cbwallace

Replacing Gauge Lights In Instrument Cluster

29 posts in this topic

I had this entire tutorial/walkthrough written up and my browser crashed so for now, this is the abbreviated version. To prevent this from being lost in case my hosted pictures one day flake out, I have attached all of the photos in a pair of ZIP files.

Tools:

T25 Torx Driver

11/16, 17mm or Adjustable Wrench

Bulbs (5 main bulbs are #194, 14 smaller bulbs are #73 bulbs)

Note 1:

The number of #73 bulbs in your cluster may be slightly different depending on what features your car has. Also, some people have called for #74 bulbs. These are the same size bulbs, but #74 bulbs are about 2.5x as bright and last about 1/10 as long (1,000 hrs vs. 12,000 hrs).

Note 2:

At various stages it may be helpful to raise or lower your steering column. This seems obvious but I think it's one of those "good lord how did I not think of that" features, so here's your friendly reminder.

1. Remove left dash panel. This panel just pulls away at the front and will swing out towards the door. You don't need to completely remove it as the torx screws you need are along the front edge of the dash.

img-299782-1-DSCN0565.jpg

2. Remove hood release cable bracket (wrench). You only need to turn the nut behind the handle a few times until you can turn the whole assembly and slide it down.

img-299782-2-DSCN0567.jpg

3. Remove 2 left-most torx screws. The lower screw can be hard to get to if you have a long T25 driver. I ended up putting a T25 bit from a universal screwdriver set into a 6mm socket and used a ratchet which was much easier.

img-299782-3-DSCN0566.jpg

4. Remove lower dash panel. This is held in by 3 panel clips (2 left of steering wheel, 1 right) so just pull forward and down firmly but gently. You don't need it completely off, just get the 3 clips to release and it will hang down enough to work.

img-299782-4-DSCN0569.jpg

img-299782-5-DSCN0568.jpg

5. Remove cluster trim. This means removing 4 torx screws. 2 right above the cluster and 2 on each side of the steering wheel that you just revealed by pulling the lower panel. This also means disconnecting all of the electrical switches in the trim panel. Most are easily removed by hand. If you have the 'Swing' feature on your center vents, you can use a small flathead to push down a tab on top of its connector. The hardest connector by far is the power mirror, but luckily you don't have to unhook this. If you are careful you can swing the whole trim panel over the steering wheel and lean it left of the seat, saving you the struggle of this stupid connector.

EDIT: As noted by XeNoMoRpH - a small screwdriver can be used to release the mirror switch harness, which would allow you to completely remove the cluster trim panel and set it aside.

img-299782-6-DSCN0564.jpg

img-299782-7-DSCN0570.jpg

6. Remove cluster. This is 4 more torx screws and the cluster will pull straight forward. There are 3 harnesses on the back that are easily removed by hand but mine were a little stiff so I had to wiggle them just a bit.

img-299782-8-DSCN0571.jpg

img-299782-9-DSCN0572.jpg

7. Replace bulbs. Here you can see the back of the cluster. The bulbs are all in plastic housings that require 1/4 turn to release or install. Some of the bulbs have colored "gel" covers on them which you can either (a) try to remove and install on the new bulbs, (b) replace with new gel covers which are sometimes available at parts stores or Wal-Mart, or © decide you don't care right now and just install the plain bulbs. I originally tried (a) but ripped one of the covers, got annoyed and went with ©. I don't think my cluster looks different without the gel covers though it has been a while since my lights went out. In any case, as you can see in the end it still looks normal without the gel covers.

img-299782-10-DSCN0573.jpg

img-299782-11-DSCN0578.jpg

8. Reassemble and marvel at your results.

img-299782-12-DSCN0581.jpg

626gaugelights1.zip

626gaugelights2.zip

626gaugelights1.zip

626gaugelights2.zip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome write up. For the mirror adjustment switch, I generally use a small screw driver to undo the connection. I guess the hood release cable bracket would be a 17mm, you know, since the car is metric?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome write up. For the mirror adjustment switch, I generally use a small screw driver to undo the connection. I guess the hood release cable bracket would be a 17mm, you know, since the car is metric?

Thanks, glad I can contribute.

As noted I believe the 17mm is correct. I just moved to a new house a few weeks ago so I only had some of my tools and couldn't find most of my metric stuff. 11/16 converts to around 17.5mm so I'm sure the nut is 17mm, but since it doesn't take much torque there was no trouble at all with 11/16 (e.g. no risk of rounding it off). You could probably even get by with a pair of slip-joint pliers if you had to.

I'm certain you are right about releasing the power mirror plug. I poked a small flathead into the harness tab and mine still didn't readily release so I just rotated the whole assembly over. I didn't try very hard once I realized I could just move the panel. I have no doubt it can be released without a lot of trouble, and if you might be getting in/out of the car it would certainly be more convenient, but the job can be completed without disconnecting it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok first off this is a great post! it helped me easily get my dash off. my only problem is before i took the dash apart only the gas gauge lit up and nothing else, i replaced all the bulbs and now nothing lights up at all and the turn signals don't work.....i have no idea what to do now. please help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the final result .. indiglo gauges looks nice.. i might do that to mine since i have to take my dash apart.. i have a brunt out turn signal bulb.. i have a 98 626 lx 4cyl 5 speed :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hay, guy.

I love it. Totally the way I would describe the proceedure. Thank you very much. You are a Scholar-man and a Gentle . . .

I had tried to change the lamps previously, almost had the cluster out, and hit a wall. I will try again with this info.

Thanks again.

Duckpeople . . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just recently performed this same operation on my car. The only difference is I didn't take off the bottom of the dash first. I just took out the black cluster trim. It took some yanking, but thank god the holes are open ended on the bottom part.

Anyways, I believe the gel casings on the light bulbs only change the color of the needles. The green is already in the numbers. I however ripped one of my gel casings because it was melted to the burnt out bulb. I wrapped it around the new bulb and it doesn't look like it's fallen off yet. It seemed pretty secure, although ripped straight down the middle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great guild, went in to replace the bulb around the tach and got to taking the guages out of the car then hit a idiot wall..how to get the bulbs out?..took the front cover off and was still confused..then thought..hmm..maybe twist the back of a bulb and take it out? EUREKA!!!!! Seems like its all working but will know tonight :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh I just did this today using this guide, helped a lot! One thing that was a pain in the ass is the green rubber cover split when I was trying to take it off of the old bulb. Seems that they get so hot they somewhat melt on there. I had to buy all new covers as well as replacing all of the bulbs as I had planned. But it looks as good as new now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great help. This turned what probably an all night event into 45 minutes to an hour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you like a certain topic in this case a tutorial you can click the green button next to the post to give the author a reputation point. It's similar to a like feature used only on this website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wow thats alot for the 99 model, when i had my 97 all i had to do was remove the 2 screws on top of the shield then the 4 bolts that held the cluster down. took 10 mins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 4th gens are easy breezy compared to the 5th gens. That's why a tutorial for the 5th gens cluster removal has been needed for quite a while now. Finally got some really good 5th gens tutorials going now. This is a very good one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the write up, Used it today. FYI, for the mirror switch connector, you can push the entire switch assembly through from the back without damaging anything. It's just held by clips. It still has to be disconnected, but makes it easier to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the write up, Used it today. FYI, for the mirror switch connector, you can push the entire switch assembly through from the back without damaging anything. It's just held by clips. It still has to be disconnected, but makes it easier to do.

I would also recommend this method. That is how I always did it anyway and found it the easiest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

all of my dash lights went out at the same time they came back on once do you think i have a diffrent problem

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, I would like to know wether T10 wedge 194 LEDs and T5 wedge 73 LEDs be used instead of incandenscent bulbs? I googled this and found nothing. Will it work? Thanks in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does this happen frequently? I just bought the car with the gauge lights out, only the one behind the gas gauge working.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes and no. It's a common occurrence since our cars are getting older the bulbs are going out but I would think that's normal for any aging car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oh ok. do you think its definitely the bulbs? and how could more than one go out like that? seems odd. either way i think ill need to take a look back there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

everything works, all indicator lights, the odometer backlight, but then just a faint light coming from behind the gas gauge. at night i realy cant see the tach or the speedometer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah just some bulbs that need to be replaced then. This is an excellent bulb replacement tutorial for all 5th gen owners. It's really easy stuff once you start getting those dash panels off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now