Mazda CX-7 Console Removal

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As an amateur ("ham") radio operator, I like to install radios and scanners and other electronic doodads in my vehicles. Usually I will find a way to "friction fit" something in, like pushing a radio in between the seat and the console. I tell myself that it will be good enough for now, and then 4-5 years later when I trade the vehicle in, the radio is easy to remove but the console is all scratched up. I decided that since I am going to keep this vehicle for 5-6 years, I wanted to do a better job of radio installation.

In the past, there were great open spaces under a car's dashboard, the gearshift lever was mounted on the steering column, and nothing stood in the way of mounting and stacking radios and equipment. But cars these days are designed so the driver sits in a little pod surrounded by airbags, and unless you're buying a used police car, there is no place to mount radios and other goodies. My previous car was a Mazdaspeed 3, and there was just enough room in the console to fit the control head for my Kenwood D710 dual band mobile radio, but nothing else. The car before that was a Chevrolet TrailBlazer. I bought a "dashmat" cloth cover for the top of the dashboard and mounted two radio control heads and microphones on the dashmat using Velcro. With all the air bags in the Mazda, I didn't want to put anything on top of the dashboard. Besides that, the CX-7 dashboard is too far from the driver's position to mount a radio on it. And the CX-7 console leaves even less room to mount a radio than the Speed3, so I gathered some tools and the camera and got to work.

Tools you will need - 5/16 inch nut driver, small and medium flat blade screwdrivers, Phillips screwdriver, Phillips angled screwdriver. Click on each thumbnail photo to see a full sized photo.

1. Move both front seats all the way back. Use the small blade screwdriver to remove the cover for the Phillips screw, and use it to pop out the plastic retaining pin at the front of the console. For most of these I only took photos on one side of the console, so don't forget to take the same action on the other side, hee hee.

Console001

2. Slide both front seats all the way forward and remove the cover and the Phillips screw at the rear of the console.

Console002

3. Here's what the screw cover and retaining pin look like when they're removed.

Console003

4. Unscrew the gearshift knob and remove the shift pattern template. There's an indicator to the right of the speedometer that tells you what gear you're in, so you shouldn't need to look down at the gearshift lever.

Console004

5. Using the medium sized screwdriver, pry off the trim strips on the left and right sides of the console. They are held in with captive spring clips and they come out easily. Once you've released all the clips, pull the trim strip straight back to get it free of the dashboard.

Console005

6. Since this was done by trial and error, I removed some screws that didn't need to come out. Here are links to those photos in case you need them. Console006 | Console007 | Console008 | Console009 | Console015

7. Pry up the cover that holds the cigarette lighter socket and the switches for the heated seats (I don't smoke and I probably won't need seat heaters in Phoenix). The cover is held in place by captive spring clips and comes out easily.

Console011

8. Disconnect the power to the seat heater switches and the cigarette lighter socket. This are modular plugs that have lock tabs that need to be squeezed. The seat heater plugs are fairly easy to remove but the cigarette lighter socket takes some extra work. You have to get this cover out of the way to be able to access some other screws that need to come out.

Console012

9. When the seat heater power plugs have been removed, you can remove the cover by rotating it and carefully lifting it clear of the gearshift lever. There's a blue clip on one side of the plug, and the lock tab you have to squeeze is on the other side of the plug.

Console013

10. Here are the next four Phillips screws that need to be removed. The two on either side of the gearshift are easy. The two up front are in a cramped location that's not accessible for a regular sized screwdriver.

Console014

11. Now for those two pesky screws in front. I tried a Phillips screwdriver with a long shaft, but it went in at such an angle that it was clear the screw slots would be messed up if I used it. The very best tool would be a small ratchet wrench with a Phillips driver, but it was hot in the car and I was in a hurry so I used the angle driver. There's not much room to turn it, but once you get the screw loosened, you can unscrew it with your fingers. I apologize for the quality of the following photo.

Console016

12. Here's another blurry photo showing the use of the 5/16 inch nut driver. There's a screw on either side that needs to be removed, and once they are out, you're done...almost.

Console017

13. There's one more important step to complete before removing the console. Unplug the modular plug shown circled on the left side of the console. This supplies power to the other cigarette lighter outlet and connects to the auxiliary audio input jack located inside the console. It actually supplies power to the seat heater switches too, but those needed to be unplugged earlier to remove that cover plate. Just squeeze the plug to unlock the tab, and then disconnect it. There's a wiring harness that will still be attached to the console after you remove it.

Console014a

14. Lift the console from the rear, pull it back a little, and then lift the whole thing up and out. Store it somewhere so you can find it and put it back in when you get ready to sell your CX-7. It might be a good idea to replace all the screws and connectors in their original location, so you don't have to remember what goes where after a few years have elapsed. Also, it might not hurt to print out this page and leave it with the console in case the website's not around when you decide to reassemble the console. Don't forget to replace the gearshift knob. Here's what the CX-7 interior looks like with the console removed.

Console018

Console019

Console020

Console021

Console022

I removed several random pieces of masking tape from the wiring harnesses that were probably put there during assembly to hold things in place temporarily. They wouldn't have hurt anything, but over the years they will get dry and fall off, so I thought it was better to get rid of them. It looks like there should be plenty of room to mount radios and other electronic sources of joy and driver distraction. The next project will be to build a better console and mount some radios and antennas.

May 15, 2011