The speedometer is a critical part of the vehicle. It tells the driver a greatly important detail: how fast he or she is going. This is a safety feature of all vehicles and driving without out a working speedometer is not only not recommended but can also result in an unintentional speeding violation.
Speedometers can seem like complex pieces of machinery, but this article is going to cover just how to replace your vehicle's speedometer.
- Warning: Some speedometers also house the mileage counter, or odometer, for the vehicle. This can either be in the form of a mechanical counter or one that is programmed in to take mileage readings. Be aware that tampering with the odometer of a vehicle is illegal and can result in hefty fines. Vehicles with a computer-controlled odometer will have to be programmed by a manufacturer’s computer to read the correct mileage.
Part 1 of 2: Removing the old speedometer
Step 1: Remove the negative battery cable. The first step is to locate the negative battery terminal. The negative battery cable should be removed so there is no chance of electrical damage when working with the speedometer.
Loosen the battery cable bolt and remove the negative battery cable. Set the cable aside so it can not touch the battery.
Step 2: Remove the instrument cluster. Locate the screws holding the instrument cluster in place.
Some of these screws may be hidden behind other panels that will need removed. This varies by make and model.
Once the screws are located, begin to remove them. Once all the screws are removed, make sure the instrument cluster is loose.
Pull the cluster out just enough for the cluster’s wiring to be visible. There may be multiple plugs. Unhook all the connectors to the instrument cluster so it is completely free. Remove the instrument cluster entirely from the vehicle and set it on a safe work area on a towel.
Step 3: Access the speedometer. To be able to access the speedometer, the cluster’s plastic cover must be removed. Using a small screwdriver, pry up very lightly on the cover’s tabs to release them.
Continue this all the way around the cluster until the plastic cover is able to be removed.
Step 4: Remove the speedometer from the instrument cluster. With the plastic cover removed it should be a simple matter to locate the bolts that hold the speedometer in place. Remove the bolts securing the speedometer to the instrument cluster.
The speedometer should now lift free easily.
Part 2 of 2: Installing the new speedometer
Step 1: Install the new speedometer into the cluster. Place the new speedometer in the space vacated by the old speedometer.
Tighten the bolts that hold the speedometer into place. Make sure the speedometer is secured into the cluster.
Step 2: Replace the plastic cover over the instrument cluster. Reinstall the plastic cover removed previously onto the instrument cluster.
Carefully lock the clips into place without breaking them. Make sure the cover is secure.
Step 3: Reinstall the instrument cluster into the dash. First, reconnect any connectors or plugs that were previously disconnected to remove the cluster.
Then, place the instrument cluster back into the dashboard. Install all the screws that hold the cluster in place.
Install any other panels removed to gain access to the cluster.
Step 4: Reconnect the battery cable. Go back under the hood and reconnect the negative battery cable. Tighten the cable to the terminal.
Step 5: Test your new speedometer. Drive the vehicle at a low speed in a safe location and check that the speedometer is reading the correct speed.
Confirm that the speed changes as the vehicle drives slower and faster.
Replacing the speedometer can seem like a large job, but when broken down into steps, many are able to complete it themselves. If you have any questions along the way, you can always Ask a Mechanic. If this task seems like too much for you to do on your own, YourMechanic also performs speedometer service and repair. The technicians at YourMechanic are standing by to assist.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Replace a Speedometer and was authored by Spencer Clayton.