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Changing the Cluster Illumination for the Holden VE II Commodore

  • Omega Instrument Cluster shown with blue dials and white LCD Illumination
    Partially changed HSV Cluster with one dial illuminated in white, the other factory red
    The following document outlines the procedure involved in removing the instrument cluster from the vehicle, disassembling the instrument cluster, and swapping out the various LEDs to change the dial and LCD Illumination colours.

    There are numerous colour LEDs available such as the factory red, green, and white colours, as well as non factory colour such as blue, yellow, and orange.

    Please Note: If your existing instrument cluster uses Red needles, then it is recommended that the existing needle illumination colour is not changed from the factory red colour.
    Using any colour with the exception of red for the needle illumination when using red needles will prevent the needle from illuminating correctly.
  • Tools Required
    Phillips head screw driver
    Small flat headed screw driver
    Good Quality Soldering Iron
    Good Quality Solder Sucker

    Parts Required
    12 x 1210 SMT LEDs for the speedo and tacho Illumination (Triple LCD Clusters) or
    14 x 1210 SMT LEDs for the speedo and tacho illumination (Single LCD Clusters)
    24 x 1210 SMT LEDs for the central lcd illumination
    10 x 1210 SMT LEDs for the Small LCD screens on Triple LCD Clusters
    2 x 1210 SMT LEDs for the Fuel and Temp Gauge Illumination
    8 x 1210 SMT LEDs for the needle illumination
  • To remove the existing instrument cluster from the vehicle.
    Unscrew the two Philips head screws securing the OBD-II connector, located beneath the steering column, on the lower black trim.
    Pull the lower black trim downwards from the top of the trim, and disengage the three clips holing the top most part of the trim in place.

    Un-clip the foot well illumination bulb holder from the trim, by turning the bulb holder anti clock wise.
    (Use caution as the foot well illumination bulb may be HOT !!!!)
    Swing the lower black trim downwards, and disengage the back 3 clips to remove the trim from the vehicle.

    Pulling from the top of the drivers side instrument panel trim that holds the headlamp switch assembly, carefully disengage the 2 clips on the outer side, and the two clips on the inner side of the trim, allowing the trim to be swung downwards slightly, and allowing access to the headlamp switch assembly.
    Disengage he headlamp switch assembly electrical connector by depressing the plastic tab on the connector (located on the RHS of the plug), and pulling the plug away from the headlamp switch.
    Pulling from the bottom of the drivers side colored instrument panel trim, disengage the remaining 4 clips holding the back part of the trim in place.
    Do not attempt to remove the trim yet !
    Next, carefully attempt to maneuverer the trim plastic located nearest to the gear shift selector, downwards, trying not to scratch the steering column trim plastic.
    Take you time with this step, as the colored trim panel does flex enough to allow you to do this, but it is fragile, and could easily break if you use too much force.

    Once you have the Inner most plastic colored trim below the steering column plastic trim, attempt to maneuverer the outer side of the trim around, and below the steering column plastic trim, again being carefully as to not scratch or damage the trim.
    With the colored plastic trim removed, you will need to remove the plastic / aluminum trim strip below the instrument cluster.
    To do this, gently pull the trim strip outwards, using an even amount of force, starting from the outside end of the trim piece, and moving inwards, disengaging each clip that holds the trim in place.
    Once the plastic / aluminum trim has been removed you should now be able to see the screws used to hold the instrument cluster surround trim in place.
    Remove the two Phillips screws holding the lower part of the instrument cluster surround trim.
    Next, remove the three upper Phillips head screws holding the instrument cluster surround trim in place.
    Once all the screws have been removed from the trim, slowly maneuver the trim outwards, being careful not to scratch the instrument cluster lens, and not to tear the steering column trim.
    Once you have a bit of room to get behind the instrument cluster trim surround, disengage the two clips holding the instrument cluster trim surround, from the upper steering column trim.
    The following images best describes the location of the two clips used to secure the instrument cluster surround to the upper steering column trim.
    Please note, the clip locations have been highlighted in red.
    Finally, once the instrument cluster surround trim has been removed, you can begin removing the four Phillips head screws used to secure the instrument cluster.
    Now that the four phillips head screws have been removed, slowly and carefully maneuver the instrument cluster outwards from the instrument panel, so as you can access the electrical connector located at the back / top of the instrument cluster.
    Swing the instrument cluster electrical connector clip clockwise to disengage the electrical connector from the instrument cluster.

    Finally, remove the instrument cluster from the vehicle.
  • To gain access to the surface mount LEDs within the instrument cluster, you will nee to disassemble the instrument cluster completely.
    NOTE: You should take you time and great care when disassembling the instrument cluster, as it is quite easy to break the plastic clips, needles, and other finicky parts.
    You should also thoroughly clean your hands, and avoid touching the LCD panels, as well as the inside of the clear plastic lens.
    Care should also be taken to avoid touching the speedo mask directly where possible, as this will leave finger print marks that will need to be carefully cleaned using only luke warm water.

    Step 1 - Removing the Clear Plastic Lens and upper shroud.
    Starting from the bottom of the instrument cluster, carefully depress the plastic clips, and push them slowly inwards, releasing the clear plastic lens and plastic shroud from the instrument cluster assembly.
    Slowly work your way around the instrument cluster, and carefully release each clip from the instrument cluster.
    Once all the plastic clips have been released, you should be able to remove the clear plastic lens, and the plastic shroud from the instrument cluster, leaving you with something like this.
    Step 2 - Removing the gauge needles from the instrument cluster
    Great care should be taken with the following step, as it is possible to break the gauge needles, as well as damage the cluster mask when attempting to remove the needles.
    Firstly, using a small flat headed screwdriver, gently insert the screwdriver head underneath the needle, getting as close to the needle shaft as possible.
    Next, using your spare hand, grasp the needle, and gently pull upwards.
    Your hand should be used to prevent the needle from flexing too much.
    Finally, slowly rotate the screwdriver, forcing the bas of the needle to separate from the instrument cluster.
    Use you spare hand to provide a small amount of extra force to pull the needle away from the instrument cluster.

    If required, you may need to insert the screwdriver again at a different angle to the needle, and attempt to prise the needle away from the cluster, working around the needle so as not to bend the shaft in any one direction.
    Once the needle has been removed, continue removing the other four needles from the instrument cluster.

    Step 3 - Removing the plastic gauge surround, and the gauge masking.
    The following steps are very easy.
    The plastic gauge surround will simply lift off, away from the instrument cluster with minimal effort.
    Next, carefully lift the gauge mask away from the instrument cluster, trying to avoid touching the mask face directly.
    Step 4 - Removing the instrument cluster back cover
    Place the instrument cluster face first, on a soft cotton material, to avoid touching or scratching the LCD panels.
    Next, using a small flat headed screwdriver, or a small torx tool, remove the 4 screws used to hold the instrument cluster backing in place.
    Once the screws have been removed, simply pull the instrument cluster backing to revel the instrument cluster main board.
    IMG=14143 Step 5 - Removing the main board from the instrument cluster.
    To gain unrestricted access to the illumination LEDs, you will need to unclip the main board from the instrument cluster.
    You will also need to disconnect the LCD screen electrical connectors from the main board.
    To disconnet the LCD electrical connectors, simply pull the brown edge of the clip away from the black section.
    NOTE: DO NOT PULL THE BROWN CLIP OFF THE CONNECTOR !!!
    See the following image for more information.
    With the brown clip disengaged, you can now safely remove the LCD electrical connector from the main board.
    Continue this step for the second main LCD connector, as well as any other LCD electrical connectors for triple LCD window instrument clusters.

    Finally, the main board can be unclipped from the instrument cluster assembly by locating the two plastic clips holding the main board in place, and by carefully unclipping these to release the main board.

    Once the main board has been released, gently pull the upper main LCD electrical connector through the hole on the main board, to free the main board from the instrument cluster assembly.
  • The following image shows the various LEDs, and their locations for the single window LCD clusters.
    And the following image shows the various LEDs and their locations for the triple window LCD clusters.

    Before removing the LEDs, it is recommended that you note their polarity.
    The polarity of the LEDs can be determined by locating the notch position for the LED to be replaced.
    To remove the LED, first heat one side of the LED using a soldering iron, and remove any excess solder using the de soldering tool.
    Next, complete the above procedure for the other side of the LED to ensure that any excess solder is removed, allowing the LED to be easily removed.
    Next, heat one side of the LED using the soldering iron, and using a small flat bladed screwdriver, gently and slowly apply pressure to the heated side of the LED, gently prying the LED upwards and away from the board.
    With the above step, you only need to apply enough pressure to allow one side of the LED to separate from the PCB.
    Do not force the LED upwards, as it is possible to damage the copper track on the PCB.

    Next, complete the above step with the other side of the LED, by first heating the solder on the other side of the LED, and using a small flat headed screwdriver to slowly and carefully pry the LED upwards and off the PCB.

    Once the original LED has been removed, place the new LED in the same location, noting the polarity of the LED that you are about to fit is correct.

    Once you are happy with the LED position / polarity, carefully solder the LED in to place.
    Continue the above steps until you have replaced all the required LEDs on the main board.
    Once all the required LEDs have been replaced, it is highly recommended that you test the LEDs and the illumination before you assemble the instrument cluster, and refit the cluster to the vehicle.

    To test the instrument cluster illumination, simply connect the instrument cluster to the vehicles electrical connector.

    Note : You do not need to fit and connect the LCD screens at this stage, the instrument cluster will still function fine with these disconnected.
    With the instrument cluster connected, turn the park lamps to the On Position, and note that all the LEDs Illuminate.
    If one or more LEDs fail to illuminate, then check the LEDs polarity, and solder connection.
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