1987 Cutlass Salon floor shifter 85mph rallye gauge cluster removal and LED bulb replacement

Chenz62

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Jan 4, 2024
20
23
3
Long Island NY
Does anyone have a quality video of someone doing this? Youtube vids are crappy. Ive looked at a dozen plus already. Total number of bulbs needed? are all 168/194 equivalent? (sylvania LED 168/194 a good bulb?)
Is the speedo cable a problem?
Thanks in advance
 

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
8,270
17,814
113
I don't find it particulary hard. Once you remove the vents/plates on the center of the dash and the LH side around the light switch, you have access to all the little bolts to take the surround off.

Then, you should have little bolts you can access to remove the clear cover if you just want to get inside the unit. If removing the entire unit just to access bulbs, you can leave the cover on. You don't need to worry about it, but if you had a column shift with dash indicator, you'd have to remove the indicator clip on the bottom rotating column cover as well. This would require the ball-sack vent under the steering column to be removed to access it.

Don't yank it out, but you should be able to carefully pull the cluster out far enough to reach behind the cluster and there's a spring clip on the speedo cable connection that needs pressing in at the tab. IIRC, it's a tab facing UP so it should be able to be reached from the top rear of the cluster. The cable should slide right off. If it's not long enough to be able to get your hand back there, you can look around near the brake booster area and see if the cable still is held on by a bracket. If so, remove the bracket so you can get more slack with the cable. There's a lot of crap in the way to try and reach it from underneath the dash. Never tried but it looked pretty mucked up in there.

Once the cable is off, you still can't just yank the cluster off. There's a VSS wiring harness that's got a small bolt holding the VSS sensor to the back of the speedometer. This thing is important because it's how the computer "sees" your MPH. Remove bolt and the VSS sensor should be off. Don't forget to put this back on during installation or you'll get a check engine light due to no/low VSS.

There's at least a dozen bulbs in one form or another back there as well, IIRC. I think, but not 100% sure, there's 6 or so lighting lamps. Others are indicator lamps for whatever it is they're indicatiing, like high beams, warning lights, etc.
 
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69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
8,270
17,814
113
I just looked around for some videos of this. I don't know about QUALITY video, but this guy does an OK job. Looks like he covered nearly everything I talked about above except showing you how to get the VSS sensor bolt off the speedo, which it just unscrews. Don't lose that tiny bolt, though. Doesn't matter if it's standard or Rally Pack gages. It's the same procedure. Reinstallation is just the reverse.

 
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Chenz62

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Jan 4, 2024
20
23
3
Long Island NY
Your help is truly appreciated! Thank you for this Excellent Detailed Answer and video link. You know your stuff, Sir!!
 
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Chenz62

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Jan 4, 2024
20
23
3
Long Island NY
I just looked around for some videos of this. I don't know about QUALITY video, but this guy does an OK job. Looks like he covered nearly everything I talked about above except showing you how to get the VSS sensor bolt off the speedo, which it just unscrews. Don't lose that tiny bolt, though. Doesn't matter if it's standard or Rally Pack gages. It's the same procedure. Reinstallation is just the reverse.


I don't find it particulary hard. Once you remove the vents/plates on the center of the dash and the LH side around the light switch, you have access to all the little bolts to take the surround off.

Then, you should have little bolts you can access to remove the clear cover if you just want to get inside the unit. If removing the entire unit just to access bulbs, you can leave the cover on. You don't need to worry about it, but if you had a column shift with dash indicator, you'd have to remove the indicator clip on the bottom rotating column cover as well. This would require the ball-sack vent under the steering column to be removed to access it.

Don't yank it out, but you should be able to carefully pull the cluster out far enough to reach behind the cluster and there's a spring clip on the speedo cable connection that needs pressing in at the tab. IIRC, it's a tab facing UP so it should be able to be reached from the top rear of the cluster. The cable should slide right off. If it's not long enough to be able to get your hand back there, you can look around near the brake booster area and see if the cable still is held on by a bracket. If so, remove the bracket so you can get more slack with the cable. There's a lot of crap in the way to try and reach it from underneath the dash. Never tried but it looked pretty mucked up in there.

Once the cable is off, you still can't just yank the cluster off. There's a VSS wiring harness that's got a small bolt holding the VSS sensor to the back of the speedometer. This thing is important because it's how the computer "sees" your MPH. Remove bolt and the VSS sensor should be off. Don't forget to put this back on during installation or you'll get a check engine light due to no/low VSS.

There's at least a dozen bulbs in one form or another back there as well, IIRC. I think, but not 100% sure, there's 6 or so lighting lamps. Others are indicator lamps for whatever it is they're indicatiing, like high beams, warning lights, etc.
cable refuses. wires in a clip refuse
 

Chenz62

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Jan 4, 2024
20
23
3
Long Island NY
I don't find it particulary hard. Once you remove the vents/plates on the center of the dash and the LH side around the light switch, you have access to all the little bolts to take the surround off.

Then, you should have little bolts you can access to remove the clear cover if you just want to get inside the unit. If removing the entire unit just to access bulbs, you can leave the cover on. You don't need to worry about it, but if you had a column shift with dash indicator, you'd have to remove the indicator clip on the bottom rotating column cover as well. This would require the ball-sack vent under the steering column to be removed to access it.

Don't yank it out, but you should be able to carefully pull the cluster out far enough to reach behind the cluster and there's a spring clip on the speedo cable connection that needs pressing in at the tab. IIRC, it's a tab facing UP so it should be able to be reached from the top rear of the cluster. The cable should slide right off. If it's not long enough to be able to get your hand back there, you can look around near the brake booster area and see if the cable still is held on by a bracket. If so, remove the bracket so you can get more slack with the cable. There's a lot of crap in the way to try and reach it from underneath the dash. Never tried but it looked pretty mucked up in there.

Once the cable is off, you still can't just yank the cluster off. There's a VSS wiring harness that's got a small bolt holding the VSS sensor to the back of the speedometer. This thing is important because it's how the computer "sees" your MPH. Remove bolt and the VSS sensor should be off. Don't forget to put this back on during installation or you'll get a check engine light due to no/low VSS.

There's at least a dozen bulbs in one form or another back there as well, IIRC. I think, but not 100% sure, there's 6 or so lighting lamps. Others are indicator lamps for whatever it is they're indicatiing, like high beams, warning lights, etc.
was a b’tch but its out!! should i change every single bulb to led?
 

popeye1978

Greasemonkey
Jul 4, 2014
236
211
43
was a b’tch but its out!! should i change every single bulb to led?

A [194 LED] is brighter than a [194 Incandescent] so I'd avoid throwing a White LED bulb into every socket -- the red idiot lights will look pink and the amber will look white with a slight tinge of yellow -- so get an ample amount of Red & Yellow LEDs as well ... in the end, you won't have to fiddle with these lights again in your lifetime.

When doing this project myself years ago I found it beneficial to have a "test socket" that I put in a circuit with a spare battery -- a bulb only went into the cluster if it had lit-up on the Test Socket, it made troubleshooting easier when I did a bench-check of the cluster before it went back into the car and there were problems.
 
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Ribbedroof

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jan 4, 2009
4,943
7,101
113
Wellston, OK
I do mine on the bench because the LEDs are polarity sensitive. Would suck to replace them and button everything up only to discover some were "backwards"
 
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