To keep our terms straight, we'll use Toyotas names for various dash components. The instrument panel is what you may call the dashboard; it runs completely across the front of the vehicle. The instrument panel is covered with a soft vinyl surface called the safety pad. The safety pad is the part you see; the instrument panel is the framework under it. All the instruments and warning lamps in front of the driver are contained in the combination meter, sometimes called the gauge set or instrument cluster. The combination meter is removed as a unit.
Generally, numbered components use a numbering system with item 1 on the left side of the vehicle. Knowing how many numbered components there are can be helpful, too. For example, if heater ducts Nos. 1, 2 and 3, must be removed, its a fair bet that No. 2 is in the center. If the procedure only refers to Nos. 1 and 2, one may be on the left side and 2 on the right of the passenger compartment.
When disassembling components, always suspect the hidden screw or clip. Much of the fit and finish in the interior is accomplished by using concealed retainers to keep panels in place. Don't force anything during removal; if any resistance is felt, search out the hidden connector. Some of the panels assemble only in the correct order; pay attention. Take note of which bolts and screws go into each retainer; a too-long bolt can damage wiring or components behind the assembly being held.
Finally, understand that this is a lengthy project. Work slowly and carefully so as not to damage anything. Label or mark each electrical connector as it is disconnected; many of the plastic connector shells can be marked with an indelible laundry pen or similar marker. As a panel or component is removed, disconnect the wiring running to switches or components held by the panel. Be careful working around wires and harnesses; most are held by retainers and do not allow a lot of slack.