View Full Version : How To: Instrument cluster lamps/ Instrument cluster removal

07-29-2011, 04:08 AM
This is either simpler, or harder than you are thinking... let me give you the short version...

All the lamps in the binnacle replace from the bottom/rear. Look at the diagrams here


and here


including the individual photos of key parts like the lamp socket/base...

All of the indicator lamps are small bulbs that slide into a plastic base, not dissimilar from small xmas tree bulbs - the bulb then gets inserted into the proper hole in the instrument cluster and you twist the base to lock it in place.

I don't recall if the 4 or 5 lamps across the top that wash down the whole cluster work that way or not, but that's kind of moot if you read on, there is no way you can reach those unless you are Eugene Victor Toombs (who apparently is way creepier in real life than on x files - but I digress.)

So if you have patience, dexterity and small hands you can actually reach up and get your fingers on a couple of the bulb/bases and twist them, unlock them, and pull them out. If your dead lamp is one of those, congrats - go ahead and give it a try after you read this whole post - caveat hidden below.

If you can almost get to it, it may help to remove the kneepads - typically those are held in place with nuts from the back, use a #10 socket to get them off - be gentle.

Odds are pretty good though that you can't reach them. Now the fun begins. Remove both kneepads. and consider if you want to remove the drivers seat - which is 4 nuts on the underside of the car. If the seat is out its much more comfortable to get your head under the steering column - your call. (Let the family know you will start blowing the horn if you get stuck under the steering wheel and can't wiggle out. Better yet a child may do good work under the dash - I make my 12 year old do that work when possible.)

You need to find 4 smaller nuts, two on either side of the steering column assembly probably with big fender washers on them - It may be a 6mm socket or probably a socket in a screwdriver type handle may be easier. Remove the 4 nuts, don't let stuff drop in your eyes - the you should be able to lift the binnacle up a few inches and back.

At this point there are two electrical connectors going to the cluster, squeeze the ends and pull them out - they plug into a flexible ribbon, be VERY gentle with it. One is horizontally oriented, the other vertical.

Then you will see the speedo cable plugged into the back. Around and below the cable where it plugs in is a metal tab, push it toward the speedo, pressing it in, and you can then pull the speedo cable loose.

Now you can replace all the lamps.

Install in reverse order. Be very careful with the electrical connections on the back of the cluster - all of them including the bulbs.

A Few more notes:

You may already have LEDs installed - if so, there are some important things to know. When you try to remove the bulb the LED is an odd shape and barely fits through the hole in the cluster - its easy to try to pull it out and instead pull the led out of the base and have it drop inside the cluster - if this happens it will rattle around until you remove the binnacle and get it out.

Leds last a long long time, but the do not dim, so the cluster dimmer knob near your shifter will only turn them on and off.

Leds have a polarity - + and - are critical if you want them to light up, and most are not marked. Remember I said they slide into a base that then locks into the cluster, you may have to spin a led 180 degrees to get it to light.

The most straightforward way to test the lamps/leds is to carefully hook up the two connectors again (the foil connectors are very fragile) and turn the key one click to run, most of the lights will come on. Turn your dimmer on your shifter full clockwise. Make sure the handbrake is on to have that light up, highbeams, low, turn signals etc. If you want to check the low fuel light you have to go through the front trunk, access the sender in the top of the tank, lift it out and let it drain. Note which lamps or leds don't work, replace the bad lamps or try rotating any Leds 180 degrees.

Also the battery light must have a bulb, it cannot be left empty and it cannot have an LED. If it does not then the alternator will not charge. Just because your alternator is working though don't assume the bulb must be good - I had a Ducillier in one car that charged for some reason just fine even with a burned out lamp. If you are pulling the binnacle for any reason, just replace the battery lamp with a new one - they are cheap.

It's late, I'm tired - others please fill in what I missed.

07-29-2011, 07:38 AM
nice write up, seems pretty thorough. loved the Tooms reference! :biggrin:
(for those who havent seen it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeeze_%28The_X-Files%29).)

08-02-2011, 08:04 PM
Sounds complicated just to change one bulb. Sigh. I have really small hands though, so hopefully I won't have to do all of that...

08-02-2011, 08:17 PM
Sounds complicated just to change one bulb. Sigh. I have really small hands though, so hopefully I won't have to do all of that...

Depends what lamp. Anything near the top - yeah, you will. Sadly. Take a look under the dash next time you're in the car, you'll see what we mean :)