Thanks Bud! any instructions on taking the panel out myself that you know of?
The center panel is held in with clips and is easy to remove. Open the ash tray, and lightly tug at the bottom of the dash bezel. Once it pops lose, work your way up both sides, lightly tugging, to pop all of the clips loose. A flat putty knife about 1-1/2" is useful to slid under the edges and gently pry out the panel. Once the bezel is loose, disconnect the wiring harness for the hazard lights/ESP, and the 2 harnesses for the climate control. The climate control unit is held into the back of the center panel by a couple of screws.
In the picture below, you can see the back of the removed center panel. The circles show where the clips are and the rectangle shows the climate control unit and the screws holding it.