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dash light bulb replace, or fuse? Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   Rebel1836 

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:35 AM

On my '99 bird the dash lights on just the right side of the speedometer are out. I can still read it just fine, but only the left side of the speedometer lights up properly. All the other lights on all my other dashboard gauges light up properly.

Question: Before I pry it open to look myself and check the fuses/bulbs... I was wondering if anyone familiar with the fuse layout for the dashboard lights could tell me if the bulbs that light up both sides of the speedometer run off the same fuse...?
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#2 User is offline   1993TransAm 

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:50 PM

I am going to begin with an assumption. That assumption is that your car's instrument cluster uses incandescent bulbs for backlighting, as opposed to LEDs. The problem you are having is not caused by a fuse. If you had a blown fuse, your instrument cluster would not work at all (in addition to other things, depending what else is on that circuit). If your cluster contains bulbs, they are replaceable. The bulbs *should* be # PC161 and have a black base. The bulbs insert into the cluster circuit board and twist in about 1/8 of a turn. It is also unlikely that the bulbs have burned out. The more likely cause is that the solder on the circuit board has developed a dimple underneath one or both of the bulb terminals from current arcing and heat. You may remove and inspect your cluster to find that the bulbs are not burned out. If this is so, you can clean the solder point and attempt to adjust the bulb. I have had success doing this. If the bulbs are in fact burned out, replacements are available for purchase. Here's a hint: If the bulbs are PC161s, they are used in numerous GM instrument clusters.
"Simon, you finally moved on from those punk-a** V6s and turbo 4-cylinder cars." -- Mike R.
THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT FOR DISPLACEMENT.
1993 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am..."Abygail"...Black...5.7L LT1 OHV V8...4L60
U1A CD player, '02 Firebird Monsoon Amplifier (12 speakers!), HUD, '91 Grand Prix UK3/NP5 steering wheel, SiriusXM, etc.
1992 Pontiac Richard Petty Special Edition Grand Prix SE..."Robbyn"...Neon Blue Metallic...3.4L LQ1 DOHC V6...4T60E
UB3 digital cluster, UP3 CD player, 10-disc changer, DIC, HUD, AQ9s, SGS switch, Firebird Monsoon amplifier (10 speakers!), etc.
1995 Pontiac Grand Am SE..."Missy"...Bright Aqua Metallic...3.1L L82 OHV V6...4T60E
Pontiac Firebird UW2 amplifier, sail panel tweeters (8 speakers), UP3 CD player, GT tail lights, GT exhaust, etc.
1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo..."Norma"...Light Driftwood Metallic...3.8L L27 OHV V6...4T60E
Delco cassette player, Remote CD player, Olds Alero UQ3 amplifier coming???
1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme SL..."Stormi"...Bright Red...3.1L LH0 OHV V6...4T60
UB3 digital cluster, UQ3 amplifier, Audio Bass Control slider, U1C CD player, Driver Information System, leather AQ9s, etc.

1992 Buick Riviera..."Josephine"...Sapphire Blue Firemist...3.8L L27 OHV V6...4T60E
Delco cassette player, Remote CD player, Buick Century Monsoon amplifier coming???

1988 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz..."Emma"...White...4.5L LR6 OHV V8...440-T4
Delco/Bose Gold Series CD player!!!!! N-Body Monsoon configuration in the works...gonna bang!
1993 Chevrolet Lumina Z34..."Summer"...Medium Maui Blue Metallic...3.4L LQ1 DOHC V6...4T60E
Not pictured - Delco CD player, Chevy Camaro Monsoon amp coming???

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#3 User is offline   Boyer 

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 07:27 PM

And you might be lucky enough to use a 194 bulb and the base that autozone sells. You can't pull the bulb out of the socket, or at least i couldn't!

Base looks like this..

Attached File  !!.jpeg (4.04K)
Number of downloads: 5

If i remember correctly, my speedo and tach used this type of bulbs, the other ones (SES, check gauges, ext...) used a 74 bulb, small little thing with a blue ball (??) in the filament.

This post has been edited by Boyer: 14 July 2010 - 07:35 PM

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#4 User is offline   Rebel1836 

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 06:35 PM

Thanks for the info guys, I kind of assumed it was unlikely to be a fuse issue with the other lights working.
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#5 User is offline   chyzdad 

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 06:45 PM

I have a similar issue. My lights is out in the lower left hand side of my cluster. I have a 98 Firebird. I am assuming it is actually the bulb though.:crossfingers22:

This post has been edited by chyzdad: 16 July 2010 - 06:45 PM

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#6 User is offline   Rebel1836 

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 06:35 PM

View Post1993TransAm, on 14 July 2010 - 06:50 PM, said:

The more likely cause is that the solder on the circuit board has developed a dimple underneath one or both of the bulb terminals from current arcing and heat. You may remove and inspect your cluster to find that the bulbs are not burned out. If this is so, you can clean the solder point and attempt to adjust the bulb. I have had success doing this. If the bulbs are in fact burned out, replacements are available for purchase.


I've got some time this week to take this on. Seeing as I haven't had a chance to buy the shop manuals yet... I'm assuming... nonetheless... that I have to remove the face of the dashboard in order get at it... does anyone having any instructions/diagrams showing me the easiest way to get at the cluster? Thanks.
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#7 User is offline   Boyer 

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 07:59 PM

Alldata doesn't have any good diagrams about it, and Haynes is... well Haynes.

All you got to do is pull the bezel off from around the cluster. It also goes around the headlight switch i believe. Pretty much the only way i found to pull it off easily is to grab the top right and bottom left and work around it.

There are 4 screws holding the cluster in, i think its a 7MM or 8MM.

You'll need to work your tilt wheel in order to get the cluster out, can be kinda difficult, but you can do it. The cluster is "Plugged" into a plug in the back, a good tug will release it.

To get to the bulbs, your gonna need a Torx bit/screwdriver. I'm not sure what size, i had one of those key type things. Unscrew the 8 or so screws holding the black plastic piece and you see the bulbs. I would swap the bulbs around in order to see if its the bulb thats the problem or the circuit.

This post has been edited by Boyer: 25 July 2010 - 07:59 PM

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#8 User is offline   Rebel1836 

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 08:26 AM

Thanks for the detailed info Boyer... I've been doing a bit of reading on this and a couple other questions have popped up.

- should I disconnect the battery first, and if so how do I know if the lights are "working" when I check the connections?
- I was reading on another site that for a 90s Camaro a Torx "T30" driver was the right size... is there somewhere to look this up?
- I read somewhere that the bulbs are in sockets and can't be removed from them... but the replacement bulbs I've seen for sale (online) appear to be sold as just bulbs. Is this true?

Thanks again.
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#9 User is offline   Boyer 

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 09:03 AM

View PostRebel1836, on 26 July 2010 - 08:26 AM, said:

Thanks for the detailed info Boyer... I've been doing a bit of reading on this and a couple other questions have popped up.

- should I disconnect the battery first, and if so how do I know if the lights are "working" when I check the connections?
- I was reading on another site that for a 90s Camaro a Torx "T30" driver was the right size... is there somewhere to look this up?
- I read somewhere that the bulbs are in sockets and can't be removed from them... but the replacement bulbs I've seen for sale (online) appear to be sold as just bulbs. Is this true?

Thanks again.


1) I never disconnected the battery, didn't really see any need to in the first place. If you want pull the air bag fuse, but once again not really needed.

2) I think its around a T20 or T25, not sure if its as big as a T30. If i were you I'd buy one of those sets that has about 10 sizes that you can flips out. Alot of screws on these cars has torx screws.

3)The bulbs that light up the main area, such as the Tach and speedo CAN be replaced pretty easily. I posted a picture in this thread of a socket, and all you need is a 194 bulb. Most part stores should have that socket near the bulb area, at least Autozone does. The bulbs that light up the SES, Brake, check gauges, ect.. can only be bought as one piece i believe. They aint cheap.

Honestly, if the bulb was blown in the SES, check gauges, area i would pull one out of somewhere thats not really needed, like for the brake, or the dang seatbelt light. And replace it like that.

If you can't fins those sockets around town, let me know. I got 2 out in the building i can send out.
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#10 User is offline   Rebel1836 

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 01:34 PM

I noticed on the Autozone website is has 2.66 watts 161 bulbs and 3.78 watts 194 bulbs as listed under "instrument panel lights" for a '99 bird. Are the different bulbs interchangeable (one just brighter than the other) or are they for different parts of the instrument cluster? I'm assuming the 194 bulbs are the ones behind the speedometer/tachometer? Anyway, it took me a while, but I found the 194 bases and the bulbs to go with them...

This post has been edited by Rebel1836: 26 July 2010 - 01:35 PM

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#11 User is offline   1993TransAm 

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 04:38 AM

The 161 bulb is the one you want. It has a base designed to twist into a circuit board and may say "PC161" on the base. The 194 bulb has a "chip" style base on it and is made to fit into a corresponding socket. A 194 bulb is not designed to fit into the plastic base of the 161 - you have to replace the entire bulb assembly when a 161 burns out. You might be able to get a 194 to fit in the old base, but I wouldn't recommend it - I've tried it before. You'll most likely permanently damage the 161 base removing the old bulb. It looks like this, and they are not commonly stocked in auto parts stores, but are still available:

http://www.autozone....ier=131330_0_0_

A T20 torx bit is the proper size to disassemble the cluster.

Like I said before, if you are a junkyard "savvy" person, countless GM vehicles from this era use this style of bulb. You could probably pick up a cluster full of them in a boneyard for $10-20, instead of ordering one for $8.99. I have a bag full of these things.

Make sure to look closely at the bulb filaments before you replace the bulb. These are long-life, very low wattage bulbs and rarely burn out. In an earlier post I described how to correct this problem.

Good luck!
"Simon, you finally moved on from those punk-a** V6s and turbo 4-cylinder cars." -- Mike R.
THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT FOR DISPLACEMENT.
1993 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am..."Abygail"...Black...5.7L LT1 OHV V8...4L60
U1A CD player, '02 Firebird Monsoon Amplifier (12 speakers!), HUD, '91 Grand Prix UK3/NP5 steering wheel, SiriusXM, etc.
1992 Pontiac Richard Petty Special Edition Grand Prix SE..."Robbyn"...Neon Blue Metallic...3.4L LQ1 DOHC V6...4T60E
UB3 digital cluster, UP3 CD player, 10-disc changer, DIC, HUD, AQ9s, SGS switch, Firebird Monsoon amplifier (10 speakers!), etc.
1995 Pontiac Grand Am SE..."Missy"...Bright Aqua Metallic...3.1L L82 OHV V6...4T60E
Pontiac Firebird UW2 amplifier, sail panel tweeters (8 speakers), UP3 CD player, GT tail lights, GT exhaust, etc.
1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo..."Norma"...Light Driftwood Metallic...3.8L L27 OHV V6...4T60E
Delco cassette player, Remote CD player, Olds Alero UQ3 amplifier coming???
1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme SL..."Stormi"...Bright Red...3.1L LH0 OHV V6...4T60
UB3 digital cluster, UQ3 amplifier, Audio Bass Control slider, U1C CD player, Driver Information System, leather AQ9s, etc.

1992 Buick Riviera..."Josephine"...Sapphire Blue Firemist...3.8L L27 OHV V6...4T60E
Delco cassette player, Remote CD player, Buick Century Monsoon amplifier coming???

1988 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz..."Emma"...White...4.5L LR6 OHV V8...440-T4
Delco/Bose Gold Series CD player!!!!! N-Body Monsoon configuration in the works...gonna bang!
1993 Chevrolet Lumina Z34..."Summer"...Medium Maui Blue Metallic...3.4L LQ1 DOHC V6...4T60E
Not pictured - Delco CD player, Chevy Camaro Monsoon amp coming???

WANTED: 1990 CHEVROLET BERETTA INDY..."Brittany"
WANTED: 1989 BUICK REATTA..."Melissa"
"NERDS? I MAKE NERDS JEALOUS. NERDS THINK ABOUT THE THINGS THAT I DO."
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#12 User is offline   Rebel1836 

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 12:59 PM

Good news. It was a burned out bulb. I replaced it this afternoon with a new socket/bulb from Autozone and now everything lights up properly. I didn't realize the instrument cluster came completely off... but that made it much easier to work with. Now I have visions of taking the whole thing off again to install LED bulbs... but I'll wait on that project until I take care of some other things first.

Thanks for the help y'all.
Alex
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#13 User is offline   1993TransAm 

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 03:23 PM

:12EMOTICHEERS:
"Simon, you finally moved on from those punk-a** V6s and turbo 4-cylinder cars." -- Mike R.
THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT FOR DISPLACEMENT.
1993 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am..."Abygail"...Black...5.7L LT1 OHV V8...4L60
U1A CD player, '02 Firebird Monsoon Amplifier (12 speakers!), HUD, '91 Grand Prix UK3/NP5 steering wheel, SiriusXM, etc.
1992 Pontiac Richard Petty Special Edition Grand Prix SE..."Robbyn"...Neon Blue Metallic...3.4L LQ1 DOHC V6...4T60E
UB3 digital cluster, UP3 CD player, 10-disc changer, DIC, HUD, AQ9s, SGS switch, Firebird Monsoon amplifier (10 speakers!), etc.
1995 Pontiac Grand Am SE..."Missy"...Bright Aqua Metallic...3.1L L82 OHV V6...4T60E
Pontiac Firebird UW2 amplifier, sail panel tweeters (8 speakers), UP3 CD player, GT tail lights, GT exhaust, etc.
1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo..."Norma"...Light Driftwood Metallic...3.8L L27 OHV V6...4T60E
Delco cassette player, Remote CD player, Olds Alero UQ3 amplifier coming???
1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme SL..."Stormi"...Bright Red...3.1L LH0 OHV V6...4T60
UB3 digital cluster, UQ3 amplifier, Audio Bass Control slider, U1C CD player, Driver Information System, leather AQ9s, etc.

1992 Buick Riviera..."Josephine"...Sapphire Blue Firemist...3.8L L27 OHV V6...4T60E
Delco cassette player, Remote CD player, Buick Century Monsoon amplifier coming???

1988 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz..."Emma"...White...4.5L LR6 OHV V8...440-T4
Delco/Bose Gold Series CD player!!!!! N-Body Monsoon configuration in the works...gonna bang!
1993 Chevrolet Lumina Z34..."Summer"...Medium Maui Blue Metallic...3.4L LQ1 DOHC V6...4T60E
Not pictured - Delco CD player, Chevy Camaro Monsoon amp coming???

WANTED: 1990 CHEVROLET BERETTA INDY..."Brittany"
WANTED: 1989 BUICK REATTA..."Melissa"
"NERDS? I MAKE NERDS JEALOUS. NERDS THINK ABOUT THE THINGS THAT I DO."
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