DIY Tips for Instrument Cluster Removal and Replacement
Depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, there may be a time when the instrument cluster or some of the gauges in the cluster fail. If this happens, it is often easier to simply remove the broken cluster, and replace it with a new one rather than attempt a repair. Additionally, if you buy older vehicles and restore or customize them, part of the restoration or customization process may include replacing the instrument cluster with an after-market version.
The instrument cluster is a large part of the dashboard, and the exact process for removal and replacement will vary depending on the make, model, and year of the vehicle. In some vehicles, other components may have to be removed before you can get to the instrument panel. Because of this, make sure that you take notes as you remove each piece. This will make reinstalling the components much easier.
Getting Ready to Remove the Instrument Cluster
Before attempting to remove and replace the instrument cluster, you will need to gather up some tools and supplies. For most vehicles, you will need both a flat and a Phillips head screwdriver, a wrench, and some replacement LED bulbs. You will also need a replacement instrument cluster panel that is the right size, shape, and type for your vehicle. It is advisable to also keep a pad and pencil nearby so that you can take notes during the removal process.
Begin the Removal Process
The first step in the instrument cluster panel removal process is to disconnect the battery. This will ensure that you will not damage any equipment due to a power surge, and make sure that you do not receive an electric shock. Once the battery is disconnected, you will need to lower the steering wheel to its lowest position so that you have plenty of room to work on the instrument panel.
Remove the Dashboard Bezel
In order to remove the dashboard bezel, you will need to remove the screws that are attached to it. On most vehicles, these are Phillips head screws that hold the bezel to the dashboard and are located near the instrument cluster. The bezel is typically rubber, plastic, or metal and should pull off quite easily once the screws are removed.
Remove the Instrument Cluster
Once the bezel is removed, you should be able to access the instrument cluster itself. Typically, there are three or more mounting screws that attach the cluster to the dash andthese need to be removed. Then, slide the cluster out of the dashboard as far as it will go. When you have enough room, reach behind the cluster and disconnect the wiring harness. Once this is disconnected, you should be able to remove the instrument cluster completely.
Replace the Instrument Cluster
Replacement instructions are simply the removal instructions in reverse. Slide the cluster close to the dashboard and reconnect the wiring harness, then slide it all the way in and replace the screws. Next replace the bezel, return the steering wheel to its regular position, and replace the battery. If you would like to check the instrument cluster before completely reinstalling it, replace the battery after you have re-attached the wiring harness.
These removal and replacement instructions are suitable if you are installing a brand-new instrument cluster, or if you are removing one to repair it, and then replacing the same one. While this repair may seem fairly simple, it does deal with vehicle electronics and should not be attempted unless you are confident that you can complete the job.