|Time:||30-60 min without needles; 2-3 hours with needles|
|Parts/Tools Needed||Bulbs: 4 #194; 1 #74|
|Model paint for needles|
|Aluminum Foil (optional)|
Changing the backlight bulbs is the easiest way to update the look of the A70 cluster. This consists of 4 #194 bulbs and 1 #74 bulb. New incandescent bulbs will help renew most clusters to an extent, but the preferred look these days involves LED’s. There are a wide variety of options available that plug into 194/74 sockets.
Simply remove the old bulb and replace with a new LED bulb.
When using the 5 WLED bulbs the oil gauge may appear dimmer than the other gauges since the oil gauge is lit by only one #74. I solved this COMPLETELY by placing a small section of aluminum foil over the bulb, directing most all the light onto the gauge face and its clear plastic "light carrier". Light dispersion is very important for the gauge cluster's appearance. "Hot spots", where lights can become focused, are your enemy. When using LED lights, hot spots can be a problem. This can be fixed by using "wide angle" LED lights. These lights put more light out the sides of the bulb and help to prevent hot spots. Using the 5 bulb LED's from superbrightled can lead to hotspots directly in front of the bulbs. (3 and 9 O'clock on the speedo and tach especially) I solved this by painting the tip of the top bulb black. Using just these bulbs will tend to make any painted needle appear dimmer. Beware.
In order to reduce the hot spot effect and diffuse light as well as possible, I shaved the tip of the LEDs. This helped to eliminate most hotspots and spreads the light well. It is pictured to the right. Another method is to paint the incandescent bulbs. This is a cheap and relatively easy way to change the color, but care must be taken not to overcoat the bulbs making them too dim.
- Step 1: Remove the Ash Tray – Press down on the top flap and pull out.
- Step 2: Remove Ash Tray Guide – Remove the two screws holding the metal plate above the ash tray.
- Step 3: Remove the Center Trim
- Step 4: Remove the Left Side Switch Panel – This just pulls out.
- Step 5: Remove the Upper Cluster Panel – Remove the 7 screws holding the black panel above the cluster. Two on the sides and 5 on top.
- Step 6: Remove the Cluster – Remove the 4 screws holding it in (one below near ignition and 3 on top). Now pull the cluster away and unplug the connectors.
a. There are 3 screws to remove for this. One is by the driver’s right knee/thigh and the other two are behind the ash tray.
b. Remove Shift Knob – The shift knob should simply unscrew. Some aftermarket knobs have allen set screws that need to be removed.
c. Pry the center trim piece out. I find this easiest by starting with the back end behind the shifter and working up towards the climate control.
|12V Power Source|
|Wiring (a few feet)||SMT LED's (~14 or more)||Soldering Iron||Proto Cicuit Boards||Solder|
Here are some Amazon links hand selected by me for the exact parts I used in this project. Your purchases through these links help fund this site and keep new info coming:
Changing the needle appearance can be difficult. The needles have a yellow-orange paint from the factory. Removing this old paint and repainting a new color is an easy update and will make a big difference. If you changed the backlighting for the gauge, the newly painted needles may not glow like you planned. Lighting the needles themselves can be done and will give you a much more modern, readable look.
To the left, you can see the led’s I used. They are far from the smallest available, but are plenty small for this project. They are a 1206 package.
To the right is my power source. (8) 1.5 AA batteries in series. That makes 12V for those scoring at home.
- 1. Measure board placement. Pay attention to mounting locations for the board itself as well as the LEDS.
- 2. Cut Boards to size.
- 3. Mount/Solder LEDs into place
- 4. Cut Needles and gauge backing as needed
- 5. Test fitment and alter as required