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S14: Gauge Cluster Swap

Filed Under (Interior) by Michael Pica on 02-10-2009

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Maybe you want to modify your gauge cluster, or maybe you need to replace a broken one, or maybe you bought a JDM cluster and want to swap it in. Either way, replacing the gauge cluster in an S14 is a quick and simple process.

Tools Needed:

  • #2 Phillips Screwdriver (required)
  • Interior trim removal shims (optional)

Step 1: Remove Steering column cover
Get under the dash on the drivers side and look at the underside of the steering column (you might want to slide the seat back for some extra work room) you should see that the plastic cover has 6 screw holes. 4 roughly in each corner and 2 more in the center near the steering wheel. Use your #2 Phillips screwdriver to remove the 4  screws in the corners. You do not need to remove the 2 screws n the center.

Once the screws have been removed release the wheel tilt lever and push the steering wheel as low as it can go. Grab the top half of the steering column shroud  by the openings for the turn signal and wiper leavers and gently pull up to pop it off and set it aside.

Step 2: Remove the Gauge Hood Shroud
Look at the underside of the gauge hood above the gauge cluster and you should see 2 screw holes. Use your #2 Phillips screw driver to remove these two screws.

Once the screws are removed take 2 interior trim removal shims and place them along the bottom edge of the gauge hood shroud. This is the seam below the interior light dimmer and the cruse control power buttons. One shim  goes on either side of the steering column about a half inch from the inside edge of the shroud. If you do not have any shims then you can simply ignore this part of the step.

Once the shims are in place (or you’ve decided not to use them) get your fingers in between the bottom edge of the gauge cluster and the shroud and gently pull straight back away from the dashboard until the two metal clips along the bottom edge pop. If using shims this should require very little force if your shims are in the proper location. If not using shims then this might require a bit more force to get the clips to pop. I recommend placing a rag in between your fingers and the location of the trim piece where you are pulling to both protect your fingers and the trim piece. This edge is relatively sharp as well as thin which means the potential for damage/injury is higher than normal.

Once you’ve popped both metal clips you’ll need to remove the plug for the interior light dimmer by depressing the button on the bottom of the plug (requires a bit of force) and pulling the plug straight out with the button depressed. If you have cruse control switches on the opposite side of the shroud you can unplug those as well if you like. I found this was not necessary as unlike the dimmer, the cruse buttons offered ample slack to move the shroud out of the way.

The trickiest part (and the reason the FSM recommended dropping the steering column) is finagling the shroud out of the dashboard now that it is no longer mechanically attached. I recommend pulling the shroud straight out as far as you can and then tilting it forward to remove the top half first.  Be careful of the bottom in the center as there is a rubber skirt here that is riveted on and could easily tear. Also be cautious not to scratch the underside of your gauge hood or bend/squish the shroud enough that it might crack. Once it’s out you can set it aside, or if you left the Cruse control cable attached it can be flipped off to the side by the center console.

Step 3: Removing the Gauge cluster
Now that all of the trim pieces are out of the way you should have a relatively clear view of the area surrounding the gauge cluster and how it attaches to the dashboard. There are 3 screws holding it in place one on the top directly in the center and 2 more on the either corner along the bottom. Use your #2 Phillips to remove these 3 screws.

Once the screws are removed you should be able to pull the entire cluster out of the dash enough to get a clear view of the back of the gauge cluster. Here you will see 4 connectors plugged into the back of the cluster. Each connectors has two buttons that need to be depressed on either of the long sides of the connector. There are 3 plugs on the drivers side of the cluster and 1 plug on the passengers side of the cluster. I found that the plug on the passengers side was difficult to remove because there was a light bulb socket blocking easy access to one of the buttons. So I removed the blub by a gentle 1/4 turn counter clock wise and pulling it out.
Once all of the connectors are removed you can put the bulb back in place.

You can put it back together by simply reversing these steps.

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