Hey guys & gals, after searching around for various options for auxiliary switch mounting and panels I decided that nothing really fit what I was looking for. Iíve noticed that a lot of people drill their switches into the small panel below the radio/head unit, or drilled switches into their dash to the bottom left of the headlight control switch. I wanted to have the switches mounted in a way that it didnít destroy a factory panel and could be reverted back to stock easily.
The custom auxiliary switch panel that I came up with would fit into the storage tray location in front of the cup holders in the flow through center console. The panel could be made to fit as many switches as required, and can even have gauges or anything else you could need. For my needs I wanted to be able to have 6 on/off switches for various off road lights, ambient lighting, bed lighting, etc. and a clean location for a hide-away strobe kit controller.
So hereís what I did:
Clean out your cup holders and the storage tray
Take out the small panel above the center console cover, this is just below the radio head unit. It is held on with 2 tabs, use a clean screwdriver and carefully pop it out. Just to repeat, be careful not to scratch the panels.
Next is to take the center console cover off. To do this you pull up from the back of the console closes to the latch to open the console. Lift each side at the back, donít be afraid to give a little pressure, it should pop right up.
To remove the center console cover completely you will need to put the truck in neutral or drive, be sure to have the truck off with the e-brake on. Just pull the cover back then lift it off. Donít forget to put the truck in park so it doesnít roll on you by accident just in case the e-brake doesnít hold.
Now that the cover is off, you can see where you are going to fish your wires to this area, there is plenty of room for wiring and items to recess into the area depending on the panel you make.
When you flip the cover you will notice that the cup holders and the storage tray is held on by screws. Remove the 4 screws holding on the storage tray and remove it. Later on the original storage tray will be used to hold the new auxiliary switch panel in place
Next, use the storage tray to trace the exact outline of the new panel to fill in the space onto a piece of cardboard. When you trace out the panel, be sure to hug the tray tight but make sure there is slight overlap, but not too much otherwise the panel wonít fit between the screw mounts.
After you trace out the storage tray, you want to mark the side that will be the top and the side that will face the cup holders. Also, draw in tabs to the new panel that will be cut out, this gives the new panel a tight fit between the screw mounts so it wonít move and will fit tightly.
Cutout the cardboard that you just traced out, and this will be your template. Keep the template as it can be used to make as many panels as you want/need. Be sure to test fit the cutout template into the storage tray location and ensure that there are no gaps and all the edges are covered.
Using the template, trace it onto whatever material you will be making your panel out of. I decided to make my panel out of ľĒ polycarbonate, because it is strong, can be painted, and will not be a conducting surface once live wires are under it. Then, cut the panel to the traced out shape, with polycarb you can use a jigsaw or a cutwheel grinder.
After you cut the panel, you will then mark the locations of the switches or any other items that you will be putting into the panel. Be sure to test fit the cut panel as you did with the template
As you can see in the photo above, this panel happened to be slightly too small, so I had to make another one.
After you test fit and have you layout of switches confirmed, drill out the required holes. After all of the holes are drilled out, sand all sharp edges. Now itís time to give you panel itís finish, I decided to plasti-dip mine, and mount your switches.
Now put your panel in place on the console cover. As you can see, plasti-dip is matte black on the painted side, but when looking through the polycarb it is shiny and scratch resistant. I am going to put the plasti-dipíed side face up since I prefer matte black.
On either side of the center console there are small trim pieces held on by tabs. Pull these out and slide them back towards the rear of the truck to remove them. This is how to run the wiring into the center console area. You can see how I fished the wires though and how there is plenty of room. Install the wiring to your switches and devices.
Leave plenty of slack in the wiring, you will need at least 1í extra, in order to put the center console cover back in place over the shifter
This is where you reuse the original storage tray to hold the panel in place. Put the storage stray in place over the panel as if there was no panel to begin with and install the 4 screws, sandwiching the panel in placed and holding it tightly. Be sure to test the switches.
One thing that I would change from what I did was to run the wires back towards the center console as there is more room for the wires, instead of running them towards the head unit where they were a very tight fit.
Put all the stock panels back on as they were and youíre done.
I hope this helps anyone looking to add in a switch panel or a gauge panel. With a little creativity you can make this work to whatever your needs are. Just take your time and be patient.