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Thread: Removing the Previa HVAC panel

  1. #1
    Van Fan
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    Removing the Previa HVAC panel

    I am trying to remove the HVAC panel, and am finding the cable clips extremely tricky to negotiate. In well over an hour of effort, I have managed to disengage one of the three cables below the HVAC panel -- and that is after finding a youtube clip of how the clip is supposed to work (Toyota Corolla Climate Control Removal <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5xNn7QlZP4>).

    The problem is that you don't get the kind of clean shot at the clip shown in the youtube video; that kind of view is only possible after the panel is removed. So I have only managed the disengagement on the clip closest to the front, one of two cables controlling the airflow direction (face/feet/windscreen). I still can't release the other of those cables (rear right below the panel) or the fresh/recirc cable (rear left). And then there are the two cables for the heater valve and rear heat vent that require access to the top of the HVAC panel, which is even more limited (at least at this point).

    Can someone offer a pointer on this?

    John

  2. #2
    Van Fan
    My Van(s):
    91 Previa
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    Jan 2014
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    PA
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    Post Re: Removing the Previa HVAC panel

    The solution involved making a tool to release the cables from their keepers; without the tool, I could not have done it. To make the tool took a couple of trials, each with many adjustment iterations, but it was worth it.

    I began by bending a stubby screwdriver tip ~6 or 7 mm at almost a right angle, and cutting to split it into two fingers, like a two-fingered claw. (What you see in the picture is shorter because the tips broke off from working the tips too much with heating and bending.)


    That worked -- I was able to get another cable released fairly easily -- but I realized there was no advantage to having a stubby tool, and in fact it was a distinct disadvantage for cables that needed a longer reach. So I was going to remake the tool from a longer screwdriver, but did not have one with a square handle, like my stubby. (The square handle was important because it provided a plane normal to the cable fingers, making it easy to keep the tool fingers level by feel,)

    A bottle/can-opener looked like a good candidate, because it is long enough and the plane of the handle is normal to the plane of the claw fingers, which turns out to provide very good feel. Again I cut the working end into two fingers, and used the torch to give it a bigger bend, then shape the claw fingers into kind of a bow-legged shape to make it easy to find the keeper fingers (~5.8 mm at the entry tip) and then spread them as I pulled to the widest point (~7.6 mm at the widest point of the bow). That picture of the tip, with this description, should help anyone trying to make something similar.

    In the end, it worked like this:

    (Note the adjacent cable keeper for comparison of the keeper fingers which are under the tool fingers.) As you can see, the dimensions of the tool claw fingers could be slightly narrower and still do the job (maybe better), but at this point the tool was working well for me. With the second tool, I had the panel -- all seven cables (of which two were previously released) -- out in under 15 minutes, after struggling for over an hour just to get the first cable released without the tool. The last two cables can only be accessed after removing the three control switches, and by that point each one took maybe 10 seconds.

    I could not afford to give up on it, because I needed to replace the blower switch as well as the switch bulbs and the rear defogger switch. Toyota must have something like this -- without this kind of SST, how do you do this job? -- but the parts guy at my local Toyota dealership knew nothing about it. So I hope this is helpful to anyone else who needs to get that panel out for further work. The tool is totally worth it; I would have had to give up without it (and don't know how anyone does this job without it).

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