Removing a stubborn access panel

November 1, 2019 | By Staff


I’m hoping that you or some of the readers may have run into this problem and may have a suggestion. I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla and the A/C-Heat fan blower only works sporadically. I have checked the blower and the blower seems to work just fine. For some reason that I don’t understand, Toyota uses a module rather than just a simple fan switch. I think the switch module is the problem.

The problem that I’m having is removing the center cluster finish panel in order to get at the module. The finish panel is in 2 pieces, an upper and a lower. According to the manual each finish panel is held on with clips, and all you need to do is pull on it to take it off.

That was true for the lower finish panel. There were 4 clips; one on each corner, and when I gave it a good tug it came right off. But the upper finish panel is just not budging no matter what I do. I have pulled and tugged and pried to the point where it seems that if I put any more pressure on it I will break it.

So therein lies my problem. I tried my local Toyota dealer but had no luck. One of the mechanics came out and looked at it but couldn’t remove it. I doubt they see a lot of 34-year-old cars. Does anyone out there know how to remove the upper finish panel?


Getting that access panel off may be easier with a specialized trim tool. Ask the people at a local auto upholstery shop how they would go about removing such panels, and if there is a tool that will make things easier. In most cases there are slim jim devices that can be inserted under the panel that will pop the clips loose without damaging anything. Other than that, how about it fellow restorers? Does anyone have a suggestion?