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Ahhhh, funny you should ask. Just this past weekend we disassembled my son's 97 ETC panel AND the instument cluster itself. The IPC (Instrument Panel Cluster) has 5 or 6 bayonet-mounted incandescent bulbs "inside" the IPC. First, you have to get the IPC out of the car (easy) and then remove a few torx-screws that hold the IPC clam-shell together, which exposes the printed-circuit boards. There, in the back, are the bulbs... similar to other dash-backlite bulbs.

The IPC's warning lights and such are all LEDs soldered to the circuit board, but the back-lights are incandescent and replaceable.

First, disconnect the Battery.

To get the IPC out, you have to remove the big, top dash-pad panel. Do that by removing the defrost panel (pops out by hand) and remove the two little bayonet-mounted sensors plugged onto it (rotate about 60 degrees then pull). This exposes at least three 7mm hex screws (there might be four, I can't remember) that hold the back of the dash-pad on. You can easily see them by stepping outside the car and looking down thru the windshield. Remove those screws.

Now you have to remove the screws that hold the front of the dash-pad... those are hidden behind your A/C vent louvers, one screw behind each of the four louvers. Remove all four louvers is a delicate task to prevent breakage. They are held in by a little plastic tang on each side of each louver. I used a small awl (very small, but maybe a strong toothpick will also work) to VERY GENTLY pry the tang out of its recess while also applying outward pull-force with a wire bent into a hook. Ever so slightly, pry on the tang (pry too fast or too hard and it will break off) while gently pulling on the hook (hooked behind one of the louver-fins) and that side of the louver will just pop free. Do the same on the other side and it comes out.

Angled up into the top of each louver cavity, you will find another 7mm hex screw (one in each louver) that needs to be removed.
Now the front of the pad lifts UP (to clear the front wood trim) and the whole thing comes out. Careful not to scratch your wood trim.

The IPC is now fully exposed. Just remove the three big electrical connector on the top of it, remove 4 (I think it was 4) hex screws (NOT the torx screws) that hold the IPC in the dash, and it just lifts out.

Now take the IPC to your kitchen table (cleaner environment). Using a torx screwdriver, you want to remove the rear black clamshell. Don't remove the front clear cover or you will risk maring the matt-black surface of the meters.

On the side where the ribbon cable is, use your finger and pry loose the two clamping tangs, which act like levers, to disconnect the ribbon cable from its socket. Then remove the back half of the black clamshell. Inside is one of two circuit boards (you're looking at the back board), but I think the bulbs are in front board. Just remove the board hold-down screws (about 7 of them) and lift the board out. The bulbs are in full view, baynet-mounted.

The whole job is really a masterpiece of modularity. Nothing intricate about it... it just LOOKS scary.

Careful when replacing the top dash-pad or you will scratch your wood-trim. If you do, color it in with a dark-brown felt-tipped art pen, and it practically disappears!

Let us know how it goes. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Rock said:
Ahhhh, funny you should ask. Just this past weekend we disassembled my son's 97 ETC panel AND the instument cluster itself. The IPC (Instrument Panel Cluster) has 5 or 6 bayonet-mounted incandescent bulbs "inside" the IPC. First, you have to get the IPC out of the car (easy) and then remove a few torx-screws that hold the IPC clam-shell together, which exposes the printed-circuit boards. There, in the back, are the bulbs... similar to other dash-backlite bulbs.

The IPC's warning lights and such are all LEDs soldered to the circuit board, but the back-lights are incandescent and replaceable.

First, disconnect the Battery.

To get the IPC out, you have to remove the big, top dash-pad panel. Do that by removing the defrost panel (pops out by hand) and remove the two little bayonet-mounted sensors plugged onto it (rotate about 60 degrees then pull). This exposes at least three 7mm hex screws (there might be four, I can't remember) that hold the back of the dash-pad on. You can easily see them by stepping outside the car and looking down thru the windshield. Remove those screws.

Now you have to remove the screws that hold the front of the dash-pad... those are hidden behind your A/C vent louvers, one screw behind each of the four louvers. Remove all four louvers is a delicate task to prevent breakage. They are held in by a little plastic tang on each side of each louver. I used a small awl (very small, but maybe a strong toothpick will also work) to VERY GENTLY pry the tang out of its recess while also applying outward pull-force with a wire bent into a hook. Ever so slightly, pry on the tang (pry too fast or too hard and it will break off) while gently pulling on the hook (hooked behind one of the louver-fins) and that side of the louver will just pop free. Do the same on the other side and it comes out.

Angled up into the top of each louver cavity, you will find another 7mm hex screw (one in each louver) that needs to be removed.
Now the front of the pad lifts UP (to clear the front wood trim) and the whole thing comes out. Careful not to scratch your wood trim.

The IPC is now fully exposed. Just remove the three big electrical connector on the top of it, remove 4 (I think it was 4) hex screws (NOT the torx screws) that hold the IPC in the dash, and it just lifts out.

Now take the IPC to your kitchen table (cleaner environment). Using a torx screwdriver, you want to remove the rear black clamshell. Don't remove the front clear cover or you will risk maring the matt-black surface of the meters.

On the side where the ribbon cable is, use your finger and pry loose the two clamping tangs, which act like levers, to disconnect the ribbon cable from its socket. Then remove the back half of the black clamshell. Inside is one of two circuit boards (you're looking at the back board), but I think the bulbs are in front board. Just remove the board hold-down screws (about 7 of them) and lift the board out. The bulbs are in full view, baynet-mounted.

The whole job is really a masterpiece of modularity. Nothing intricate about it... it just LOOKS scary.

Careful when replacing the top dash-pad or you will scratch your wood-trim. If you do, color it in with a dark-brown felt-tipped art pen, and it practically disappears!

Let us know how it goes. :)
Excellent! Thank you very much for your helpful reply!!!:rolleyes:
 

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Rock said:
Careful when replacing the top dash-pad or you will scratch your wood-trim. If you do, color it in with a dark-brown felt-tipped art pen, and it practically disappears!
Ah ... would appear to be a hard learned lesson in there ... seriously - thanks for the write up - I was pondering taking the dash out of mine and was just starting to investigate the "how"

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I should point out the precautionary measure of taking out the ABS fuse located in the trunk (in the Eldorado, anyway). Sometimes residual charge is enough for the airbag to deploy, and it's located in the work zone.

Rock, would you happen to know if the regular bulbs were 194 type? I think that's the case, but I want to order blacklights so that they arrive by the time I sink into the project.

Thanks!
 

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No, I don't know what the bulb-number was because I didn't look. I was into the IPC for other reasons. Maybe they are spec'd in the Owner's Manual.

Good luck!
 

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If it's not in the owners manual, it's gotta be in the service manual .............. somewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ranger said:
If it's not in the owners manual, it's gotta be in the service manual .............. somewhere.
it's not in my service manual, maybe I should try other years: for instance when I checked an older user manual with the same IPC, it is 194* the asterisk indicates that owner should inquire the dealer to replace it. It says all lights are 194 in the IPC, but Rock indicated some are soldered in, which tells me that maybe they "upgraded" at some point.

ANyway, off topic Ranger, I patched 3 cracks on my radiator last night with that Quicksteel (without disassembly, I only saw 1 and could not reach it well). At first it didn't seem to work, but it worked enough for the supplement (barsleak) to kick in.. and I didn't lose any coolant today.

I'm still waiting to receive the new radiator in a couple' days.
 

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No... the "lights", which refers to the backlights, are incandescent and replaceable, although like other bayonet-mounted dashboard bulbs, they are soldered into their little holders. They are not soldered into the circuit boards.

However, the LEDs ARE soldered into the circuit board, but the LEDs are NOT for backlighting. The LEDs are for the warning lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update: I took the dash cover off, and the instrument panel. i purchased some little blue 194s, used torx screwdriver to open the IPC.

6 bulbs, in screw-in plastic holders. I found out they are soldered into these holders. So I get it all set up, replace the bulbs (not really easy, to cut the wires and reset them and solder them in). Then I put it all back together, and can't really see it in the daytime.. so I figure maybe some of them did not work.

Night time arrives... and...



It's a frickin rainbow! The same brand, blue 194s have such inconsistent quality control, that some are deep blue (too dark), others are more of an aqua blue (brighter), almost green.

So needless to say after that ordeal, I was pissed.

I tried shining a blacklight onto the gauges, but it was waaay too dark, so I think I'm going to try red (I'll stick with red Sylvanias, thank you), or just stock white again (I dont think I can handle another dissapointment)... but it's such a bear to unsolder these little bitches into their container and to prep and solder the new ones into the same deal, put the IPC back together and then the dash back together.

On a good sidenote, I was able to replace the strip of Zebrano wood in my dash, and got rid of the unsightly hairline cracks on the old one. If someone wants to try to refinish one for their enjoyment I have mine. Just pay postage and it's yours.
 

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You might want to try some LED's from this place. I haven't ordered any LED's from them yet, so I have no personal experiance with their LED's; but I hear that they offer some of the best LED's for use in cars.
 

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Yes, those "194 Wedge Style LEDS" that deabionni pointed out look like PERFECT replacements for the incandescents.

You know... you can also buy "Glass Paint". It's a special paint for glass staining. It's typically used by artsy/craftsy type people for "stained glass" work. Get some new clear bulbs, paint them yourself, power them from your car's battery and check them for color-consistency. Once you think you got it, THEN put them in your dash.
 

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Don't use wedged LEDs are nowhere near bright enough (or have a wide enough light pattern). I used 12 4.8mm LEDs per lightbulb. Is true I could have easily used just 9.
 
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