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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've done this in a Scion tC, Toyota Tacoma, and Scion FRS. I pulled the Renegades dash out and it turns out the Renegade uses the same type of LEDs. The Renegade uses 3 different sizes of LEDs on the cluster.

*Be warned that this requires steady hands and soldering skills. The LEDs are so small that you will need tweezers to work with them. The solder will need to have a sharp pointed tip as well.

I do not have a after shot of the cluster yet, because I just opened it up to figure out the light setup in the cluster, so that I know what type of LEDs to buy. I am only going to change out 6 LEDs that light up the numbers and dashes between. All the warning lights will be left stocked. I've changed the warning lights out before on the other cars with great results, but I decided that the Renegade's setup didn't require it. The main center console I did not what to get into to change. It might not even be possible to change it because it looks to be a large LCD screen.

Here is the how to remove the cluster. To install is in reverse order.

Here are the tools you will need to get the cluster out and take it apart.
Torx male size T10 (A long screw driver handle and a short one)
Torx male size T8
Antenna telescoping magnet
2 Spoons

To remove/replace the LEDs you will need these.
Soldering iron with a pointed tip. (one that has a removable tip makes all soldering jobs easier.)
Soldering medium

Adjust the seat and lower the steering wheel all the way down to make room to remove the cluster.

Pop these tabs out with a small flat head screw driver. Be careful because these tab covers are soft and can break. I used 2 small flat head screw drivers to get them out. One to hold the tab/clip and the other to pry and pop it out. Look at the picture with the screw driver in the tab cover, this shows where to pry the tab/clip back, so that you can pop it out. Use a short handled screw driver with a size T10 torx head to remove the screw.

After removing the 2 screws on the upper side of the cluster trim, it is still held on with 4 snap in tabs. 2 on the top side and 2 on the bottom side. Just grab the cluster trim where you can and pull it straight out towards you. View the picture of how the tabs look and where they are located.

The trim off.

Next remove these 2 size T10 torx screws, so that you can move the pleather steering column cover out of the way. This will make room for removing the cluster and make access to the 2 lower screws holding the cluster on. The pleather steering column cover can't be removed, unless you remove the steering wheel column cover as well, but you will not to remove it. Just move it out of the way.

Once the 2 T10 screws are removed, the cover is still held in with 2 clip on tabs. Again, pull the trim piece back and out towards you. Here is where and how the tabs look like.

Fold the trim piece back and in half.

Next, located the 4 T10 torx screws holding the cluster in place. There are 2 on top and 2 on the bottom. Use a magnetized T10 screw driver or use an telescoping magnet antenna to pull the screw out after loosening it. Try very hard not to drop the screws down the dash. To install these screws back on, use the telescoping magnet and start to screw the screw in 1 or 2 threads. Then tighten it with the T10 screw driver.

So far all of these screws are size T10 screws and they are all exactly the same. So you don't have to keep track of which one goes where.

Once the screws are removed, you can pull the cluster out. I finally find a cluster that can easily be removed out of the dash, yipee! A lot of the newer dashes only use 1 plug vs older cars. Other models use a push tab to remove the plug, which makes it hard to press to remove. And the wiring harness is very short, so it's hard to see how to remove the plug. The Renegade uses a long harness that lets you pull it out to easily access the plug. The plug uses a soft tab with a hold down lever that comes off very easy. Push the tab holding the red hold down lever in place and pull the red lever up and around. The plug comes out very easy after that.

Now the cluster is out and we can start working on taking the cluster apart to get to the LEDs.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here is the cluster out and ready to be taken apart. *Be very careful when doing this part. You don't want static electricity to fry to the cluster circuit board.

This is the back of the cluster. Note all the T8 size torx screws holding the back cover and the front cover together.

Once all the screws are removed, all the tabs/clips will also need to be undone to pull the 2 pieces apart. Start on one end and work your way around. It's very annoying to do on any cluster. I found it easier on the Renegade. You can see in the picture I have the tabs pulled apart.

Here are the 2 pieces apart. Be very careful not to touch the LCD screen or the inside part of the clear front face cover. Finger prints are hard to remove from both surfaces and may leave tiny scratches. If you need to clean these area, use a micro fiber cloth. Wet the micro fiber cloth with alcohol if needed.

Now you need to remove the next level of tabs/clips. You can see the white tabs/clips in the picture located on the top and bottom side of the cluster.

Here are all 3 pieces apart.

Next, remove the 2 needles. Note there position versus the gauge face. Take a picture if you need to. Try turning the needles counter clockwise and notice that it won't turn past that point. To remove the needles, use 2 spoons like in the picture and rotate the spoons up and outwards to lift the needles up and off. To install the needles back on, press them in just a bit until you feel it grips the metal needle on the inside. Then rotate the needle counter clockwise until it stops and then carefully keep rotating it until it points in the correct position that you noted before. With the needles in the correct position, go ahead and press them all the way on. The needles don't clip in place or show any indication of when they are on all the way. Just firmly press them in place. Don't press too hard or you risk breaking the motor behind the needle.

Here you can see the gauge faces off and how the LEDs sit. You still need to remove the last white piece of cluster trim to get to the circuit board. This last piece is what directs each LED to it's corresponding icon on the gauge faces. So you can change each individual LED to whatever light color you want. The 6 LEDs I'm interested in aren't visible with the white trim cover still on. Every other LED is. You need to remove the needles, but you don't need to remove the gauge faces. The gauge faces are held on from the center. There are 2 notches cut in the center that the gauge faces push into. Just pull them up firmly on each side to remove. I pushed them back on with my finger nail to get the edges back into the notches. The clear plastic behind the gauge faces are held on via tabs around the outside of it.

Next you need to remove the metal cover from the back of the circuit board. Look at the legs of the metal cover and notice that there are nubs that are pressed in place to hold it. I couldn't push these out by hand and had to use pliers to push them out. Be careful not to damage the circuit board. It doesn't take much to push the metal legs out. Start at one end and work you way around.

I'm not sure why the cluster needs the metal cover on it. It's not a heat sink or anything like that. It looks to be just a cover. It might be there to protect any damage to the circuit board because the plastic cover that goes over this part have large vents that may allow things to get to the circuit board. But with the cluster in place I can't see anything getting through the vents and damaging the circuit board without the metal cover in place. When I reinstall the cluster, I left the metal cover off, so that I can access it easier later on when I install the LEDs. Being that pressing pliers against the circuit board was nerve wrenching. I might just leave the metal cover off permanently afterwards as well.

Here is the metal cover off. Note the legs around the cover. Once the metal cover is off, you need to unplug a 2 wire plug and 1 ribbon cable. The black 2 wire plug can easily be pushed out with a pick, tweezers, or small screw driver. Push it back in the same way. I don't recommend pulling on the wires to get it out. The ribbon cable has a clip lock on it. Use a small tool to lift the clip lock up and pull the ribbon cable out.
Note the 4 T8 screws around the center of the circuit board. These hold the LCD on, but only 1 screw holds the circuit board to the LCD screen. You just need to remove the lower right corner screw. This screw has a white ring around the hole. The other 3 screws don't touch the circuit board and there is no white ring around those holes.
Once the screw and the 2 plugs are off, you can press the white tabs around the circuit board that are holding it in place.


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here are the last 2 pieces apart. Note the 1 screw that holds them together in the bottom right corner that I have removed. Note that on the circuit board the one hole with the white ring around it where the screw was in place.

Here are some shots of the LEDs. The ones forming the circle are for all of the warning lights. Reference the picture of the gauge faces for each one. The 2 in the center of that circle are for the needles. The change the red paint on the needles, use a razor and scrape the paint off. Then paint with your desire color. The other 2 LEDs of the same size, located on the bottom of the circuit board are for more warning lights. All of these LEDs are the same size - SMD 5050. SMD = Surface Mount Diode is the type of LED. 5050 is the size.
Note the notch on the corner of the 5050 SMD. That is the positive side of the LED and the new one has to be soldered on in the same direction. LEDs are one polarity, so mounting it backwards will not work. Some circuit boards will have a + sign on the positive side. Some won't have the mark, so you have to remember or take a picture of each LED. You should only replace each LED 1 at a time anyways.

There are 2 other LED sizes on the circuit board. The smallest one on the there is for RPM and MPH icons. I don't know what sizes there are and they look very difficult to work with because they are so small. I am also fine with them being white so I will not change them out.

The 6 LEDs that I'm interested in and the reason why I did all of this is the 2 sets of 3 rectangle LEDs on each side under the circle of LEDs. The yellow ones that are 3 together on each side. These are 5630 SMD. I'm going to change these from white to red. Note that you can remove the clear piece of plastic behind the gauge faces. This is the piece that these LEDs light up. I thought about using stick on transparent colored plastic sheets on this clear piece, but that will not ultimately change the color of the number and dashes because the light is shined into the plastic and it travels inside of the clear plastic. It's not shine through the direct back of the clear plastic piece.

Soldering the stock LEDs off and the new ones on is a little tricky. It takes precision and technique. Use a pointed end tip on the soldering iron. You don't want to hold the soldering iron on the circuit board too long because the excess heat can damage the circuit board and/or new LEDs. To remove the stock LEDs push the soldering iron tip against one side of the soldered LED until the solder heats up and the push/left the LED up and off. This will bend the other side up. That's fine. Once the first side is apart, do the same on the other side and push the LED off the circuit board. You will most likely destroy the stock LED when you remove it. If there is still some solder on the connect on the circuit board, just heat it up with the soldering iron into a nice pool. If you need to, add a little more solder medium. Don't add too much or the LED will not sit flat on the circuit board. If you have too much solder, heat it up and scrape it off with a piece of wire. You can use flux to remove it the correct way too.
Once the new solder amount has been properly added, hold the new LED in place in the correct polarity direction. Heat up the solder and continue to hold/press the LED in place until the solder melts and take the LED. Then do the same on the other side of the LED. Doing this part is very annoying because of the grip you have with the tweezers on the very small LEDs. Make sure the LED and circuit board both have good contact with the solder medium. Add more solder if you think necessary. Do a couple of LEDs and then put the necessary parts back together and test the cluster on the car. Make sure every LED lights up properly before putting everything back together. You don't want to take everything apart again for a bad connection or no contact at all. You can do all of them and they do a check, but I usually do a few and periodically check the cluster for full light up.

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221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So I ordered some LEDs and got them in today. Pulled the cluster apart again and they are the wrong size... I was so excited too.

Now I have to order some more and hope they are the correct size. I'm pretty sure I need size 3020. I know for sure the square ones forming the circle around the needles are 5050.

Finding SMD LEDs in size 3020 and in red seems to be a challenge though. It seems the public don't use them enough for dealers to sell them. I keep getting a list of dealers that are selling LED bulbs that use 3020 SMDs on them. Seems like the manufacturers are the main purchasers of size 3020 SMDs. I did find some, so let's hope they are correct and I can show you guys how it looks.

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1,635 Posts
Did you check DigiKey for LED's? They stock lots of sizes.

You are brave taking this apart. I doubt I will perform this surgery on my new car. I am skilled in soldering with tiny parts and can offer some tips.

- Use two soldering irons; hold one with each hand. As the solder melts,
simply lift off the part with both tips.
- Use only enough heat for the job necessary (if your irons have adjustable heat).
- Soldering irons with tiny chisel tips helps although pointed ones will work too.
- To re-attach, hold part with suitable tool and solder one side at a time.
- For very tiny parts, use a long working distance microscope. A long working distance head mounted magnifier will work too.

The metal shield is likely for reduction of EMI (electromagnetic interference) either to the circuit board or from it. It might be a good idea to re-use it.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So the LED's I found we're the right size, but not the right spec. Seems like these sizes aren't as commonly used by the public and they don't come in a lot of available specs to the public. I only found one in the color I wanted and had to settle with whatever the unlisted specs it was built to.

Spec, as in voltage, amp, resistance, brightness, etc.

The Renegade's circuit board does not indicate the flow of power either. So I had to solder the new LED in and test it to see if the polarity was correct. And it was hard to test because at least 1 trim piece had to be put back on in order to plug the cluster back in to test it. And that 1 trim piece covered the new LED. So I had to put the trim piece on but leave it loose enough to lift and check the LED. It was a hassle and doing all of this with the bare circuit board, there was a high risk of frying it.

The new red LEDs were cheaply made compared to the ones from Jeep. The first one I soldered on was backwards and I destroyed/melted it while removing it. The second attempt I got it on the correct way, but the brightness was very poor. It was probably 1/3 the brightness of the stock white ones. I only did one to test everything, because I was already expecting a chance that the new red LED might have a brightness problem. Parts of the Scion tC mod require new resistors as well.

So this project was a bust. I removed the new red LED and soldered the stock white one back on. If there are any electricians out there that can do all the measuring and math, please let us know the spec of the LED that we need to make this work. I hate electrical work and have no clue where to start with this. I do the mechanical work.

So back to the drawing board. Taking the cluster gauge faces fully apart, I can either spray the back of the clear piece the color I want in "transparent" spray paint or I can use some transparent vinyl. This seems like an easier option and is easier for anybody to do. I went with LEDs first cause that's what I've done and that what I know. After failing that and looking at other options, the actual clear plastic piece on the gauge face seems to be better.

If anyone wants to use the information here to attempt this, please feel welcome to it. Just please post your outcome for everyone to see. My focus at the moment doesn't leave me time to play around with this project for awhile.

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I have in the past used colored photo filters ("gels") to change gauge illumination and interior light color (red/orange light to preserve nigh vision of driver while navigator scrambles about. Colored photo filters have the advantage of being very colorfast, they don't fade much over time. Lee and Rosco make such filters in various sizes. Sample booklets are available. I have always liked red or dark amber/orange dash illumination best. Some people complain it makes my dash look like the helm of a submarine at battle stations, but I like it.

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Great guide! I like the white dash myself but this was a good read and I was interested in removal of the first level of trim around the cluster for purposes of expanding my interiors custom look. I've done a similar project before involving soldering and Desoldering leds and some key switches in my ducky shine II mechanical keyboard. Not nearly as complex but it was very satisfying to have a custom mod. I hope you get the answers you seek to finish your project.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So the lift kit brought me back into playing with the Jeep.

Since the vinyls were so cheap, I ordered a couple different colors to show everyone how it would look. I didn't do a full color change for each color because I didn't want to keep taking this thing apart. So I did a half and half change. Make sure you purchase transparent vinyl. Like the ones used for headlights and tail lights.

I used my camera on my phone in the morning. So the natural lighting isn't the best to show off the mod. I also used a blanket over the cluster to try and get a darker effect. The colors in real life looks a lot better.

I used the following colors.
Light Blue
Dark Blue

From left to right you can see the gauge face, 2nd clear plastic piece with the line nubs, and the 1st clear plastic piece with etching.

The first test was to see which clear plastic piece would yield the best color illumination results. I used light blue on both gauges.

To install the vinyl, cut a piece slightly larger than the gauge face. Stick it to the desired surface. Then used a new razor blade to cut around the gauge, using the gauge as a guide to run the razor blade around. It's much easier if your use a new blade rather than a old one or a pair of scissors or a knife. You can run the razor against the plastic gauge face to easily cut the vinyl. For the 1st clear plastic piece with the etching, there is a "v" extending down away from the flat surface of the face. Cut this piece of the vinyl down the center and fold them down into the "v".

The left being the RPM gauge. I use the vinyl on the back side of the 2nd clear plastic piece with the line nubs. I put the vinyl on the back side because the top side has the line nubs on it. The back side is a smoother surface. The line nubs also have to fit through the gauge face.

The right side is the speedometer gauge. I used the vinyl on the top side of the 1st plastic piece with the etching. I used the vinyl on the top side because it's a smoother surface. The back side having the etching on it. The main reason is the white light shines through the plastic piece and out the top side of it. Putting the colored vinyl on the back of this will not be in the path of the white LED light.

Here's how they look both on.

As you can see in the photos the left side is poorly color illuminated vs the right. So the best place to put the vinyl is on the top side of the 1st plastic piece with the etching.

So with the best vinyl placement location decided, I tested the rest of the colors. Here you can see amber on the left and yellow on the right. You can also note which piece of clear plastic I used the vinyl on. The sunlight and graphics affects the illumination on the RPM gauge vs the speedometer. So the speedometer looks more vibrant.

The next colors up are dark blue on the right and purple on the left. With the dark blue I decided to show you what else you could do. I used the red vinyl to cover the redline section of the RPM gauge. There is actually a purple transition between the 2 colors when lit.

You can mix and match any sections you want. You can also try to double layer the vinyl to get more color out of it. Or you can put vinyl on both clear plastic pieces.

Here is my final decision with the red. I just used 1 layer on the 1st clear plastic piece. I'll update later tonight with a picture of it in the dark.


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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I just wanted to let you guys know what a PITA this was to write. It took twice as long to post this, then to actually swap all those colors out. This is the same reason I don't like to record videos of me out on the trails. The editing part of all of this sucks. I rather have fun doing it, than editing and posting all of this stuff. I just like to share the knowledge I gain from what I enjoy. I just really hate the process.

Photobucket wasn't uploading all of my photos. I've been having issues with them on and off. I'm done with it now. Moving to Flickr. After trying to upload these photos all day with several methods, I'm done with Photobucket. Then while I was trying to get these photos to upload, my browser crashes on me and I loose everything I was typing about the mod. So I had to retype the whole thing and cut a lot of information out from the first draft I wrote.

Hopefully Flickr will do me good in the future posts to come.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It's night now. Here are the photos of my red cluster. I noticed the far edges of the gauges are a bit light. Then when I look at the cluster at different angles the edges all around are a bit lighter. I think this is due to the white light getting around the edges of the clear plastic pieces. The red is also not a red as the needles. This is to be expected since I'm using overlays on a white LED instead of just using red LEDs.

Overall I like how they turned out. This was a very simple mod that anyone can do. I hope to see everyone else's mods soon, so we can have more night comparison photos.


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Thank you for the write-up. It will help those who want to tackle this modification.

In general I think the best color for crisp vision is either dark amber or red. Both also can ge fairy bright without destroying your night vision. Audi and BMW have oftenn used amber and red for good reason.

Green would be the second best choice, because the human eye is very sensitive to free light, so a low light level makes still for good readability. Green used to be VW's choice color, before they went to the evil side.

Blue and violet (VW, I am looking at you!) are a horrendous choice, since they do destroy night vision, and because whatever is lighted looks fuzzy and never sharp.

One more thing: to color the clear discs, (if you have white LEDs installed) you could use photo-quality colored "gels" (plastic foil filters made by Lee, Rosco, or Kodak). They can easily be cut with an X-Acto knife and circle cutter, and they are colorfast, meaning they will not noticeably fade over time.

Other option would be colored dipping lacquer, maybe directly on the white LEDs.

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1,189 Posts
nice write up

but for the time it takes to do this
i dont see that big of a change to make me want to do this
and i dont look at my dash long enough to worry about the color

but it did come out nice
thanks for the write up - im sure others will enjoy this mod

i use to do this with harley speedos and guages and radios ,,so i know the drill lolol

instead of spoons to remove the needles
you can use a fork if you dont have the proper tool to do this next time
its just as good and only need one hand

again ,,niice detailed photo'd write up ..
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