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Instrument Cluster – What To Do When They Don’t Work

Instrument cluster - ezautoremote.comInstrument Cluster – What is it?

An instrument cluster is the collection of gauges, dials and lights right above the steering wheel that tell you what’s going on in your vehicle.

Generally, your car’s instrument cluster will last the lifetime of the car and you’ll never have a problem with any of them.  However, when one of them fail, you’ll have a problem that ranges from mildly annoying (the engine lights up and doesn’t turn off) to inconvenient (the gas gauge doesn’t register) to dangerous (the oil indicator doesn’t work).

Instrument Cluster – What goes wrong?

Some of the more common failures include:

  • Erratic or non-functional gauges & inaccurate readings.
  • LCD not Stuck or fluttering needles on gauges
  • Burned out indicator lights
  • Burned out/dark spot backlighting
  • Loss of LCD display or erratic operation (number 8 showing as 0)

Instrument Cluster – How can I fix it?

Rarely can these problems be fixed as a do-it-yourself project.  They require specialized tools, knowledge and parts to get them working properly.  Oh…and patience, because many of these repairs involve very small parts, motors or electronic components.

Here’s a great video from MotorWeek’s Pat Goss that explains “How Instrument Clusters Work & What to do When Gauges Go Bad.”  There is a little bit of overpromotion at the beginning, but bear with it because it’s interesting and informative:

Link at YouTube – Instrument Cluster, How Instrument Clusters Work & What to do When Gauges Go Bad.

Has your instrument cluster gone bad in some way?  My recommendation, give me a call and let’s discuss it.

I’m local and I’ve spent a lot of time on these little gadgets.

Call Stu, he’s EZ.

127 thoughts on “Instrument Cluster – What To Do When They Don’t Work”

  1. I have a 2005 Pontiac Sunfire with instrument cluster issues, my temperature gauge doesn’t work it is pegged way over hot and my gas gauge work occasionally. The rest of the cluster seems to be fine, now is it my cluster that is bad or the sending units that are bad?

    • I am betting its the cluster for my 05 sunfire as well. I have had issues with the RPM gauge, Speedometer and tonight my fuel gauge finally crapped out.

      Temperature gauge works great though 🙂

  2. my cluster gauges stop working on my 1999 Infiniti G20 and the mileage went to 0. I replace the cluster 3 times and it would work then with in seconds it would stop working. Something is causing it to burn out

  3. I have a 1993 Camaro and some of the light work on it .when i get ready to make a turn those light work and, the only hand work is the rpm hand.The speed hand work when the car warm up.I do not know what to replace can you help me out.Thank you very much

    • Hello,
      Thank you for your questions. It seems from your description there’s a loose connection. Remove the wire harness plug, inspect, clean and make sure the connection is secure.
      Thank you,
      Stu
      267-225-2191

  4. Hey I have a 2005 Nissan maxima I had previously had an issue with my battery connector and resolved that problem a day later my service engine light came on and when I drove back to town instrument cluster became dim and wouldn’t show my mph rpm engine temp gas level and my turnsignals wouldn’t work, not to mention a little smoke came out from behind my screen . Is this an instrument cluster problem or am I in deep trouble.

  5. 83 chevy 3 speed manual 4×4. Instrument cluster doesn’t work (ie. speedometer, oil pressure, amp hand etc. the gas gauge does work. Any clue as to what it is?

  6. My temperature guage is always on hot but my car never runs hot. One side of my lights is dim.. is that a sign of me needing a new speed cluster

  7. About 5 years ago, my gas gauge started acting up on my 2002 Pontiac Montana van. The gauge dropped to empty although I knew I had gas in the vehicle. When the car is filled up, the gauge registers properly, but when the tank is at least a 1/2 tank or less, when sitting idle the gauge will drop down to empty. We figured it was an electronic float sensor issue but after seeing this I’m not sure. As far as we know we do not have any other dashboard issues. To this day, we monitor the gas by mileage so that we never run out of gas.

  8. I have a 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 and my instrument cluster lights don’t work. All I’ve done so far is added a new stereo, what’s wrong?

  9. I have a 2001 Sebring and my instrument cluster doesn’t light up at night so I can’t see what speed I’m going at night the dashboard lights up my mileage on my cluster lights up so I’m not sure if I need a new cluster or new lights bulbs…do you know?

  10. I took my 07 Ford fusion to the shop to get my a/c fixed and they told me that the cluster was causing the issue. Then another mechanic told me the cluster doesn’t affect the a/c. So does it affect the a/c or not????

  11. I have a 1994 Chrysler Concorde 3.5 and my cluster isn’t working at all. when you crank the car the speedometer jumps just a tiny bit, but if you press the gas pedal the rpm gauge doesn’t move. Also when you drive the car, the speedometer and the rpm gauge doesn’t move. Everything light wise works. Everything works except the rpm, speedometer, temperature and gas gauge. All fuses and relays are good. I’ve even changed the instrument cluster and the BCM. Still none of the gauges work. What should I do?

  12. 2006 chev cobalt. Fluttering needles for about 1.5 years. Then it would die completely but then come on briefly so I could see how much gas/oil and how many kms on it. I took it to gm and they charged me $400 to tell me it was a short caused by my remote starter and they disconnected it. Well that didn’t fix anything. My cluster doesn’t work at all anymore. I reconnected the remote starter in the meantime. If gm couldn’t fix it, what am I supposed to do now?

  13. Hi, I have an 03 Infiniti I35 & my check engine light is on. I’ve had it checked at a couple places, the codes indicate the light is malfunctioning & resetting the computer hasn’t worked. Nothing else is wrong with the car but I can’t pass emissions with the light on. The most recent repair shop said if I replaced the instrument cluster that should get the light off. Do you think replacing the cluster will solve the problem? Thanks for your time.

  14. 2006 infiniti qx56 – rpm not working, some of the dash lights not lit, when I turn headlights on or day light running lights on the entire instrument cluster goes black. when turned off, the dash is lit (except for the ones that don’t lite at all). do I need a new cluster?

  15. 2006 infinity qx56 – rpm not working, some dash lights not lit at all, when I turn on headlights or day light running lights dash goes completely black and/or lights flicker on and off. do I need a new instrument cluster? Thank you!

  16. I have a 2006 Kia Optima – this morning I went out to start my car and started driving normally. I noticed my fuel gauge was way below the E line ( I have over half a tank of gas in my car ) – then I noticed my RPM needle was not registering at all – I revved the engine – no movement. I also noticed my mph gauge was also not moving. It stayed below zero. However, my turn signals work fine. What could be the problem? electrical, a fuse perhaps, or something all together ?? Is it safe for me to still drive it until I get a mechanic or a garage to help ?

  17. Ok thanks for the info – Is my car safe to drive until I take it to a garage? Do I have to worry about my car shutting off while driving ? thanks

  18. I have a 2003 Nissan Maxima GLE (Fifth Generation), and when some of my lights in my cluster panel is working (Only one side). I switched out the bulbs out and still, only the one side is working. Can you recommend me what type of bulb/knob to purchase for the my cluster panel. The ones I purchased, I don’t think it’s compatible with my cluster.

  19. Just bought a 06 Mustang GT, it has a lot of extra aftermarket goodies on it, including extra wide tires. Owned it 17 hrs and the computer had to be replaced. The Ford dealer was unable to calibrate the tires to the speedometer..(so the check engine light is on) they spend a week trying to figure it out, including many emails to Ford headquarters to figure it out, now they tell me it’s the instrument cluster that needs to be replaced. The speedometer was only a mile or two off BEFORE the computer problem. Now it’s off about 10 miles. All the other gauges seem to be working properly. Is it ok to drive it knowing it’s off 10 miles? Will it do any other damage? Ford dealer says it’s something a dealer has to replace. It’s 840.00 to replace. I’m just wondering if it was a guess because they can’t figure out how to adjust for the extra wide tires :-/. Wouldn’t the check engine light say it was the cluster not just the tires? Frustrated!! P.S. We did not purchase the car from them.

  20. Hi, I have a 2005 Nissan Maxima SL. My check engine light is on and says its a vacuum leak. But my ac wont come on or when it does (when it wants) it blows fast and wont turn off! And my speedometer wont move but my rpm does. And my door open light stays on! Could the vacuum leak in the engine be causing these problems??

  21. I have a 2003 chevy 2500 HD. No of the guages on my dash are working, My LCD screen on my air conditioner isn’t working but the air and heat work fine. My radio dosent work. Every now and then My guages will come on and work but most of the time they don’t. When i start the truck the glow plug indicator comes on like it should and so will the transmission light will come on. It goes off after the truck is started. Where do i start with this problem?

  22. I have a 2001 Pontiac Aztek… my gauges for the car temp, speedometer nd the the other one before the speed RPG RPM or something like that isn’t working….. I know that my wheel barren/hub assemble has to b replaced as well as my brakes. Do u have any suggestions on why my INSTRUMENT CLUSTER ISNT WORKING?

  23. I have a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. The speedometer has started jumping all over the place when I am braking. It happened for a day or two about a month ago and then stopped. But then it happened again this morning. While accelerating it’s fine, only when I brake and begin to slow down does it happen. The strange thing is, both times this has happened, my garage door opener remote in the vehicle stopped working. Once the jumping stops on the speedometer, the remote works and vice versa. Not sure if they’re related but neither has happened on it’s own without the other happening. Am I going nuts are could these two things actually be related?

  24. Well I have a 92 Lexus ls400 the speed meter and gas hand don’t work and at night my car doesnt shift out at night with my head Lights on would that be the problem that my car doesn’t shift out at night

  25. I have a 2008 Infiniti QX56 that I just purchased 2 days ago. I have been messing with lots of the new buttons and gadgets and accidentally zonked my battery. I jumped it and it started right away. It starts easily still hours later but my instrument panel is completely not working minus the seatbelt icon and the exclamation point icon. HELP PLEASE 🙂

  26. I have a 94 dodge ram and just a couple of days ago i was driving and ever single gauge in my dash board just stopped working my gas gauge will go up and down, my speedometer will some what work when my head lights are off but when i step on the brake it goes straight to zero, but when the headlights are on it wont move at all, and none of my other gauges will move whats so ever. Please help!

  27. I have a 99 Chevy Silverado we just put a new tranny in it and since I have lost my rpm, gas gage, p r n d 3 2 1 don’t light up it all worked before and we checked the no speedo either but the check engine light works. Any suggestions?

  28. Hello , I have a 2000 pontiac sunfire and I recently had a speedometer failure , I googled it and found that’s quite easy to fix , all I wanted was to fix the needle that was stuck on 65mph so I opened the dashboard up and removed the instrument cluster , put the needle to the reset position and plugged everything back to where it was , when I turn the key , the car starts and the engine runs for a brief second and then everything shuts off and I can’t move the car , one of my friends say I messed up with some sort of security and that’s why it doesn’t turn on , .
    Any ideas ? Please help , or I’ll be forced to contact a mechanic , which was my main issue , since money is short , thanks .

    • Hi,
      First disconnect battery for 30 minutes then reconnect and start car.
      Hopefully you had the battery disconnected before you removed the cluster the first time.
      If that doesn’t work then repeat the cluster removal and check all the connections.
      Thanks,
      Stu

  29. The meter fuse (10A) would blow and gauges / dash lights stopped working. Replaced fuse, several weeks later same thing. My daughters boyfriend tried to install a new stereo, he chopped some wires and installed it. Two days later, cluster stopped working as well as the taillights. Replaced fuses and everything works except the cluster gauge lights! Removed cluster, it appeared the two small gauge lights were blown. Replaced them and nothing! Cluster gauge lights don’t work…all other little lights work (check engine light, seatbelt, brights)! Is it time for a new cluster all together?

    Thanks.

    James

  30. On my 01 mustang 3.8ltr all engine lights would light up. Pull the dimmer switch and the cluster backing lights that illuminate in the night don’t turn on. Already replaced the bulbs and still nothing. Also my digital mileage turns on and off at times

  31. Hey I have a 2003 pontiac grand am. The whole instrument cluster went out then it randomly comes back on when I hit the breaks while driving. But not always. Then when I shut it off it won’t work when I turn it back on it goes for a few days without coming back on at all. Can you help?

  32. My headlights, tail lights, cluster lights wont come on.. fuses are good can’t drive in the night. Brake lights work so do the signal lights. Any ideas?

  33. I have a cadillac escalade suv and the battery went bad and when I open the door the gages blink on and off like there’s a silent alarm but it’s not on and I would turn vehicle on but nothing works or moves no lights on the dash the speedometer doesn’t work for nothing

  34. Dear Sir,

    Nice to see you.

    I replaced 2 bulbs in my dashboard/Meter set recently and this did not light then.As I checked the fuses, a 10 ampere fused was blew out and I replaced it. But it was still not working and I checked also the fuses on the ground.

    Finally I found out that a trace on the circuit board was disconnected and therefore I reconnected it by shouldering, but it still doesn’t work.

    I am much confused and worried thinking I made the mistake somewhere.

    Can You please tell me something.( I am using Suzuki Baleno 2001 Model)

  35. I have a 92 Plymouth Voyager and non of the guards work but all the lights do. I have put in another cluster but they still don’t work. Any suggestions?

  36. 99 GMC Suburban K1500 4×4
    While using 4WD offroad and muddy, certain gear selector lights started to flicker. Then later, when shifting from Park all the way to 1, some lights would be on, and some would be off. Then later, the speedometer stayed at 0 when driving down the road. Currently the speedometer is working.

    Is this a bad ground, caused by muddy conditions? Is it a ground specific to the instrument cluster? Bad connection in the back of the cluster? Where would that ground be?

  37. Hi I have a 2008 f150 king ranch 5.4 . Strange intermitting electrical, fist the air bag light came on no codes the it was ok . A few weeks later no power windows on pass side then they would work. Then the radio stopped working took apart could not find anything put back together worked for a day or two. Now the fuse 21 keeps blowing when you turn on ignition, but the truck still starts and runs there is no power windows, interior lights, radio, nothing works on the cluster. When I disconnect the two plug connectors to the cluster fuse 21 will not blow . when I connect the left side plug connector fuse won’t blow but when I connect the right side connector plug the fuse blows. Check grounds look good. Could it be the cluster? oh scanner cannot retrieve any information.
    Thank you

  38. I have a 2004 chevy blazer and when I turn my car off after driving the gas and oil gage move up. Is this a problem and what can it be.

  39. I have a 2004 cavalier 4cyl, someone stole my battery and clipped the cables, they also tried to steal the alternator but stopped when one of the mounting bolts broke off in the mount, I replaced the battery and cables and have secured the alternator and it is running.. the fuel gauge didn’t work when I got it and sometimes when you are driving it all of the gauges will jump to the top and fall all the way down and the clock and milage resets.. what could cause that? only the trip milage resets not the actual milage.. could this be caused by the alternator not being completely mounted? or is it a bigger problem?

      • I found out after looking that the wire going from the battery to the underhood fuses was loose and arching and that was the problem.. I fixed it.. but my fuel gauge works sometimes and then it doesn’t..all other gauges are working properly..when it starts the gauge moves up to the “e” and no further.. today it moved up to about a quarter tank and after shutting it off and starting it again it is back to E is this an easy fix?

        • Was this an issue before the battery was stolen?

          I have a 2004 cavalier 4cyl, someone stole my battery and clipped the cables, they also tried to steal the alternator but stopped when one of the mounting bolts broke off in the mount, I replaced the battery and cables and have secured the alternator and it is running.. the fuel gauge didn’t work when I got it and sometimes when you are driving it all of the gauges will jump to the top and fall all the way down and the clock and milage resets.. what could cause that? only the trip milage resets not the actual milage.. could this be caused by the alternator not being completely mounted? or is it a bigger problem?

  40. I have a 1998 Chrysler Sebring Convertible, the temperature gauge on the dash stops working,but everything else is still working. What could be the problem? I have been told that it doesn’t have a fuse.

  41. have a 94 s10 blazer when you start it up the cluster lights up but when you cut the lights on it blacks out .cut the lights off the dash lights back up

  42. Hi I have a 02 dodge ram 1500 my instrument panel does not work along with all my interior lights and headlights what could it be ?

  43. Hi I have a 2005 cavo and none of my gages move and I don’t know what’s wrong!! Who should I go to and about how much would it cost?? Help plz

  44. I bought a 2006 qx56 and the RPM gauge isn’t working, also some of the lights in the cluster don’t light up. Do I need a new cluster? I called the dealer and they said it’s 360 plus 40 for programming. What’s programming do? Thanks

  45. Hi, I have a 2002 Chevy Tahoe and my husband was trying to install a stereo and he thinks a wire had touched something in the dash and the radio and display for what gear your in went off and all the needles are stuck and won’t move. I’m hoping this is just a blown fuse but any help would be appreciate it.

  46. I have a 1998 honda accord ex automatic,all my gauges work except my temperature gauge it stays on hot,could it be a new cluster that i need,also when i go to accelerate an it gets between 2-2500 rpm it lags when shifting into 2nd gear once it shifts its fine could it be the transmission seloniod causing that

  47. Stu,
    I have a 2004 hummer H2. The tranny, speedometer, Rpm, fuel and temp gauges all work fine. The oil and battery gauges are moving but are giving readings way to the right. When the truck is turned off these two guages appear to try and return to zero but dont get all the way back to zero on the left. Its like somehow the zero positions have shifted clockwise. All of the lights in the cluster are working. The truck only has 29,165 miles. What’s the scoop? I wanted to try and manually reset them but the glass is sealed.

  48. Stu, 2004 hummer H2. I am in Massachusetts. Can or should I disconnect the cluster to have this fixed? Or is there a risk of losing the odometer reading? The Google machine shows a company in my state that specializes in cluster repair. Abut an hour and a half away. I am wondering what the down time is shipping to you vs. local shop. This is my everyday driver. I absolutely do not want to get raked by the dealership again. They charged me almost 2k to replace the BCM and didnt even put all the trim back on correctly.

    Thanks Stu for taking the time to read and respond. No doubt one of the reasons you will continue to be successful.

  49. I have a 2001 pontiac sunfire and all my gages work in the cluster except the milage. Is it a bulb, wire or do i need to replace the whole thing?

  50. Have a 99 silverado (new body style) that the dash lights just quit on day. Put a new headlight switch in and it burns the switch out within seconds. No lights or anything on. Key out of ignition. Have traced wired and nothing is rubbed or melted/burnt. Checked and cleaned all relays, replaces suspicious looking fuses, and tested all fuses. Everything is good. Unplugged trailer harness and all connectuons. Doesn’t blow a fuse, but blows the headlight switch. Have used new switches from parts store as well as 1 from dealer. I’m out of ideas in where to look.

  51. I have a 2004 Freestar van. I have been having problems with my rpm in performing erratic. Causes the car to stall at times and it appears or sounds as if it is putting a strain on the motor as if it is going to shut off. Not a loud sound, motor sounds good. More of a stalling sound. I was told by a mechanic a few months ago that it was a sensor on the motor. I put the name of such in my phone but lucky me cracked my phone soon after and was not able to retrieve the message. What could this be.

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