Gauge Upgrade

The Cure For A Lackluster C5 Cluster

Andy Bolig May 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

Before...

...and After

Start by removing the nut covers in the center storage console.

Then remove the nuts.

Remove the cover at the front of the console pad to get to the front two bolts.

Disconnect the two sets of wires from the console.

With the rear part of the console removed, begin taking out the screws that hold the shifter console in place.

They’ll be hidden behind the ashtray door and the interior temperature-sensor cover on the dash.

You’ll also need to remove the shifter handle so the cover will lift past the shifter.

Remove the center console faceplate.

The hatch-button bezel must be removed to get to the screw behind it.

Carefully pop it out with a screwdriver.

Remove the screws at the bottom of the knee pad to remove it.

Then disconnect the interior air-temp sensor.

Remove the padding for the knee pad so you can get to the bolts for the steering column.

Loosen the two nuts that hold the column in place.

This makes it much easier to remove the dash cluster without wrestling it around the steering wheel.

Note the yellow connectors. DO NOT DISCONNECT them!

They go to the supplemental air restraint system, also known as airbags. These are best left alone.

Now you can begin removing the gauge cluster by taking out the Torx screws at the top of the cluster.

Next remove the screws from the bottom of the cluster.

They are on both sides at the base of the steering column.

Now carefully slide the cluster out of the dash. Be careful not to be too rough. You don’t want to have to buy one of these, and you can’t buy pieces of the cluster.

To remove the cluster, the only connector you need to disconnect is the one in the back of the cluster.

Use a small screwdriver to pry off the clip so you can remove the connector.

Remove the Torx screws that hold the cluster trim panel in place. With them removed, you’ll be able to lift the console off the trim panel.

Set the trim panel aside where it won’t get scratched.

Disconnect the wires on each side of the console.

Remove the front clear plastic by pushing the clips out of the cluster. Once again, you’ll want to put it where it won’t get scratched or broken.

The next part to remove is the black panel. Push out the clips in the same manner as the clear cover.

Now you’re ready to install the white facing onto the gauges. Cut the supplied adhesive into small squares. These hold the gauge faces in place until the unit is reassembled, so you’ll need only one or two on each face.

Be sure not to place them over any of the writing on the face.

Peel the paper off the adhesive tape squares and gently slide the face over the needle. DO NOT REMOVE THE NEEDLES FROM THE GAUGES. Also, be sure to align the lettering on the new faces with the lettering of the old faces, or they’ll always appear “out of focus.”

The new gauge faces have a clear plastic coating to protect them, and it would be wise to keep that clear plastic on until you get all the gauge faces installed to protect against fingerprints and smudges.

When you install the black background to the cluster it will hold the face covers in place tightly against the gauges. Make sure there is no interference on any of the dials before you put the clear plastic cover on.

Once you’re sure that everything is properly in place, the clear cover simply snaps into place.

Reinstall the gauge-cluster trim, hook up the wires to the controls, and you’re ready to put the gauges back into the dash. You can see how much the gauges stand out with their new white background. They’ll have a nice blue tone when you turn on the lights.

Make sure this connector is securely in place. You don’t want to have to go back in to correct any trouble.

When installing the gauge cluster back into the dash, there’s a little clip that must snap into place correctly or the cluster won’t fit. If you have any problems fitting the cluster, see if there’s anything in the way of this tab.

With the cluster in place, all you have to do is reverse the process used to disassembled the console, taking care that all of the electrical connections are secure.

There's no doubt that the dash cluster of the C5 Corvette can be a little dusky in appearance, and this is only accentuated when the interior of the car is also completely black. West Coast Corvettes has a white-faced gauge kit that will turn up the volume on your dreary cluster, making it look great day or night.

With the console back in the car, it's evident how much of a difference something as simple as changing the color of the gauge faces makes. It can't be stressed enough that you should take the time to align the gauge faces so the lettering matches that of the original gauges. It will be obvious every time your dash lights come on if you don't. That one step can make or break the whole job. Once the job is done, the next thing you must do is take your Corvette for a drive.

Like you needed a reason.

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