LED Lights in Insturment Cluster (Pics inside) | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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LED Lights in Insturment Cluster (Pics inside)

King$nake

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2006
Messages
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City, State
Oceanside, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 Eddie Bauer 5.0
Awhile back I got some LED lights for my Insturment Cluster (I have a cluster out of an 01 Sport, white face gauges).

The lights worked for awhile, but after a few months they went dark, to the point I couldn't see my speedo (only 1-2 lights went out) however they came back on. They've been going on/off ever since, so I know they are not burnt out.

Anyways, lately the lights that light up the speedo section of the cluster have been out completely, so I can even see the speed past 40 MPH at night.

Also, for whatever reason - the lights behind my HVAC unit are doing the same thing. This is more rare, but it still happens. They come on/off at different times.

I wonder if the LED lights are requiring more voltage than the OEM lights? Could this be the issue?

Should I get some new lights? I would like to get a new cluster altogether. Is it possible to install a cluster in a 98 Explorer where the gauges themselves are lit? (Like an 03/04 Cobra gauge). Right now its just the digits that are lit up.

Any help would be appreciated,

Thanks

gauge2.jpg

gauge1.jpg
 



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Mine also did the same thing. I ordered some smd bulbs now... so i am going to see how those work. I think maybe some leds are designed up to 12v so when our cars go between 12 and 14 that's why they start doing that and eventually stop working. That's my suggestion anyway.
 






Mine also did the same thing. I ordered some smd bulbs now... so i am going to see how those work. I think maybe some leds are designed up to 12v so when our cars go between 12 and 14 that's why they start doing that and eventually stop working. That's my suggestion anyway.

Glad Im not the only one this was happening too. Was driving me crazy! Let me know how your SMD bulbs work out. Are they like LEDs? Never heard of them...
 






LEDs generally don't like to be dimmed. They require a certain threshold voltage to illuminate. Some can be dimmed, but in general, they can't.

Just curious though: What's wrong with using bulbs? THe bulbs in my Ex (11 years old with 174,000 miles on it) are still, for the most part, in good shape. The fog lamp and rear defrost switches' bulbs went out a few years ago, but the IC bulbs have worked fine up until one started winking out just a couple weeks ago.... I figure that if they made it this far, the replacements will out-last the truck this time.

-Joe
 






I guess SMD bulbs are still an led. They look like
t10smd1-1_200x200.jpg
 






LEDs generally don't like to be dimmed. They require a certain threshold voltage to illuminate. Some can be dimmed, but in general, they can't.

Just curious though: What's wrong with using bulbs? THe bulbs in my Ex (11 years old with 174,000 miles on it) are still, for the most part, in good shape. The fog lamp and rear defrost switches' bulbs went out a few years ago, but the IC bulbs have worked fine up until one started winking out just a couple weeks ago.... I figure that if they made it this far, the replacements will out-last the truck this time.

-Joe

I went with LED's to make my gauges brighter. I didn't like the dim 'yellow' look from the OEM lights.

Are there any other bright white lights I can use besides LEDs? Or any lights at all that won't go on/off?

Thanks
 






Could somebody possibly give me a recommendation on some lights I could use for my cluster that are brighter than the OEM? I would go with LED's again, but I dont want them flickering like I mentioned - unless there is a fix for it?

Thanks,
Joe
 






You could replace the (6) original bulbs that illuminate your instrument cluster with Pure White SMD 168-194-SMD-5-LED's. You can get them on Ebay and believe me there is a difference of brightness in what the seller supplies.
I got mine from this seller a while back
http://cgi.ebay.com/2-x-White-168-1...in_0?hash=item3ca5f12c88&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14.
Again, there is a difference.. I bought my first SMD 168-194-SMD-5-LED's from etherwholesale who sells the LED's in the link I gave you. A few weeks later I snooped around Ebay and purchased the same identical looking LED's for less money. I thought I got a deal... I can see the difference in the brightness of the two bulbs. Spend a little more and get them from etherwholesale, they are quality bulbs and very bright.
You will need to pull out your Instrument cluster to get at the (6) bulbs.
It is not very difficult. Here is a link showing the removal step by step that MustangP51 took the time to post on the forum. http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2160406&posted=1#post2160406. You will need to scroll to the top of the page.
One photo shows the instrument cluster at a work bench with some power leads attached ...you do not need to run power to the instrument cluster if you do not want to...I didn't. That picture I am pretty sure was for checking the clusters illumination when the bulbs were changed to LED's.
Just take your time, go slow and when the job is complete you will see a big difference.
Rick
 






Excellent RickMar! This is what I was looking for. I am going to go ahead and order 8 of these bulbs (2 extra) and install them in my cluster. Thank you so much

Also, I've swapped these cluster bulbs before, but it was awhile ago so I don't remember exactly how I did it - so thanks for the link to the write-up!

BTW, have you noticed these lights cutting in/out like my LED's were doing?

You could replace the (6) original bulbs that illuminate your instrument cluster with Pure White SMD 168-194-SMD-5-LED's. You can get them on Ebay and believe me there is a difference of brightness in what the seller supplies.
I got mine from this seller a while back
http://cgi.ebay.com/2-x-White-168-1...in_0?hash=item3ca5f12c88&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14.
Again, there is a difference.. I bought my first SMD 168-194-SMD-5-LED's from etherwholesale who sells the LED's in the link I gave you. A few weeks later I snooped around Ebay and purchased the same identical looking LED's for less money. I thought I got a deal... I can see the difference in the brightness of the two bulbs. Spend a little more and get them from etherwholesale, they are quality bulbs and very bright.
You will need to pull out your Instrument cluster to get at the (6) bulbs.
It is not very difficult. Here is a link showing the removal step by step that MustangP51 took the time to post on the forum. http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2160406&posted=1#post2160406. You will need to scroll to the top of the page.
A photo shows the instrument cluster at a work bench with some power leads attached ...you do not need to run power to the instrument cluster if you do not want to...I didn't. That picture I am pretty sure was for checking the clusters illumination when the bulbs were changed to LED's.
Just take your time, go slow and when the job is complete you will see a big difference.
Rick
 






Hi King$nake
Your welcome anytime that's what we are here for ...to help each other out.
You mentioned you swapped the cluster bulbs before so just take your time and follow the the steps in MustangP51's writeup you will be fine.
MustangP51's name is Ryan he is a nice guy and I am sure if you need some advice on anything at all about removing the cluster or putting in the LED's he would help you out. Also, if you have any questions you can ask me too. Just send me an email or Private Message.

I have had my cluster in and out several times. There are a few tricks removing the cluster...they may be contained in the step by step of MustangP51's post. If you run into a snag just send me or Ryan a message. MustangP51 also has a bunch of cool LED mods. They are included in his signature, just click and read ...nice reading with pics too.
I was very happy with my LED swap and recommend it highly :thumbsup: .

Rick
 






I forgot to mention I am pretty sure you need just (1) bulb in your EATC(Electronic Automatic Temperature Control) unit to light up the blue and red temperature manual select buttons and Rear Fan Off etc.
The EATC is easy to remove and I am pretty sure you can buy the replacement bulbs at any automotive parts store, they are not LED's just plain old everyday stock bulbs.
I you want to replace the bulb and need any help doing so just let me know.
Rick
 






Hi Rick,

I have the same problem with my EATC and I checked at Strauss,Pep Boys and they don't have the EATC bulbs, can you please help me to find them?

thanks in advance for your help.
 






Hi Zarronj;
Let me check on that and I will get right back to you.
I just need to know ... are the small bulbs you are looking to replace being held in a small gray holder and is there a small slot on the circular gray bottom to accept a small screw driver?

Did you show the parts person the bulb you are looking to purchase?
There are two different bulb designs, I am almost positive you have the same as I do....the small gray one's.

We will get this taken care of, it shouldn't be a problem at all.
Rick
 






Yes I show them the bulb, it is the gray ones that accept screw driver.

thanks one more time for your help
 






Hi Zorronj;
O.K. great, thank you for the info on the type of bulb you need. This makes the bulb search much easier. For some reason different types of bulbs were used on the EATC's.

On the circuit board 5 bulbs are used for illumination ( 3 on the bottom) that light up the lower select buttons MAX/AC - VENT - PNL-FLR - FLOOR - FLR-DEF - DEF
1 BULB (LEFT SIDE) that light up the BLUE - RED COLORED TEMP UP DOWN SELECT BUTTONS AND REAR FAN OFF BUTTON BELOW IT.
1 BULB (RIGHT SIDE) that light up OFF and AUTOMATIC BUTTON BELOW IT.
How many bulbs do you need to replace?

I will get back to you soon.

Rick
 






Hi RickMar,

Thanks one more time, I need 2 on the bottom
 






Hi Zorronj;
I checked that last place I got them a few years ago "None" :thumbdwn:
Tomorrow (Monday 10/26/09) I am going to check AutoZone and NAPA.

In the meantime I will check to see if I have some spares hanging around that I will be able to send to you.

I will get back to you tomorrow (Monday)and let you know what's going on.

Catch you later on;
Rick
 






Hi Zorronj;
You are right... the bulbs are scarce !!
I am having a hard time locating them too. I think it is because the unit is now 10 + years old.
I am going to a junk yard tomorrow and I am going to find out if there are some there. I will get back to you.

Rick
 






Hi Rick,

Yes they are hard to find, thanks one more time for your help.
 



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Hi Zorronj;
Hopefully this will be good news !!
I contacted someone about the EATC's illumination bulbs
He does have some parts for these EATC's.
He sent me a message that he does have the bulbs :thumbsup:.

I am waiting for a email back because I am double checking that he has the "Gray" type we have.
The original message he sent back to me stated that they are the "gray" type with a little slot in the bottom for a small screwdriver blade for removal or installation.
If they absolutely are "gray"... I will send you a private message with the contact information for this person. The private message will have my email address in it and all the information you need to contact this person so you can get your two bulbs.
These bulbs have become very hard to find probably because of the age and design of these EATC's that are now 10+ years old.
I will get back to you as soon as I have information;
Rick
 






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