Installing a Passat B3 glove box into a Passat B4
The Passat B4 (1996-1997) was the first Passat to have a passenger side airbag - they did this at the lowest possible cost by reusing the dash shell design from the Passat B3 (1990-1994). That means that it is possible to install a B3 glove box directly into your B4 dash. Note that prior to 1999 or so, all airbags were overpowered, including the B4 - this type of airbag killed enough children and infants in the front seat that airbag sensors were redesigned to match airbag explosive power to the weight of the seat's occupant.
This modification will allow you to remove a potentially dangerous safety device in favor of more storage - as with all automotive work, do this at your own risk.
Parts and tools
*the glove box itself, easily procured from EBay
*there is a glove box light with manual switch designed to go with this
*8mm socket and ratchet
NOTE: most online guides suggest you do this without removing the entire dash. I did this as part of my heater core and HVAC foam replacement, and so I was able to do this the right way without damaging bolts. This also enabled me to run the wiring for the glove box light properly.
First and foremost,
** BE SURE TO DISCONNECT THE BATTERY FULLY BEFORE TOUCHING AIRBAGS **
1) Removing the passenger airbag
a) The airbag cover has three screws holding it down, remove them and then you can life the cover up on its hinges.
b) This gives you access to the airbag itself, and it is held onto two metal mounting arms with a total of 4 bolts. Remove them and BE SURE to have a strong grip on the airbag - it is a lot heavier than it looks, and is technically an explosive. You don't want to drop it.
c) The airbag sensor has a wiring harness plug into the back of the airbag itself - remove it carefully (for me, the wires came out of the plastic plug very easily, and you don't want to reinstall them backwards!)
d) You will now need to remove the airbag cover by undoing the upper three screws and then it lifts straight out. A metal bracket will likely fall down as you do this - keep that bracket in good condition.
2) Removing the airbag mount braces
a) These are held on by four 8mm bolts each - the core reason I suggest doing this project with the dashboard removed is to avoid having to damage the last two bolts holding them in, to remove these:
3) Optional: electrical prep work
a) You will want to run wires up behind where the glove box will go, if you're planning on installing the manual light now or in the future:
b) You will also want to use a 2.5 Ohm resister on the passenger airbag plug, to avoid having a constant airbag light on in the car.
4) Mounting the glove box
a) After putting the glove box into the dash shell, this is the trickiest part of this project. You will need to hold the glove box in place, while also reaching behind and around the glove box inside the shell to hold up that airbag bracket you removed earlier. This bracket is where the screws fasten into, via threaded holes. I suggest having someone hold the box steady and/or use the screw driver alongside you for this.
b) Then, you will want to install the lower three screws to secure the glove box fully:
The finished product should look stock!