents are mounted on a center stud top & bottom, and will pop free from that with a little bit of force. You shouldn't have to worry about breaking these vents when removing them... it's putting them back in that is a little more sensitive. Also, the vents are each shaped a little different, so I suggest that you set each one on the dash above where you removed it from.

3. Behind & above each vent that you just removed is a 7mm headed screw. Remove each of those while trying to not drop the screw down the dash vents as they come loose. After freeing the far passenger side vent the next chunk that you'll want to unscrew and remove is the glove box.... yes, the whole glove box needs to come out for this. There should be two 7mm headed screws(maybe 3 - cant remember off the top of my head) behind the door of the glove box and probably another two below the glovebox door behind where the woodgrain trim strip was.
Oh yeah, the screws that hold the glove box in place are located on the close face behind the glovebox door, you won't need to be digging behind all the stuff in your glovebox attempting to find screws, it can all just stay in place. As well, the glovebox door itself does not need to have any screws removed from it or the hinges that hold it.
The glove box should remove quite easily if all the screws are removed

3b - or something like that - So, assuming you've removed the screws that were up & behind all of the dash vents, the next step is to remove the screws that were hidden behind the trim strips(woodgrain). These are still 7mm screws, and most of them are recessed back in parts of the plastic... you may have to get down to eye level with that area to see them all. Remove all of those and the dash pieces should flop around a little bit.
- Now For The Only Two Philips Screws... they are found above the gauge cluster(speedometer & fuel level things), and will likely require you to get low and look up to even spot them. I'll let you know before-hand that the steering wheel, shifter and steering column are going to really get in the way... perhaps you'll want a stubby philips screwdriver or a really long shafted philips driver. A regular length one will work, but will land your hands right in the middle of all the steering junk making it *extra fun*.

OK, quick review.
Lower trim panel(woodgrain perhaps) strips removed from both sides of the dash.
Screws behind the trim panel removed.
Dash Vents removed.
Screws behind the dash vents removed.
Screws behind the glove box door removed.
Glove box removed.
Two Philips screws removed from above the gauge cluster

Those are all the things I can remember when it comes to getting to this point.

4. REMOVING THE DASH - why did they have to make it this difficult to get to the friggen radio.
You'll hafta get your keys and put them in as though you're going to start your car... only you don't need to start the car, just turn the keys enough to allow the shifter to move(I think you hafta press on the brake to get it out of park anyways), and you will pull the shifter down all the way(1st / low gear). Now the dash piece should be able to come out with some fancy maneuvering.

As far as reassembly, most of that is pretty easily done... the only exception is the dash vents. When you put them in, start with them facing off at an angle and then try to face them to their center(flat across, pointing straight out) and press on the upper and lower portions close to their vertical center line. You should listen for a pop, which is hopefully them snapping into place. To check for proper re-placement, swivel them left and right and see if they look & feel 'normal'. If not, try again with more force. The only risk you run here is breaking the plastic tabs on the vents that hold them to the studs in the dash panel.

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