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Old 07-23-2012
andrew_deaton's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Martins Ferry, Oh
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changing to leds and need some help

I want to change my gauge cluster to all leds. I have a 98 xlt. for those who know what its like stock I want everything thats green (everything but the needles and metric gauge) to be a nice bright blue and everything else to be a cool white. Im not sure where to get the LEDs or how many i need. My fuel gauge is burnt out anyway so it needs replaced anyway.

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Old 07-23-2012
tatsuha's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 23
Not sure if yours is any different from mine (see signature). Still working out what bulbs are required for mine, but the main bulbs should be a 194 base (6 for the main gauge backlighting). I've heard that the warning lights are either T5 or are also 194.

For the LEDs....different people will recommend different methods for this. Basically comes down to:

1. Drop-in LEDs - The easiest option, but it might produce "hotspots" of light on the gauges and some will say that it's not as bright or durable.
(wedge base from or ebay)

2. LED ribbons - Slightly more work than drop-ins, but should get rid of hotspots if done properly.
( or or ebay)

3. Custom LED clusters - Probably the cheapest option (correct me?) is to solder individual LEDs and resistors in where the bulbs would normally go. This allows you to be more specific with color and brightness and gives you more control over eliminating hotspots. Similar to second post here: (
(ebay or an LED supplier)

4. "The JP7" - Custom etch your own PCB that you designed in a CAD program and hand solder thousands of SMD LEDs and the proper accompanying circuitry to give you eye-bleeding beauty and precision. Also makes your coffee for you in the morning.

And regarding the color....the OEM gauge cluster has all that coloring painted on the back side. Normally you would sand it off and replace with LEDs of your preferred color. You want the gauge to be split color (needles/metric white and the rest blue) and those are all lit up by the same bulbs, you'll probably have to get paint like in this guide ( and paint the blue parts while leaving the rest clear. Then choose your style of LED and use white LEDs.

other useful guides:

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Old 07-23-2012
99offroadrngr's Avatar
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Keep it green or do it all white. I've had blue, it gets old fast.

Sand the back of the overlays to remove the green if you're going for another color and purchase the wanted LED. if you get a single LED drop in 194, you'll get hot spots. If you get a multiple LED drop in 194, you won't.

Last edited by 99offroadrngr; 07-24-2012 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 07-25-2012
buggman's Avatar
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Check out my threads for my led's, I have them for pretty much any application.

If you're wanting to have some areas be one color and other areas of the cluster be another color, the only way to do that is to do a custom build using individual led's. This is NOT a DIY project. There's only a couple of us led guys (myself included) that would attempt such a project.
It involves countless hours of drilling holes in the gauge pods after many more hours of locating the placement of each individual led behind the gauge overlays, followed by even more hours of hand soldering each individual component. Hence, not a DIY project by any means. Also, be prepared to spend a good amount of money for such a conversion. The parts including the cluster, led's & resistors alone will likely run $100 if someone were to put in all the hours of work for FREE.

Now on the other hand, if you just want to swap from a green dash to a blue dash, that's something that good DIY'er can handle in a weekend.

The cluster needs to be removed from the truck first, then the front cover needs co come off, then the needles need to be removed (and later re-calibrated) to finally get to the gauge overlays. They need to be removed to wet sand the oem color filtering off the back to allow the new led color to shine through properly.
I think this is the 5,000th time I've typed this

The type of led used will greatly affect the overall look of your dash too. The cheap auto parts store type led's will give you a look similar to this:

That was one of my early tests with cheap led's. Notice the crazy hot & dim spots? The light output from the cheap led's isn't evenly distributed throughout the cluster.

Here's the same cluster using better quality "buggman led's":

Notice the more even light distribution?
The color looks a lot better in person, I'm a horrible photographer

Over the years, I've tried dozens of led's until I found the type I'm using & recommending now. They're pretty affordable & look much better than the old yellowish bulbs.

If you decide to keep the stock green color, my white led's will really change the look of a stock cluster:

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changing to leds and need some help-img_1448-1.jpg   changing to leds and need some help-img_1493-1.jpg   changing to leds and need some help-dsc06070large-1.jpg   changing to leds and need some help-leddash026-1.jpg  
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Old 07-27-2012
andrew_deaton's Avatar
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Location: Martins Ferry, Oh
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how much are your white leds buggman? i think ill just keep it stock but make it all led.
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Old 07-27-2012
Clinton's Avatar
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Location: PA.
Posts: 1,417

I have this led cluster backing I am selling if you're interested
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