How to: - 2nd Gen Gauge Cluster Removal and LED Conversion V2 | Page 11 | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: 2nd Gen Gauge Cluster Removal and LED Conversion V2

This is my second and hopefully much more helpful writeup on converting the 95-01 gauge cluster to LEDs. I have tried 3 different types of 12v wedge based 194 replacements and I have finally found the one that puts out enough light and lights up the cluster evenly.

Here were my candidates.
From Left to Right: Inverted Wedge LED, Refractor LED, SMD LEDs
100_1393.jpg

The Results

Inverted Wedge LED: Even Light output, but not bright enough

Refractor LED: Horribly Uneven light output, Short Lifespan (they started blowing on me)

SMD (Surface Mount Diode): Even Light output and very bright (brighter the the 194LL Bulbs)

100_1396.jpg


Getting to the cluster:

Step 1
Remove the Radio
100_1375.jpg


Step 2
Remove the 2 screws (circled in red)
Disconnect the 5 wiring harness behind the bezel (circled in blue)
100_1376-1.jpg

100_1377.jpg


Step 3
Remove the 4 screws holding the plastic panel in place. (2 are hidden under the hood release) Then pull back on the top of the panel ( it is held in by clips)
100_1378-1.jpg


Step 4
Remove the 3 bolts holding the metal shield in place
100_1380.jpg


Step 5
Remove the 2 screws at the bottom of the gauge bezel (note the wiring harness locations circled in blue)
100_1383.jpg


Step 6
Remove the 3 screws at the top of the gauge bezel
100_1384.jpg


Step 7
Pull out the bezel enough to disconnect the 3 wiring harnesses. (Headlight Switch, Dimmer, and Rear Parking Assist) Then Remove the bezel. (Shifter must be in 1st gear)
100_1385.jpg


Step 8
Remove the 4 screws holding in the Gauge Cluster
100_1386.jpg

100_1387.jpg


Step 9
Tilt the Cluster back and remove the Shift Indicator from the cluster, there are 2 plastic tabs that must be held on each side to remove the indicator.
Disconnect the 3 wiring harness from behind the cluster, then remove the Cluster
100_1388.jpg

100_1389.jpg


Now Hopefully You are holding your Instrument Cluster and can go on to the fun part.

Remove the 6 back light bulbs from the cluster. (Circled in Red)
( I also highly recommend you also remove the THEFT light LED so you don't risk blowing it like I did when I was trying to figure out how to bench test the cluster)
The PC board on the back of the cluster is flexible so you can carefully pull the contacts where the wiring harnesses attach out of the sockets so you can attach alligator clips to bench test.
(The white wires are the - and the RED and GREEN are +)
100_1392.jpg


Here are the LEDs in the sockets. ( I used a bit of hot glue to make sure they didn't come out)
100_1390.jpg


I apologize for not having a night shot of the final product, but the camera I have with me is an absolute noise box and takes terrible low light pics. When I get back my Canon ill get some pics.

Good Luck!
 


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MustangP51

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I looked at the pictures before I read your post and thought how in the hell did you get those to fit haha.

Did you pull the cluster apart to grind down the fiber optics?

Looks great BTW
 


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Hunter32

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yes i did. and i ended up cutting off a rather large portion of those optics. Probably just about 2/5 of an inch. I used a dremel and then i coated it with clear nail polish.

I wish i had gotten some pictures for you guys but my camera was dead

There are no real dark spots in the cluster and it is much brighter than before. I'm loving it! I was thinking about using red nail polish to make the needles red but i think i've read that if you take the needles off you risk putting them back on in the wrong position? (thus making your needles read false readings)

so i just wasnt going to risk it..
 




tgrfly

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So where did you get those LEDs and did they fit fine?
 




Hunter32

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i got them off ebay and they fit after i grinded down the fiber optics inside the guage cluster. if you get the 5 LED ones then they should fit without having to grind anything down
 




storlied

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We need V3 pictures man! lol
 




CTroxtell

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Patiently waiting for V3
 




lunchfist

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5smd LEDs installed...

I LOVE THIS FORUM!

IMG_0929.jpg



i went with blue LEDs because i wanted blue needles, slowly working toward changing all interior lighting to blue.

I'll have to do something about that green film on the gauge faces.....

2001 Exp XLT 4.0 SOHC
 












Brad1976

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MustangP51,

Because of your signature, I now have a LOT more mods to do to my '02 E Eddie Bauer... Wondering if you may have gotten the opportunity to take the pics of your V3.0. Since I'm about to undertake this dash light upgrade I wouldn't mind seeing the difference before I buy the lights... :)
 




Sip

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you have a ford explorer 91 and did you get the needles fix?
 




MustangP51

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Well This is V3.0. It consists of 6 10mm .5 watt LEDs and 6 5mm LEDs. This was not a Plug and Play setup, I had to make small circuit boards consisting of a voltage regulator circuit to power these LEDs. I don't have any pictures of the retrofit but this was not for the faint of heart and was probably more time consuming then it was worth. I took this picture a few weeks ago but never got around to uploading it.

IMG_0121.jpg


Please excuse the ABS Light, a mouse chewed through the wire going to the rear wheel speed sensor. Wires have been fixed, and the mouse.....eliminated.
 




Varsity

Don't need no stinkin 4WD...yet
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^^^That looks really impressive, but not sure I wanna see the write-up.... I did the v2 which was just replacing the 194s with 194 LEDs and its great but my RPM needle doesn't seem to light up. The gauges around it and everything work nice, but just the stupid RPM needle is barely lit up. I don't know if you know anything about that.

The picture looks great though, does v3 seem the brightest/fullest one yet?
 




Brad1976

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1. Does anyone possibly have a picture of the inside of a console at all? I'm not referring to the "back" of the console like in the earlier pages of this thread. I'm referring to the inside, after the circuit board has possibly been removed...

I should be able to afford getting my LED's within the next month or two and planning on a HUGE lighting mod.....

2. Once I'm done my mods, if there's anyone that might be able to help me post the pics within this forums server, could you please PM me? I'd rather not use one of the free servers out there like photobucket, and honestly can't afford to really send in any money to this site as much as I would sincerely love to!!! :(

Tanks!
 




Sip

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This is my second and hopefully much more helpful writeup on converting the 95-01 gauge cluster to LEDs. I have tried 3 different types of 12v wedge based 194 replacements and I have finally found the one that puts out enough light and lights up the cluster evenly.

Here were my candidates.
From Left to Right: Inverted Wedge LED, Refractor LED, SMD LEDs
100_1393.jpg

The Results

Inverted Wedge LED: Even Light output, but not bright enough

Refractor LED: Horribly Uneven light output, Short Lifespan (they started blowing on me)

SMD (Surface Mount Diode): Even Light output and very bright (brighter the the 194LL Bulbs)

100_1396.jpg


Getting to the cluster:

Step 1
Remove the Radio
100_1375.jpg


Step 2
Remove the 2 screws (circled in red)
Disconnect the 5 wiring harness behind the bezel (circled in blue)
100_1376-1.jpg

100_1377.jpg


Step 3
Remove the 4 screws holding the plastic panel in place. (2 are hidden under the hood release) Then pull back on the top of the panel ( it is held in by clips)
100_1378-1.jpg


Step 4
Remove the 3 bolts holding the metal shield in place
100_1380.jpg


Step 5
Remove the 2 screws at the bottom of the gauge bezel (note the wiring harness locations circled in blue)
100_1383.jpg


Step 6
Remove the 3 screws at the top of the gauge bezel
100_1384.jpg


Step 7
Pull out the bezel enough to disconnect the 3 wiring harnesses. (Headlight Switch, Dimmer, and Rear Parking Assist) Then Remove the bezel. (Shifter must be in 1st gear)
100_1385.jpg


Step 8
Remove the 4 screws holding in the Gauge Cluster
100_1386.jpg

100_1387.jpg


Step 9
Tilt the Cluster back and remove the Shift Indicator from the cluster, there are 2 plastic tabs that must be held on each side to remove the indicator.
Disconnect the 3 wiring harness from behind the cluster, then remove the Cluster
100_1388.jpg

100_1389.jpg


Now Hopefully You are holding your Instrument Cluster and can go on to the fun part.

Remove the 6 back light bulbs from the cluster. (Circled in Red)
( I also highly recommend you also remove the THEFT light LED so you don't risk blowing it like I did when I was trying to figure out how to bench test the cluster)
The PC board on the back of the cluster is flexible so you can carefully pull the contacts where the wiring harnesses attach out of the sockets so you can attach alligator clips to bench test.
(The white wires are the - and the RED and GREEN are +)
100_1392.jpg


Here are the LEDs in the sockets. ( I used a bit of hot glue to make sure they didn't come out)
100_1390.jpg


I apologize for not having a night shot of the final product, but the camera I have with me is an absolute noise box and takes terrible low light pics. When I get back my Canon ill get some pics.

Good Luck!



Will this work on ford explorer 91 and also where can I find the SMD lights?
 




blankskater1

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i got my SMD lights on ebay SUPER cheap and I love this mod!!
 




krajik1

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Hey I have a 2004 ford explorer and I wanna do this to my truck my background is black it lights up green and my sticks light up red my truck is blue what do u recommend me doing?
 




Sip

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^^^That looks really impressive, but not sure I wanna see the write-up.... I did the v2 which was just replacing the 194s with 194 LEDs and its great but my RPM needle doesn't seem to light up. The gauges around it and everything work nice, but just the stupid RPM needle is barely lit up. I don't know if you know anything about that.

The picture looks great though, does v3 seem the brightest/fullest one yet?





how do you get the gauge needles white?
 




MustangP51

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interscope8

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http://www.superbrightleds.com/more...led-bulb-5-smd-led-wide-angle-wedge-base/206/

Im planning on doing this to satisfy my itch to get another project going on my truck while school is going on and Im not driving every day. I want Blue LEDs and I saw scrogathon's post (#137) and am wanting that color. Im new to the LED lighting field and was wondering if the lights I linked would work for something similar
 




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