Dim cluster lights

Discussion in '1979 - 1995 (Fox, SN95.0, & 2.3L) -General/Talk-' started by 90convertible5.0, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. To start, I have very little knowledge in the electrical department, so this may be a very novice question. Lights in my gauge cluster are dim and almost none existent in some areas. Is there small LEDs I need to replace in the cluster? would this be a wiring problem? If it is a simple fix, how do I go about fixing. Taking apart the cluster is intimidating to me, but if it is common, I may just dive into it. (1990 LX)
  2. first, there is a dimmer switch on the dash, left side of steering wheel, below gauges. make sure it's turned all the way up. if you need to replace bulbs in your cluster, it's very easy to do. first, pull the lower "knee buster" panel on the bottom side of the dash, where your knees would be. should be two screws then it pulls off. next you need to remove the column trim which is held together by two screws which are recessed into the lower half (column trim is two pieces). you'll need a long screwdriver to get to them. after you have the trim and lower panel off, you will have access to the two lower screws that hold the gauge bezel on. there are also two recessed into the top of the bezel, up by the windshield. before you actually pull the bezel off, you need to remove the headlight/foglight and hazard/defrost switch assemblies out of the dash. use a flat blade screwdriver to disengage the locking tabs on the outside of the switch bodies. you can see the tabs behind the actual switch buttons, there are two per switch assembly. Pull the switch assemblies out and then unplug the wiring harness from the back of the switches. Once you have both switch assemblies free, gently push the wiring pigtails back into the cluster and then disassemble the dash further. you will need to pull the switch assemblies out first because you won't have enough length on the wiring harnesses to pull the instrument bezel out far enough to disconnect the wiring harness pigtails from the switches with them still installed in the bezel. after you remove the bezel, you will see the 4 screws that hold the cluster in. remove those, then gently look towards the back of the cluster. ford didn't really supply a lot of wire going to the cluster, so you probably won't be able to pull the cluster out very far. there is one large connector that plugs into the cluster, it has two locking tabs, one on either end of it that you need to squeeze to disengage, then you can unplug the connector from the cluster. last thing is the speedometer cable, which can be a PITA. there is a big white clip on it that locks it on. the best method i can think to describe would be squeeze the :poo: out of that tab (there is one spot on the white clip that you put your finger on) while pushing in to help disengage, and then pulling it off. it may take a bit of wrestling with it to get it off. once you have the speedometer cable disconnected, you can lift the cluster out of the dash and gain access to the backside of it. on the backside you will see a bunch of little black plastic things, those are all light bulbs. just twist them CCW (if i remember correctly) and you can change out the bulb in each one as necessary. hope this helps some.

    have fun!
  3. Dimmer switch is all the way on, so looks like I have my next weekend project. Going to order a few interior pieces next week and just do everything at once. Thanks for the help.
  4. Good write up. If changing the bulbs does not work, the dimmer may be bad. I would check the dimmer output voltage before I went to all that work. Maybe someone can even tell you which wire to check. The output should vary smoothly from full battery volts to very little as the wheel is turned and the dash lights are on. If it does not get to the full 12+ volts, the dimmer switch needs replaced, not the bulbs.
  5. 90convertible5.0 likes this.