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15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, I would like to give credit to 97RLer and DOHCrazy for posting steps that I followed; I added more detail of my own, plus bulb numbers and photos.

1. Unscrew the shift knob. [at first, it didn’t seem like it was coming off, but after about a dozen rotations, it was off]

2. Remove the black bezel around the shifter by pulling up. [I was able to use my fingernails around the outside of the bezel to lift it up]

3. Disconnect the shift indicator light (twist) and the two seat heater switches (there is a tab on the bottom of the connector that you press to disconnect it from the seat heater switches; this might be unfamiliar if you are new to working on Honda cars).

4. From the ashtray, pull straight up on the wood grain panel. It's a bit easier if you move the shift knob into neutral. Once the back two clips release, pull up on the wood in front of the shifter to release the front clips. Set the wood panel aside.

5. There are four 10mm bolts holding the the bottom of the radio/climate unit in. Two are behind the triangle carpeted pieces on the side of the dash/console, and two are behind the ashtray (underneath the audio/climate control unit). To remove the triangle carpeted pieces, pry out from the top of the piece to release the clips.

6. Unbolt the 10mm bolts, and wiggle the bottom of the radio/climate unit out a couple of inches.

7. Once it is out a couple of inches (I started out trying to use a plastic putty knife, but ended up using my fingertips), pry and pull down on the wood at the top of the unit, above the vents). There are four spring clips at the top that you are releasing. Just use firm force to pull the whole unit down and away from the dash.

8. On my 2001 RL, I did not have to remove the vents at the top of the climate control unit (the center section of the dash that contains the radio and the heater controls). You also do not have to remove the unit from the dash and unplug it; you just have to pull it away enough to get clearance for your fingers on the right side of the instrument cluster bezel. If you don't disconnect the radio connectors, then you don't have to have the radio security code to get the radio working when you're done.

9. Unscrew the two Phillips screws holding the top part of the gauge cluster black bezel to the underside of the dash. (these screws point straight up, toward the windshield)

10. From the right side, pry/pull the black cluster bezel away from the dash. Once the right side comes loose, then pull down the top and the last part that gets released from the clips is the left-hand side. It might sound like it's breaking, but it's just the clips releasing.

11. Disconnect the one green connector to the bezel for the select/reset buttons. Again, there's a small tab at the bottom of the connector (near the wires) that you press in while pulling the connector free.

12. Unscrew the 4 Phillips screw holding the gauge cluster in. There are two on each side.

13. Maneuver the cluster out of the dash. Disconnect the driver’s side green plug first, and then the second, wider green plug. It's easiest if the key is turned on a bit, so that the steering wheel drops down and extends forward.

14. Once out of the dash, move the cluster to a clean workspace so that you can keep track of screws. Unscrew three gold screws from the top of the back of the cluster.

15. There are three foam strips that you need to cut and peel back to find three of the clips that are holding the white cover on. Release about 6-7 clips and remove the white cover from the rest of the gauge cluster.

16. Unscrew the 20 silver screws (there are three different size/type screws, so pay attention because they need to go back exactly where they came out). I simply set them on the table in the V pattern I took them out. Again, make certain you know where each screw goes in order for the gauges to work when the cluster is reassembled.

17. Once the 20 screws are out, gently flip the board up and out of the cluster, being careful of the bulbs on the other side (you do not have to unplug the two grey connectors with yellow wires connected to them). Now you can see the sockets (in the cluster, not in the circuit card) for the bulbs we are changing.

18. Twist the green bulb socket holders out of the back of the cluster for each of the 10 bulbs. I replaced all 10 bulbs, just to be safe and so the backlight would all look uniform. All the rest of the bulbs were working fine, so I didn't bother replacing them. Wouldn't ya know it... the D4 bulb is out now that it's all back together... so think about that. It will probably take me 2 hours to replace it.

19. Installation of the new bulbs and cluster is the reverse of the removal.

A. You probably noticed that the silver screws in the back of the cluster are pretty snug, so you want to make sure that they are reinstalled the same way. It can be difficult to tell when they are seated, so a headlamp came in handy to make it easier to see. Once they are seated, it takes only a quarter of a turn to make sure they are snug.

B. In my case, the left side air vent stayed in the dash, so I had to pull it out and attach it to the instrument cluster black bezel before pressing the bezel back into the dash (otherwise, I could not see a way to attach the vent to the bezel)

C. Also check the holes in the dash for the clips for the bezel. A couple of the clips stayed in the dash on my car and I had to pull them out and snap them on the bezel before reinstalling the bezel.

D. When reinstalling the wood trim around the shift center, you may have to pull the wood trim horizontally, toward the back of the car, to get the clips to fit into the holes.

E. With the key in, you are draining power, so be careful not to drain the battery (especially if it is low to begin with). If it is light outside, you may not notice when you turn the key all the way to ON to move the shift knob, that the lights stay on until you open the door.

F. It took me about three hours, total, and that included replacing the back light bulb in one of the seat heater switches, the shift position (next to the shift knob), and the defroster switch, which I had to futz with for quite a while until I figured out what I needed to do to get to the bulb socket.

G. I printed the four pages from the PDF manual that came in handy: 20–49, 20–52, 23–85 and 23–76.

H. The number 37 was written on the bulb packages that I bought from the dealer. The bulbs and sockets come as an assembly, with a light blue tinted sheath over each bulb.

I have more pics, but can only include 5 with this post.


5 Posts
Great Post !! Helpful information to replace OEM instrument cluster bulbs. You clear the each and every step. I also need it. Now I got Solution. Thanks for sharing it

Pat from NH
23 Posts
Good write-up and pictures. I'm planning to install new bulbs also. Can you tell me how to upload photos? Tried to drag and drop and tried insert image; neither method works for me.
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