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A new problem with the dashboard swap

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A new problem with the dashboard swap  Empty A new problem with the dashboard swap

Post by 73 ss wgn Wed Jan 31, 2024 4:20 pm

I got the refurbished replacement dashboard in (no I do not ever want to do this job again.) I have round gauge idiot lights. I replaced the headlight switch that was grinding as you turned it. I start the car and on the dash I have a working fuel gauge and turn signals, and the temp and generator idiot lights, but no illumination lights or high beam indicator. The actual exterior lights work. The light illuminating the wiper/lights labels and the light in the a/c control panel work, so the new switch is sending power out to do that, just no dash lights. The bulbs are good.

I can't remember the last time I drove the car at night, so the dash lights problem may pre-date the dash swap for all I know. I did have a working high beam light before.

Questions:
1. Is there some kind of gauges or dashboard ground I may have neglected to hook up?
2. According to the owner's manual, all three idiot lights should light up when cranking the car, right? Now that I think about it, I'm not sure the oil pressure one ever worked, and I've owned the car since 1985.
3. What's your recommended way to plug in the big gauges plug, by hand from behind the gauges, or pressing the gauges into it with it mounted in the dash?

Thanks!

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Post by Joe73 Wed Jan 31, 2024 6:17 pm

Did you happen to check or better yet, replace all the bulbs prior to installing the cluster? Bulbs dim over time. Id pop the cluster out and hook up two leads to a battery and touch the circuit board wires that are going to the bulbs.

If I remember correctly, passenger side dash on the bottom there is a 1/2" bolt that attaches the dash. I think I remember there being a black ground wire on that bolt. Just going from memory here.

As for the cluster plug, every dash Ive done the plug enters from the rear of the dash into its rectangular hole. It snaps in there. If you squeeze the tabs on the ends of the plug, you can push the plug behind the dash. So if the plug is snapped in position, the cluster should just slide in and onto its two mounting studs. I cant think of a way to improperly install the plug and cluster.
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Post by zucchi Wed Jan 31, 2024 6:23 pm

  1. I'll need to review the wiring diagram to answer that one intelligently.
  2. The oil and gen light should illuminate when the key is initially turned to "ON". The temp light illuminates while cranking.
  3. It's been a lot of years since I R&R the instrument cluster. As I recall, I aligned the cluster plug to the socket in the dash then gently pushed it in to where the cluster fit over the mounting studs. Somewhere in the process, I attached the speedometer cable to the back of the speedometer.
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Post by 73 ss wgn Tue Feb 06, 2024 2:32 pm

Update: I have power to the dash lights at the connector behind the dash when I turn the lights on. The circuit board bench tested okay for continuity. I cleaned the contacts, reinstalled, and still no lights. Figured it's the connection between the two where the circuit board bends at the connection. A new circuit board is on the way. We'll see.

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Post by zucchi Thu Feb 08, 2024 9:20 am

I finally got around to reviewing the wiring diagram:
A new problem with the dashboard swap  20240210

Circuit 150 is ground.
A new problem with the dashboard swap  Detail10

Check the socket terminal in the dash to confirm the ground is good then check the plug terminal on the instrument cluster for continuity to various points on the circuit board.
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Post by 73 ss wgn Sun Feb 11, 2024 1:18 pm

I get voltage if I bridge the two dash light terminals on the wiring harness. I got continuity across each individual leg of the circuit board. So I figured it had to be the contact between the circuit board and the terminals. I put in a new circuit board. Same lights are still out, same lights are still working. I replaced the bulbs in all the sockets, which only leaves me with having bad sockets.
But seven of them? Well I had a spare instrument cluster that still had sockets in it so I figured I'd play with those before I pulled the car's instrument cluster out AGAIN. I'll be damned. Half of those failed a continuity test with a known good bulb, even after a blast of contact cleaner. Not sure how they can be bad. I mean they are basically two bits of copper, but it seems they are.
So tomorrow, out comes the cluster again. I'll double check all the power inputs and all then test all the sockets. I bought 13 new AC Delco ones from Rock Auto and those will go in when they arrive.
I've had a cracked dash since 1995. Over the years since, I've collected tons of parts to restore it, like a new MALIBU nameplate, new switches, a NOS glove box, correct AM/FM/8 track and speakers, etc. I finally sent the donor dash (that I've had for over a decade) to Just Dashes for a restoration. It came back and it took me months to screw up the courage to start this endeavor. Now it is killing me that this one thing is keeping me from putting the thing all back together.

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Post by Mcarlo77 Sun Feb 11, 2024 1:34 pm

I've spent my fair share of time messing with those bulb sockets on dash clusters I've brought home from the JY's. They can be very finicky in making adequate contact with the bulb. Wiggle the bulb a little and they work. Then, they don't. It's not uncommon to have several of them malfunction.
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