Ok finally got round to fixing the cover, I am very happpy with the results, so here is my (yes its a bit long winded, sorry) method.
Passenger air bag cover removal, as done by me
10mm spanner to remove battery clamps
10mm socket with extension (1/4 or 3/8 drive, ½ inch is too big)
Philips screw driver
Medium sized flat head screwdriver/ small pry bar
Wet flannel (to cool the cover)
Bucket of water or a nearby tap
2x Snap off airbag buttons for the passenger side airbag cover
Firstly this bend in the bottom right hand corner of the passenger airbag cover seems to be a design fault, I had a breaker send me a cover off a later model 156 and it had the same fault.
You WILL need break the 2 plastic clips at the bottom of the cover, they are only a couple of dollars Nz$10 each (@2.50 pounds), there is no way to get them out without breaking them, they are ultra sensitive.
1st thing disconnect battery wait 15min
Unscrew the glove box, there are 6x Philips screws, you do not have to take the door off, just be careful with the “stay” that support the door, these snap easily, you will need to disconnect these to allow you to pull the door down past its normal swing to get to a couple of the screws, and of course to remove the body of the glove box.
Once the glove box is removed you need to get a small flat head screwdriver/ pry bar with some decent padding on the dash to spread the load (you want to dent/ Crack the dash). With this you lift, gently but firmly at the bottom edge of the airbag cover about 40mm from each corner, this is where the clips are, with VERY little effort you will hear a click as the clips break. There are 2 of these to do. Once this is done the bottom of the cover is free lift, open it as if it was hinged at he top, then wiggle the 2x catches at the top free (in truth they will just fall out).
Now there is a webbing strap that runs over the top of the airbag, down the back and then held in place with 2x 10mm bolt, these bolts are below the airbag and directly above the CPU for the EFI‘s main loom plug. These bolts are accessible only through the removed glove box with a socket (a spanner is too hard to twist in the enclosed space and you are liable to damage the loom). Once these bolts are undone remove the cover, the webbing strop pulls though behind the airbag.
Reshaping of the panel, I did this with an electric heat gun, a wet towel (to assist in the cooling), and a bucket of water. In my case (and most of the examples I have seen) the panel only needed to be pushed in a max of 5mm, any more than this will start lifting the panels in other areas, so don’t go over the top with heating and bending before trial fitting..
To re shape the panel I heated the plastic on the rear as this provides the shape, not the vinyl cover. I started by putting a moderate pressure on the effected corner by pushing it down on the work bench, I then started heating, the rear face needs to be heated evenly from the corner, radiating out to about 60mm. It needs to be hot but if you get smoke that is bad, I heated it for about 30seconds, that’s all it took, carefully watching in case the plastic changed texture, you want to avoid this so if it goes shiny, that’s not bad, but don’t put any more heat on it…now stop heating but keep a firm pressure on the corner for about 2 minutes, remembering not to touch the heated surface as this will be too hot to handle, also remember you only need to bend it approximately 5mm so a huge pressure is not required. then use the wet towel to cool down for the plastic for about 2-3 minutes, remembering not to let the pressure up, then I just walked to the kitchen and ran it under a tap to get the last of the heat out…don’t pack up the heat gun at this stage as you will need to trial fit it.
To trial fit it I slid the webbing in loosely, and then hooked up the top catches and just pressed the bottom in at the 2 points where the “breakable” clips hold (DON’T PUT IN THE CLIPS), there is no point pressing else where as it will not give an accurate indication of how it will look.
Now repeat the first step if required, but if you are happy with the result unhook the top catches, slip in the 2 clips to the rear of the cover, taking care not to snap them, then slip the webbing strap back behind the air bag (this is the trickiest part of the mission, its not that hard), and do up the 2x10mm bolts. Hook the top catches, now carefully find the holes for the breakable clips and gently position them, once in the right position with a firm push “snap” them into place….replace the glove box (remember to check all the glove box light wiring, this may have come loose) Job done!!!