1. Interior
  2. Instrument Cluster / Odometer Repair

This article was written by 6daytonas on 12-12-2010.

Since it gets asked a lot, I documented a cluster repair I just completed for a '91 Spirit ES. Broken odometer gear, solder joints, PRNDL indicator. All of our clusters differ slightly from vehicle to vehicle, year to year. From what I've seen, the only speedos that seem to be really tricky to get apart are the IROC R/T 160 mph units. Those also use a stepper motor instead of an odometer gear and require rebuild if they fail.


Go to Odometer Gears Ltd. Each gear costs $25.00. Call 757-593-3478

1) The cluster:

2) The Printed Circuit Board(s):

3) The electrical traces and gauge pins:

4) Begin by removing the 9/32" perimeter nuts from cluster:

5) With cluster apart so it won't rock back and forth, let's begin reflowing the solder joints. No flux is necessary, just touch the tip of your soldering pen to the joint and let the solder reflow. This will happen quickly and you'll see it. Do not burn the PCB:

6) Reflowed board:

7) Now let's turn our attention to the gauge pins and trace rivets on the back of the cluster. Apply a SMALL amount of flux paste to the area to be soldered with a toothpick:

8) Hold your soldering pen to the rivet and heat it up, melting the flux in. This happens quickly. With flux melted, apply a small amount of solder to the rivet and allow the flux to draw it in. You may need to pause once or twice to prevent overheating the rivet and trace. Work solder in for an even covering:

9) Now let's turn our attention to the disabled PRNDL indicator. Remove the 9/32" nuts holding the speedometer in place and set speedometer aside:


10) Hmmm... that doesn't look effective:

11) Remove screws holding PRNDL indicator to cluster. Remove indicator from cluster. Restring and attach indicator line, spring and pulley as shown in picture. Reinstall indicator assembly to cluster:

12) Odometer repair. Note positioning of speed needle prior to removal:

13) Using trim removal tools and modeler's screwdrivers, gently remove the black base cap. Use gentle pressure in a straight up direction so as not to break this delicate piece of plastic:

14) Breath sigh of relief. Now you're committed - use a trim removal tool to get under the speed needle and gently pry upward. The older gauges are rather easy, but Chrysler began using splines and adhesive in the late '80's. These are difficult to remove without breaking the base. Do your best. If it breaks, recover all the pieces and use cyanoacrylate (modeling) glue to repair them. With needle off, remove speedometer faceplate:

15) Remove perimeter screws on back of odometer:

16) Remove the speedometer motor retaining screws:

17) Lift motor and pcb off of housing, being careful not to let broken teeth of odometer pinion or other shards of plastic slip deeper into the unit. Here you can see two broken teeth stuck to the outer gear teeth:

18) Lift motor assembly up and off of speedometer. Open unit like a sandwich. The wires will keep everything together. These are delicate connections, be gentle you clutz!!! Dropping the speedometer at this point would be bad.

19) Remove the gear assembly from the housing. Clean out any broken teeth. Remove broken pinion, install new pinion - the most expensive part by weight in our cars!!! Lubrication is not necessary:

20) Reassembly is reverse order. Tip - use modeler's screwdrivers so you don't overtorque the screws during speedometer reassembly. The plastic is brittle after all these years and will crack very easily.

This was a particularly needy cluster, as it had a few issues. Really, they don't get any more difficult though - and this wasn't tough. Take your time and you can do it. On the splined speed needles, there is a high likelihood you'll break the base. As long as you don't mutilate or shatter it, you'll be able to glue it back together. Everything else is cake, really.

During the first 25-50 miles of operation, you might smell or hear the residual flux burning off the board as current flows through it. Some of your gauge needles might act slightly erratic for the first few trips until the flux is all gone. Not to worry. Just don't use more flux than you need.

Good luck!

Steve
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