How to: change dash display color! | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: change dash display color!

Fordexplorerguy1

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94 XLT 4.0 tow package?
I have been searching and asking questions and i thought i would put this up for anyone brave enough to risk destroying their instrument cluster.

tools needed: in this case a blue highlighter
and a sharp knife


Step 1: remove the cluster from the dash

5803123820_4e40f9ce06_b.jpg

Picture 057 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

step 2: once you have the cluster out remove the 7 bolts holding the plastic cover on.

step 3: now you have that off the display is in 4 pieces the battery/temp next is the oil pressure/fuel gage the speedo, and finally the tac. start and one side and lift up gently it should pop right off.

Step 4: now is a good time to change the dash bulbs if they are blown.

step 5: now that you have those out you need to pop off the needles. Dont get them mixed up. You need to mark where the needles are pointing before you remove them otherwise you will have incorrect readings. heres what i did:

5802778167_14c52be261_b.jpg

Picture 063 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
here i marked each needle where it lines up so i can put it back correctly
5803335932_89326c5712_b.jpg

Picture 064 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
then before i removed them i made a guide for when i put them back on i know what goes where.

step 6: Remove the needles. Take a flat head screw driver and pry up straight until it pops off. try to avoid bending or breaking anything. pretty straight forward.

step 7: peel the display off the hard plastic gently! and do that for all 4 pieces and you will wind up with this:
5803337754_31d7c4feb5_b.jpg

Picture 067 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

step 8: flip them over now it should look like this:
5802779291_016eced554_b.jpg

Picture 065 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

now is where that knife comes in handy on the part of the display that lights up green you are going to take the knife and gently scrape it off.

5803338416_7e67b8c83a_b.jpg

Picture 068 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
heres what the back side of one looked like when i was scraping that off. keep doing that until you can see clearly through it when you hold it to the light like this:
5802782239_f6d278496e_b.jpg

Picture 070 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr the H and L are stock the part of the gage that reads NORMAL has had the green scraped off. thats what it should look like. DO not scrape off anything that lights up blue originally such as the km/h part of the speedometer.

step 9: once you have done that for every display and it shines through clear take either a gel light filter or do what i did and used a bic permanent marker and just color the back where you scraped it off. heres what it looked like after i colored the back:
5802823655_fb395b2142_b.jpg

Picture 073 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

the end result should look like this:

5803361702_99bded4201_b.jpg

Picture 072 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
i colored the oil pressure gage and you can see the difference. I have not had the chance to re install into my dash but i will post pics! Feel free to ask any questions!!
 



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Neat write up! You're a brave man.

Think I would need a few beers worth of courage before I started ripping into my dash like that but everyone who has done it makes it sound like it isn't so intimidating once you get it all apart.

Either way good job. Looks good!
 






thanks man the only way to mess it up is to get the needles messed up and not put them back right, other than that theres no way you can mess it up
 






Id love todo this...but the needles part scares the hell out of me!

I would just scrape mine all off, and change the bulb color...
 






I just took a photo before and marked it so there was like no way i could mes it up
 






if i was to scratch it off and leave it clear, with stock bulbs, would it be white?
 






It's all about the Duke's of Hazzard poster in the backgound.
 






if i was to scratch it off and leave it clear, with stock bulbs, would it be white?

It would be a dirty white color, if you want pure white, use the SMD LEDs instead of the regular bulbs.
 






im going to be re doing it later im going to get some theater light filter gel to coat the back with. the results arent aggressive enough for me.
 






I would like to add one thing to your write-up. Before removing the needles from the cluster, put a piece of masking tape behind the end of the needle and make a mark on it with the orientation of the needle. Then you have two means of remembering orientation in case you don't get it dead on with orienting them on the paper or they get misaligned some how on the paper.

Just thought I would note that, since that is the way I have always done it when I remove needles from gauges
 






if i can snap a pic ill throw it up. for pretty cheap i got a white face/blue glow replacement cluster face. it slipped on with no needle removal. also came with a seperate dimmer attachment to change the hue (sp) and to change the brightness. so worth it. but i like the thread because i thought about something like that before. i want to make my turn signal lights flas blue in the cab...not green. any thoughts?

p.s. can this be done with the HVAC panels?
 






AWESOME write up! I did this exact thing to my 2002 sunfire. Just a quick question...... would my cluster be the same way? i have a 2001 Explorer with Green Gauge lights from the factory... would i have to take mine apart and scrape them too? or are there just green bulbs in my cluster? I'd love to change the color... but i don't know about scraping my cluster :S if i can just change the bulbs that would be swell!!
 






AWESOME write up! I did this exact thing to my 2002 sunfire. Just a quick question...... would my cluster be the same way? i have a 2001 Explorer with Green Gauge lights from the factory... would i have to take mine apart and scrape them too? or are there just green bulbs in my cluster? I'd love to change the color... but i don't know about scraping my cluster :S if i can just change the bulbs that would be swell!!
sure you could just change the bulbs, im sure there like the ones on the first gens, you could play with different color smd led lights and get different colors.
 






haha that looks familiar
 






if you color the face of the needles they will glow as well
 






You sir, are a brave man, and a genius. Well done!
 






PSA: If you remove your gauges, do NOT play with or spin your speedometer needle. I made the mistake of playing around with it and messed up the strength of the spring that resists the turning force, which causes it to read wrong. That added to the fact that I didn't keep track of where the needle was pointing means I now have to deal with it reading off even after many attempts to fix it.
 






PSA: If you remove your gauges, do NOT play with or spin your speedometer needle. I made the mistake of playing around with it and messed up the strength of the spring that resists the turning force, which causes it to read wrong.

LOL the kid in you just had to play around huh? I think it happens to the best of us at one point or another.
 






I have been searching and asking questions and i thought i would put this up for anyone brave enough to risk destroying their instrument cluster.

tools needed: in this case a blue highlighter
and a sharp knife


Step 1: remove the cluster from the dash

5803123820_4e40f9ce06_b.jpg

Picture 057 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

step 2: once you have the cluster out remove the 7 bolts holding the plastic cover on.

step 3: now you have that off the display is in 4 pieces the battery/temp next is the oil pressure/fuel gage the speedo, and finally the tac. start and one side and lift up gently it should pop right off.

Step 4: now is a good time to change the dash bulbs if they are blown.

step 5: now that you have those out you need to pop off the needles. Dont get them mixed up. You need to mark where the needles are pointing before you remove them otherwise you will have incorrect readings. heres what i did:

5802778167_14c52be261_b.jpg

Picture 063 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
here i marked each needle where it lines up so i can put it back correctly
5803335932_89326c5712_b.jpg

Picture 064 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
then before i removed them i made a guide for when i put them back on i know what goes where.

step 6: Remove the needles. Take a flat head screw driver and pry up straight until it pops off. try to avoid bending or breaking anything. pretty straight forward.

step 7: peel the display off the hard plastic gently! and do that for all 4 pieces and you will wind up with this:
5803337754_31d7c4feb5_b.jpg

Picture 067 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

step 8: flip them over now it should look like this:
5802779291_016eced554_b.jpg

Picture 065 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

now is where that knife comes in handy on the part of the display that lights up green you are going to take the knife and gently scrape it off.

5803338416_7e67b8c83a_b.jpg

Picture 068 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
heres what the back side of one looked like when i was scraping that off. keep doing that until you can see clearly through it when you hold it to the light like this:
5802782239_f6d278496e_b.jpg

Picture 070 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr the H and L are stock the part of the gage that reads NORMAL has had the green scraped off. thats what it should look like. DO not scrape off anything that lights up blue originally such as the km/h part of the speedometer.

step 9: once you have done that for every display and it shines through clear take either a gel light filter or do what i did and used a bic permanent marker and just color the back where you scraped it off. heres what it looked like after i colored the back:
5802823655_fb395b2142_b.jpg

Picture 073 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr

the end result should look like this:

5803361702_99bded4201_b.jpg

Picture 072 by Justinsdiy, on Flickr
i colored the oil pressure gage and you can see the difference. I have not had the chance to re install into my dash but i will post pics! Feel free to ask any questions!!







how you take the instrument cluster out?
 



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There are several ways to do it.

IMO:
The easiest is to remove the knee panel below column (I believe 7mm screws)
then remove the metal knee killer, then on the column loosen the 9/16 bolts.

Next the trim plate around radio/ A/C: remove the ashtray and remove the 2 7/32 screws (rest of trim pops out.)

The cluster has 5 (I think) screws around the cluster (7/32 IIRC it has been a while since I've pulled the cluster).

This is my preferred way of doing it, cause it give you extra room to pull the cluster and not fight the trim around the column.

*Now if you have the push button 4wd the wiring for the 4wd switch has to be undone before completely removing the trim.*
 






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