How to Replace Dashboard Lights : Removing Instrument Cluster Lights From Dashboard

How to Replace Dashboard Lights : Removing Instrument Cluster Lights From Dashboard

Today we’re changing instrument cluster lights
on a ’96 Ford Explorer. In this clip I’m going to demonstrate the proper service procedure
for changing an instrument cluster light bulb. Now I have the cluster out and in my hands,
the lights all plug in on the back side. I’m going go ahead and turn it around for you
so you can take a look. All of these little knobs are bulbs for different things. Like
this one right here is for your traction control, you have an anti-theft, your check engine,
voltage, over drive off light, all of these little ones are for specific label devices.
Now the bulb that’s burned out on my vehicle, is this bulb right here. This portion the
center portion of my tachometer doesn’t light up at all. That’s going to indicate that it’s
this large 194 bulb. Every one of these is just going to take and just unscrew in a counter-clockwise
direction, I’m going to go ahead and show you that right now. Just like so. Once you
unscrew it you can take and remove it from the circuit board and as you can see the bulbs
is burned out, it’s all dim and nasty looking, that means it’s no good. I’m going to take
and unplug it and throw it away. I have a new 194, you can see that it’s nice and clean
and clear, we’re going to take and plug it into the terminal, slip it into the instrument
cluster circuit board, you can see it’s got an alignment tab right there, I’m going to
drop it in and rotate it clockwise to engage it. Just like so. Now you’re going to want
to take and replace all of the bulbs when you have this guy out. Those bulbs are like
less than a dollar a piece, and you can see that it’s a significant job to get to them.
So like I said you’re going to take and replace them all. That is the proper service procedure
for replacing the actual light bulbs in your instrument cluster.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. sometimes the bulbs may look fine but they are actually burnt. did u try checking the bulbs individually by a tester or a multimeter? all the bulbs in the cluster are 12v so go ahead and try each and every bulb on 12v power source to see if they work. it they are working, then something must be wrong in the wiring of the cluster, check the fuse box to see if any fuse are blown coz the bulbs are not getting power. but i put my money on the blown part of the bulbs. hope this helps.

  2. I have a 98 accord, i was installing a radio and somehow i lost my panel light, that light also goes on the gear shit and the A/C panel.
    I hv checked the fuse. What else do you think i should do?
    thanks for your attention.

  3. someone else who has the sense to replace ALL the bulbs at the same time, as you can gaurantee that a week later if you dont another bulb will go,then another as their life spans are pretty much the same,when one goes,the rest will soon follow,AREPLACE ALL THE BULBS,will only cost a few pounds and save tons of hassle,especially if its a customers car.

  4. I have a 1983 Ford F100 and the cluster on your truck is so similar..I pulled the panel out and changed the bulbs in less than 30 min..I love Ford..

  5. I did this for my 1988 Ford Aerostar Eddie Bauer version. I had to change all the bulbs to the digital gauge, and it was pretty fun and interesting to do.

  6. don't the oils from your hands reduce bulb life? This mechanic didn't sterilize the bulb after touching it with his fingers.

  7. is it okey if i replace the bulb with a different number of bulb?? the number of my bulb is 158.. i used #161 but it didnt work.. is the number of the bulb is the problem or theres another problem besides with the bulb? thanks. hope you can answer me with this

  8. @tzDub92 Did you ever find this out? I have an 02 Ford Ranger and I would like to change the instrument cluster lights from green to blue. Any help I would appreciate

  9. sorry man maybe I can use leds?, how I know if the polarity is right because leds are DC and the other bulbs are CA, please helpme

  10. @TheRicoMalibu Dash lights need to be able to dim, so the LED's would have to be able to do the same thing. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  11. I went to superbright LEDs web site, and found all of the replacement bulb sizes I would need to replace the lights in the instrument cluster. I suggest wide angle single LED bulbs for indicators, battery, engine, etc, choose the color that best matches the silk screened filter. If it's a back light, then use the 9 LED bulbs that are made for the socket. That way you won't need to replace the bulbs for at least 100,000 hours.

  12. I'm trying to change the bulbs on my cluster(94 silverado) and the bulbs don't want to come out but when I get them out n replaced them that didn't turn back on,what did I do or what do I do?

  13. @jakeboise1993 they have a negative and positive side, try disconecting them again and put them the other way around. same thing hapened to me when i put blue leds on my 99 nissan sentra.

  14. is that safe to be touching the bulbs with bare hands ? like yeah from what I've been told with car headlights if you touch them with your hands the oils will cause it to burn out quick. and yeah it would help if you had a video taking out the cluster.

  15. @Darwood8
    have a look around the outside of your dashboard and you should find some philips head screws holding everything together. Some cars you just use a blunt knife and pry the plastic back but be careful not to snap anything. Its a fairly simple job. 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 for difficulty. I have done a vid on this job too on my channel

  16. @SuperNathan90 I think its just Halogen bulbs that dont like to be handled with bare hands, these bulbs should be fine to handle like this.

  17. Great videos, all of them, but could you please, when you have series of videos, number them, so we don't have guess or search for which videos comes up next? thank you GOD BLESS all.

  18. I had to take the illumination lights fuse out because it causes my dash lights and parking lamps to stay on even when the switch is not turned on. The switch works fine for a little while when the fuse is in but after a while the switch gets really hot to the touch causing the instrument cluster and parking lamps to stay on even when turned off. The correct fuse is used and does not blow when the switch gets hot. But if I leave the fuse in those lights stay on and kills the battery!

  19. earlier I noticed that if I put the fuse back in and turned the headlights/illumination switch on the dimmer switch stays warm but if I turn the switch off with the fuse in, that's when the switch starts to get hot. So as long as I'm using the headlights the dimmer switch is fine, it's when I'm not using the switch that causes the overheating issue. Strange!

  20. Do someone know what kinda lights you need into the Instrumental cluster?
    I have a Audi a4 1996, wagon. The normal bulb light is ofc red. I want them blue, the whole instrument cluster. My car is on repair now, so I can't open it myself to check wich light there is. Could someone help me? 🙂 Maybe send ebay link for some lights that i need? 🙂

  21. Great video on proper procedure for changing a bulb in the instrument cluster. What would be the proper procedure for washing your nasty ass hands and fingernails before making a video for YouTube?

  22. Please help me. What is the green thing (like a chip) on the cluster upper right corner. Does this affects the odometer? Cause my odometer is not working. And what is the name of the green thing. Please help me! Thanks!

  23. I have a Malibu (2000)

    Say I wanted to change the color of the lights on the dash; would I do all this and simply replace the blub with one that has the color I want? Or is there More to it?

  24. what do u do when the lights on the dashboard cluster that lights up when u turn on the light dose not come on

  25. Hello,
     I need urgent help and answer.
    I have purchased a Mercury Montego before 40 days. When I purchased it, I saw a warning saying Oil Life is low. I tried to reset it several times but whenever I start the car again it comes back. I have changed the oil but the error keeps coming. This was the only problem I had. After 20 days I got a device from my insurance company which I can plug and get 5% discount on my fees. The car was working fine for few days. After that the instrument cluster shut down completely no lights or gas gauge but the car is working fine. A/C, Radio, cranks fine and even the lights are working fine. I took it to a maintenance place who said he wants 85$ per hour to diagnose the problem and since I'm a student I couldn't really do it. However, he took like a light indicator and touched each fuse on a part which I believe is the computer and all of them were working except one which had number 15 and he changed and still not working.
    I have decided to contact another tech and on my way the car made a strange beeping sound. Turn it off and on again and everything started working fine. The tech took like a scanner and connected to the computer and he told me he can see two errors P2067 and P0467. He said he thinks the instrument cluster is bad and need to be changed.
    Knowing so less about cars, I was thinking what if the computers is not working fine and the instrument cluster is ok, how do you know? Does the computer control A/C Radio?
    I think for now I will just keep driving the car until this happens again.
    Please advice as soon as possible.
    Thanks for your help.

  26. My god I went through all the videos for finding out how to take the lights out on this assholed truck and the videos arent properly named and crap and just gah wtf just get to the damn point gaaaah

  27. I've got a 2004 subaru impreza rs and was just wondering if anyone could tell me the specs of that bulbs that go into the instrumentation of that car, just to save the time of taking the whole dash out…Replies would be much appreciated ☺ Cheers.

  28. Hi, will this work for a renault trafic if the airbag light is faulty..? Is same type of bulbs or they have LEDs and cannot be replaced? Thx!

  29. You shouldn't touch those type of car light bulbs with your bare hands. The oils on your skin will make the bulb burn out faster.

  30. Changing light bulbs require cleaner hands, or wear lintless gloves. Touching the bulb with fingers leaves dirt and sweat prints on the glass that the bulb will burn and cause stains, especially on halogen bulbs which run very hot and shortens the bulb's life.

    Also, you didn't show the hard part, removing the instrument cluster. That is the hard part if you don't know how to do it. But, for those who don't know and wish to try, always remember that screws and bolts are easy to remove but hard to put back if you ever forget which is which and then end up with a problem. As a mechanic/engineer with 43 year experience under my belt this is what I do. Before you begin the disassembling of delicate components such as an instrument panel, an engine, auto transmission, etc., have a multi-tray ready (a larger tray with smaller trays inside it), or buy one at a good car accessory shop. Have a writing notebook about the size of a cigarette packet that you can rip the pages out and a waterproof Texta pen to write on a page. Begin by removing the screws or bolts of the instrument cover and note how many have you removed until the cover/cluster is free to remove. Count the screws/bolts and place them in one of the small trays, then write it on paper, e.g. 6 screws or bolts for cover or cluster (whatever it is), fold the paper so that the wind will not blow it out of the tray, the proceed with removing the next part, count the screws or in some cases they could be small screws with bolt heads and a cross or slot on the head to use a screw driver. Place them in another tray in the same multi-tray then count them and write it down on another piece of notebook paper rip it out, fold it and place it into the other tray. If you believe that some jobs have lots of screws or bolts, don't count on luck. Remove the same group of bolts and place them on the tray, but instead of writing on paper the name of, e.g. a gear box, write 'G/Cover Plate 1' and also write on the gear box plate 'Plate 1' with the waterproof Texta. For other gear box bolts or nuts write, e.g. G/Shaft Housing 1' as there is only one shaft housing. Put each group of bolts and or nuts that are for the shaft housing in another tray, write the name, tear the page and place in its respective tray with those bolts or nuts. This way you will find the re-assembling process and the replacing of screws and bolts or nuts much easier and faster with less the change of becoming lost with all those removed screws, bolts and nuts, including losing them after 2-3 days of work, so why risk it? Time is not only money in business but you can be sure you'll be doing a profittable job with less time and less cluttery. Do what the Surgeons do when they operate a patient. Have you seen their tools? All neatly placed on a table, ready to use, ready to instantly pick which tool is needed for the job. That's what I do when I am rolled under the car. I have all the essential tools in a tray rested on my chest and pick the tools in seconds rather than roll out of the car just to get tools. Good luck.

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