Replacing Lights for '98 Ford Ranger Instrument Cluster




One of the lights in the instrument cluster of my '98 ranger burnt out and rather than shell out money to buy incandescent I decided to try my hand at creating and installing LED's. First I had to disassemble my dashboard to determine what type of light I was replacing, and then I modified some 10mm LED's to fit into the socket. This instructable only covers how to change the lights. I plan on doing another showing how I made the LED's.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Ford Radio Removal Tool--or you can use a bent coat hanger or 4 allen wrenches
Ratchet handle
9/32" socket (step 3,4,6,7)
5/16" socket (step 5)
socket extension (step 7)
2 small screwdrivers or knives (step 7)

Step 2: Remove the Radio

Remove the radio by inserting the radio removal tool or allen wrenches in the two small holes on either side of the radio. Then push the tool out as you pull on the radio. It may help to push on the radio prior to pulling to relieve tension on the spring clips. I only had one of the radio removal tools, so I used two smaller allen wrenches that had a ball on the end.

Step 3: Remove Radio Faceplate

Remove the radio faceplate by removing the two 9/32" bolts that are beneath the radio and above the climate controls. Once you have removed the two bolts, there will be four clips holding the faceplate. Pull on the faceplate and it should pop right off. If it sticks you may need to reach behind and apply more direct pressure around the clip to get it to pop out. Once you have removed the faceplate disconnect the wiring harnesses.

Step 4: Remove Plastic "Shinguard"

To remove the plastic shinguard there are 4 screws on the bottom. You can use the 9/32" socket or a torx bit if you have one. After all four screws are removed, pull straight back to release the clips at the top.

Step 5: Remove Metal Shinguard

The metal shinguard is covering two of the bolts that hold the plastic shroud surrounding the instrument cluster. You can either remove the shinguard altogether or if you are lazy like me you can just remove the front two 5/16" bolts and then loosen the other three. These are the only ones that use the 5/16" socket.

Step 6: Remove Shroud

There are five 9/32" bolts holding the shroud in place. Two are on the bottom and should have been exposed by loosening the metal guard. The other three are on the top portion of the shroud and should be visible as you are driving. Once the bolts are removed there will be 5 clips holding the shroud they are on the edges and easily released. Removing the shroud itself, however, is no small feat. To accomplish this tilt the steering wheel all the way down and, ensuring that your parking brake is set, shift all the way to first gear. This will allow you to manipulate the shroud out of the way. The wiring harness for the lights will be connected to this piece, you can disconnect it if you wish but it's easier to check your work if you just let it dangle.

Step 7: Remove Instrument Cluster

There are four 9/32" bolts holding the instrument cluster, two on each side. You will probably want an extension for your ratchet to make things easier Once you have removed the bolts you will need to tilt the instrument cluster back so that you can remove the gear selector indicator. This is kind of tricky because one tab needs pushed in and one needs pushed up and then you need to pull on the cable to release the assembly. I used a knife and a pen cap because they were handy, but 2 small screwdrivers would work. I hope the picture helps because it was a pain to try and capture. I had to rest it on the steering wheel and press the button with a pen that I had in my mouth.

Step 8: Release Instrument Panel

There are 3 wiring harnesses on the back of the instrument panel, disconnect these and it will be free. All three wiring harnesses have different dimensions so don't worry about getting them swapped.

Step 9: Swap Lights and Reassemble

Now all you have to do is change the lights out and reassemble. There are 6 large and 12 smaller lights, simply twist the socket counter-clockwise to remove. When you are reassembling take your time and make sure you have reconnected everything and don't strip the bolts. Also, make sure that the clips line up with the socket before tightening any bolts. Good Luck.



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    12 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Looking at the back of the instrument cluster, how would I get different colored LEDs in there? Say I want the gauge needles to light up blue, along with the miles, and the rest (that is stock green) to be just white?


    3 years ago

    Great guide, I've been looking for a clear set of instructions so I can do this for my Ranger :)


    6 years ago on Step 2

    You actually don't need those special removal tools, I found, as you just remove the entire black faceplate first via the bolts underneath, pull the whole thing out, then push the radio through.


    9 years ago on Step 9

    I was thinking about doing this to my 93 ranger that im kinda restoring.
    just got done rebulding the exhaust, puting in a $250 sound system and now on to replacing the front four wheel drive gear box    :-)

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 9

    did you ever get around to doing this i have a ranger just like yours and i was wondering how much the year 93 and 96 differ


    9 years ago on Step 9

    Hey Great Idea Man It looks sweet!!


    9 years ago on Step 8

    How does this work? Most of the tan ones appear to be where warning lights are. The grey ones seem to be located by the gauges, are they removeable?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The black provide illumination. The tan are the warning lights. I didn't mess with the gray metal tabs I assume they hold everything together.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Dash' disassembly is generally useful, good stuff. L