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Discussion Starter #1
I've been wanting to change the backlighting in the instrument cluster to red ever since I got the car, but didn't know what size LEDs to get, and searches on here didn't turn up anything, so I hadn't ordered anything yet. However, this week I was adding some accent lighting to the door panels (there will be another thread on that later), and figured while I was tearing the car apart, I may as well figure out what's in the cluster so I can change that, too.

So, here's a how to on how to pull the cluster out, and a listing of what LEDs are in there (and holy crap is there a lot).

Pull off the lower panel of the dash that's right above your knees, it's in there with the type of "christmas tree", for lack of a better term, fastener that's very common on these cars (actually, I think it's way better than the standard "christmas trees"). Basically I started at the bottom/back of the panel, pulled that loose, and then pulled the top/front loose. Don't forget to unplug the wiring harness for the lighting selector.


You'll see there's a couple other panels there missing, the one in front of the HVAC vent and the one one the end of the dash, you probably don't need to take them off for this, but I needed them off for the other project I was doing.

Next you need to remove that silver trim piece, for this I used a small flathead screwdriver in order to pop the fasteners holding it in out, I wasn't sure I could just pull it out without snapping the trim piece. There were 5 or 6 evenly spaced fasteners on there, I started on the side closest to the door and worked my way towards the center of the dash, it came out pretty easily.

With that removed, you should see this:


Remove the screws holding the bezel in and it'll pull out very easily, revealing the screws that hold the cluster in:


Remove those screws and pull the cluster out. Remember to disconnect the wiring harness on the back, or you won't get very far with it. Here's a pic showing the wiring harness after it's been disconnected from the cluster:


I don't know if it'll always come out this way, but when I was pulling my cluster out, the protective "glass" on the front actually came off the rest of the cluster and pulled out first. This may or may not happen in your case. If it doesn't, pop the cover off and set that aside, you should be able to see on the sides of it the tabs to push on to release it.



Taking clusters apart is a bit of a pain, as there isn't a good way to do it, the electrical board you want to get to to replace the LEDs is in the middle, but you need to remove things from the front and back to get there. First, you need to remove the needles/pointers from the gauge face. Notice in my image above that the fuel gauge does not return to zero when the cluster is disconnected. This is important, because you need to get the needle/pointer back on in the right spot, or your gauge will be inaccurate. I'd suggest filling the car up with fuel just before doing this so you don't have to try to remember what the level was (I'll definitely do that next time). To remove the needles/pointers, just pull up on them, away from the cluster face. They're pressed on, so it'll require a decent amount of force, and you need to be careful with them. Also, try not to rotate them at all while pulling, as you could break the motors that drive them, and then this'll get really expensive. If you're a golfer, you can carefully use a ballmark repair tool to "pry" them up, I've discovered this makes pulling them off much easier.

Here's with the needles/pointers removed:


Now, with those off, you can pop off the black plastic face of the cluster. There's a couple tabs on the bottom of the cluster and one tab on the top, and once you pop those out, the face will fall right off.




Pull the overlay with all the numbers on it off and set it aside, and that'll reveal the LEDs.


Now, this time I didn't take it any farther apart, as I was just trying to get an understanding of what size LEDs I'd need and how many (by the way, the size looks like a 3528SMD, or very similar, so that's what I'm planning to order). If you were going to replace the LEDs, you'd need to pop the black backing to the cluster assembly off, and that should let you pull the board out so that you can pull off the current LEDs and solder in the new ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
But how do you know which LEDs you want to replace? Here's what was in my cluster, although yours may vary depending on the vehicle's options:


1 - Red - Positive on upper left side
2 - White - Positive on top
3 - Red - Positive on top
4 - Red - Positive on top
5 - Orange - Positive on bottom
6 - Red - Positive on top
7 - Red - Positive on bottom
8 - White - Positive on bottom
9 - Not Used
10 - White - Positive on bottom
11 - Not Used
12 - Not Used
13 - White - Positive on bottom
14 - White - Positive on top
15 - Red - 2 leds, positive on upper left on both
16 - White - Positive on bottom
17 - White - Positive on top
18 - Green - Positive on left
19 - Green - ? (Positive on left I'd guess, but I'm not sure yet)
20 - Not Used
21 - Blue - Positive on left
22 - Green - Positive on left
23 - Not Used
24 - Green - Positive on top
25 - White - Positive on bottom
26 - White - Positive on bottom
27 - White - Positive on top
28 - White - Positive on bottom
29 - White - Positive on top
30 - Red - Positive on bottom
31 - Orange - Positive on top left
32 - Not Used
33 - Not Used
34 - White - ? (I would assume positive on bottom, but not sure)
35 - White - Positive on bottom
36 - Red - 2 LEDs, left/bottom LED has positive on bottom right, top/right LED has positive on top left
37 - Not Used
38 - Red - ? (would assume positive on bottom, but not sure)
39 - Red - Positive on bottom
40 - Orange - Positive on bottom
41 - White - Positive on top
42 - Red - Positive on top left
43 - Red - Positive on right
44 - Red - Positive on right


[EDIT #1]
Added polarity information, as well as info regarding the DIC

[EDIT #2]
Here's the pictures from when I removed the board. Picking up where I left off at the end of my previous post, remove the black plastic piece from the back of the cluster, you can see the tabs on the sides.


With that piece off, you can remove the board, it just sits in there. There's a ribbon that goes from the bottom of the board to the DIC, you need to slowly remove the board and disconnect the ribbon.


Its difficult to see in the pic above, but there's a grey plastic piece that goes into the black piece, if you pop that out, you can disconnect the ribbon.

Here's a picture with the ribbon disconnected:


Then you can just pull the board out and start replacing the LEDs.


Also, for the people asking about if it's possible to change the color of the instrument cluster, it turns out there's 6 LEDs on the board which are to the left side of the DIC, that's what provides the lighting. Here's a pic of the cluster with those six LEDs lit up:
 

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Very nice writeup. I think I will reference this in a few weeks, if all my plans go as I hope they do! :D

--zepcom
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Nice work and great info! Any plans to change the DIC display color? That's all I really want to do with mine.
No, I'm not interested in changing the display color, as I want it all red. I did change the DIC color on my truck, although I'm not sure if the G8 uses a similar system, but I'll get you some pics of that when I start changing the LEDs. If it's like my truck, you can change it with just a number of LEDs.

Looks like you have 9.5 G8 … and VDO Cluster … it’s slightly different from the rest …
Yeah, mine is a 2009.5. What's different in the cluster between them? My roommate has a 2008, and he wants to change the backlighting of some of his as well, although we haven't taken his apart yet.
 

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You should have bought a spare cluster to mess with...just my opinion. And soldering in the red /green/blue LEDS is a lot more complicated then it seems, and one misstep you can fry your cluster.....(if you booger it up, I have two spares)
 

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Zim,

Is this something that you've had success with? If so, please provide details.

--zep
 

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Tried but failed on other clusters (cheap GM common clusters). Very difficult to unsolder the LED's without the right tools, you'll need pencil solder, steady hand, magnifying glass, and lots of practice before you even attempt. The solder has to be precision, heat has to be controlled (not to be transferee onto the other diode or resister or damage the copper backing on the PCB) and you're looking at doing how many LED's on one board??!! Also, LED's have a polarity that must be maintained, you can't just pop them in. positive side must be connected to the positive side of the board.... Very time consuming and dangerous if you've never done it before.

I'm not saying it can't be done, just something that shouldn't be attempted if you never done any precision soldering/de-soldering.

Thought I saw a company doing that for a price once....they'll change the color, and other things as well....with a quick turn-around time....

Not trying to discourage the lad in his bold venture, you have my best wishes and good luck!
Some reading here if you like: http://holden.carmodder.com/view_doc.php?doc_id=60&model_id=43
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Pictures disappeared?
They still load fine for me, do you still not see them?

You should have bought a spare cluster to mess with...just my opinion. And soldering in the red /green/blue LEDS is a lot more complicated then it seems, and one misstep you can fry your cluster
I did buy a spare when I did it on my truck (04 Colorado), but didn't have any issues, so I don't think I'll run into problems here...but if I do, I'll let you know ;) What's the mileage on the clusters you have? One thing I noticed on my truck is that if the mileage on the cluster is more than the mileage on the truck, the cluster mileage won't update until the truck hits that same mileage. Not sure if the G8 is the same way, but my guess would be that it is.

[EDIT]
Here's a before and after pic of the cluster in my Colorado, I changed the overlay as well, although it doesn't show up that much in the pics, but that's why there's some differences other than just the lighting in the two pics.
Stock:


Current:
 

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Thanks for the info, zim. I hope to also make progress in this arena in the upcoming months... stay tuned.

And naskie18, maybe it's just something with my internets. Sorry!

--zep
 

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[email protected] Yes, I still have two fresh, very low OEM milage clusters, both GT with (i'm gonna guess) less than 10K miles on them. They've been sitting in the basement since 2008 when i purchased them with the intent of doing LED's and faceplate upgrades...but it never panned out. They are unmolested clusters still in the wrapping. Both were bought in 2008.

Looks like you know what you're doing with these cluster, maybe after you get yours all done, would you take a stab at mine?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Looks like you know what you're doing with these cluster, maybe after you get yours all done, would you take a stab at mine?
Assuming I get mine done without any issues, yeah, I'm sure we could work something out. I ordered LEDs today, so hopefully they'll show up and I'll get a chance to do it next week sometime :)
 

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Nice job!!!!! I was also looking at doing something like this and your writeup was great!... Nice.... I also like the idea of the footwell lights and interested in your direction on that when you get to it..... I think I lost my winter garage spot this year though...... so I will have to wait till spring to do something like this... Nice work Nick
 

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Nice writeup. This will be a reference point for me as I get some more things done in the next week or two with my overlay.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Alright, I had it apart completely last night to replace the LEDs, and updated my second post with the polarity of most of the LEDs, and there are some additional LEDs on the board that I didn't see earlier. First off, there are six LEDs to the left of the DIC which are used to provide the backlighting for that. Also, the needle/pointer for the speedo and tach both have two red LEDs, not one each like I previously thought. I took some more pictures of it all apart, but took my camera to work with the idea of uploading them while there today...didn't have the right cable at work, and I forgot to bring the camera home :banghead:

Nice work and great info! Any plans to change the DIC display color? That's all I really want to do with mine.
Based on the six LEDs along the left side of the DIC, I think that by changing these six, you could change the DIC color just like I did on my truck.

It would be nice to see all white
Speaking about the changing the DIC, or changing all the LEDs in the board to white?

Now for the bad news, I wasn't paying nearly enough attention when I bought these LEDs, and while they fit fine from a size standpoint, they're not very bright at all. Why I didn't bother to look at the mcd rating prior to ordering them, I don't know, because once I saw this last night I understood why they were so dim and questioned why I bought them. Anyway, ordered some bright ones yesterday, so hopefully they'll get here tomorrow, otherwise this won't get done until next week sometime.
 
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