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Old 05-04-2021, 01:41 PM   #1
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Default LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

Bought a bunch of LED bulbs to replace the burned out ones in the gauge cluster and not a single one works. I tried rotating them 180 degrees and still nothing. Any ideas?

I went by a thread here that said to use 8.5d bulbs, is that wrong for an SL1?
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Old 05-04-2021, 02:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

On a side note, I'm probably gonna skip the LEDs and go back to halogens. I can get a bunch of them for half the cost of the LED's and I know those work because the few I have left are working fine when I put them in the sockets of the ones that were burned out. I'm still kinda curious why the LED's aren't working, though.
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

Where did you buy them from? Cheap eBay leds be bad out of the box half the time
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

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Where did you buy them from? Cheap eBay leds be bad out of the box half the time
haha, oops, I meant to put that down and forgot. I got them from Superbrightleds.com.

Quite frankly, I don't see any difference between theirs and anything cheaper on eBay. Maybe they use different diodes? But the mounting plastic is really cheap looking/feeling and some of the soldering isn't all that great.
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

I use Superbrightleds for all the interior bulbs, and most of the exterior on my car. Iíve tried some cheaper Chinese brands from Amazon and while their a good for the price, I do have my problems with them. They always tend to be a little to blue for my liking and trying to search specifically for a bulb with a color temperature of 3000k or less doesnít have many results. Even ones that claim to be ďwhite 5000kĒ still look blue to me. Iíve found that with the Superbrightleds, while they are a little pricey, and a little cheap looking, the quality and consistency led to led to be amazing. They have pretty much any temperature/color you could want, any they always glow at the same brightness/hue. Some of the cheaper bulbs have trouble with this. Some cheaper ones may also not work with the factory dimmer, but Iíve yet to have this happen.

As for youre situation, I would try powering the leds with a 9 volt battery to see if they work at all and go from there. Still a chance they could be bad out of the box.
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Old 05-04-2021, 04:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

I went through and tested them with a 9 volt and they seem to work (well, except for one, but I think that one had a bad lead on it anyway), so I'm stumped why they aren't working in the gauge cluster.

I did make sure that the halogens I still had working did in fact work in all the sockets that needed a bulb, so I know the cluster is getting power and working.
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Old 05-04-2021, 05:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

No idea then what may be wrong. I know these clusters can be kinda finicky with LEDs sometimes. I’ve also never worked with a 3g cluster before and they may have other issues I’m not aware of. The digital odometer bulb specifically doesn’t like LEDs as they apparently break something. (Sorry for being vague, don’t actually remember what). My gauge cluster is actually a mix of LEDs and halogens. All the illumination bulbs and warning/indicator lights on the right side, and turn signals, are Superbrightleds. Some of the warning lights on the left side would always stay very dimly on, even with the Parking lights off. Hard to notice in the day, but was kinda annoying at night. It was only a few, but the brightness difference of an LED next to a halogen was a little too harsh. Just kept that whole side halogens for evenness sake.
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Old 05-04-2021, 05:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

Welp, I finally (sorta) figured out what's going on. I was able to get the LED's to work with the theater lights, but any other gauge light simply does not work. I was able to get a single white LED to illuminate on one of the back lights, but if I touched it or looked at it funny it would turn off. Wiggling it around would make it turn on and off, so apparently there's a problem with the LED's themselves and not making contact with the board properly as none of the other lights are working with LED's. I can plug in one of the leftover halogens and it works just fine.

So, back to SBL they go, they have a 30day return policy and then I'll just order some halogens.

Ahh well, I tried.
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Old 05-04-2021, 06:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

I had a problem with one of my 194 bulbs being loose in its socket and flickering over bumps. Pretty sure the kind you have canít be separated from the socket, but I may be wrong.
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Old 05-04-2021, 06:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

3rd gen S-series and other Saturn models made from 2000+ use a body control module (BCM) driving the instrument panel gauges, lights and indicators. Check your dimmer switch and wiggle it to be sure its on high setting with original lamps. The bcm powers gauges, lights and indicators using pulse width modulation (PWM) where voltage and current are varied by pulsing output. Widening the pulse increases power, narrowing a pulse lowers power. Pwm may not be compatible with some leds and maybe troublesome if the lights are wired in parallel, the preferred wiring configuration. If one lamp burns out, the others aren't affected so a dark area at night points to a burned out bulb.

Instrument panels redesigned for electronic illumination as well as driving gauges are handled by the bcm. Search for i/p wiring diagrams and descriptions of how electronics replaces older wiring using 12v within these forums. Pwm isn't discussed as a form of controlling power and signals to gauges and lighting.

Examples of pwm would be viewing youtube videos of people using their cellphones or video cameras with brake, parking and led headlights appearing to flicker when the naked eye doesn't see this. The flickering is the high speed digital optical electronics matching the switching speed of pwm modulated lights and gauges. Humans see in analog mode while electronics are operating at high speed with circuits switching on and off to capture the moment when pwm circuits are at their low output before switching to whatever power is required to drive gauge needles or lights. The flickering is the mismatch between switching speeds of optical recording and bcm driven i/p gauges, internal and external lighting under pwm control.
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Old 05-04-2021, 08:23 PM   #11
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

I'm not gonna worry about it, it's just too much of a pain to get it working when I know halogens work fine. I'm sure the car is just too old to accept new tech like this (without some mods). I already started the return process with SBL and will be sending most of them back (just a couple I'm keeping for the theater lights because those do work fine). I'm currently waiting until it's dark enough to decide if I want red or white LED's in those plugs

I have enough lights on right now to at least see the gauges at night until I can get new bulbs. I found some that have a filter to give them a cooler look instead of the basic warm/yellow look.
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:17 PM   #12
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

It is for sure nice to be able to enjoy the car as it was when sold new back in the day. Definitely some things that make the car feel dated, but thatís also part of the fun of driving a car from the 90ís
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:46 PM   #13
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

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It is for sure nice to be able to enjoy the car as it was when sold new back in the day. Definitely some things that make the car feel dated, but thatís also part of the fun of driving a car from the 90ís
Bah! I want it updated with all the ridiculous things that make cars overrated these days!

But seriously, this was more for fun than anything, I'm not keeping the car forever :P
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Old 05-05-2021, 12:15 AM   #14
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

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But seriously, this was more for fun than anything, I'm not keeping the car forever :P
You are not the first one of us to say that...
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Old 05-13-2021, 07:49 PM   #15
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

Sometimes my led's go off then back on. I have no idea how to open the thing up to see where they are at. Is it difficult or complex? Any pointers, much appreciated.

Ps. Over time, I think perhaps the connections to mine are slightly oxidized and simply banging the dash with my fist usually convinces them to come back on.
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Old 05-13-2021, 08:27 PM   #16
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Default Re: LED's installed in the gauge cluster, none work

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Sometimes my led's go off then back on. I have no idea how to open the thing up to see where they are at. Is it difficult or complex? Any pointers, much appreciated.

Ps. Over time, I think perhaps the connections to mine are slightly oxidized and simply banging the dash with my fist usually convinces them to come back on.
While I haven't worked on this particular gauge pod, it seems similar enough to others. You'd have to pull the needles off, making sure to use some tape to mark where they were when you take them off. Then, depending on how the PCB is attached to the actual pod, you either have to remove the front panel or pull the PCB out through the back. It's a lot of little clips that can easily be broken if you're in a rush too, so you have to be careful because it's really all that keeps the dust and debris out from behind the glass.
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