Astrovan overhead Console Mod


By:  David Langness, John "AK" Snyder, and Ed Runnion with input from various other members of the

Console as installed in David Smith's 96 SS

Parts Required :

  1. Astrovan Overhead Console, which most of us have been purchasing on an EXCELLENT deal from David Langness.
  2. Ambient Temp Sensor : PN 15971127 (Approx $12). You MUST use the sensor under this part number, as even though the one for the Buick Roadmaster will plug in it does NOT have the correct resistance calibration for the Astrovan Console display unit! Thanks to Brian Steyer for helping me figure this out.
  3. Figure on approx 100 ft (total) of 18GA stranded hook-up wire, preferably (if you can get it) split approximately evenly among these colors :
    1. Red
    2. Orange
    3. Green
    4. Purple
    5. Black
    6. White

    The color split of course is not necessary, but should make it easier to keep track of all the wires.

  4. Misc electrical connectors, solder, electrical tape, heat shrink tubing, tie-wraps, etc.
  5. Approx 10 sheet metal screws, 10x1.5" and 10x2".
  6. Silicone caulk (SMALL amount)
  7. 3 or 4 wire connector (insulated, a trailer lighting connector works fine)
  8. Trim Adhesive (3M)
  9. OPTIONAL : Rivnut tool and rivnuts
  10. Other misc hardware to fabricate brackets (i.e. .080 sheet aluminum) as necessary

References / Thanks :

  1. 1996 Impala SS FSM (Factory Service Manual) pages :
    1. 8A-202-0 thru 8A-202-2
    2. 8A-68-0
    3. 8A-63-0
    4. 8A-150-0 thru 8A-150-7
  2. Pages from 1997 Astrovan FSM dealing with the overhead console
    A GIF that Bill Calcagno of the Syclone/Typhoon list kindly gave me that shows how a similar console is wired in the Typhoon.
    Voltmeter probings that I did on HAIL/NAISSO Member
    Ron Grant's rental Astrovan :^), as well as wire color confirmations to the Astrovan wiring diagram.
    Conversations with MANY Impala SS owners, including Dick Sigrist, Scott Pietzsch, Bill Clisby, Mike Allendorfer, and Scott Mueller among others.
    Excellent Installed Pictures from David Smith.

Directions :

  1. DISCONNECT THE VEHICLE BATTERY. Nothing ruins a day like shorting out major portions of your car electrical system :^).
  2. Remove the dome light -- the cover snaps off with a little pressure from front and back, the base pulls out, and the two-wire clip pulls off.
  3. Remove the Left sunvisor (3 screws)
  4. Remove the left A-pillar trim (it just "pulls" out, is held in by two clips)
  5. Remove the lower dash by doing the following :
    1. First you must remove the dash. Start by opening the glovebox, ashtray, and drivers door, and remove the fuse panel cover.
    2. Remove the four screws holding in the ashtray. Pull it out, and unplug the light.
    3. Remove the black bezel around the speedo cluster. It is two screws pointed up, then pull it out to disengage it from the "prongs" holding it to the grey plastic below.
    4. Remove the following screws :
      1. One on the left side beneath the black cluster bezel removed above.
      2. Similar screw in the "fuse panel" that is screwed into the side of the air vent
      3. Total of 4 screws along the bottom of the dash pointed straight up.
      4. One screw pointed straight up that is inside the "ashtray area" basically below the right side of the radio.
    5. Now just YANK on the panel, it should come loose from the prongs holding it in and practically fall in your lap! Installation is the reverse of removal.

    Lower Dash, Sunvisor, Left A-Pillar Trim, and Radio Removed in David Smith's SS


  6. Remove the radio, but only AFTER you have written down (or remember) the "theftlock" code in the radio if you have it set. Radio is removed by removing the two screws holding it in from the front (will be obvious once the lower dash is off) and pulling it out. Unplug the 20-pin connector and antenna from the radio. Procedure to set this code is located in your Owner's Manual.

  7. Disassemble the console base from the main body -- turn it upside down and back out about 12 T-10 torx-head screws. Open the cd holder door all the way and separate the two pieces. At this time, remove the 6-wire harness from the console that runs from front to back (plugs into the display at the front, and has a dangling blue connector at the back).

  8. Now is the time to build your wiring harness for the console display. To do this, take the 6-wire harness from the step above, and cut all the wires approx 6-12" from the BLACK connector on the harness. Also, cut off the BLUE connector at this time (approximately 6 inches from the connector) and set it aside for later

    Cut off FIVE 8-FOOT lengths of the 18ga hookup wire, and also ONE 12-FOOT length of wire. If you are lucky enough to have the wire in the various colors listed above, cut the 12-foot length from the PURPLE wire and 8-foot lengths from all the other colors (one length of each color). Solder in the wire lengths to the matching color on your split harness (i.e. the connector plus 6-12") and the other ends of the wire lengths to the SAME COLOR from what you cut off above. When you finish, you will have the original black/red connector with 5 wires that are approx 10.5 feet in length (8 feet + 2.5 feet for original harness wire length) and one wire that is approx 14.5 feet long.

    For reference, here is a list of the pins in the black connector, wire color matching the pin, and what the signal is that runs thru that wire :

    PIN NUMBER on Black/Red Connector at Compass Display COLOR of Wire at Compass Display FUNCTION of the Wire
    5 BLACK +12V with ignition
    6 WHITE Ground
    7 GREEN Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS)
    8 PURPLE with YELLOW STRIPE Ambient Temp Sensor Feed
    9 ORANGE Interior Lights Dimming Feed
    10 RED Interior Lights Feed

    Completed Wiring Harness for the Compass/Temp Display Unit
  9. The top piece is covered in headliner fabric, which in my case did not match. (Get a gray one if you can!) I removed the old fabric, which does not come off easily, and then spent about an hour removing the glue/foam that was left with 3M adhesive remover. What a mess. Note that if you get the matching grey console from David, you can SKIP this step!!!

  10. Now you're ready to fit the base. Hold it up in the position you want it (it fits perfectly between the sunvisors, like it grew there) and draw a pencil outline from the inside edge of the base.

  11. Take a very sharp X-Acto knife or a mat knife with a new blade and (gulp!) cut your headliner on the pencil line. Take care at the front of the headliner near the rear view mirror because six wires, for the mirror and its courtesy lights, run directly underneath it. No need to cut past the dome light hole -- console fits flush past where the dome light mounted. CUT CONSERVATIVE HERE : you can ALWAYS remove more headliner material, but it is pretty hard to undo if you cut too much! Also, take some of the bigger scraps here and set aside : they are perfect for gluing later on the "inside" of the upper console to fill in the gaps near the dome light (will be obvious when you have the console).

    Ed Runnion cutting his headliner. Yikes!!
  12. Fit the base up into your new headliner hole and trim the edges of the hole until the base fits snugly up into the hole. The sides of the Astro base do not match the contour of the Impala headliner, but they slip nicely up into the hole you've created so that the base fits almost flush at this point.

  13. Remove the base from the hole and trim the plastic front mounting boss so that it matches the angle of the steel windshield header on the Impala -- it'll be at about a 45 degree angle. Once you've done that, the console base should fit snugly up against the header and in your newly cut hole.

  14. Now comes the tricky part -- you will need to fabricate a rear mounting plate that attaches the center rib of the Impala roof (where the dome light used to mount) to the two rear attaching points of the console. I used an aluminum plate which I hacksawed to size and drilled to two screws and 2 rivnuts. Two short sheet metal screws held it up to the roof rib, and two rivnuts, mounted downward, so the console mounting bosses, which are under the dome light lens, would have a solid connection. Note : Ed Runnion got away with just mounting the rear of the console directly to the cross-brace above where the dome light USED to be, but still recommends doing it David's way in hindsight.

    Pic of mounting brace near domelight, wiring splices for light wiring, and optional epoxied wood mounting base (for inside the CD Case) on David Smith's car
  15. One more scary part -- now I drilled into the windshield header, with visions of slipping and making a nice ventilation hole in the outer roof skin. I drilled a 3/8" hole and mounted a rubber-encased 10/32 nut, the kind that cinch against the sheet metal as you tighten down. Use a drill stop, which can be made from any old piece of tubing, to limit your drill bit's penetrating length, and you'll remove any worry of seeing sky. Then I mounted a short piece of threaded 10/32 rod in the rubber nut, bent it slightly so it would match the angle of the mounting hole in the console, and used Loctite blue to make sure it wouldn't back out. Note that Ed Runnion did this with a 10x1" sheetmetal screw WITH THE TIP CUT OFF and it worked fine just drilling a small pilot hole for the screw (using a drillstop of course!) and putting the screw in afterwards.

    Kevin Headlee took another approach to the above two steps. To quote from him : "I used 10-32 nutserts in the roof braces at the windshield and roof light area. These work great because if you are slightly off on your hole position you can thread in a screw and use pliers to slightly bend the support to the exact angle to match your hole. This will not distort the roof, and allows for a factory quality mount that allows for fast console removal. "

  16. Made my daily pilgrimage to the parts store (Pep Boys) and picked up a roll of headliner material, exact match for ours, for $7. (Such a deal!) Cut it out along the same lines as the old piece, used spray adhesive and in about 10 minutes had the console base covered. Make sure, if you're as anal-retentive as I sometimes am, to cut the fabric on the same bias as the Impala's headliner. (Tiny stripes in our head-liner run from door to door, rather than from windshield to backlite, so I matched this pattern on the console.) Note that if you got a MATCHING console from David, you can SKIP this step!

  17. Now, wire in connectors for the console lighting. Use either a 3 or 4 wire connector that can be easily disconnected yet can handle the current AND is also insulated (a 4-wire trailer lighting connector works VERY well here), and then just "plug" in the console lighting while mounting it. All of the lighting wiring is in the 4-pin black square connector on the console. Snip off this connector, so you have just the four wires from the console (orange, black, red, purple).

    Solder up one end of the connector to the 4 wires from the console (lighting harness). If you are using a 3-pin connector, then solder both the red and orange wires in the console lighting harness to the same pin on the connector (since both are gonna be the same signal of +12V at all times).

    Take the matching half of the connector and solder it up to the following wires on the car, matching up the pins/signals of course! Note this differs on the 94 Impala SS from the 95-96 Impala SS (not sure on other B-bodies or other cars)


    1994 SS

    COLOR of Wire in the Console Wiring Harness FUNCTION of the Wire COLOR of Wire to connect it to on the car (cross-car lighting harness that runs along the B-pillar roof brace)
    BLACK FLOATING when dome light is off, GND when it is on WHITE
    PURPLE Ground at ALL times DARK BLUE
    RED +12V at ALL times ORANGE
    ORANGE +12V at ALL times ORANGE


    1995-1996 SS

    COLOR of Wire in the Console Wiring Harness FUNCTION of the Wire COLOR of Wire to connect it to on the car (cross-car lighting harness that runs along the B-pillar roof brace)
    BLACK FLOATING when dome light is off, GND when it is on DARK BLUE
    PURPLE Ground at ALL times BLACK
    RED +12V at ALL times ORANGE
    ORANGE +12V at ALL times ORANGE


  18. Time to install the 6-wire console harness now. From console to radio, it will run as follows : from the console front, along the front of the headliner (tucked up in there) to the left A-pillar, down the a-pillar (behind the trim), down thru the SMALL hole between the a-pillar and dash, and then split with ONE wire (the longer purple one) going out thru the grommet near the convenience center to underhood, while the other 5 wires are tie-wrapped to the underdash main harness to run towards the radio and eventually to the back of the radio (whew!). Reread this a few times, and it'll make more sense.

    Start up at the top center of the headliner. Feed the black/red connector thru your newly-cut hole in the center-front of the headliner (with a few extra inches of wire to spare), and run the wires under the headliner towards the left A-pillar. Once they come out at the A-piller, reinstall the left sunvisor (3 screws). Next, run the wires down the A-pillar, and then snake them thru the small "gap" between the base of the pillar and the dash (my car had a "foam block" here that simply pulled out to show the gap, other cars may differ). Once the wires are thru this hole and are coming out under the dash, reinstall the A-pillar trim (it just "snaps" back into place).

    Now, take the ONE longer wire (purple) and run it out into the engine bay. Do this thru the rubber grommet that is located on the firewall near the big plastic unit (convenience center) that holds the flashers and a bunch of relays. If you haven't run a wire thru this grommet before, take a SHARP punch or blade and put a small hole in the grommet to feed the wire thru. Once the wire is fed thru, it comes out on the firewall below the brake booster in the engine compartment. Pull the wire thru completely, and tie-wrap it underdash to other wiring if you can. Once in the engine compartment, run it along the left fenderwell (either in existing looms or factory looks) until it is alongside the PCM, and then run it approx 1 foot further out and cut it.

    Take the OTHER FIVE WIRES from the console, and run them along the other underdash wiring bundle that crosses the bottom of the dash. I zip-tied it to this bundle in 2-3 places so it would be secure. Once you get it over to the radio, run it up to the back of the radio and thru the hole in the back of the dash where the stock radio harness runs. pull the wires thru snugly, and cut them approx 6" past the front of the dash (this should leave plenty to work with).

  19. Now, time to hook up the harness that you just routed. First, start with the purple wire in the engine bay. If you look on the side of the PCM, there is a connector on the side (C100 in the 96 Impala FSM) with 6 wires into it. Two of the wires from the FRONT of the car into this connector are LtGreen/Black and Yellow (Pins J & K). These wires run to the temp sensor connector located at the front of the car near the hood latch brace. You'll notice that there are NO wires coming out of the back of this connector (towards the rear of the car) on pins J & K.

    Unplug this connector, and on the firewall-side connector pry off the tab (either grey or tan, depending on the year of the car) on the connector (prys from each side). Remove the "plugs" (little rubber things) that are in pins J and K.

    Take the blue connector (with approx 6 inch leads) that you cut off of the console wiring harness above. Press in on the white tabs thru the side, and remove the white plastic piece that helps hold the wires in the connector. Using a paperclip, push in and "release" the tabs (from the side of the connector with the pins) holding the purple and green wire pins in the connector.

    Now take these two wire/pins and put the purple one into Pin J of the connector C100. Yes, it snaps right in!. Do likewise with the green wire into Pin K. Once both pins are snapped in, seal them into the connector with the silicone caulk, and reassemble the connector. This is a bit of extra work, but give a nice "factory quality" connection underhood for these signals.  

    Solder the PURPLE wire you ran from the console to the purple wire put into Pin J on the connector C100 above. Then, solder a small extension wire on the green wire on Pin K, and crimp a lug onto the other end. Attatch this lug to a GOOD ground somewhere (I ran it to the lug nearby above the headlamp unit). This completes the underhood wiring. Also, plug in your Ambient Temp Sensor at this time to the blue connector at the hood latch brace, and mount the sensor on the brace so that it doesn't interfere with the hood, latch, or grille (there is plenty of room to do this, it isn't hard).

    Now, time for the other five wires at the back of the radio. The pins on the back of the radio are labelled 1-20, with the top row of pins being 1-10, 11-15 being unused on the Impala (used to hook up those neat steering-wheel controls and rear seat radios in other GM vehicles), 16 being the VSS, and 17-20 being speaker wires. For reference, this is pages 8A - 150 - 0 thru 8A - 150 - 7 in the 1996 FSM. Hook the wires from the compass to the radio wires as follows :

    PIN NUMBER Black/Red Connector at Compass Display WIRE COLOR at Compass Display PIN NUMBER at the connector on the back of the Radio WIRE COLOR at the connector on the back of the Radio
    10 RED 6 YELLOW (BROWN in 9C1's)

    You can "lineman splice" the wires into the radio wires, or just get lazy like I did and use the 3M "quick splice" connectors for these wires.

    Note that on the 94 SS, the Vss signal (Dark green with white stripe, pin 16) is NOT in the radio harness. Instead, you need to connect it to the Dark Green with White Stripe wire (also Vss) that is in connector C200 under the dash (approximately above the drivers right knee) at pin D8.

    Shot of David Smith's Wiring Splices of the harness at the rear of the radio.
  20. Now, the point of "electrical truth" :^). Remove the compass display from the currently disassembled console, and hook it up to the black/red connector for it in the car. Reconnect the vehicle battery. Turn the key on the either the "ACC" or "ON" position, and your console display should now light up! Note that the compass will probably NOT be correct : you will have to calibrate it later according to the procedure listed below. Also, when you turn on the parking/head lights, the compass display should dim just like the radio display, and be adjustable in brightness. The temp displayed should be correct, or at least pretty close (may be higher if you are like me and the temp sensor was sitting in the sun before you took this reading). Note that if you have an OPEN CIRCUIT problem with your wiring, or the sensor is not connected, it will read "OC" for the temperature. If you have a SHORT CIRCUIT problem, it will read "SC".

    Assuming that the console display works, turn off the key and unplug the display (put it back in the console). Also, RE-DISCONNECT THE BATTERY AT THIS POINT!!!

    David Smith's Display unit passing the "Moment of Electrical Truth"
  21. Reinstall the radio (remember to plug in the harness and antenna!), and then reinstall the lower dash.

  22. Put the console back together -- it's lip will help hold the new material down. Then test-fit it, trim as necessary, and mount. When you mount it, BE SURE to plug in the compass/temp display as well as the map and dome lights! I thought I needed one more mounting location, so I epoxied a piece of oak to the inner roof panel, pre-drilled it to accept a sheet metal screw, and then drilled a small hole in the inner panel of the cd holder portion of the console. Note that Ed Runnion did NOT need this extra mount point, and John "AK" Snyder did but put his above the garage door opener holder instead. Use your best judgement here.

  23. Hook the battery back up, and test to make sure the dome and map lights are all working.

    Another pic of David Smith's installed console. Note that David covered the "gaps" in the side of the console by CAREFULLY peeling back the carpet at the gaps, putting in some "wood splints" there (made from wooden kitchen sppons!), CAREFULLY re-gluing everything, and then installing. Nice job!
  24. Assuming everything works, now you need to go find a parking lot and perform the following Compass Calibration Procedure (from a 96 DODGE Ram manual of all places, but it works fine for us!) :

    1. Find a parking lot where you can do some WIDE 360 degree circles. Heck, it'd even work to drive around the edge of a parking lot. Important thing here is you MUST be able to make at least 2-3 circles, and EACH "circle" must take at least 15 seconds or so. In other words, tire-smokin parking lot "donuts" will NOT work here, but you might do a couple anyways just cause it is fun :^)!

    2. Once you are ready to circle, press down the "on/off" button and hold it. WHILE HOLDING THAT BUTTON, ALSO press the "US/Met" button (so you are holding down BOTH buttons) for approx 5 seconds. The display will say "var", which is your queue to set the "variance" for the compass. You set the "variance" by releasing the buttons, then hitting the "US/Met" button to scroll thru the different variances. Once you get to the correct one, hit "On/Off" to set it into the compass. A map showing the variance to be used for various geographic locations is listed below.


    3. Next, repeat step 2 again with the buttons, but this time hold the two buttons PAST when the word "var" shows up, and eventually the word "cal" will light instead. Once the word "cal" comes up, start your driving in circles. After anywhere from 1 to 3 circles, the compass will calibrate itself and the word "cal" will go out. Once this happens, your compass is calibrated!


  25. Enjoy your newly-installed and fully working Astrovan Overhead ConSSole Mod!!


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