Because of the complicated design of the Mini Cooper, it is usually best to take the car to an experienced mechanic for dashboard removal. According to the Mini Cooper Service Manual, this is a complex procedure involving careful disconnection of multiple systems in the car, such as the air conditioning and airbags. However, if you decide to do it yourself, here are some strategies for completing the project successfully.
Procure a good service manual. Make sure the manual was written for the model and year of the car you have. The Mini has been redesigned throughout the years, so you need to be working from appropriate documentation.
Once you have the proper manual, read the procedures through at least once before starting the project. Make sure you understand all the instructions.
Gather all the tools needed before you start.
Preparing the Car
Before you start, disconnect the negative battery cable because you will be disconnecting the car's electrical components. Next, drain the coolant from the engine's cooling system.
Use a refrigeration recovery unit to discharge the air-conditioning system. Do not do this unless you have the proper equipment and you have been trained to use it. Do not pollute the atmosphere by simply releasing the coolant into the air.
In the Engine Compartment
First you will work inside the engine compartment to detach the heater hoses and air conditioning lines and remove any remaining coolant.
Next you will raise the front of the car on ramps. Make sure to secure the car in place and provide stability because you will be working under the car.
From underneath you will disconnect the universal joint from the steering shaft. Once this is done, the steering wheel can be turned freely, and this can damage the airbag contact ring. To prevent damage, move the steering wheel to the straight-ahead position and take the key out of the ignition to lock it.
Inside the Cabin
Inside the cabin of the car, you will remove the A-pillar trim, or the plastic trim that is on either side of the windshield.
Next you will remove the plastic housing on the front console between the seats that surrounds the stick shift.
After that, remove the radio from the dashboard. Then you must remove the seat belt slider bars and the plastic door sill covers.
Now you are ready to remove the dashboard itself. First remove the panel underneath the centre of the dash.
Working on the left side in the driver's compartment, remove the fuse panels from both sides of the driver's compartment.
Now you have to remove, in order, the following components: both side covers, both side mounting bolts, steering column lower cover and electrical components underneath it, and electrical harness connector on the passenger side under the dash.
Supporting the dash, remove the mounting bolts under the steering column. You need help with this. You cannot support the dash and remove the bolts alone. It takes two people.
Now you can pull the dashboard gently toward the rear of the car and it will become disconnected from the car. Do not pull very far because all the electronics are still connected behind the dash.
Work systematically, according to the service manual, to disconnect all the electronic components until you can remove the dashboard completely.
Keep in mind that all these steps require several sub-steps that must be done in a particular order. Consult the service manual for details and follow the instructions precisely.
Use a lot of patience and very gentle prying because the plastic components are easily damaged. It is wise to buy new plastic securing clips before reinstalling the dashboard because they are also easily damaged. New clips will ensure that no rattling occurs after reinstallation.