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88-94 to 95-98 dash swap worth the effort?

n8in8or

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I recently bought a 94 K3500 dually. It’s a solid truck that is a good foundation for a build. I’ve never owned or even driven an 88-94 and so far I’ve only driven this truck less than a mile, but already I’m not in love with the older dash. I’m seriously considering an interior swap to the newer style. The HVAC controls and radio are the main things I don’t like. The factory radio isn’t working so I already will have to address that and I just don’t know what to think about the heater controls. They look like they could go bad just from the design. Is the dash swap worth it? I know it’s wiring and all that, but that doesn’t scare me - this is a truck I hope to have the rest of my life so I want to do it right. And I would do the dash swap while I do the mechanical DB2 conversion so redoing the wiring will actually be a nice opportunity for simplifying the truck. But is it worth it? Those of you that have owned both generations of GMT400 trucks, are there problems with the older stuff that makes a dash swap more worth it? Or are there actually preferences for the old dash layout that I don’t know about? I won’t be doing the swap for a few months so there’s time for people to share opinions. Please share! I’d love to have first-hand experiences on both styles of truck and even people that have done the conversion.
 

Will L.

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The bar graph for cold/ hot blend door had issue from the sunlight fading them in some cases. The control would still work but display could be hard to see. I believe that design is pretty reliable.
The two dial control that followed and the two dial with a round push button between them have a higher failure rate on the fan speed switch itself. Not enough I would avoid it though. It is a far more convenient control imo. Holding your finger on the bar shaped button of the older one seems to take for ever to go from cold to hot rather than quick turn of the dial on the new one.

No help on swapping old to new style - closest I came was outing the dash gauges and doing a custom all mechanical ones in its place.

Can you post pics of the two? Been a while since comparing the rest of the changes.
 

ak diesel driver

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I've got both my only complaint with the older dash is the heater control can be finicky. Trying to get the control to stop in the right spot can be a challenge to get use to. Other than that they are just different. Ones my plow truck the other is my DD so I don't expect them to be the same.
 

Twisted Steel Performance

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Call me old fashioned but I prefer the early dash controls, never had any complaints with mine knock on wood..

I did remove the radio and put a single din under the center ac vents and put a cubby hole in where the stock radio was...

Oh, and I put blue led bulbs in everything, even the havc controls... lot easier on the eyes at night...
 

WarWagon

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I would keep the 1994 dash. 1995+ was redesigned for airbag(s). Speakers go in the door on 1995. Dash for 1994 on down.

I only killed one HVAC for 1992 when the batteries failed. The 1995+ controls are pure Krap IMO for reliability.

The 1995+ dashes like to break out around the bolt holes esp. on a dual rear wheel truck.

Put a storage area in for the OEM head unit and 1 din aftermarket radio in like everyone else does.

A trip to the junkyard and pull some head units and amps out of gas rigs. Pay attention to the controls on the head unit and keep them matched up with the amps. Some have equalizer buttons and some don't. A lesser known 3rd option is a casette deck or full equilizer in the location where most slam the 1 DIN aftermarket radio. You will need the wireing for the EQ if you find one. The dash lamps burning out in the head units were my main problem. I used a XM radio via FM modulation with the external antenna unplugged.

I like the "clock "in the 1994 location vs. the 1995 radio location.
 

n8in8or

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Thanks for the feedback guys! Reading Will and AK’s responses were reinforcing my thoughts to do a swap because the newer controls are more handy to use......and I was also thinking about how it’s nice that the passenger can reach the controls if wanted.

Then I read WW and TSP’s responses.....hmmm maybe the 94 isn’t so bad after all? And mine is in really nice shape. My 97 Tahoe’s dash had the typical cracks on the top and that sucks. I also had fan speed problems but getting rid of the plug behind the glove box fixed that. Put a nice single DIN radio in it and some nice mechanical oil pressure and water temp gauges where the radio was would be a nice upgrade. Here are pics of the 94 dash. I couldn’t get pics of the Tahoe’s dash due to its current state. Looks like my 94 has the rare cassette/EQ option WW was referring to. It still has the tape for it in the glove box, too. Too bad it isn’t making any sound right now.
C729EC8A-F012-4B60-8359-032432354966.jpeg668EB549-968D-412C-A532-1BB70D31AEA6.jpeg58544BFD-CC63-45B9-9B8E-92921C454F9E.jpeg
 

1994ch

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X2 on the newer controls going bad on the later models... I have a 94 and a 96. I just put an aftermarket radio in my 94 so I could play CD's and have a USB input.... The thing I really don't like about that is how far over I have to reach to change the volume or tune it. In the later model dash the aftermarket radios fit up close where they are easy to reach. Aside from that I think the older dashes are a little more durable.
 

THEFERMANATOR

FRANKENBURBAN
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The newer style hvac controls fail primarily because of power supply issues. I've had the same control head in my 95 for about 12 years. The last one that got replaced ended up being the burnt infamous ground wire that was a 95 issue. And you can repair these control heads to repair the part that burns up in them with a relay(and install a better resistor to tepair the heater control valve circuit). The airbags didn't come into play in the dash until 97 as 95/96 only had the airbag in the steering wheel. I have both and there's no way I could DD one with a 88-94 dash. The 95/96 is my favorite dash of all of them.
 

WarWagon

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That dash is in outstanding condition vs. the cracked stuff I see here. Fix the rare OEM radio. It just has a clean look. Aftermarket radios have small buttons you can't see or use with gloves on at 75 MPH. (I wear gloves for pot holders in our heat...) Maybe the speakers have all rotted out. Last time I pulled head units and the main amp by the throttle pedal it was like $35. at a junkyard. Main amp IC failure is common as well as cracked solder joints.

Replacing the speakers takes care as the plastic likes to break around the clips in the dash. The rear speakers require the plastic headliner over the rear seat to come out. Tear some up in a junkyard first before dropping yours out. Or replace the rear speakers with a speaker box.

Even with the loud exhaust on Patch the aftermarket speakers with the OEM head unit was loud enough. Now if you want a subwoofer...
 
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