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Removing the Center Console

I would imagine there are other reasons for removing the center console, but the sole reason for me was so that I could remove the head unit. My touchscreen was frozen; not registering my touch. I had to replace the digitizer in order to get it working again. The center console is not that difficult to remove, however there are some things that can make it more arduous.

First thing to be cautious about is the dashboard, which can possibly break apart when contact is made. Some older Lexus’ will have this issue when prolonged sunlight exposure causes the dashboard vinyl to become brittle. Even using plastic tools can damage the dashboard material if you’re not extremely careful.

The other thing that I found troublesome was the removal of the vents. Take your time and don’t get impatient when releasing the clips and pulling the vent trim out. It may take a bit of maneuvering; just make sure not to yank it out from frustration if it’s not cooperating. Again, take your time.

Auto Trim Removal Kit

You might want to invest in a kit like this to reduce the chance of damaging your car’s interior. After many years of using flat head screwdrivers with blue tape on the ends, I decided to spend the $10 to get an actual trim removal kit. This kit is made out of plastic and helps protect the trim that you remove. Totally worth the money.

Purchase on Amazon.com: Tresalto Auto Trim Removal Kit

tresalto auto trim removal kit

Removing The Trim

I would suggest moving the shift knob to neutral with the car on (ignition), turning off the car, and disconnecting the battery as the first step. This will prevent potential electrical shortages and shock during the procedure.

Remove the shift knob by unscrewing it off completely. It would be wise to use something to protect the threaded part. I’d suggest a cloth or old t-shirt, wrapped in tape to hold it in place.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

Use trim removal tools and pry off the center faux-wood trim.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

Then pry off the grey side trim pieces on both sides.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

The next piece to come off is the grey trim piece below the radio.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

Use the trim removal tool to pry it off on one side. Then you can remove it with your hands by pulling it towards you.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

Use a ratchet with an extension to undo the two bolts deep inside on each side.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

Here’s another photo where you can see the bolt that needs to be removed.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

Next up is the most difficult part of this entire procedure. We’re going to be removing the vent trim piece. To remove the trim, look inside the vent on the top section and find an indent with a clip. There are two within each vent opening.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

You must push in the clip so that it can release the trim from the dash. Otherwise, it’s near impossible to remove the trim.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

Sometimes the vent trim comes off in two pieces (the outer trim and the vent itself). However, to get it all out in one piece, you must do two things:

  1. Push in the pins within the vents properly.
  2. And ensure the bottom of the vents do not catch on the bottom of the opening.
2nd gen is350 center console removal

Unfortunately, these cars have dashboards that are notorious for becoming brittle over time due to exposure to the sun. Because of this, you must be extremely careful when removing the vents so that it does not contact the edge of the dashboard. Otherwise, you may experience dash around the edge of the opening, crumbling apart. The damage can be seen below.

2nd gen is350 center console removal

To take the vents out completely, there are electrical connectors on each side that you must release.

is350 center console removal

After this, you should be able to pull the whole head unit out from the dash. Again, be careful not to damage the dashboard around the edges during removal.

I would strongly recommend using something to cover the threads on the shift knob with a heavy cloth or something similar. I’ve heard stories of people forgetting to do this and ramming their screen right into the threaded shifter tip.

As I mentioned before, it was at this point that I went forth and disassemble the head unit to replace the digitizer. If your dashboard ended up crumbling apart (like mine did), check to see if your dashboard will be covered under any recalls. If you’re out of luck like I was, then touching up your dash with Sugru might be an option. Or if you can stomach the cost, you can always get it completely replaced too.


Hi there! I'm Scott and I run The Track Ahead. My goal is to write helpful articles, tutorials, and reviews based on my personal experience with car maintenance and detailing. I've been wrenching on and detailing cars for 15+ years and now share my knowledge with others on this site to help them care for their vehicles.

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