1997 Explorer
Instrument Cluster Cover Removal
May also apply to other second generation Explorers

Contributed by andy

Friends. I forget ... but someone had asked me to post this .... To replace the headlamp switch bulb you need to follow the same basic instructions as taking the gauge face off to clean inside. If you're only going to change the bulb, you only need to go up to Step 15. The bulb resides inside the switch itself. You'll need to gently pry the cover off the switch to get to the bulb. BTW.....the bulb itself is about 4 bucks at the dealer...save your receipt because if it blows out within a year you can get a replacement free.

Tools needed:

1/4" drive set with:


straight handle

6" extension

9/32" socket

5/16" socket

T-15 Torx bit

small straight blade screwdriver

medium straight blade screwdriver

several Band-Aids (lots of sharp sheet metal around)


1. Remove (2) 9/32 screws from radio/HVAC cluster above HVAC controls.

2. Pull HVAC cluster out to limit of wiring harnesses.

3. Remove (2) 9/32 screws from under lower trim panel below steering column.

4. Remove (2) 9/32 screws from hood release assembly.

5. Remove lower trim panel from under steering column and set aside.

6. Remove (7) 5/16 bolts from anti-submarine plate below steering column and set aside.

7. Remove (3) 9/32 screws from underside of cowl over instrument cluster.

8. Remove (2) 9/32 screws from lower edge of upper trim panel on either side of steering column.

9. Lower tilt wheel as far as it will go.

10. Pull upper trim panel out from dash (spring clips from holes).

11. Remove connector from headlight switch - use small straight blade screwdriver to help release the latches (one on each side).

12. Remove connector from dimmer switch - use medium straight blade screwdriver to help release the latch (one latch on right side).

13. Put key in ignition, move one notch toward start position, put foot on brake pedal and move shift lever to Lo (1).

14. Remove upper trim panel - a bit tough, have to wrestle it out.

15. Return shift lever to Park and remove key (unless you want to hear the ding-ding all the time).

16. Remove (3) T-15 Torx screws from top of instrument cluster.

17. Remove (4) 9/32 screws holding instrument cluster in dash.

18. Remove (4) T-15 Torx screws from lower part of instrument cluster - helps to pull cluster forward and tilted upwards.

19. Remove instrument cluster cover.

20. Clean cover using whatever - I used Windex with a Handiwipe on the inside and polished the outside using Meguiar's Plastic Polish and a soft cotton cloth to remove the scratches - note the clear plastic is very soft and will scratch with even a moderately rough paper towel. Remove any dust from gauge faces using a slightly damp Q-tip and/or canned air (stay at least 12" away).

To re-assemble, repeat steps 19 to 1. You may have to use your fingers to get the spring clips to line up with the holes as you re-install the trim pieces. The connectors for the dimmer module and the light switch are somewhat of a bear to re-connect - just be careful not to mash the wires as you push them on.

Contributed by Craig F.

If you read the above closely it says to pry apart the headlight switch. I did and you have to be careful as there are springs and a steel ball inside. Once apart I saw that you really don't need to take the switch apart. This light bulb for the headlight switch in my '95 is sits in a long black support tube. You can't remove the bulb from the tube. The tube twists out of the headlight switch. You can do this without taking the headlight switch apart. My suggestion turn the tube out is a U shaped paper clip as there are two hole in the end of the tube. Looks like they are there to assist in twisting the tube out of it's locking socket. This bulb lights as soon as you start the engine. It stays on so you can see the switch to turn on the lights. I guess I never noticed it before until someone posted about replacing it.

By the way. If anyone ever has fuse 26 blow check the following. I had a bare wire where the shifter lever meets the steering column. After time the pulling on the shifter to get it into drive must have worn the wire through. There are three screws to remove the plastic shell around the column. There is a metal plate with a rubber grommet you need to left up to see the wire at this pivot point. Fuse 26 controls backup lights, rear defrost, over drive and some part of the 4WD system






Updated November 21, 2000

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