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Old 04-19-2009, 08:15 PM   #1
shawngreen
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Default How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

Ok so a lot of people are interested in changing the color of their gauge cluster and I know how to do it, so I'll share. First off though. The eBay LED kit will not work in my opinion. the LEDs behind the gauges are a very light (almost white) blue color. The only colored LEDs that are behind there are the warning lights just above the message center. I started off with an extra gauge cluster panel that I got on eBay. There are plenty to be had for cheap if you look hard enough (got my first one for $25.50 shipped). If you don't need your car for a while (and are ballsy enough) you could do this mod on your stock cluster.

Tools Needed:
9/32” socket (maybe 7mm will work?)
Phillips screwdriver
600 grit wet-sandpaper
Old fork
Sharp utility knife
Spray paint (optional)
Dremel (optional)

I will give these directions as if you are using the stock one that is currently in the dash.
To remove the gauge cluster you need to lift up on the charcoal rubbery piece behind the steering wheel. It is held in place with four clips. I got a thumb under each side and then pulled straight up. There are four rubber "nubbins" holding the rest of it to the steering column. The gauge cluster is held in by two hex head screws. They may be 7mm but I don't have one so I used a 9/32 which worked well enough (they weren't too tight). After the screws were removed I stuck my thumbs under two slots and pulled the cluster out. It wasn't easy to do this part and required a little finesse. Pull it out gently and hold it to the side so you can disconnect it. You have to push in the little plastic lock and then the lever will fold out of the way releasing the wire harness.

The green arrows are where the four clips are that hold the rubbery piece. The red arrows show where the screws are. The blue arrows are where I put my thumbs to pull it out.

The following steps should be done in a calm manner. Nothing needs to be forced, and if it is something may break.
Place the gauge cluster face down on a scratch resistant surface and use a Phillips screwdriver to undo the screw on the back in the top. Then carefully unhook the four clips on the top. Next do the four clips on the bottom. Carefully pull the front and back apart. Set the clear lens aside where it won’t get damaged. Take note of where the needles are on the gauges (yes they are ~0 but how far below?). Take a picture if necessary. Remove the trim rings from each gauge. They just pop off. Next use a fork to get under the needles and pry them off. There are still four retainer clips holding the face down and I got them off by slowly lifting the gauge face up while holding my finger over the one that was ready to give. Congrats! The hard part is over.

Green arrows show the eight clips, red arrow shows the screw.





DO NOT USE ACETONE! IT WILL BURN THROUGH THE PLASTIC. I used a 600 grit wet-sandpaper and sanded the back of the gauges wherever a number or dash can be seen. I sanded off all the green in those areas and tried to leave the red alone. You only have to go to the lip of the gauge because the trim rings will cover the rest. When you think you are done hold it up to a light source to check that all the green is gone. Re-sand any areas that still show green. When you’re done this time put the trim rings back on and hold it up to the light to confirm that it is complete.





Now it’s time to make a choice. What color do you want your gauges to be? If you say green then you shouldn’t be doing this. Red white or blue would be good choices. Pick any color you want. White is the easiest and at this point is done. If you choose a color you will need to spray it on the back of the gauges. Be sure to cover anything you don’t want painted (the redline marks, the warning lights…). I used Rustoleum sail blue spray paint, but will be redoing it. I recommend Testor’s transparent paint http://www.testors.com/category/135895?n=1 . You should be able to find it at a hobby shop or online.



If you wish to change the message center color you will want to locate plexiglass in a color that complements your gauges. You will want 1/8” thick and at least 3 ¾” x1 ½”. Cut and shape the plexiglass so that it fits in the message center recess. If you have a table saw you can cut it to size and then just shape the corners. I used a Skilsaw and then shaped it on my grinder. Next you will have to cut out the green screen for the message center. There are many ways to do this. I’ve used a Dremel and I’ve also tried a sharp utility knife and I prefer the knife. Make sure to remove fingerprints and dirt from the plexiglass. Place the plexiglass in the recess and lay the gauge face over it. Then use the four retainer clips to hold the gauge face in place (the plexiglass should be secure and not flop around). Replace the trim rings and needles. Place the clear lens back on and make sure all eight clips are secure. Replace the screw in the top. Reconnect the wire harness to the cluster and push back into place. Screw it in place with the two screws and put the rubbery piece back on the steering column. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!






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Old 04-19-2009, 08:24 PM   #2
kevjur
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

Great write up and pics. Thanks, Shawn. Sticky of the day ?
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:30 PM   #3
shawngreen
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

[quote author=kevjur link=topic=142499.msg3070276#msg3070276 date=1240187047]
Great write up and pics. Thanks, Shawn. Sticky of the day ?
[/quote]

Thanks. I feel like a douche now, because I forgot to give some credit to you. If you hadn't told me how to get the cluster out I would have never done this mod. Thanks Kev.
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:38 PM   #4
biggee72
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

I have no problem w/ the green so I'm not going to do it, but was it worth it? How long did it take? It looks like the red in the picture is a little brighter in some spots than others. Lastly, did you fix your TPMS?
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:47 PM   #5
shawngreen
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

[quote author=biggee72 link=topic=142499.msg3070299#msg3070299 date=1240187918]
I have no problem w/ the green so I'm not going to do it, but was it worth it? How long did it take? It looks like the red in the picture is a little brighter in some spots than others. Lastly, did you fix your TPMS?
[/quote]

I think it was worth it. Total time for the whole thing... maybe 1 hour. Yeah the red isn't completely even when you get up close, but when you're sitting back in your seat it looks good. No, I haven't got my TPMS fixed yet.

Later on (possibly next weekend) I will be trying a white one (no paint). Shouldn't take more than 30 minutes. It may look better, but I'm not sure what color plexiglass to use with it.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:25 PM   #6
Chris2183
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

Nice write up. I wonder how much you can get for them on ebay?
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Old 04-20-2009, 02:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

Great write up Shawn. I'm really tempted to do this now.
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Old 04-20-2009, 01:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

looks really nice! I'm tempted to try this in blue with my Fusion...

one comment though..

did you really recommend masking of the RED markings on your gauges to paint them RED? Or do the factory red markings stand out more than the newly painted red?
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

hey i really like this mod Great Job!!
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: How To: Change Gauge Cluster Color

AMAZING and THOROUGH write up Shawn! You really put a lot of time into this, thanks so much! Really great job, I can't wait to try this out, I'm gonna wait until this summer, probably go ballz out and use my own cluster!

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