A Dashboard Service Tutorial
Below is an excerpt from an excellent thread originally posted on Farley's old Forum by Luke Flamos (MyDodgedip
). This is a good reference for:
- Speedometer/Fuel and Temperature/Battery gauge swapping, cleaning and polishing.
- Dashboard light bulb replacement
- Headlight switch repair or replacement
- Defogger switch repair or replacement
- Radio swaps
- Dash pad removal
- Heater control repairs
Well, I had a few things needing attention in my dash area. I decided to take care of them all at once, and figured I might as well snap some photos of the process. I needed to change out my Battery/Temperature gauge pod for a clean set with warning lights, figure out why the dash lights were so dim and lube my speedometer cable.Photo 1: Assembled Dashboard
Starting with it all assembled, Photo 1 shows how it looks like you see it every day. You can see how the batt/temp gauges are yellowed from the previous owner smoking so much in the car. The needles are also faded. To remove the instrument bezel:
Photos 2 and 3: Front and Side views with Instrument Bezel Removed
- Remove the 8 dash bezel screws (phillips head). There are 4 on bottom and 4 that go up vertically through the top of the bezel. It is a good idea to use an old spray can top or something similar to put the screws in to keep track of them.
- Set the emergency brake, turn the ignition key to the first click and and shift to 1st gear.
- Tilt the wheel down if you have tilt steering.
- Once the screws are out, pull the top of the instrument bezel out towards you.
- Watch out for the defogger switch and the heater controls.
- Pop it up a little and slide it out either side.
Once the bezel is off and out of the way, you can access the gauge pods, the headlight switch, the heater controls, defogger and radio. Find the correct size for the hex head screws that hold the batt/temp gauge pod in place. They go through the white plastic tabs part of the pod and secure it hold the gauges down the the circuit board. Remove them and you can pull the gauge pod straight out. Then you have access to the circuit board.Photo 4: Circuit Board With Battery/Temperature Gauge Pod Removed
Some M-bodies were equipped with gauges with warning lights. These gauges take a different circuit board than gauges without warning lights. If you want to swap out a set of no-warning-light gauges for a set with the warning lights, you will need to swap the circuit board for the one that has the warning light option as well (so get the board as well as the gauges from the junkyard.) The same size hex head screw that holds the gauge pods in is also used on the circuit board. There is only one on the bottom left of it. It then pulls away from the dash enough to allow you to pull the connector off the back. The connector is circular, and comes off easily if you pull with one hand while pushing the bit of plastic that sticks through the circuit board with the other.Photo 5: Circuit Board Removed Showing The Connector Running To The Back
Installation is the reverse of removal ::Gasp::
While you have the pod out and lightbulbs open, check them all. I cleaned off the ones that were dirty, and changed the ones that were burnt looking. I checked them all while I had the board in but the gauges off. Put the gauges in place again and check them as well. In Photo 6, you can see the difference between the good gauges (right) and the bad (left).Photo 6: Old Gauges on Left and Reconditioned Gauges on the Right
I then needed to remove the speedometer to lube the cable and swap in some cleaner dash bulb covers. The speedometer pod is removed in the same way. 2 small hex head screws hold it in and when they're out you can pull the pod out carefully (Watch out for the gearshift indicator and speedo cable) and reach behind the unhook the speedo cable (a small screwdriver helps). The pod pulls out around the steering wheel and comes out. Photo 7 shows the speedometer and gas gauge pods removed from the dash.Photo 7: Speedometer/Gas Gauge Pod Removed
To change the gas guage or speedo gauges, you can un-clip the plastic push clips from the clear plastic face of the gauge pod (4 of them) and remove the trip meter knob (unscrew counter-clockwise). Use the same hex driver to remove the hold down screws that hold the gauges in the housing. Remember: If you're swapping in a gas guage with the low fuel light in it, you will also need the matching circuit board. Note that if you want to upgrade your speedometer to the 125 MPH police car version, it is a direct swap - old gauge pod out, new one in. There is no need to change the speedometer cable, or the gear on the transmission. You dont need to take the pod apart or anything, unless you want to clean the blue plastic bulb covers or polish the silver gauge faces. Warning: Be careful if you polish the gas guage because the needle bends easily.Photo 8: Speedometer/Gas Gauge Faceplate Pod Removed
Once the gauges are out you can access the dash light covers (Blue plastic) I cleaned a spare set I had and swapped them in. I replaced the gauges and cover and it was ready to be re-installed. At this point, you can check all the bulbs in the dash behind the speedo. There are dash light bulbs, turn signals, seatbelt ETC. I cleaned what I could and replaced the crappy looking ones. I lubed the cable with some oil, worked the speedo back into place and clipped the speedometer cable back on. I screwed the pod back down and it was ready to go. Photo 9: Speedometer/Gas Gauges Removed
This is a good time to clean all the gauge lenses. They are easy to get to, and you dont need to reach through the bezel. I also cleaned off the headlight switch, defogger, radio faceplate and
temp controls. It's also easier to clean the bezel while its off. Re-assemble everything the reverse of how it came out and your ready to go.The Results:
Additional comments by Farley's members:
- My Temperature/Battery gauges have a nice silver face now.
- The needles are nice and orange.
- The gauges now have warning lights as well.
- The dash lights up like new again.
- My night time visibility is great.
- My speedometer doesent jump or waver anymore
- My whole dash is also clean now.
- Posted by Ark: "I went through all this when I swapped my 125 speedo in. In my case, though, the fuel gauge on the donor pod was busted, so I just installed the new speedo in the old pod. Getting it in and out of the dash with that cable stuck in the back was hell, though. I detached the speedo cable from the cruise control unit under the hood to give myself some more slack."
- Posted by Remy-Z: "Be careful if you have to remove the HVAC controls. The vacuum lines are brittle, break easy, and are an absolute pain to replace."
- Posted by fjbfour (Frank): "Regarding pulling the dash assembly out, I would also add this commentary about working room: If you have a tilt column, tilt it down. Either way, use the ignition key (one click - don't turn anything on or start it) to unlock the gearshift lever and shift it down to 1st gear - assuming you are on a level surface and your e-brake is properly functioning. This way you are less likely to damage the dash bezel or scratch any other part of the dash while you wiggle it out."
- Posted by zekish: "I wanted to add a couple things to consider. One, when taking the gauges out you can take off the gear shift indicator to get it out of your way for safe measure if you want to. There's an allen screw holding it to the steering column on the side. Also, you can reach under the dash to pop the speedo cable loose while pulling the gauges out. To do this, you want to remove the piece of the dash under the steering wheel. It's a tight fit for my small hands, though, to get under there once that's done but it may be easier pulling the gauges out. Popping the speedo cable loose from underneath and removing the gear shift indicator were ideas presented to me when consulting the factory manual. I too, didn't want to ruin anything from frustrated pulling, so I read up on it once I found the gauges being stubborn after I had all the hex bolts out."
- Posted by S-type: "You should use a graphite based paste, not an oil (to lubricate the speedometer cable)."
- Jack Crow: "I have popped the dash several times over the years to replace this or that. one lesson I learned is to replace every single bulb in sight, because the ones you don't are going to blow within weeks of reassembly. The dash lights are a touch lame - even with everything cleaned up they are dim. It may be worth an experiment to buy some bright green LED's and adapt them for dash lamp service. I just did an instrument cluster for a friend from a motor home. Those bulbs draw about 1/5 amp each. Here is a link."
- Original thread by Luke Flamos (MyDodgedip) and comments from various Farley's Forum members.