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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 have a 97' XLT and I changed the gauges and heater controls out with some out of A 01 explorer sport and I put in my Red SMD LEDs and the heater controls look like crap (can hardly see them at night, and I only got a few bulbs working on the cluster and they don't light up. I'm really upset cause I have read all of the post saying how good they look and all. Could someone help me?

Did you remove the film on the back of the gauge face and heater controls? The Red light will not make it through the green film well at all...
 


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RoCkrMAN

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Did you remove the film on the back of the gauge face and heater controls? The Red light will not make it through the green film well at all...

The film on the sport gauges are like painted into the heater controls and won't come off easy. The 97xlt heater controls have a removable cover. The sport ones have one as well but it's clear and just cuts back some light so its not as strong.
I just said to hell with it and sent them back and I'm going to order some white ones.
 








steve101

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Doing this right now putting it back together don't forget to put srews back in lol
 








lunchfist

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IMG_0929.jpg


mine^^^

even though i do not have even lighting, i still do not miss the nasty off-white glow of the needles from the stock bulbs.
 




minimac

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Guys i need help.. BAD!! I did this mod to my '01 XLT and everything went fine but the truck will not start. when i turn the key to run, the fuel pump and lights all go on like usual but when i go to the start position, it does nothing. It is not the battery. i think its something with the anti-theft. Pleaseee help me!!
 




minimac

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Never mind got it fixed! just had to leave the key in accessory for awhile. :D the cluster looks amazing, this is the best modification yet to my Ex!
 








lunchfist

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I'm with EXPLODRR, pics, or it didn't happen! :p
 




crazycoop

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havent been on in a bit but heres mine the pic does it no good it a red like EXPLODRR's did it awile back just never got on to post it with every thing i had going on
092_zps63b7a2ce.jpg

091_zps67abd6e3.jpg
 




minimac

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Here is a image. they are a lot brighter in person, these damn cameras never work right!


417773_4844545309664_1369519973_n.jpg



Just a heads up, anyone who has the anti-theft alarm system with the engine immobilizer, unplug the battery and wait 15 minutes BEFORE you remove the cluster! and don't hook it back up until you are FOR SURE everything is put back together properly. The anti-theft on my '01 XLT activated the engine immobilizer because i left the battery hooked up. if this happens to you and the engine immobilizer will not let you start the vehicle (i.e. you turn the key on and everything works, fuel pump turns on, and all the lights but when you go to start it just does nothing) do these steps to lift the immobilizer

1. turn the key (with key fob on ring) to accessory (backwards) and let it stay in accessory for a minute or two.

2. turn the key to run (DO NOT TRY TO START) and let it sit in run for a minute or two. then the vehicle should start.
 




lunchfist

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I could never get back into the Red dash lights after owning a pontiac haha. Both of those setups look great though! I'm still leaning towards replacing my gauges with the stock white face ones and putting some UV purple lights inside. We'll see how that goes, might be awhile yet.
 




wheels23

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Gauges won't work

Well, I finally got around to doing this. I just put in regular bulbs.

I turned the car on and the cluster was nice and bright. Unfortunately now none of the gauge needles will move (odometer, spedometer, etc), and nearly all of the other cluster warning lights won't light up (high beam and battery light will work, but none of the others will).

I thought I had hooked everything up correctly. Anyone have any thoughts? Is it possible that the cluster is getting power to the lights, but lacking something that would allow the gauges to move?

Thanks.
 




EXPLODRR

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...Unfortunately now none of the gauge needles will move (odometer, spedometer, etc), and nearly all of the other cluster warning lights won't light up (high beam and battery light will work, but none of the others will)...

Thanks.

NOT sure but it sounds like you dont have a connector properly replaced. Hopefully someone knows which one, tho you may find it quicker to go back in yourself and check....

I have to go back in to see if there is a green film- on the 99xlt. and find out WHICH TOOL IT TAKES TO TAKE THE CLUSTER APART(??????????)
 




EXPLODRR

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Did you remove the film on the back of the gauge face and heater controls? The Red light will not make it through the green film well at all...

Mustang- which models have the green film? and how to you get to it?? special tool???????
Thanks:usa::salute:
 




REMIRED55

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Does anyone know if this will work on a 91-94 Explorer? Or has anyone done this to a First Gen?
 




MustangP51

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Mustang- which models have the green film? and how to you get to it?? special tool???????
Thanks:usa::salute:

I cant help you out with that one. I never took off the green film, and I don't believe there is any definite answer as to which models/years have the film.

Does anyone know if this will work on a 91-94 Explorer? Or has anyone done this to a First Gen?

It should work with any cluster, as long as you get the correct LEDs. I don't know if the 1st gen explorers use 194 bulbs in the cluster.
 




wheels23

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Well, it turns out that all of my gauge problems were due to a blown fuse. Number 11 blew and caused all the problems. Got it changed out and all the gauges and emergency indicator lights are now working. The new bulbs in the cluster look great too. Oh, and the radio backlighting also works now, too.

Thanks to everyone for your advice.
 


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EXPLODRR

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RE: DIAL removal

TOOK DASH APART AGAIN... a key bit of advise ****
if you plan on taking the dials off to take the gauge cluster sheets off- let the vehicle idle for 10-20 mins. Then, **TAKE A PIC OF THE DIAL LOCATIONS****. Use this as reference when putting back together before pushing the dials all the way on. ONCE you are done doing what have you, again, idle the vehicle for 10-20 mins then push dials all the way in.
 




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