Swapping the A/C controls to the Trans-Am type on a Camaro.
Although this article was based on swapping the A/C controls to the Trans-Am type, the instructions apply to a regular replacement of the controls, simply by omitting the last 2 steps. The A/C controls were starting to look pretty shady, but my reason for changing over to the T/A type is simple: looks. The Camaro controls are very plain, and hard to see at night. On the other hand, the Trans-Am controls have the hot/cold controls in blue/red, and light up very well at night since they have 2 more lights. Anyway here goes:
- Flathead screwdriver or needle-nosed pliers
- T-15 torx bit or torx scredriver
- 7mm bit or screwdriver
- 1/4′ bit or screwdriver -optional- Something to cut and smooth out plastic (I used wire cutters and a fillet knife).
- A dremel type tool with cutting and sanding attachments would have been better.
Getting to the Controls:
First thing to do is to remove the panel that goes over the A/C controls and stereo. Use the torx bit or a torx screwdriver to remove it. Once that’s off you can take the 3 screws (highlighted in blue) that hold the A/C control panel in. They are of the 7mm type:
You can now slide the control panel out and remove the wiring, vaccum tubing, and the metal cable.
- RED: wiring for the high/low switch.
- BLUE: 2nd vacuum tubing connector (not present on all cars).
- GREEN: more wiring for the blower motor.
- YELLOW: Main vacuum tubing connector.
- ORANGE: that puny excuse for a light.
- Removing Electrical Connectors: The electrical connectors are of the regular snap on/push-up-on-plastic-clip(s) off type, except for the light which twists off.
- Removing Vacuum Tubing Connectors: The smaller vacuum connector simply pulls out. For the main vacuum tubing connector (highlighted in yellow above), you need to slide out the little metal clips that hold it in. This is most easily accomplished with a screwdriver or needle-nosed pliers. I used a screwdriver.
- Removing the Cable: This is done in two steps. First, you need to press on this little tab with a screwdriver while pulling the cable away from the control panel. The tab is on the top of the panel next to the 2nd vacuum tubing connector (highlighted in blue above), but the cable is on the bottom. Here’s the tab, with everything removed for clarity (the little part sticking out of it is what’s holding the cable in)
- Now the only thing holding the cable in is its attachment to the hot/cold slider thing, which is easily removed.
- Transferring the hot/cold slider to vacuum connector piece: OK this next piece may or may not apply to you. The replacement A/C controls only had one of the vacuum tubing connectors, my A/C had two. So I had to transfer a piece over. It connects to the hot/cold slider and to the 2nd vacuum tubing connector (highlighted in blue above). The screw holding it in is of the 1/4′ type.
These next steps are only necessary if you’re switching over to the Trans-Am controls. If you’re swapping like for like, install is reverse of removal.
As mentioned earlier, the Trans-Am A/C controls have 3 lights. They’re hooked up to a connector that needs to be attached to the gray/black wires that go to the Camaro’s single light. The wires on the connector are also gray and black, so no problem figuring out which wire plugs in to which. Well if there is, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing this in the first place. Anyway, I soldered (butane soldering irons kick ass!) the connector in and covered the soldering job with shrink tubing, but use any method of hooking up two wires you want.
Well, that’s pretty much it. Just hook everything back up, slide the new A/C controls in, screw it in and that’s it. But wait, the panel that goes over the A/C controls will cover up the top of the controls. This has no effect on functionality, but it looks dumb. So I had to increase the size of the opening. Just cut until the opening goes all the way to where the panel starts to slant. A pair of wire cutters was used to remove most of the material, a fillet knife to smooth it out. Here’s the finished install, much better than before.