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Instrument Cluster Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for an instrument cluster replacement is between $728 and $757. Labor costs are estimated between $87 and $110 while parts are priced between $641 and $647. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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What is a Instrument Cluster?

Instrument cluster is the term used to refer to the array of analog or digital devices used to display vehicle operation data. The speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, warning lights, check engine (and other) fault lights, and other indicators are included in the instrument cluster.

How does a Instrument Cluster work?

On older vehicles with analog gauges in the instrument cluster, information was relayed to the driver directly (in many cases) from the component being measured. The speedometer was connected to the transmission; the tachometer was connected to the ignition; the fuel gauge was connected to a sensor on the fuel tank. On a modern car, truck, or SUV that employs a host of electronic control modules to monitor and control vehicle systems, the data is collected and sent electronically to the dashboard display through the control modules. The instrument cluster may contain elements that appear to be analog (i.e. a dial for the speedometer rather than a digital readout), but the information is sent by way of a computer module.

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What are the symptoms of a bad Instrument Cluster?

Some common problems that occur with an instrument cluster include a dim or flickering display, instrument panel not lighting up, a single component not working properly, or a blown fuse.

Can I drive with a bad Instrument Cluster?

It is important that a driver be equipped with sufficient information about the performance of a vehicle to drive safely and confidently. If the instrument cluster, or some of its components, is not working properly, a driver will not know how the vehicle is operating. Vehicle speed and fuel level are important pieces of information, as are any warning lights that signal problems with the vehicle. The instrument cluster should be inspected and repaired as soon as possible to prevent further problems from occurring.

How often do Instrument Clusters need replacement?

The instrument cluster is designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle and should, under normal circumstances, provide uninterrupted service.

How are Instrument Clusters diagnosed?

Most late model vehicles are programmed to put the instrument cluster through a series of self-checks upon engine startup. A technician who observes this process by watching the display while the key is initially turned on will be able to take note of any features that are not operating or lighting up during the vehicle self-check. All of the lights should come on momentarily. The technician will look for any dark spots that fail to light up. On some models, this self-test can be manually initiated and it will produce an error code that can be interpreted by the technician. A technician can also check the voltage supplied to the instrument cluster and compare it to the values displayed on a wiring diagram. In some cases, especially if only one feature of the instrument cluster is inoperative or erratic, the cause may be not the cluster itself, but the sending unit that delivers the signal to the cluster. A technician can test the sending unit, or (in some instances) ground the sending unit to produce a measureable effect in the cluster. A blown fuse is not usually a cause of instrument cluster malfunction, but rather a symptom of a related electrical issue, such as a short circuit.

How is an Instrument Cluster replaced?

The procedure for replacement of the instrument cluster varies widely from one vehicle to another. The concept is the same. Access to the instrument cluster is not. It is important to obtain the vehicle-specific repair procedure to access and remove the cluster. A technician will disconnect the battery whenever the electrical system is being serviced and follow the procedure to remove any trim panels or accessories that are in the way of the instrument cluster. Once the cluster is loosened from its location and its wiring harness plugs disconnected, it is carefully pulled from its position in the dashboard. Tampering with the odometer is illegal, so the instrument cluster is protected to prevent abuse. The technician needs to remove the odometer chip from the old cluster and insert it into the new one to transfer the odometer reading. (Otherwise, the new cluster needs to be programmed and certified). The cluster is connected and reinstalled, followed by replacement of any trim or accessories that were removed.

RepairPal Recommendations for Instrument Cluster issues

The symptoms of a malfunctioning instrument cluster can stem from the cluster itself or from other issues. A burnt bulb, dirty or deteriorated electrical contacts, poor electrical ground, short circuit, faulty headlamp or dome lamp dimmer switch, or a damaged or defective sending unit can all be the source of the problem.

What to look out for when dealing with Instrument Cluster issues

Care must be exercised to prevent damage to expensive dashboard trim components or to delicate wires connected to the back of the instrument cluster. Special attention must be made to the transfer of the odometer reading. In some cases the new cluster must be officially certified.

Can I replace the Instrument Cluster myself?

Instrument cluster replacement should be performed by a professional, not because it is so challenging an operation, but because the procedure is specific to each vehicle, as is the method of testing its function. Moreover, certification of the odometer reading is a matter of law. The instrument cluster is not an inexpensive component to purchase. An experienced technician will be able to properly diagnose whether the symptoms are a result of a malfunctioning cluster or some other (perhaps less expensive) component.

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