Instrument Cluster Problems: Is It The Bulb?

It's one thing if your instrument cluster starts acting crazy, but what if it's hard to see? Dim or dark instrument clusters are hard to read, making it difficult to know how fast you're going or how much fuel you have. The problem could be a burned-out lightbulb or something worse like a wiring issue. Fortunately, there are some things you can check to see if you have a loose connection or a bad bulb. We'll show you how in this post, including what to do if you have a bigger issue.

How To Check Your Instrument Cluster For A Bad Bulb

Cluster bulb

Image Credit: MCTutorials

To check for a bad bulb or loose wire, you'll need to remove your instrument cluster. The article in this link provides a good overview of how to do that.  To help with this task, we recommend using a tool like our automotive trim pry tool set, which will help protect your trim and dashboard from damage. Once you're ready to get started, here are the steps:

  1. Disconnect the battery or removed the negative battery terminal.
  2. Locate the screws used to hold the trim in place. 
  3. Once you've removed the screws, pry a corner of the trim using a pry tool or other flat-edged tool. Then carefully work the pry tool around the trim to remove it.
  4. Remove the screws around the gauge cluster panel. Usually, there are two screws on top and two underneath the instrument cluster.
  5. Carefully pull the instrument cluster out and tilt it down.
  6. Inspect the wiring harness for any loose or disconnected wires. If the wiring harness was loose, or there are disconnected wires, that may be the problem. However, it's still a good idea to check the bulbs.
  7. Disconnect the wiring harness from the instrument cluster.
  8. Remove the cluster and inspect the lightbulbs. If the bulbs appear burnt or dark, or if the bulb filament is broken, you'll need to replace the bulb.
  9. Be careful removing the burned-out bulbs. Use a clean rag or gloves to keep skin oil off the bulb and protect your hands if the bulb breaks. Most bulbs will either pull straight out or need to be twisted about a quarter turn to remove.

What To Do If The Lightbulb Isn't The Problem

New instrument cluster

If you've ruled out the bulbs or a loose connection and still have issues, you can either replace your instrument cluster or have it repaired. With either option, ISS Automotive will provide a fast turnaround on the work and also reprogram the instrument cluster with the correct VIN and mileage info from your vehicle.

ISS Automotive has over 70 years of experience distributing and remanufacturing automotive electronic and mechatronic components. We offer a limited lifetime warranty on all remanufactured and repaired electronic products and provide free shipping on orders over $99.

Contact us or give us a call at 800-548-1195 if you have questions or would like to know more about our services.