How to Make Custom Gauge Cluster [Go-To Guide]

Custom Gauge Cluster

 

The easiest way to build a custom cluster is to find a reputable cluster shop that can build something for you.

Reasons include:

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Customer Support
  • End-to-End Testing
  • VIN Matching & Programming

This will come with a slight extra cost, but a good company like ISS Automotive will fully test and program your cluster. You also get a full team of customer service reps to help you. The alternative is DIY or small shops that do not fully test.

Click here to shop our customer gauge clusters >

Where can I purchase a custom gauge cluster?

The best place to purchase a customer gauge cluster is ISS Automotive. We are the only company that offers a full warranty, customer support, and end-to-end testing. We also offer VIN matching & programming to make sure your cluster works perfectly with your car.

We replace all parts and fix known problems before testing. This ensures a high-quality instrument cluster that is a direct fit and allows for easy installation. You will get a custom cluster for your dash that is an accurate OEM direct fit part for performance.

How can I customize my gauge cluster?

You can replace the factory gauge cluster with a custom one. ISS Automotive offers different back faces like carbon or white. If you combine our LED lights and colored instrument cluster needles then the look will be very different than the original.

You can also purchase a custom gauge face to give it a more unique look.

What is the process of creating a custom gauge cluster?

The first step is finding a reputable company like ISS Automotive that offers customizability. We will then work with you to find out what colors, back faces, and styles you want for your gauge cluster. We then take your information and build a custom gauge cluster for you.

The process is simple and easy with ISS Automotive. We take care of everything so you can have a beautiful, customized, and functional gauge cluster in your car.

Can you upgrade the instrument cluster?

The answer is, Yes you can upgrade your clusters! And there are many reasons why you want to.

The first answer is that it will look cool. The second one is that you may be able to gain some functionality, such as a gear position indicator or a boost gauge. And the last answer is that it will be a great learning experience.

There are two options for you to choose from, the first one is an after-market cluster (which will be cheaper) and the second option is an OEM upgrade (which will give your car the exact fit and finish). Both options have their own pros and cons, so it is up to you which you want to choose.

How do you paint a speedometer?

You have many choices...

  • You can use a label from another gauge pod and place it on top of your existing speedometer.
  • You can use a label off of another gauge pod and place it on your computer, print it out onto a transparency sheet, tape the transparency sheet over the top of your speedometer, and use a sharpie to trace where you want your numbers.
  • You can paint it on with a fine brush.
  • You can paint it on with stencils.
  • You could also dye the background of your speedometer.
  • You could also use nail polish.
  • You could also use enamel paint markers.

All of these methods work well, but take a lot of time and patience (except for the nail polish).

Can you change the miles on a cluster?

Yes, but you need to program the miles. Find a reputable shop to help you do this. Programming will mean having an adapter and a computer with GM software. Your cluster will need to be what we call VIN programmed to match your vehicle's computer sensors and functionality.

Is resetting the odometer illegal?

You can't reset the odometer to make it look like something else. If you do, that's illegal and if you are caught, then your car can be impounded until you pay a fine.

Depending on the situation, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are caught you will have to pay a minimum fine of $100 and up to $10,000 and/or serve 3 years in jail.

This is a serious offense and I don't recommend you do it. Hope this helps!

Does a used instrument cluster need to be programmed?

Most of the time, when you buy a used instrument cluster in working condition, it is programmed so you can install it in your car without a problem.

However, if the used cluster you bought was from a different car model or manufacturer, it might not be programmed. In this case, you will need to find out if the equipment is needed. If it is not, you will need to buy a new one (new equipment) and program it before you install it.

If you want to keep your old equipment, you can use the manufacturer's manual (usually found on the Internet) to program the new equipment yourself.

Most of the time, it's just a matter of entering several numbers in the computer by setting the cluster to each number until you get the desired menu.

What causes instrument cluster failure?

An instrument cluster sometimes called a dash or panel, is a device that shows the speedometer, tachometer, fuel, and oil pressure gauge to the vehicle operator.

So it is important to keep the instrument panel working.

If you are having the same issues mentioned below, It's time to repair or replace the faulty part or the entire cluster.

  • Any of these gauges tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, water temperature, or fuel gauge has no readings or is not lighting up.
  • Light has been working but all of a sudden it stopped.
  • The instrument panel lights up dimly or not at all, and gauges work erratically.
  • Turn signals, high beams, or brake lights are not working.
  • One of the warning lights is on and goes off intermittently.

Can you drive without an instrument cluster?

A gauge cluster is a very important device not only for the value of your car but also for your own safety. Driving without gauges is not advisable as it will be very hard to keep track of the car's condition, especially when driving in emergency situations.

What are custom gauges?

Custom gauges are "aftermarket" (or third-party) gauges designed to fit into the housing of an OEM gauge cluster. It can also just simple upgraded parts like Needles, Background face, and lights. Small updates like these can make a big difference in the look of the dash.

Most aftermarket gauges are usually 2 or 3-5 millimeters smaller in-depth than the OEM ones. Their mounting holes also may not be as perfectly centered but are positioned closer to the side of the housing.

About 99% of all custom gauges will fit into any housing of a gauge cluster. This is because almost all aftermarket gauges are designed to fit into the same sizes of housing.

There are 3 different types of housings, they are A-pillar pod gauge pods round pods square/rectangular pods.

  1. A-pillar pod - This type of housing is positioned in front of the driver's side A-pillar. The location next to the steering wheel makes it the most popular type of housing for custom gauges.
  2. Gauge pod - This type of housing can be installed in any other place you see fit. While there are many types of pods available, they all have the same shape, and most gauges made for A-pillar pods will fit into any pod.
  3. Square/rectangular pods - This type of housing is usually found in the center console and sometimes forms a part of the center stack (usually 4x2). These pods usually do not have any mounting holes.

If you are thinking of buying custom gauges, you need to know the sizes of the gauge pods and housings. The size of a pod is measured in millimeters and it should be written somewhere on the pod or its box. You can measure it yourself by inserting a gauge into the housing if it isn't.

Housing size is measured in inches and will be written somewhere at the bottom of the housing or on its box.

NOTE: do not attempt to install a gauge into the housing if you are not 100% sure that it will fit. No refunds or exchanges can be given on custom gauge sets for this reason.

How much does it cost to rebuild a gauge cluster?

The rebuilding cost will vary on each specific gauge cluster. Some gauge clusters will not need anything done to them, others will need major work like replacing the needles, speedometer cable, odometer gears, etc. If you have a gauge cluster that is damaged beyond repair, then sometimes rebuilding isn't worth it.

The average cost to rebuild a gauge cluster is around $150-$250.

What is involved with rebuilding a gauge cluster?

Most of the time, the speedometer cable and odometer gears will be the hardest part to rebuild. Depending on the gauge cluster, you will have to disassemble it, clean each piece with an electronic cleaner, replace parts as needed, reassemble the cluster, and then calibrate it.

How much does it cost to replace the oil pressure gauge?

The oil pressure replacement will be around $40-$80 for the gauge itself.

Can you fix a water temperature gauge?

The water temperature gauge can be fixed very easily. All you need to do is turn the engine on, take off the radiator cap and watch the gauge. If the needle goes into the red section then it is broken and needs to be replaced.

New gauges are available for around $40-$80 depending on the brand and type of gauge.

How much to spend to build your own custom gauge cluster?

The cost to build a custom cluster can vary from $350-$500 depending on the gauge and other things that require fabrication and parts. The time it takes to build a custom cluster is usually around ten hours, depending on how many gauges you have and such.

What display type is the best for a custom gauge cluster?

The two most popular types of displays used in custom gauge clusters are vacuum fluorescent (VFD) and liquid crystal (LCD). VFDs have been used in OEM applications for years, and they offer great contrast and brightness. LCDs are newer and use less power, but they can suffer from "ghosting" where the previous image is still faintly visible.

What are idiot lights?

Idiot lights are warning lights that come on when something is wrong with the car. They usually have a picture of the engine or some other symbol on them.

Custom idiot lights can be made to look like anything you want. You can get them in any color or have them made to light up in multiple colors. They can be made to look like anything from animals to skulls.