With the cluster loose, Dennis cut off the wires leading to the gauges, leaving enough length to connect the gauges to the new harness. One helpful tip: Use a piece of tape to mark what wires serve which gauge on the cluster, just in case you forget or get confused.
After pulling the cluster, we found this surprise. This is the kind of thing that leads to dead shorts in a wiring harness, or worse yet, fire.
Taking a break to rest his back, Dennis moved into the engine compartment. We pulled the hood off for easier access to the firewall. The wiring in the engine bay was a mess too, so it all needed to be removed for the new Painless wiring.
In an engine compartment, messy wiring not only creates fire dangers, but can be frustrating when your car has an electrical problem and you can't diagnose what's going wrong. If you add anything like an aftermarket ignition, or other engine accessories, you'll play hell trying to get them wired up correctly.
The fuse block in the Painless kit mounts in the same location as the stock unit, using this bracket. Two screws and it's ready to go.
Before mounting the fuse block, it's best to uncoil the whole wiring harness, and separate the wiring bundles for the dash, rear of the car, and engine compartment. To make things easy on yourself, route the engine wiring through the hole on the firewall before you mount the fuse block.
Here you can see the fuse block mounted, and wiring routed to the dash and engine. At this stage it's hard not to look at the massive amount of wiring and lose your head. Don't sweat it. This job looks a lot scarier than it really is. Your best tool for the install is going to be patience, and organization. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle you're just starting. At first there are a lot of pieces, but once you get going things get easier.
This is what makes installing a Painless wiring harness painless. Each wire is marked for where it needs to go and hook up to. Unless you've forgotten how to read (or are a three-thumbed editorial director), it's nearly impossible to screw up.
The wiring for the back of the car uses the factory wiring channel for routing. To get to this, you have to remove the sill plate then peel back the carpeting. The channel cover is held on by a few screws. Before laying the new wiring, you'll probably need to vacuum out decade's worth of crud from the channel.
When the wiring comes out of the channel, it goes through this hole concealed behind the armrest.
To make routing the wiring easier, we wrapped some masking tape around the bundles. This is all the wiring for the trunk, including speaker wires. The Painless harness gives you wiring for other accessories that could be in the trunk/rear area, like trunk lights, CD changers, power antennas, etc. If you're not going to use those particular wires, you can cap them off and hide them under the trunk mat, in case you want to add anything later on.