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7 things to do before you tear into a dashboard

All too often, an evaporator repair job and comes into the shop and the tech can’t  wait to tear into that dash. Most of the time, all goes well, and the stories have happy endings. But every now and then, the ending is all but happy.
How many times have you heard things like “the speedometer was working when I dropped it off.” Or “the radio, fuel gauge, cigarette lighter and clock used to work before you replaced the evaporator.”
To try to avoid these unpleasant situations, here are a few simple steps you should take before picking up the first wrench:

  • Take the vehicle for a test run, observing the speedometer, odometer, wipers, washers, radio, tape player, CD player, clock, navigation systems etc. Be on the lookout for any strange noises. It would be especially good to have the vehicle owner go on the ride with you, so anything you find can be pointed out and documented.
  • Back at the shop, make sure all the dash illumination lamps work, plus the hazard warning lamps, turn signal indicators, etc. Check all of the dash mounted switches for proper operation as well. Lastly, don’t forget the Check Engine Lamp. As a matter of fact, a quick code scan wouldn’t hurt either.
  • Observe the condition of the dash, looking for hairline cracks. Once you start pushing or pulling, those hairline cracks will grow, and that once beautiful one piece dash may become a five or six piece dash. (It’s always a good idea to warn customers that aged brittle plastic parts may not survive removal and installation.)
  • A few digital pictures can also settle a lot of arguments. Consider taking them before, during and after.
  • Make sure all fan speeds work, and all ducts operate as they should, including the temperature control/blend door.
  • Look under the hood. Make sure the heater core has both hoses hooked up, and all A/C lines, hoses, the accumulator etc., are connected and everything looks like it left the factory (plus a little road grime).
  • Last but not least, once inside the dash, if you come across anything that doesn’t look correct, like spliced wires, glued plastic parts, bailing wire blend or mode door levers etc., take some pictures and note it on the invoice, so the next time someone goes into that dash, you don’t get accused of performing substandard work.

These few steps up front may take a few extra minutes, but may save you wasted hours and big bucks at the end (and maybe a sleepless night or two). Always inform the customer of any problems BEFORE you start ANY job.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
You can E-mail us at or visit to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society repair shop in your area. Visit to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

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