Hi, great description but I'm stumped about how to remove that clipped-in strip. do you force it down, or toward back of car? I tried to pry the stereo face too but it's holding so well I'm afraid to break it.
Ahh yes it will feel like you are going to break it and if you have the 00-01 wood trim it is expensive or non-existent if you do break it. It has two clips, and a couple tabs that orient it on top.
The way I take it out is to slide a nylon trim tool blade into the top (if you don't have some of these getsome), about 1/3 in from one side on the top just below the climate control, and pry gently down and out. That should pop one clip out, then repeat on the opposite side and you can pull it straight out.
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Get one of those tools, they're great. I use a plastic spatula - it's just thin enough to fit into the crevices. Once you insert the tool in between the Climate Control and the Trim Piece, you can pry it out of there.
__________________ 1998 ES300 Diamond White Pearl/Tan
Wanted to remove the ashtray to get some coins which slipped behind and down under. Thought I could just pull it out but it's part of the console cover. Read this forum and saw some differences with the 2001 console cover. No screws seemed visible. While parked I pulled UP on the console cover near the cup holders and like magic it easily came up. No screws - just a push clip on each side and above the ashtray it slipped out of a notch. Remember to take the 'gear shift' out of park or there will be no room to pull it back. Very simple. I can now remove it for cleaning although it has an electrical connection near the ashtray I won't unplug.
ps. I had a problem with the lighter and, of course, it was the fuse. I think I dropped a dime in the lighter (ashtray is a coin holder). I bought a fuse puller which was worthless. Read a hint in this forum suggesting needle nose pliers - worked perfectly. Owners manual showed fuse was 3rd from right on top row. 15amp. Again, very simple when you know.