One day I was driving our 2001 Buick Century Custom, and I noticed that the odometer wasn't lit up. At first I thought that a bulb was out, but this instrument panel cluster (IPC) is completely digital, so there are no bulbs in those locations. The odometer/tripometer is all LED segment displays. It wasn't until later I noticed that the transmission indicator was also unlit. This can be dangerous if you think you are in park and are actually in reverse and let off of the brake. My wife and I kind of just dealt with the absence of indicators for a few months until I finally got around to fixing it.

Since there was no erratic behavior of any sort, I figured this was just a faulty discrete component somewhere and set out to look for it. If certain parts of your IPC are not illuminated when they should be, there is a good chance that this is what's wrong with it. I have found lots of people who had or are having the exact same issue, and this procedure fixed them all!

Step 1: Helpful Tools

While this isn't a precise list of what you may need, it should get you started on the right track. 

To remove and open the instrument panel cluster I used:
Socket Set with Extension - Primarily a 7mm Socket
Battery Terminal Wrench - Equivalent to a 1/4" socket in most cases
Auto Carpet Plug Puller - Pliers and a flat head screwdriver should work as well
Flat head screwdriver

To fix the IPC I used:
Soldering iron and solder
Alcohol wipes
4 x 150 ohm resistors
RadioShack only had 150 ohm 1/8 watt resistors. Will that work?
<p>I believe so. The original resistors on the board weren't marked with a power rating. I chose 1/4 watt as a safe guess. I presume 1/8 W would work OK, as I don't think these resistors need to handle much current.<br><br>It's hard to test, since plugging in the board will hide the resistors away. If they were exposed, you could just measure the voltage dropped across them to calculate the power, or even simply feel how much heat they are generating.</p>
Do you need solder experience to do this? I'm a novice but I really need to get this done
<p>You do need to be able to solder - there is no other way to reliably replace the resistors. The solder joints don't have to be perfect, but they do need to be good enough to last. If you can wiggle the resistors, the solder joint is bad.<br><br>There are plenty of 'ibles that talk about how to solder!</p>
<p>Does this procedure apply to a 2002 Buick Park Avenue?</p>
<p>I want to perform this repair to my car, but it looks scary. I feel like taking the whole thing apart may take me a long time, and I am not sure if I will be able to put it back together nicely the way it looks before I disassemble it. Do you have any advice about the dismantling and reassembling the dashboard? How long would it take for a complete newbie to do do it?</p>
<p>Hey, I know it can seen overwhelming at first, but the trick is to just take it slow. Before you take anything apart, look around and find the actual mount points for the dash panel components. Make sure you have the tools you need before you start.<br><br>It might help if you make yourself a little diagram, or even take pictures of what piece you take off from where in what order. Label each piece with some masking tape.<br><br>There typically aren't a lot of individual pieces .. I think my car had less than 5. The fact that most of the dash was one big piece was actually the tricky part - I had to turn the key to accessory to pull the gear shift lever down and tilt the steering wheel down in order to get the dash piece out.<br><br>The best thing to do is try to find a friend that is handy in some way. If you've never soldered before, that is really the trickiest part, but there are plenty of other instructables that talk about how to do that.<br><br>Good luck!</p>
<p>Hey! Thank you for this instructable! I have the problem you described with the gas meter and gear indicators not working. The mechanic where I took the car to get that looked at got me looking for the entire dashboard panel cluster to replace the one in the car, so as this model is discontinued, I have been hunting for the part in the wreckers, but if your method works, it sounds a lot more simple than replacing the whole thing for another used part that may also have its own issues.</p>
<p>OK, this sounds like loads of fun, yet I lack the equipment (soldering iron, tools) and the desire. How much should I pay for this repair? Thanks!</p>
<p>The repair in a garage can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars. Do you have any friends or friends of friends who do have the equipment?</p>
I'm working on it!
Thank you! we followed your steps and it worked..made it easy for 2 old ladies
Kurt the only thing that is not lit is the odometer is that a bulb
<p>No, the odometer is a group of 7 segment displays. You can see them at the bottom of the first picture in Step 6 (kind of looks like an old clock radio display, but with a lot more digits).<br><br>Mine was out as well, and this fixed it.</p>
Kurt, have you ever had issues with the lights on the radio not workin on a 98 GS regal?
<p>No, I can't say that I have...</p>
<p>just did the girl fiends 2001, radio shack did not have the single 150's so I got a pack of everything for $14.00. after getting past the color code for resisters to find the 150's, they are not stamped just color codes. made the repairs as noted and shazam....it worked as he said. I am now a hero. thank you.</p>
<p>I'm glad it worked!<br><br>The color code is just how resistors work. There is no way they could stamp the massive range of resistor values in any sort of readable way. I think I mentioned the colors in this post, at least, I should have...<br><br>Enjoy the moment, I'm sure she will find some way for you to be a villian soon enough... such is the way with relationships!</p>
Lol, your right again. I will bask in the moment and dodge the bullies later. <br>
I did this same job to my 99 century limited but something went wrong and now my odometer has Orange lines across it im not sure what my next movesure is what do I do I'm pretty sure the display is dead let's say I get one from a junkyard would it display the correct miles or does the cluster store the data and im sol
<p>bad connection, low power. check connections. make sure all are on the right place and solid connection. this does work. </p>
<p>I really have no idea. My display is incapable of producing orange lines, there is no light source to do such a thing.<br><br>The actual mileage is only displayed on the display, the actual data is stored on some chip somewhere else on the cluster circuit.</p>
This is excellent, fixed my instrument cluster saved $260.00
Awesome. I'm glad it worked for you! <br>
<p>what kind of resistors?part number?..and where can i buy them?</p>
<p>Any kind of 1/4 watt, 150 ohm resistors should work fine. You can get them at radioshack, or online at various electronics distributors. I leave it to you to find them for yourself.</p>
I work at a automotive electronics service shop in southern Ontario and we repair these day in and day out and have been for many years but we use the original resistors they still work perfectly fine and when you pull it out you must be sure to not tilt it much or you will lose some of the resistors there is my bit of advice
<p>In all honesty, I would be infuriated to find out I was paying a shop to reuse the broken parts of the circuit when replacements are literally $0.01 each when bought in bulk from digikey.com. The junk resistors I removed were corroded and crumbling; they belonged in the trash.</p>
<p>This was great help!!! When I opened up the cluster panel, 3 of my resistors were gone, there was only the top one left. I think it may have fixed my gas gauge too. It was reading either Full or Empty. If it did, you helped me fix a $600 - $700 problem for only $13 dollars, and it was way easier than I could have imagined. Thanx a bunch.</p>
<p>No problem. That's what I do!</p>
<p>Great instructable. Easy fix...took less than 1 hour.</p>
<p>Awesome, I'm glad it worked for you.</p>
<p>While the odometer did not work, did the mileage still increase or was it the same mileage as when it went out?</p>
<p>The mileage did increase correctly. The odometer itself is just a display in these newer digital systems. It doesn't hold any actually information, it just displays what the circuitry tells it to do. I don't know what part of the computer system is responsible for counting the mileage, but this has nothing to do with that.</p>

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Bio: Jack of All Trades, Master of One: Being Me!
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