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Old 03-19-2007, 12:58 AM   #1
Jim Dunlop
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Default Changing Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Tired of the yellowish-white incandescent look of your late-model S-series but too cheap to buy white-face electroluminescent gauges? Well, this mod if for you! I did it on my 2002 SL.

Go to www.superbrightleds.com and order the following:

(QTY 4) WLED-X5 ("X" varies depending on color; for me it was "B" for Blue)
(QTY 2) B8.3D white (Optional*)

They will arrive in about 3 business days and if you have no life like me, you will be ecstatic.

Tools you'll need:

- Socket wrench w/ 7mm socket and small extension
- Needle-nose pliers
- Small flat-head screwdriver
- Small clippers
- Sharp jack-knife, razor blade, or exacto knife
- Soldering iron w/ solder

PROCEDURE:

1. Find the two screws above the glove compartment and just under the dashboard lip:



2. Undo the screws with the socket wrench, small extension, and 7mm socket:



3. Push up on the dashboard until all the clips are undone. Go ahead and give it a good whack! I hope you can peel up the dashboard without bending the VIN plate like I did.



4. Remove the electrical connector from the back of the gauge cluster:



5. Undo the gauge cluster mounting screws using the socket wrench and 7mm socket but no extension:



6. Take the gauge cluster inside and have a good look at it. The 4 "backlight" lamp bases are circled in blue, and the optional* theater light bases are circled in white:



7. Remove all the lights you are going to replace by twisting them about 1/4 turn (can't remember which direction) and pulling them out. You may need to use the needle-nose pliers, a suitable socket, or a flat-head screwdriver to twist the bases:



8. For the 4 "backlit" lights, you will need to combine existing lamp bases with WLED-X5's. Thus, for each of these wiggle the incandescent bulb until its leads break and it comes out. Try not to cry too much; have faith that your 1337 electronic assembly skilz will soon prevail!



9. Remove the WLED-X5's from the plastic bag. Marvel at how cool they look. The one LED in the center and the 4 radial LED's (on each "bulb") create a dispersion of light necessary to illuminate the gauge cluster sufficiently:



10. Bend each WLED-X5's leads down:



11. This part is necessary because if you do not do it, the WLED-X5's will not fit low enough in the stock twist-lock bases and they will interfere with the gauge faces. Using a clipper, trim the excess plastic from the body of each WLED-X5, below the round main body shape, such that the leads become more exposed:




...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

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Old 03-19-2007, 01:04 AM   #2
Jim Dunlop
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

12. This part is tricky and requires surgeon's fingers/dexterity. Cut 2 notches into each of the 4 "backlit" light stock bases so that the metal leads connecting to the twist-lock contacts can be seen from the back of the cluster backing when installed. The idea is to create a pathway for the WLED-X5 leads to poke through as well as a means for molten solder to drip down and creat continuity. The 2 notches should straddle the flathead screwdriver slot in the base:



**

13. Separate the white backing (w/ circuitboard) from the black housing by un-hitching the side clips with a small flat-head screwdriver and pulling apart by hand.

14. Remove the gauge needles from their shafts. You may be able to perform this mod without performing this step.

15. Peel the thin plastic gauge face artwork from the white backing enough to be able to rotate it around the trip odometer reset pushbutton.

16. Re-install the 4 "backlit" light bases.

17. This step is necessary because the WLED-X5's are too large to feed in through the holes in the backing. Feed the WLED-X5's into the bases from the front side of gauge cluster. You will have to peel up/rotate the gauge face artwork sheet to do this. Once again employing your surgeon's fingers, thread the WLED-X5 leads through both notches you cut into the stock lamp bases. They will look like this:

**

18. Solder the WLED-X5 leads to the stock lamp base leads. Remember to use the soldering iron to heat up the leads and touch the solder to the leads; the solder will then run down the leads and make the proper connection. If you shove the solder onto the soldering iron, you will make a gooey metallic mess which may have poor electrical continuity!



When you are finished with all 4 it will look like this:



19. (Optional*) Remove the theater lights and replace with white B8.3D LED's, which come attached to twist-lock bases:



20. (Optional*) Remove the thin blue translucent plastic sheet from the white backing -- this allows more light to shine onto the front of the gauge cluster since the B8.3D LED's seem to be weaker than stock incandescent bulbs.

21. There are a few small hollow posts on the black housing. With stock bulbs installed, these protrude through semi-circular holes in the gauge face artwork sheet, but with your humongous WLED-X5's, they can't fit! Break the posts off with the clipper so that they become relatively flush with the black housing surface which mates up to the gauge face artwork sheet.

22. Re-assemble the black housing with the white backing after replacing the gauge face artwork (press adhesive back down) and replacing the gauge needles. The back of the assembly should look like this (optional LED theater lights shown):



23. Replace the cluster into your car.

24. Replace the cluster screws.

25. Re-attach the electrical connector.

26. Feed the dashboard back into place by starting with the VIN / heating vent area and aligning the plastic locating pins with their respective holes. Whack the clips down into their respective slots, and give the top surface of the dash a good smooth pounding.

27. Replace the screws above the glove compartment, and you're done!!!

Here's what mine looks like (picture taken with no flash). The idiot-light bleed through is not as offensive in real life as the photo makes it look. This probably could have been prevented completely by re-gluing the gauge face artwork to the cluster backing.



Now have tons of fun in your "new" Euro-style Satty. When your friends laugh at your lameness, just remember they're not as cool as you are because you did this mod yourself!!!


...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

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Old 03-19-2007, 01:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Cool. I bought blue bulbs at the local auto parts store for the back, then used blue nail polish on the opera lights.

Also, when you put the cluster back together, leave the clear shield off so you can adjust the needles. My speedo seems good, but RPM's are off, so is temp and fuel.

...
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Old 03-19-2007, 01:19 AM   #4
Jim Dunlop
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Footnotes:

* Optional -- The stock incandescent bulbs with blue plastic sheet may produce a better effect than white LED's. If the LED's do not work at first, rotate them 180° in the twist-lock sockets -- B8.3D LED's are polar.

** Notching/soldering work shown being done on theater lights. However, this should only be done on the "backlit" light bases, where the WLED-X5's go. If you install WLED-X5's in the theater light bases (like I did at first), they will be too big, bend the black housing around the theater light slots, disrupt electrical continuity, and shine too brightly/glare onto the gauge faces!

...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

Last edited by Jim Dunlop; 03-19-2007 at 01:28 AM..

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Old 03-19-2007, 01:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

The gauge color also looks a lot bluer in real life (darker hue) than the photo makes it look.

...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

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Old 03-19-2007, 02:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

So how do these respond to the dimmer?

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Old 03-19-2007, 06:45 AM   #7
Jim Dunlop
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

The dimmer works with at least the "backlit" (blue) lights. I haven't specifically noticed if the small white "theater light" LED's dim, but I'm fairly certain they do. Obviously leaving the theater lights stock would pose no dimmer issues.

The blue numbers and hash marks are plenty bright with the dimmer knob all the way to the right; the plain white text, needles, and red cross-hatched areas are perhaps a little dark, but that's only because I put in small white LED's for the theater lights.

When you turn the knob all the way to the left, the gauges dim down quite a bit, but not to nothing, and I would say they are just a little brighter than when stock gauges are dimmed all the way. My wife would probably drive this way because she doesn't like blaring lights in her face when driving.

I would highly recommend performing the mod on the 4 "backlit" lights. They are $2.99 from superbrightleds.com and shipping is $5.00, so your total bill is $17 if you already have the other tools handy.

I realize some of the descriptive terms I used in my procedure probably don't match what is in a detailed service manual (because I don't have one). If someone with How-to Library privileges wants to help me clean it up, we can do that and then move the thread.

...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

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Old 03-19-2007, 06:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

madpogue your Satty probably wouldn't have to use solder, the procedure wouldn't be as complicated, and you probably need 5 bulbs instead of 4. I am guessing because of your car's model year it has the larger wedge bases. There is a post on 6th sphere which I sort of followed before I realized my 3rd Gen was different:

http://www.sixthsphere.com/forum2/vi...&highlight=led

...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

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Old 03-20-2007, 03:56 AM   #9
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Glad to see it up! Great work.

...
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Old 03-20-2007, 08:01 AM   #10
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Can you give the exact part number that is on the LED site for the blue LEDs you bought and the white ones.

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Old 03-20-2007, 08:09 AM   #11
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Dunlop View Post
Please move this thread to the How-To Library.
excellent how-to.

have you ever done the old diy white-faced gauge trick they used to have back on saturnperformance.com??? cost me a couple bucks for the paper and i printed them myself at home. can't tell that they're not professionally done...


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Old 03-20-2007, 12:46 PM   #12
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

yeah i took those incandescent lights out of mine so the electrolumenescents look good, but i left in the blinker and headlight warning lights in. it took me a minute to figure out how to get those things out at first haha. i want to get green LEDs for my blinkers and blue for the lights soon

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Old 03-20-2007, 01:10 PM   #13
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

What a great how-to. I was wondering on how to do this stuff, it's definitely something I'm willing to take a crack at. Well done. (How do you think red LEDs will look?)

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Old 03-20-2007, 04:36 PM   #14
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

excellent. someone PM charlie about moving this.

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Old 03-20-2007, 08:13 PM   #15
Jim Dunlop
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Quote:
Originally Posted by HAAS07 View Post
Can you give the exact part number that is on the LED site for the blue LEDs you bought and the white ones.
WLED 5-LED [color]
B8.3D [color]

I don't think you can use the B8.3D's behind the gauge face artwork sheet because they probably won't be bright enough...although they would be FAR easier to install!

...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

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Old 03-20-2007, 08:15 PM   #16
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Default Re: "How to" Change Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

Quote:
Originally Posted by rainking63 View Post
What a great how-to. I was wondering on how to do this stuff, it's definitely something I'm willing to take a crack at. Well done. (How do you think red LEDs will look?)
Red would look cool too! I see a lot of cars on the road with stock red gauges.

...
2002 SL 1.9L SOHC 5-spd mods:
-Custom HAI
-K&N Airbox Filter
-Custom Air Dam
-PCV Catch Can
-Drilled & slotted rotors
-14x6 König Incident's, Yoko AVID's
-Grille Block (aluminum)
SCS! DD.

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Old 03-21-2007, 09:44 AM   #17
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Happy Re: Changing Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

I installed LEDs bought from this same company into my 1993 SL2. At first I chose red LEDs but later regretted it because at daybreak and at dusk my instrument panel looked as if it had pink lighting. So I did it again choosing white LEDs the second time. Much better. The old yellowish-white incandescent look now has a white fluorescent look.

I also replaced the bulbs in the heat/vent/AC control unit and the bulb for the cigarette lighter with white LEDs. I didn't bother with the bulb for the ashtray.

For my 1993 SL2 it was not easy to access the back of the instrument panel, and it was a small pain accessing the back of the heat/vent/AC control unit. But in my case I had to deal with the bulbs/LEDs because quite a few of them were burnt out and there was some weird electrical issue that kept blowing the fuse for the instrument panel lighting. I ended up building my own wiring harness...

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Old 03-21-2007, 04:26 PM   #18
HAAS07
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Default Re: Changing Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

If anyone has any picture of different color bulbs in there guage cluster i would like to see them so i can decide on what color i want.

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Old 03-21-2007, 04:56 PM   #19
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Default Re: Changing Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

To me, red would be distracting. We're sorta conditioned to be distracted by red. Stop lights, stop signs, all the dash lights that indicate _failure_ are red. I wouldn't want anything in my field of view glowing red that didn't say "hey, pay attention to me".

Who knows, there may be something psychological at work here, something about how we perceive color. Maybe it's because (or _why_) blood is red. Any psych (or art) majors here?....

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Old 03-21-2007, 05:14 PM   #20
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Default Re: Changing Color of Late-Model S-Series Stock Gauge Cluster

how bout green? im gonna paint my car black, probably black rims. conversion to black interior. i cant decide if i want my interior/exterior accent color scheme to be blue, red, green, or possibly purple.

probably blue but i don't know yet. oh well, that stuff is easy to change when you get bored with it anyway. a few accent trim pieces, a shift knob and pedals, at most a few neons.

...
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1997 SC1- "Stacy" dk green, 5spd, Motegi, Kuhmo tires

Under the most rigorously controlled conditions, the Saturn will do as it damn well pleases.

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