Updating a 97-02 Wrangler’s center dash to the 03-06 style for an extra switch and 12v outlet (TJ).

97-02 Metra Kit vs 03-06 Metra Kit

My 1997 Wrangler came with a useless missing ashtray space in the center dash. When upgrading my stereo, I knew I wanted another 12v outlet and somewhere good to mount the controller for my S-Pod knockoff. There are a couple of aftermarket options in the $200+ range that I’ve seen, but I really like the look of factory switches and outlets. My research showed that in 2003, Jeep switched to a lower middle dash panel that had an extra switch, extra 12v outlet, and a flat surface that would be perfect for my aftermarket switch panel. This is a very straightforward upgrade that I highly recommend, especially if you have upgraded or are planning to upgrade your stereo.

Parts You’ll Need

  • Metra Double-DIN stereo bezel kit
    • Order this kit if you have or are installing a double-DIN head unit.
  • With a factory head unit, you can find a used OEM center bezel from a 2003-2006 TJ on EBay. If you’re installing an aftermarket single-DIN head unit, you’ll need to find an original 03-06 bezel and this adapter.
  • OEM 2003-2006 Lower Dash Switch Panel (I found mine on EBay, look for part numbers 56047028AD / 56047028AC)
  • 4th Rocker Switch (I used https://amzn.to/367FaaZ which required no modifications). You could also modify a switch blank with a normal switch or do some dremel work for the classic aftermarket rockers.
  • Accessory for second 12v outlet. I put in a USB+Aux port for my head unit and replaced the factory cigarette lighter outlet with this one.

Complementary Modifications

The Work

I did this conversion after I’d upgraded my stereo. Crutchfield and various forums have great instructions on how to install the double-DIN, so I won’t be covering that in great detail here. I will, however, show you the process of fitting the new 03-06 switch panel in a TJ that previously had an ash tray and 3-switch panel.

  1. Typical dash disassembly: pry up and remove the trim nearest the windshield (with the defrost vent), remove the two Philips screws securing the center dash bezel to the dash, pry the dash bezel off.
  2. Remove the 4 screws securing the 97-02 switch panel and the ashtray, if applicable.
  3. Remove the rocker switches by prying the tabs top and bottom. They slide out to the back of the panel. I broke one of mine, DeadJeep has replacements for $10.
  4. Disconnect the original 12v cigarette lighter outlet. I was not able to remove it from the switch panel without destroying the outlet, so I installed a replacement outlet. You can simply cut the factory harness and solder/crimp to a new outlet.
  5. Modify the new 03-06 switch panel: you’ll need to slightly enlarge the 12v outlet holes to fit aftermarket accessories. I used a dremel on one and a utility knife on the other. My panel already had a hole in the flat space on the right, but you’ll need to cut out for whatever you’re mounting there (if anything).
    03-06 switch housing with holes enlarged
  6. Replace or upgrade the bulbs for the existing rockers and install your 4th rocker switch. Install the 12v outlet(s) as desired, note that the rear space is tight, I had to bend the power tabs on mine. I used a combo USB/Aux outlet and a 12v cigarette lighter outlet which I wired into the original cigarette lighter harness. Its worth noting that these outlets came *very* close to not fitting the space behind the panel, which is why you see my two red terminals bent outward.
    accessory outlets wired in
  7. Mock-up the new panel against your dash, the driver side screw holes and peg should fit in the original spots. I used a Sharpie to mark where new holes needed to be drilled in the right side of the plastic.
    drilling holes for the right side of the new dash panel
  8. Drill the two pilot holes for the screws and one larger hole for the center peg.
    holes required for conversion
  9. Install the new switch panel with the 4 original screws.
  10. Install the newer style Metra bezel, I found that there were two tabs that I had to trim down a bit before it would seat fully.
97 TJ Wrangler with 03-06 Bezel and Switches
The finished product — the 4th switch controls the accessory panel to the right. The USB and Aux inputs connect to the stereo, and the 12v outlet uses the original cigarette lighter wiring circuit.