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Fix those burnt out dash lights!!!

8592 Views 14 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  nekkidhillbilly
Well, I've been searching this forum for an answer to the pesky problem of those burnt out radio and HVAC incandesent lights. Sadly, very few people have actually attempted to fix the burnt bulbs as they are actually soldered on to the circuit boards. So, my electronic savy buddy and I have finally finished replacing the lights with LEDs and I can not write up about it.

You can decide for yourself if you would like to replace the bulbs with LEDs or with stock incandecent bulbs. I chose the LEDs because they have a 100,000 hr life span, and the stock lights have a 3,000 hr span. The problem with LEDs is that they are a very directional light, so you will notice bright spots and dim spots once complete. They do sell 360 degree LEDs, but I didn't feel like ordering them. I did not research the availability of different colored incandecent stock lights, but I do know that the LEDs are easily found in about any color you can dream of. Try ordering from www.superbrightleds.com.

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A quick guide:

Step 1: Remove the HVAC controls. If you haven't been behind the dash, it's quite easy. Put the Steering column all the way down, put the automatic drive lever into 1st gear, and pull the front facia of the dash away. Then there are 2 screws to take out and the HVAC unit pops out. (It's also this easy to remove the radio... which could be a security problem)

Step 2: Dismantel the controls. Take everything apart. Take the knobs off, unscrew the 4 back screws and the 2 inside screws. Take a knife and carefully pry the large circuit board away from the backing.

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What your working surface whould look like.

Step 3: Remove ALL the INCANDECENT lights. Desolder the 4 back lights and the 4 button lights on the smaller board. My buddy basically headed up the stock solder while I pulled the lights out. Then clean the holes out.

Step 4: Install the LEDs. Make sure you follow the resistor chart for the size LED that you have. I needed 680ohm resistors for a 12V DC current. Solder the LEDs on to the board with a resistor connected to each LED as shown. Make sure that you have the polarity of the LEDs correct!!!

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Make sure to use the correct resistors

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Install the resistors on a common side.

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Loop the resistor to the LED and solder. One hole should have the LED positive. The LED negative goes to one end of the resistor, and the other end of the resistor goes to the other hole. POLARITY MATTERS FOR LEDS.

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Finished product.

Step 5: Reassemble and test. During reassembly TRIPLE CHECK that you do not have any crosses between + and -. THis can be done with an ohm meter. Infinity is good, zero is bad. Bring your newly assembled controls out and test.

For the radio:

THe process is much the same way, but I wish to make some suggestions:

1. Use 1/4 watt resistors for the LEDs (You will need the smaller ones because the clearance for them will suck when trying to reassemble). Also, use the smaller LEDs (I think they're like 3mm or something) as the clearance can be an issue as well.

2. The front face DOES actually come off quite easily. You need to take the bottom plate of the radio off and disconnect the connectors on the inside. Then you have a board that is easily worked on.

3. Get a socket that actually fits the screws on the back side of the face plate. A needle nose pliar sucks after a while.

4. Make SURE to double, triple and quadruple check that you did not cross any wires. I did on the radio while putting it all back together, and then I got a radio that did not work when the lights were on. I did find a remedy, so if you have this problem, then ask.

Sadly, I did not get pictures of the radio apart, so I will have to walk you through it non-visually if you need help.

Final notes: Please please ask me questions as to confusion. I wrote this while I was really tired, so I probable missed quite a bit.

Hope this helps!!!

I will get a final picture up tommorrow night.
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Tim I can not thank you enough. I have been waiting for a write up like this for a LONG time. My lights have been burnt out for 3 years already. Can't wait to finally get them back working. Thanks,

Where does one locate the resistor size chart?
schulte;1561988; said:
Where does one locate the resistor size chart?
When you buy the LEDs, it should give you a chart on the back of the package along with how to identify the poles of the LEDs. If you find it to be different, I can help you find out what you will need for a specific LED.

Mods>>>Ya think you can 'sticky' this one?
I apologize for the blurriness... The night picture was taken with a REALLY crappy camera. It should give you the idea though.

Please note, I used WHITE LEDs. There is a blue backing to the controls that made the lighting come out blue. (I was actually going for the white dash like in a newer Honda Accord). But I enjoy the blue. When I get a better picture, I will change it out with this one:

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Great job MidnightDD. Thanks.
Great write-up! I may do it just for the LED look to the dash.

When looking at the LED, the two legs are called the anode and cathode.
The anode (longer leg) is the + connection.
The cathode (shorter leg) is the -connection.
I've replaced the bulbs on mu 02 HVAC Controller.
More info here:

Do you still have dimmer control with the LED's?

Yeah, dimmer works great.
i just had the light behind my oil pressure gauge go out is this fix apply for that as well. I dont know if the circuit board for the gauge cluster is easily accessible
I have not attempted those lights yet. LEDs are expensive.. so I only did what was necessary.
wow good thread.... i have to do this to my truck some time soon i have a few gauges that are out and part of my heater contorls.
Dmaxmachine;1573428; said:
i just had the light behind my oil pressure gauge go out is this fix apply for that as well. I dont know if the circuit board for the gauge cluster is easily accessible
there similar on 03 ups 99-02 have twist in 194 bulbs so there easy to change but they are soldered on 03 ups...the 03 hvac circuit board is different also but isnt much different to change
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