How-To: Gauge Cluster/HVAC/Toggle Switch LED Swap


Active Member
Guys, this is heavily borrowed from 02stang46 on another forum. I have posted here and modified it to help others out.

Hey guys, as I promised I am going to be writing up a thread on how and what you need in order to change your gauge face, HVAC controls, and the three toggle switches (in order: rear defroster, traction control, and fogs lights) to whatever color LED illumination you would want while using your stock overylays. Since I myself was not a fan of the "christmas theme" green and red illumination I sought after a way to make mine all solid blue to compliment the black scheme with the car. I had hit a few bumps in the road throughout the installs and had the help of several users on this site, but I hope this thread will answer any questions that I had making this an easy going fun install. All in all, it is a relatively cheap mod and the end result is definately a looker!:cooldude: I will list the tools needed, bulbs required for install, and a detailed how-to summary so everyone can do this without searching throughout endless forums only finding vague answers especially for the HVAC and toggles. Pictures will be at the end of the thread. Not too many pictures of taking apart cluster itself as I have provided an in-depth install summary and it is simply self explanatory in my opinion.

Finished result:



Tools Needed (Recommended):
T-15 Torx Driver (Cluster and HVAC)
800+ Grit Sandpaper (Gauge Overlay)
Flat Head Screw Driver (Gauge Cluster)
Needle Nose Pliers (Bulb sockets)
Kitchen Fork (Needle Removal)
Credit Card (Needle Re-Application
Soldering Iron (Toggle Switches)

LED Bulbs:
Gauge Cluster:
(5) 74-xHP3 Wedge Base Bulbs (for this the "x" will denote the color you end up choosing... mine were blue so BHP3)
#74-xHP3 LED CAR BULB Specifications
HVAC Control:
(2) WLED-x5 5 LED Wedge Base Bulbs
WLED-x5 (194 type) Wedge Base bulbs Specifications
Toggle Switches:
(6) 3mm LEDs
(6) 1/4 Watt 470 Ohm Resisters
Went to local Radioshack! Like 6 bucks total.
Dome Light:
(1) 4410-x9 9 LED Wedge Base Bulbs
4410-x9 Festoon Bulb Specifications

Gauge Cluster LED Install:
Before starting the procedure below. Make sure your car has a full tank of gas (you will see why later). Then you want to take your car on a 5 minute drive so it is fully warmed up. At this point, snap pictures of the car's gauge cluster when it is running; when the ignition is on (engine off); and with the key in the off position. This is a crucial step to help with correct needle placement.

1. Disconnect negative terminal on the battery.
2. Look under the steering wheel and and above the gauge cluster, you will see two T-15 Torx head screws holding in the gauge outer trim. Remove with Torx head driver.
3. Remove Headlight Knob- Do this simply by pulling out the retainer clip (in the little slot; pull away from shaft) and then pull with even pressure untill the headlight knob releases.
4. Now we can remove the surrounding gauge bezel (trim). Starting from the bottom I started pulling away from the dash with slight pressure untill all of the clips pop out.
5. Once it is removed, you will see that the gauge cluster itself has four T-15 screws holding it in on the outer four corners. Remove these.
6. Then you can start to remove the cluster. Put the steering wheel all the way down and tip the bottom of the gauge forward and then slowly pull out until you can see the two harnesses on the back. Remove these, then take out the cluster.
7. At this point take the cluster to your workshop (office) with a flat work table with the proper tools above so we can further break down the cluster.
8. We want access to the needles and the overlay itself, to do this remove the 8 remaining outer torx head screws (again T-15) and lift straight up to remove the plastic mount peice protecting needles.
9. Once this is done, take a kitchen fork and put the prongs of the fork on both side of the needle and lift slowly staight up. Steady even pressure and it will come off, it is just plastic that is slid onto the pin. (No need to tape or take the extra time to no where needles position was as we will re-calibrate these after LED install).
10. Remove the overlay itself. Take a flat head screw driver and scrape gently and flat below the gauge overlay. There is adhesive Ford used to help hold it flat on the diffuser below. Simply work your way around and pull up starting from one end gently until it is fully removed.
11. As seen in the attached pictures below on the backside of the gauge overlay there is a green, on some years blue film on the back of the numbers.
12. This film needs to be removed so the numbers are clear so whichever color LED you used, the overlay will project. To do this, you have two choices. Take the time to wet sand it. I tried this it did work but took longer and it will be tough to get in those tight spaces in the tachometer. I used a dremel to finish this with a fine sander attached. It took a little over two hours for me as I took my time. Make sure you leave the red line on the tach and the red dash on the fuel empty. All other green symbols (blinkers, ABS, etc) you can dremel off. (slonison, I sanded them off and bought the xHP3 of my color choice that I wanted for each bulb)
13. Once the sanding is complete, one of the harder parts is done. Time to install the LEDs. Do not put the overlay and needles back on yet as you will need to flip the cluster to its backside and install your colored LEDs. To do this twist and pull the little white socket out and put the new LED in. 5 Total. (or however many of the bottom colored emergency symbols you wanted to change.)
14. Once they are installed take the diffuser to the car and plug it back into the two harnesses. Make sure you reconnect the battery after or you will be sitting there flustered why nothing was working (made this mistake cause I was rushing ;)) We are doing this to see if all 5 bulbs work. If one or two do not work, don't panic! All you have to do is flip the bulb around in the socket changing the bulbs polarity so it will work. Repeat this step until all 5 are illuminated. (When doing the emergency lights, I wanted to make sure they all worked because obviously if you're not low on fuel it won't light up either way. so I would put it in the battery first, then when I knew I had gotten the polarity correct, I would transplant ti directly into the socket of choice with polarity in mind.)
15. Once they are illuminated place the gauge overlay onto its normal resting position, you can use adhesive to keep it in place but I didn't bother as it isn't going anywhere. The LED install is now complete all that is left is needle placement, and reinstalling cluster back into car (reverse steps 1-6).

Needle Install:

Remember when I said to take pictures of your cluster, this is the part where your pictures come in handy! To start off, you need to be in your car with the gauge cluster connected (two harnesses and battery connected) and just the gauge overlay installed so you can begin placing needles. Unfortunately, you cannot just place the needles and expect it to be golden. If have any luck like me, you will find out that it reads you a half tank of gas (when it is full), you are going 65 (cars sitting in driveway), and your taching out at 4500 RPM (wrong again)! :nogrinner There are a series of steps you can do to eliminate these problems.

1. Now assuming you haven't ran the car, you can eliminate 4 of the smaller gauges (fuel, engine temp, battery, and oil pressure) by simply turning the key on to accessory position and with the gauge connected place the needles in the same position as the picture. These for the most part will be accurate as nothing changed and it can be double checked later with the next step.
2. For the speedometer and tachometer you can either look off your RPM when your car is running and simply place the needle. Then for the speedo have someone sit in the passenger seat with GPS while in a parking lot and place the needle on the GPS's readout speed. Or follow the steps below (thanks to sillyrabbit0420):
-Put your key in the ignition
-Press and hold the odometer button while turning the key to the "accessory" position
-The readout will say "Test"
-Release the button
-Start the car
-Cycle through the screens until you get to the digital tach read out. Then you know what RPMs your engine is running at and can position the needle on the tach accordingly.

(slonison, for the speedo, I realized that doing this twice... while the car is stopped, take the tiny stopper black pin out of the left side of the speedo. This will allow the needle to pass the left side and drop lower than the 0mph area. When the needle off place the needle onto the pin straight down as if on 6 o'clock and this should have the speedo in the corect spot while driving.)

HVAC LED Install:
*Note: If you are switching toggles you may want to consider doing this at the same time if you do not want to take the dash apart twice.
Picasa Web Albums - Stephen J. Lonison - Serafina - HV...

1. First you need to remove the bezel to have access to the HVAC control panel. To do this simply pop the clips out of the shifter boot, starting from the base of the shifter (where 4th gear is) and working your way up. By providing gentle even pressure and some force it will pop out. Then put the car in first gear and slide the unit over to the driver side giving you access to the bezel around your headunit and HVAC.

2. Next, pull from the bottom of the dash bezel and the first couple clips will pop out. Before you can remove it all the way by working your way up like the shifter boot you have to disconnect the three toggle switches. To do this take a small flathead screw driver and push the small tab in located on the right side of the switch while pulling the back colored portion of the switch in the opposite direction toward the front of the car.
3. Then remove the knobs by pulling straight out toward the rear of the car. You can pry with a flat head on the edges, but be careful not to scratch overlay.

4. Once the HVAC unit itself is exposed comes the tricky parts. You want to get inside the actual unit so you can remove the green plastic film Ford put inside the diffuser/reflector. To do this you have to pry evenly on the 10 white tabs (5 on top, 5 on bottom) so you can remove the unit within the housing.

5. When it is removed look on the rear side of the diffuser. There is a plastic casing pinching a piece of laminent Ford used to create green illumination. This needs to be removed. The easiest way I found out about going about this using a flat head and tweezers to pry up on the laminent where there were breaks in the plastic diffuser. It is squeezed into tight spaces so you have to work it and remove it in sections making it easier. It will take time but when you have a good portion removed pinch an edge with needle nose and pull it gently so it slides out all together and does not rip. (slonison, I used needle nosed pliers here)


6. Next you need to remove the green on the knobs. Flip the knob on its backside and you will see a little plastic chip almost the size of a small lego. Using needle nose pliers firmly grab both side of it and pull straight out. It will take force, but it will not break do not worry. When it is removed you will see a green on the tip. Ford painted on the edge of this. Simply use a razer blade and scrape off most of the residue then use plastic cleaner to clean it up.

7. Now that you are done altering the unit itself and everything is clear/white you are ready to reinstall what you took apart. After that is complete you need to put in the LEDs. To do so you need to remove the 4 T-15 head screws holding the unit and pull it out as much as the rear connectors allow.

8. Once this is done, there are two black sockets similar to the white ones on the gauge cluster. Simply twist and pull outward from the unit and install bulb, once again checking polarity.
*Note: You do NOT need to remove the rear connectors. This will simply be a waste of time and a whole other mess you have to put back together.

Notice here that for comparison, I did just one knob handle so you could see the color difference. I had WHITE LED bulbs in at this point.

Toggle Switch Install:
(Rear Defrost, Trac Control, Fog Light Toggles)

Tools Needed:
1 Soldering Iron
1 Roll of Solder
1 Razor Blade
6 3mm LEDs (of your color choice) (I bought 10 just in case)
6 1/4 470 ohm Resistors. (Radioshack for really cheap. I also bought 10 of these just in case)

First, let me educate you about the Toggle switches. The toggle switches have two LED bulbs on the inside. One which, when turning on the interior lights, activates the lettering/symbol indicator. The second, which illuminates when the particular function is activated. These LEDs have a built-in resistor whcih dumbs down the current flowing into it. I tried this without resistors on the actual LEDs from radioshack and trust me, unless you want to waste your money, don't bother trying without the resistor.

1. Pop off the shifter bezel, you've gotta be a pro at this by now.
2. Pop off the HVAC bezel, disconnect your toggle switch and pop them out.
3. Below is an example of the inside of the foglight switch. The top LED is the (we'll call it this from now on) "function" bulb and the bottom is the "indicator" bulb.

4. I would suggest doing each toggle at a time. It took me about 3 days, 4 hours each day trying to get these things right, although I was testing and pretty much breaking new ground for you guys.
5. The toggle switch head can be popped off simply by pulling on it.
6. Using a razor blade, lift the 4 tabs (2 on each side) to pull off the surrounding side housing for the toggle switch. This will expose the wiring for you to work on.
7. NOTE: Another reason to do each switch at a different time is that the wiring within each switch IS DIFFERENT!!!
8. Make a drawing (mine is below) of what the wiring looked like before using your needle nosed pliers to pull off the LEDs. This is the path you will need to use when setting your new LEDs up.
9. Having experience in college soldering will greatly help you at this step but it's not necessary. Soldering is method by which conductive metal is melted to acted as a sort of glue between wires. This is hold most electrical components are attached to circuit boards. Match some YouTube videos on this and you will get a feel for how it works.
10. To learn the polarity of the LED, hold the LED in your hand and notice that one side of the LED terminal is longer than the other. Remember? LEDs are polar and must be attached in a certain way. This longer side is the positive node and must be attached to positive source.
11. At this point, just follow the diagrams that I have created below and the pictures I have taken and your LEDs will be working in no time. I tested and tested and tested. Do NOT put your car back together after your first run through with the soldering otherwise you will find yourself most likely taking it all back apart.
12.I found it easiest to solder the long leads of the LEDs to the switch. Then solder the resistor to the other end of the switch. Then solder them together to complete the circuit. This will ensure that you do not waste LEDs/Resistors by clipping them too short.

Original Wiring:

New Schematic Drawing

Each complete Wiring to come later...
Rear Defrost


Fog Lights

Automatic Shifter Light LED Install: Until I do the write-up here's a link to my images below.
Picasa Web Albums - Stephen J. Lonison - Serafina - Au...

1.First, you'll want to remove the bezel surrounding the shifter. At this point, this should be second nature for anyone who has been doing any modding, from toggles, to radio. So I'm not even going to copy and paste the picture from above here.
2.Pull off the shifter handle. Do this by using a tiny allen/hex wrench, to remove the one screw holding the handle onto the shifter bar. This screw is tiny so please try not to lose it. The shifter handle may feel like it has been glue on but this is for two reasons. 1. It's just plain really stuck on there. 2. The overdrive wires snake up inside the handle and plug into the button. I made the mistake of just pulling for my life and ripped the wires and now I have to use alternative means to use overdrive... no big deal right?

3.Next, what you're going to need to do is use a T-10? or T-15 screw driver to remove the two screws holding the black shifter cover that houses the numbers/letters and the bulb. This should just be able to pull and slide off. The housing may feel like its stuck on something. This is probably the bulb. Just like the bulb in your headlights, reach under, unscrew the bulb holder and pop it out.

Here, the black wire to the left of the shifter bar is the LED holder. The black wire running almost parallel to the shifter bar is the overdrive wires that were up inside the handle.

4.Separate the housing cover and housing bottom and you will see the 3 components of the automatic shifter. NOTE: I used this opportunity to clean the sliding piece as it had built up grime and I wanted to do away with the dust and grossness on it.


5. Using pliers, pull out the green cover from the housing cover and BAM, your green troubles are solved.
6. Plug the Led color of our choice into into the socket and test to make sure the polarity is correct.



7. Throw everything back together and you're good to go.

NOTE: I have not yet found a way to preserve the OD wiring when pulling off the handle. This is something that I am not responsible for nor liable for.

That is pretty much it! You have completed the install and made your dash one hell of a custom peice now. This is just a guideline, I am sure there will be questions along the way so just post them here or PM me and I will gladly answer them. Hopefully this thread will be noticed, and can provide answers for upcoming posts! Enjoy and happy modding! :bigthumbsup


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Last edited by a moderator:


very nice write up, imo though, some of the lights dont look good because its not distributed evenly.
Last edited by a moderator:


Active Member
Pictures pick up all of the light strength. My eyes seemingly interpret everything as even though :confused:

The only thing I have yet to figure out and make look nice are the needles on the cluster


so its just the cameras making areas look brighter? for instance 20-30mph, 90-100mph, 2, 5 & 6 on rpm, the hvac high speed dot, the bottom of the hot temp side, and number 2 on gear shifter. just curious because when i first seen it, i didnt think it would look good if i did it.


Active Member
so its just the cameras making areas look brighter? for instance 20-30mph, 90-100mph, 2, 5 & 6 on rpm, the hvac high speed dot, the bottom of the hot temp side, and number 2 on gear shifter. just curious because when i first seen it, i didnt think it would look good if i did it.

That's exactly what it is. I know that it sounds nuts, but I think because the picture was taken in the dark with no flash, it creates a high super high exposure in order to capture as much light as possible. It doesn't look anywhere near that in person.