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Old 02-09-08, 03:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Car 1: 1997 RL w/ Navi
Smile DIY: 96-04 Acura RL instrument gauge cluster LED bulbs

I would share the instrument gauge cluster LED bulb conversion on 1st-gen RL. I bought the following “T6.5 3-LED bulbs” from an eBayer ID, warden_jp2002. The seller is an eBay power seller who lives in Hong Kong. He is an expert on LED bulbs business and ships the bulbs so fast. The most of buyers can expect to receive bulbs in 2-5 business days.

Disclosure: I'm not related with the seller anyhow.

Anyway, I bought the 4 pairs of Spark blue and 2 pairs of Xenon white LED bulbs from him at $18 ($3 x 6 pairs) plus $6.80 (shipping). What a big deal? You just need 10 bulbs but I bought 2 more LEDs as extra. You may figure out where the blue and white LEDs go on the photos……

The seller is no longer listing these bulbs on eBay, but you may ask him to list them (I’m sure that he is the cheapest and fastest in the world) or search on google to find the same LED bulbs. These are wide angle wedge based 3-power LED bulbs (Cross reference: #37 (6 mm) or T6.5) for using in instrument panel and gauges working at 12V. (#74 blubs (5 mm) are not right size on our RL, and single LED bulbs are not bright at all. They are not wide resulting to dim areas. I learned it from a trial and error)

FYI: Don’t buy the wire-lead wedge type LED bulbs (These LED bulbs that I bought are not). They are easy to be non-functional when you push them into the wedge base because the wire-lead between the resistor and LED is apt to be broken causing 99% of LED bulb problems. The LED itself has 180,000 hours of lifetime. The most of LED bulbs working on 12V directly have a built-in resistor which has 470 ohms. LED itself is only working at 3.2-3.6V, thus, it requires a resistor to drop the operating voltages and work properly at 12V by ohm’s law. But these bulbs doesn’t have resistors since those 3 LEDs are connected in a series resulting to drop the operating voltages on each LED to 1/3 by ohm’s law to work at 12 volts directly.

If you have those LED bulbs in handy, you can start following……….


96-04 Acura RL instrument gauge cluster removal procedure

It involves the removal of shift selector console, audio unit and climate control console, and instrument panel to remove the gauge cluster. You may need to refer the repair manual for better understanding.

1. Unscrew the shift knob.
2. Pop off the black gear select cover. There are four clips to pop off.
3. Pop off the wood console panel and pull it out to access the two bolts at the bottom (96-04). There also are four clips to pop off.
4-1. Remove the center air vent (96-98 only). There are eight clips totally. Four are up and the other four are down of the center air vent. Insert a flat-head screw driver under the center air vent to pry the clips up and pull it then insert the screw driver upper the center air vent to pry the clips down and pull it gently.
4-2. Remove the two bolts on top of the center console, then, carefully pull the climate control and audio unit assembly out. You don’t need to pull it out completely (96-98 only).
4-3. Remove the center console lower carpets from each side (99-04 only). You can see a screw bolt each side. Unscrew them and then, carefully pull the climate control and audio unit assembly out. You don’t need to pull it out completely.

Now you can start to remove the instrument panel.

5. Remove the two screws located at the upside of the instrument panel.
6. Detach the four clips by gently pull the right and the bottom of the instrument panel.
7. Pull the instrument panel form the right side and top down. Use a flat-head screw driver to push the two clips from the left side air vent and pull the instrument panel.
8. Remove a connector for select and reset switch.
9. Remove 4 screws holding the gauge cluster.
10. Pull the gauge cluster and disconnect the two connectors on top back side of it.

Now the gauge cluster is out and you need to remove the back panel of it to access the 10 bulbs.

11. Remove three screws and pull the white plastic face back plate. DO NOT try to remove the front plate of the gauge cluster and DON’T touch any needle of the cluster. Otherwise, you will need a new gauge cluster.
12. Remove totally 20 screws from the back panel. There are two types of screws (6 and 14 screws). The description of the screws is shown on the board but you’d better draw a diagram so that you don’t forget which one goes where.
13. Remove the board by pulling and swinging it.
14. Remove the 10 filament bulbs and replace with the amazing LED bulbs. LED bulbs have a polarity so you have to place them in right direction. You need to figure out which side is positive on the board. You’d better check which side is positive on each LED bulb by a 12V source even though the polarity is written on the LED bulbs. Manufacturers used to label the polarity wrong on the bulbs. It happened on me, and 4 out of 12 LED bulbs had the wrong polarity indication.
15. Installation of all things is reverse. (Caution: DO NOT push or over-tighten those 20 screws on the back side of the gauge cluster board when you unscrew or re-screw them. The plastic board is easy to be marred.) (Caution: You must be very gentle to unscrew and tighten screws on the back panel of the instrument cluster. Otherwise you will mess up the whole cluster. And also there are two types of screws so you must memorize which one goes where.)

Please correct me if I’m wrong.


Here's some photos of the 3-LED bulbs installed on my RL.


[T6.5 3 LED Bulb Dimension]


[Spark Blue]


[Xenon White]


[Night shot photo of my 97 RL Instrument cluster]


[Nightshot-Tacometer]


[Nightshot-Speedometer]


[Nightshot-Fuel and Temp gauge]


[Day shot of instrument cluster]


[Day shot of interior]


97_RLer

Last edited by 97_RLer; 02-12-08 at 01:48 AM.
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Old 02-09-08, 03:36 AM   #2
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Car 1: 1997 RL w/ Navi
Sources to find the LED bulbs

I searched the internet for about half an hour. The cross reference for RL’s gauge cluster bulb is #37 which is 6 mm bulb. As I told you #74 (5 mm) is smaller than OEM bulbs. Anyway, you can search on the internet, “T6.5 3-LED bulb”, then, you can find the same bulbs that I bought. Google will show you a number of Chinese websites. I don’t know you can directly place an order at there or not.

Anyway, the best way to get the LED bulbs that I would recommend is email to eBay ID, warden_jp2002. I’m sure that he is the cheapest and fastest in the world.

Another choice is……….
http://cgi.ebay.com/PAIR-12v-T6-5-WEDGE-3-CHIP-LED-GLOBE-REPLACEMENT_W0QQitemZ290171545543QQihZ019QQcategor yZ102560QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQ_trksidZp1638.m11 8.l1247QQcmdZViewItem
I found the seller on eBay (ID: brightlightautoparts) who are in Australia. The seller are selling the same LED bulbs and a pair of the LED bulbs at AU $8.50 plus AU $15.00 shipping to USA. So expensive!!!……..

Another choice is ………
http://cgi.ebay.com/T5-37-Wedge-12V-LED-Bulb-Camry-03-06-Shifter-Light-Blue_W0QQitemZ160206477102QQihZ006QQcategoryZ10428 QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
The eBay seller (ID: p0o0ohbear) is also from Australia. The LED bulbs are not the same type but are also 3-LED wide angle bulbs. They are selling at AU $3.95 as a pair plus AU $6.00 shipping to USA. Each additional shipping fee is AU $1.00.

Good luck to find good LED bulbs at cheap price……….

97_RLer

Last edited by 97_RLer; 02-09-08 at 03:48 AM.
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Old 04-08-08, 11:42 AM   #3
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Here is a good news!
Finally the eBay seller, warden_jp2002, lists the same bulbs on eBay at the cheapest price. The title is "2pcs 24 T6.5 Instrument Panel 3 LED Bulbs".
Here is the link.
eBay Motors: 2pcs 24 T6.5 Instrument Panel 3 LED Bulbs(Blue/White) (item 190212426319 end time Apr-12-08 03:17:18 PDT)
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Old 04-14-08, 12:27 AM   #4
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Car 1: 1996 Acura RL
Car 2: 2004 Honda Odyssey
Car 3: 2007 Lexus SC430
Alright finally!! A DYI for replacement gauge lights!!!
STCIKY PLEASE!!

going to try this out over the next weekend, thanks 97_RLer!!

BTW: Blue looks pretty sick, but I think I'll be going for red myself.
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Old 04-27-08, 11:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97_RLer View Post
I searched the internet for about half an hour. The cross reference for RL’s gauge cluster bulb is #37 which is 6 mm bulb. As I told you #74 (5 mm) is smaller than OEM bulbs. Anyway, you can search on the internet, “T6.5 3-LED bulb”, then, you can find the same bulbs that I bought. Google will show you a number of Chinese websites. I don’t know you can directly place an order at there or not.

Anyway, the best way to get the LED bulbs that I would recommend is email to eBay ID, warden_jp2002. I’m sure that he is the cheapest and fastest in the world.

Another choice is……….
PAIR 12v T6.5 WEDGE 3 CHIP LED GLOBE REPLACEMENT - eBay (item 290171545543 end time May-13-08 13:36:33 PDT)
I found the seller on eBay (ID: brightlightautoparts) who are in Australia. The seller are selling the same LED bulbs and a pair of the LED bulbs at AU $8.50 plus AU $15.00 shipping to USA. So expensive!!!……..

Another choice is ………
2x T5 LED Dash kit Lexus IS200 Suzuki Baleno Swift Blue - eBay (item 160206477102 end time Feb-17-08 03:12:15 PST)
The eBay seller (ID: p0o0ohbear) is also from Australia. The LED bulbs are not the same type but are also 3-LED wide angle bulbs. They are selling at AU $3.95 as a pair plus AU $6.00 shipping to USA. Each additional shipping fee is AU $1.00.

Good luck to find good LED bulbs at cheap price……….

97_RLer
Dear 97_RLer;
Thanks for your information~
I do follow your information and purchased these LED bulbs.
As you can see, the red line of engine RPM and the water temp were gone, so, it seems I better to use white LED bulbs? or original traditional bulbs?
Also, I used the "3rd"set of screws( must be the screws for gas level cluster) on speed cluster., but, I found this error few seconds later and correct this error, however, unfortunately, my speed cluster is done now!
I'm not sure if I install screws too tight? or I really crashed speed cluster.
Anyhow, I really like this 04" style ~~ many many thanks~
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Old 04-28-08, 04:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waterpolo820 View Post
Alright finally!! A DYI for replacement gauge lights!!!
STCIKY PLEASE!!

going to try this out over the next weekend, thanks 97_RLer!!

BTW: Blue looks pretty sick, but I think I'll be going for red myself.
Thank you for your compliment!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SJSU95132 View Post
Dear 97_RLer;
Thanks for your information~
I do follow your information and purchased these LED bulbs.
As you can see, the red line of engine RPM and the water temp were gone, so, it seems I better to use white LED bulbs? or original traditional bulbs?
Also, I used the "3rd"set of screws( must be the screws for gas level cluster) on speed cluster., but, I found this error few seconds later and correct this error, however, unfortunately, my speed cluster is done now!
I'm not sure if I install screws too tight? or I really crashed speed cluster.
Anyhow, I really like this 04" style ~~ many many thanks~
Thanks man! Do you really care about the tiny red lines? Just forget it and enjoy~~~~~~~~ Anyway, The white LED can illuminate all area as I mentioned before.

As for your speedometer, the screws are not just screws but they are electrodes as well. You have to use the original screws or at least the same length, diameter, and thread to replace. Otherwise, the speedometer will not work. Just in case, you can't use teflon tape wrapping the screw to make tight on board since the teflon tape block the current flow through the screw causing non-fuctioning gauges.

Last edited by 97_RLer; 04-28-08 at 04:08 AM.
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Old 05-01-08, 03:21 PM   #7
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Car 1: 97 RL 3.5
Why remove center console to change dash lights?

Thanks for this great info, 97_RLer. I have ordered my bulbs and plan to follow suit. Only, I don't understand why this part is necessary:

Quote:
96-04 Acura RL instrument gauge cluster removal procedure

It involves the removal of shift selector console, audio unit and climate control console, and instrument panel to remove the gauge cluster. You may need to refer the repair manual for better understanding.

1. Unscrew the shift knob.
2. Pop off the black gear select cover. There are four clips to pop off.
3. Pop off the wood console panel and pull it out to access the two bolts at the bottom (96-04). There also are four clips to pop off.
4-1. Remove the center air vent (96-98 only). There are eight clips totally. Four are up and the other four are down of the center air vent. Insert a flat-head screw driver under the center air vent to pry the clips up and pull it then insert the screw driver upper the center air vent to pry the clips down and pull it gently.
4-2. Remove the two bolts on top of the center console, then, carefully pull the climate control and audio unit assembly out. You don’t need to pull it out completely (96-98 only).
Please explain why the center console, climate control and audio unit need to be pulled out to change the dashboard instrument cluster bulbs.
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Old 05-01-08, 07:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziljon View Post
Thanks for this great info, 97_RLer. I have ordered my bulbs and plan to follow suit. Only, I don't understand why this part is necessary:



Please explain why the center console, climate control and audio unit need to be pulled out to change the dashboard instrument cluster bulbs.



That is the only way to get to the gauge cluster, I know it is stupid, but you got to do what you got to do.
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Old 05-01-08, 09:45 PM   #9
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I still don't understand. Can someone describe the screw which can only be reached by removing the center console?

In the 15 point list which 91 RLer posted I can not find it.
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Old 05-01-08, 09:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziljon View Post
Thanks for this great info, 97_RLer. I have ordered my bulbs and plan to follow suit. Only, I don't understand why this part is necessary:



Please explain why the center console, climate control and audio unit need to be pulled out to change the dashboard instrument cluster bulbs.
What can I answer you? Cause it is necessary...... Someone also asked me why do I need take front bumper cover off to pull a headlight out? The answer was that you never ever can pull the headlight out before the front bumper cover is removed.

You will see once you disassemble your instrument panel.
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Old 05-07-08, 07:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ziljon View Post
I still don't understand. Can someone describe the screw which can only be reached by removing the center console?

In the 15 point list which 91 RLer posted I can not find it.
There is no screw. The Radio panel sits on top of the gauge cluster bezel.

The console sits on top of the radio panel.

It is just how things in cars work. Sometimes you have to do things in a certain order.

Last edited by DOHCrazy; 05-07-08 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 05-07-08, 10:12 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by DOHCrazy View Post


There is no screw. The Radio panel sits on top of the gauge cluster bezel.

The console sits on top of the radio panel.

It is just how things in cars work. Sometimes you have to do things in a certain order.
Thanks, DOH.

I just got my lights yesterday so this weekend I may try it. I must say, I am very nervous.
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Old 05-10-08, 10:52 PM   #13
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Some more clarification, please.

So today I pulled out the shift cover and the wood inlay but I was too chicken to pull out the center console air filter. I was able to get the small falt head screw driver in, but I wasn't sure where I should be applying pressure so I took a picture and thought I'd ask.

Where do I insert the screw driver first? How much pressure is needed? It seems tight all around. Thanks.

Last edited by Ziljon; 05-10-08 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 05-11-08, 01:12 AM   #14
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So today I pulled out the shift cover and the wood inlay but I was too chicken to pull out the center console air filter. I was able to get the small falt head screw driver in, but I wasn't sure where I should be applying pressure so I took a picture and thought I'd ask.

Where do I insert the screw driver first? How much pressure is needed? It seems tight all around. Thanks.
Dear Ziljon;
It's point H and F~
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Old 05-11-08, 04:56 PM   #15
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More help, please.

I have the air filter out and there are four possible bolts to remove on top of the center console. Two are nickel, philips head, and two are brass bolts, almost impossible to come at. I already took out the nickel ones but was unable to budge the center console--but maybe there are more clips involved?

Below is a wide shot and then a close up (I put the nickel bolts back in for the photo). There's a felt covered bar blocking the brass bolt but you can see it in the second pic. Please tell me which bolts I should remove, the nickel, philips-head (pointing down) or the brass bolts which point toward the front of the car. Thanks.
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