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Brighter Dash Lights

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by beefcake83, Aug 31, 2000.

  1. beefcake83

    beefcake83 1/2 ton status

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    Has anyone come up with a way to brighten up the dash gauges more? And I don't mean by using the dimmer function of the headlight switch either. - Gary

    Gary Graham
    '83 GMC Jimmy 350 'Beefcake'
    Eielson AFB, Alaska
    Metallica & Mountain Dew
     
  2. Espen88k5

    Espen88k5 1/2 ton status

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    There are two part# for these dashlights at the GM-$hopp. Get the brighter ones. They are better than the original.
    Also take of the ground strap from the back off your engine to the firewall. Clean that one upp and you'l notice a diffrence.


    http://www.espen88k5.coloradok5.com
     
  3. BigBadBowTie

    BigBadBowTie 1/2 ton status

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    Another old trick is to remove the cluster, & spray paint the green housing a bright silver, maybe the worthless chrome paint has a use. This tip was in a Four-Wheeler issue, for taillights. I took mine apart & noted they were already silver. No reason why you can't do it the the instrument cluster. Silver refelcts light better than green!

    <font color=purple>Rick
    86 K-5</font color=purple>

    http://www.BigBadBowTie.ColoradoK5.com
     
  4. Eagle86K5

    Eagle86K5 1/2 ton status

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    In a word...Halogen...

    There are halogen bulbs available for the dash lights as replacements...and they come in colors....red and blue as well as white.
     
  5. MudRebel350

    MudRebel350 1/2 ton status

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    How involved is it to change the dash lite? cause i cant see my battery, oil pressure, or temp gauge and about half of my speedometer at nite. Its kinda annoying to me.

    JD
    88 Gmc Jimmy
     
  6. hpfire7227

    hpfire7227 Registered Member

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    There are several little bulbs (like a small version of 1157 bulbs) that plug into the back of the instrument panel. They use those twist and pull type rubber dealies. The last time I had to change dashlights in a Chevy like that was in my 74 GMC pick-up and I could just reach up behind the dash and pluck them out, rather than take the whole thing apart. You'll know the bulbs when you feel them (you won't be able to see to well). Just twist the rubber dealies to the left and pull and the whole light socket for the little bulb will come out. Somebody else can probably do a better job of explaining this than I just did.

    10 BOLTS O' FUN
     
  7. Eagle86K5

    Eagle86K5 1/2 ton status

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    Remove the bezel from the front of the dash. Behind it you will find a clear plastic cover, remove that. Behind that you will see the black of the guages, remove them and all your bulbs will be right in front of you. Or you can play contortionist and try it from the back.
    I replaced all mine with the halogens, not cheap, and now I run with the dimmer at about half due to the increased brightness. I wish I had gone for the red had I known. Good luck...hollar if you need help.
     
  8. Blue85

    Blue85 Troll Premium Member

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    If the light is uneven across your gauges, then it is not a matter of the bulbs being bright enough, it is a problem of some of the bulbs not functioning.

    Your instrument cluster is a big piece of plastic with all of the gauges mounted in it. On the back lies a big flexible sheet of plastic with copper circuits printed on it. There are holes in the cluster for little sockets to twist into. Each socket holds one bulb and has little ears on it that make contact with the copper on the sheet (membrane). While they work fine from the factory, after a while the little ears begin to relax or the copper gets some corrosion on it and then some of the bulbs stop working. Usually you'll get one or two that will work intermittently. The best bulbs in the world won't light your dash if the sockets aren't making contact with the membrane. I have driven a few chevy trucks and all of them had adequate illumination when all of the bulbs were on. The only ones I have ever seen that had difficult to read gauge clusters at night had bulbs that were not working, evidenced by the uneveness of the illumination.

    The minimal thing to do is to take each bulb out one at a time and test it to make sure it works. You can use an ohmeter (any reading means good, infinte ohms means bad) or connect the bulb to some 12V source. Then when you know that the bulb is good, bend the little copper ears on the socket up a little bit before you press it back into the back of the cluster. This will cause it to make better contact so that it will light up. After a while, it will probably stop working again, though.

    The maximum fix, like I did to my truck, ensures that no backlighting bulb can lose contact. Before I did this, the right half of my speedometer would work for a couple days and then not work for a couple days. Same with the voltmeter. The bulbs were turning on and off. Now, two years later, none of them have stopped working once yet. My fix was to take the cluster out and solder wire to the back of the ears on each light socket. The socket needs to be removed during soldering to avoid melting the membrane. All of the + are hooked together and All of the - are hooked together with wire. There is enough slack in the wire that each socket can still be twisted and removed to replace the bulb.

    To get to the bulbs, it is easy to pull the cluster forward and remove them from the back. This is much easier than taking the cluster apart and removing the gauges as described above. The key is to reach up from under the dash and disconnect the speedometer cable. There is tab on it that you press and it just slides right out. With the speedo cable attached, you will never get the cluster forward far enough to twist the bulbs out.

    '85 JIMMY
    '90 paint/grill/trim 5"susp 33/12.5/16.5
    Fresh 350 B&M '87 TH700
     
  9. Eric78K5

    Eric78K5 1/2 ton status

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    Eagle86K5
    Hey guy! I like your idea about the halogens! Can you tell me the where's and part numbers? Thanks!

    Eric78K5
    K5-Because Size Matters!
     
  10. MudRebel350

    MudRebel350 1/2 ton status

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    I figured at least one of the bulbs where out, it was obvious when i couldnt see the volts oil pressure or temp gauge. HAHAHA

    JD
    88 Gmc Jimmy
     

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