Posted - 03/19/2011 : 6:41:30 PM
Written by: Djaye. Please direct any questions to the author.
#8 Torx socket
800grit sand paper
small tube of super glue
Scissors or an exacto knife
Wire taps/Eyelet/Crimping tool.
Wife/girlfriends/metrosexuals hair drier.
Optional though worth having : 12 vDC power supply for a ' test bed '.
This ' Mod ' is time consuming. Its not expensive but does require being consistent and a good note on ' attention to detail '.
Its not a mod you just want to do in an afternoon for ' something to do '. If you do NOT take your time, it will definitely show and as time
passes, you will be displeased with yourself of your efforts.
Get ‘er done!
Remove the Radio bezel, the lower steering cover/kick plate and then the dashboard cover for the gauges.
The gauge cluster itself is held in around the corners with 4 black faced bolts ( factory ) . Remove these and the cluster should tip outward for you.
SIDENOTE: If you have an Automatic Transmission, the shifter indicator is connected with a very thin/fragile wire. The shifter position indicator slides out from the bottom of the gauges by 2 small plastic levers. Depress them inward and slide this out.
There are then 3 ribbon cables that disconnect from the gauge cluster and it comes out of the dash. The room is somewhat tight if you dont have tilt-steering. Take your time and do not FORCE anything as the cluster is all plastic and can break.
The Clear faceplate of the cluster is held on by brass Torx head screws. Some have 5 from the factory, some have 7 ( depending on year/model ). I didn’t know this until I snagged a bunch from LKQ. The holes are all still present in both, but I guess to save cost they eliminated 2 screws?
Once the faceplate is off, use a fork ( 03 and older ) to remove the needles. You might want to mark where the needles are with a pencil before hand. On 04 and newer gauges, I'm told the needles screw on. True or not, I don’t know.
The plastic gauge faces are glued on to the clear surfaces of the meters mount. I used a hair-drier to heat the glue and remove them. Some have used exacto knives and pried them off. Some have said hot water works.. Whatever method works for you, go with it! ;)
I sanded off the white paint and the factory green tint. 800grit wet-sand works best from my adventures.
Afterwards I used Gel-pack tinting ( link at the end under sources: ) in different colors to ' color ' the areas. The gel material is held on by super-glue. The gel material is already on the speedo in this pic.
The Tach is ' uncolored ' and the speedo is ' colored '. The reason I am using the gel material is that it allows accurate coloring. I tried stain glass paint and it DID work, but the faces were tough to get to mount evenly due to paint thickness when it dried.
Having the ability to cut with an exacto or scissors is so much better. You can get into all the small places and have separate colors. Using colored LED's is ' ok ', but it makes variation of color impossible.
The meters themselves pop right out. The sides come off first then the center. 3 pieces total.
These are the LED's I used:
LED’s in bag
What you are left with is the cluster case. This is where the LED's go.
The trick to it is to have equal light distribution so no ' hot ' or ' cold ' spots appear.
Something to note: Viewing angle.
If your not looking directly at the gauge faces, you might see these ' hot ' or ' cold ' spots even though they really aren’t there. Some light DOES escape without the clear front plate on. When you’re checking for these and wanting to see how it looks, you can set the face plate on without putting the torx screws back in. Look straight at it when you do this.
You can see in that pic where the light DOES escape. It effects our perception a bit as the eye sees brighter areas which make us think/believe one area is hotter/colder then another. In that pic, the Tach looks like its cold around 3k and again at 5-6k. I changed nothing in those areas and the final pics show differently.
Again, take your time and watch what your doing, it does pay off in the end ;) . after taking that pic I thought it was uneven. I put the faceplate back on and it evened out some. The only explanation I could come up with was light reflection inside the cluster itself.
The LED's have a 2 sided or ' sticky backing ' to them. They can be used in multiples of 3. 3 LED's per cut. They are marked with a +/- on each segment as well so polarity shouldn’t be an issue at all.
I ran my 12VDC wires out the top of the gauges through the slots there.
Re-assembly is the reverse of disassembly for the whole process.
For powering the LED's, some would solder these wires to a 12v source on the gauges itself. Any of the bulb sockets would work but I decided to connect them to the dimmer switch ( top wire ) and a ground inside the dash.
I do have some under-lit areas. the bottom corners to be exact but its easily corrected. The factory dimmer switch does function with this mod.
Sources for items purchased:
GEL Pack Link : http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/American-DJ-CGS8B-8x8-Gel-Sheet-Packet-B?sku=801271
LED Purchase Link : http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220730144728