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INSTRUMENT PANEL / CLUSTER - CLEANING AND BULB REPLACEMENT
March 2015. Felt like cleaning all the dust out from the gauge faces, then I figured why not replace all the bulbs while I'm in there as they did seem a little dull.
There really isn't any tight seal keeping dust out of the gauges so over time it starts to build up. I realized AFTER that you should remove the entire cluster in one piece but not
doing any research ahead of time, I just went for it and figured it out as I went removing each piece as I encountered it. I would recommend taking the cluster out in one piece just
from the simple fact that it's easier and you probably won't lose any screws or pieces if they fall. Also if you are replacing bulbs, you can't simply pull them out, they are a twist lock style
and must be removed from acessing the back of the cluster once it's removed. You can click on each photo for a larger picture.
Start by removing the 12 black screws from the bezel. You may want to put the tilt wheel all the way down, you'll also need to work the bezel around the headlight switch as it will be tight.
Next, remove the 2 screws that hold the gear shift indictor in place. Once it's loose, carefully guide the wire out of the retainer circled in the photo. I just let it hang loose out of the way.
It seemed like there was a vent that might be attached but turned out you just pull the cluster straight out and there is no interference. I did resecure the foam around the vent that had come loose with two sided tape.
The main C203 connector which is on the left side of the instrument panel pulls off relatively easily and there are two bulbs with wires attached that you will need to remove,
those twist out with a quarter turn. If you are looking for the 1990 Suburban electrical diagrams, click here.
This is the other bulb connector on the right side of the instrument panel twist it a quarter turn and remove.
Instrument panel removed showing the 3 items that connect to the back of the panel that need to be detached.
This is what the back of the instrument panel cluster looks like. Notice the cable that goes into the center piece with the Notice sticker. The dark grey connector is missing, that's because i broke the end of the cable
that connects to it trying to force the cable off. This is why it's important to know how these connectors work and how to carefully dis-engage them. The wiring diagram does have a
section on connector types and how to remove them but this particular connector is not listed so I learned the hard way. I later found a donor cluster and used it's circuit board as I didn't
like putting the one I repaired back in.
All the gauges except the odometer simply pull straight off. DONT pull any of the bulbs out, they are a twist lock style and must be removed from the back once the cluster is out.
These are the two bulb types used in the instrument panel. PC 194 (14V / 3.78 Watts) and PC 168 (14V / 4.90 Watts). Notice on the socket it says Replace Entire ASM, that's because the leads are soldered in. Some guys have replaced
just the bulbs and reused the sockets like this guy who created a YouTube video to show you how to do it but to me it's not
worth the time or effort, even though it's good to know it can be done. I paid around $4-$6 per bulb, a little expensive yes, but the time it takes to swap out just the bulb. Twist the bulbs counter clockwise
to remove them.
I don't think it would hurt if you replaced all the bulbs with the slightly brighter PC 168 bulbs. The bulbs I used were GE Electric.
Battery, oil pressure and water temperature guages re-installed.
Speedometer and fuel gauges re-installed.
Here is the black plastic gauge cover that sits over the gauges and under the lens.
Black plastic gauge cover installed.
I used a plastic polish called Plexus plastic cleaner and polish to polish out the fine scratches on the instrument lens.
clear instrument lens re-installed.
Here is the completed instrument panel ready for installation.