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How to Colour code switches, instruments with LED bulbs

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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 03:13   #1
Laird Scooby
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Default How to Colour code switches, instruments with LED bulbs

Hi All,

after a request in another thread, here's a selection of photos and words about colour coding your instruments and switches using LED bulbs.

Firstly, a little about LEDs for those of you that don't know and for those of you that do, please bear with me!

A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is an electronic component developed from the humble diode which in simple terms is a one way valve for electricity. I can guarantee that almost everyone that owns a piece of electronic equipment of some description has at least diodes in most of those bits of kit and quite probably LEDs in some of it too.
So if it's a one way valve, that means it will only allow current to flow in one direction. That means that LEDs only work one way round and you have to install them the right way else they won't work. At the kind of voltages present in a cars electrical system, this won't cause any damage but can be annoying if you've put all the screws back only to find some of them are the wrong way round!

Anyway, now let the fun begin!

Things you will need :

Small Flat-bladed Screwdriver
#2 Pozi-Driv Screwdriver
T10 LEDs

Other colours are available, i linked to green ones simply because that is the colour i'm fitting at the moment. You could change them as often as you like i suppose, maybe have a different colour for each season - red for summer, blue for winter, green for spring and yellow for autumn.
I also bought flat top T5 LEDs for the simple reason i had difficulty getting the dome topped LED to fit in the auto selector due to it being 2-3mm longer - if you have a manual car this won't effect you.

Using a small, flat bladed screwdriver, pop out the covers each end of the instrument cluster :

to reveal the screws that secure it :

Now ease the cluster out. I find it easier to put the wiper and indicator stalks down a notch to make more room. As it comes out, twist it towards the windscreen so you can get at the multiplugs on the back to remove them :

Don't worry about what goes where as they can only go on in the right place. The only one you need to pay attention to is the red/white wire that connects the rev counter. This is the only single wire connection. Once you've got it all disconnected and sat on top of the dash, you can see the 4 main bulb holders that hold the illumination bulbs. These are the ones you are going to replace with the T10 type LED bulbs (the larger of the 2). Remove the 4 holders and then pull the bulbs out. Now fit the LEDs to the holders and replace the holders in the cluster.
Once they are back in, reconnect the multiplugs to the back of the cluster and get it roughly in position. Switch the ignition on the bring the lighting on in the cluster. Make sure the dimmer isn't turned down else you won't get anything but hopefully you should have a nice even spread of light in your chosen colour. If you have any dark spots, first of all try rotating the bulb holders back and forth in their holes - sometimes they don't find their perfect connection until you do. If you still don't get any joy, remove the bulbholder and rotate half a turn before refitting. This should now see the LED working. Very occasionally, the wire legs that wrap round the plastic base of the LED bulb are a little too straight on the base. Splaying them outwards usually helps them get a good connection.

Before refitting the cluster completely, push the lighting switch escutcheon towards the steering wheel and pull the outboard end to release the spring clip then pull it to disengage the tongue on the steering wheel end :

You can now get at the bulb holder -

Pull it out, remove the bulb and fit the T5 LED :

then switch the ignition on to test it. Remove and turn half a turn and refit if it doesn't light up then refit the holder.

Now moving onto the other side, pull the end of the trim round the heater controls with one hand and slide the flat screwdriver in round the edge to release the clips :

Once it's loose, pull it away from the steering wheel to disengage the tongue and then pull out to get at the bulbholders for the switches :

Once again, pull the holders out, replace the bulb with the T5 LEDs and refit, testing before moving on by switching the ignition on.

Now remove the 4 screws holding the heater controls in place :

Now, reach behind the top of the fan switch, and pull the holder out towards the passenger side :

Now do the remove bulb, replace with LED etc and test before continuing.

If all is well, replace the screws on the heater controls then refit by first engaging the tongue in the dash at the steering wheel end and push the trim back until it clicks into place. Do similar with the lighting switch trim and then refit the cluster complete with screws. If you want to be sure, switch the igntion on to check the cluster bulbs and the others before refitting the little bits of trim that were the first things to be removed.

The cig lighter/ashtray bulb is reached by first removing the ashtray, then popping out the electrical cover and then pulling the trim off round the cig lighter to reveal 2 screws (one's at a funny angle) that secure the cig lighter and cubby hole :

Remove the 2 screws then pull it out, disengaging the tongues on the drivers side as it comes out. Turn it over to reveal the bulbholder :

You should be ahead of me by now - pull the holder, change the bulb for the LED, test etc.

If you have either heated seats with the switches mounted in the centre console or an automatic, keep reading. If not, refit the cubby hole/cig lighter, electrical cover and ashtray and go and have a cup of tea or similar until it's dark so you can admire it properly!

As you're still with me here, i'm guessing you have either auto transmission or heated seat switches in the centre console.
Using the flat screwdriver, ease the clip off the holds the console trim to the frame :

Now pop out the small piece of trim under the handbrake (literally just clips in, get your finger under it and lift) and then remove the 2 screws just in front of it to release the centre console trim. Push the trim forward to disengage the tongues that hold it under the lidded cubby in the back end of the console. There should be enough slack on the wiring to turn the trim over to reveal the bulbholder for the heated seat switches :

You know what to do by now, change the bulb for the LED and test!

If yours is auto, while the console trim is out of the way, remove the 2 screws the hold the front and back end of the selector quadrant :

Manouevre it out carefully and turn it over to get at the bulbholder :

Once you've changed the bulb for an LED, "Haynes it". In other words, refit in reverse order of removal. Be careful to locate the groove in the selector quadrant with the finger on the gear lever so that when you move the lever, the quadrant moves as well.
Refit the console trim and the clip, screws etc, do a final test and you're done!

All except the seat belt buckle lights that is! I've not done mine yet, mainly because i generally don't need to look to find the buckles. One of mine has a working bulb at present but when that dies i suppose i'll do both of them! Apparently the holders just slide downwards out of the buckle then it's a case of changing the bulb for an LED, testing and refitting. They look awkward to get at though, another reason i've not done mine yet!

Please feel free to add some pics if you do yours, be interesting to see how they're done!

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Last edited by cumbrianmale; Apr 8th, 2013 at 12:56. Reason: link back
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