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How-To: Swap Gauge Clusters 99-04

Discussion in 'V6 Mustang Articles' started by slonison, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. slonison

    slonison Active Member

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    This is going to be a how-to for swapping gauge clusters.

    I'm going to go through several things.

    1. How do Gauge Clusters Work?
    2. Swapping while Keeping Cluster Board
    3. Swapping without Keeping Cluster Board
    4. Clusters which are available
    5. Swapping "up/down" clusters



    1. How do Gauge Clusters Work?

    The are two difficulties with swapping gauges clusters. The first is that the PATs system ties the gauges cluster to the keys which start the car. The second is the fact that swapping "up/down" causes the speedometer to read incorrectly. The Cluster Board (herein known as CB) is the circuit board inside of the gauge cluster which stores information about the car.


    PATs:
    Did you ever notice the Theft light in the car and how it flashes when you move away from the car. The PATs system works by cutting off the ignition system when the correct key is not located in the car (within range of the CB). If you try to swap the gauge cluster without addressing this you will end up pulling the codes from the computer, and it gives you P1260 - Theft Detected - Engine Disabled code. Detailed PATs Explanation http://www.bullittarchive.com/7011.htm


    Needle Sweeps:
    The needles move for each gauge move due to a motor. Each of the 6 gauges has the same analog servo (step) motor. They can't be flashed. They are controlled by the cluster microcontroller and told how much to sweep (50%, 75%, etc.). The controller is configured to match the overlay or gauge values. The controller would need to be recalibrated or reflashed. There must be some sort of firmware.
    [​IMG]

    Ford has a microcontroller, for the V6 (120 mph speedo), GT (150 mph speedo), Cobra (160 mph speedo), Mach 1 (150 mph speedo), Saleen (200 mph speedo). I am not sure if these are different microprocessors or the same microcontroller flashed with differing firmware. If it is firmware, Ford should be able to flash the microprocessor if they had the firmware. I have confirmed with Saleen that the machine they used to recalibrate the microcontroller to match the 200mph cluster has been demaged beyond repair and they have no intention of fixing it. Saleen Cluster Repair Thread


    2. Swapping without Keeping Cluster Board

    I swapped my gauge cluster without keeping the CB. The pros of swapping this way is that it is much easier and faster. The swap will literally be a simple plug and play swap. The other, and more important benefit of doing it this way, is that you keep the CB which allows the speedo and tach to read correctly as it has the correct firmware for the gauge face.

    The problem is that the mileage is going to be whatever was on the cluster before it was plugged into your car. The mileage can be reprogrammed by the dealership, but the dealership here in Jersey quoted me 150$ so f*&^ that. To give you an example, when I swapped my v6 to GT cluster, I went from 100K mi to 133K mi. When I swapped again from GT to Mach 1 Cluster, I went from 142K mi to 57K mi. Because I never plan on selling my car, no big deal. The other problem is that the PATs problem is going to stop you from starting your car. It can be disabled in your tune, but keep in mind, you're disabling the one stock anti-theft measure that FORD enabled. If you don't have an aftermarket alarm system, you're on your own and the liability is yours.

    I would recommend this swap if you are swapping "up/down" to a different model as your stock cluster.

    Pros:
    Faster
    Easier
    Retains Cluster Calibration (Speedo and Tach)

    Cons:
    Mileage (ignore or pay to reset)
    PATs Problems (disable or reconfigure)


    3. Swapping while Keeping Cluster Board

    I've never done this swap, but the problem with this swap is that the install takes longer as it's not a simple cluster swap. I've heard it takes around 45-60 minutes. The bigger problem with this occurs when you swap "up/down". This will be covered later.

    The pro's with this is that the CB will be swapped so you will be able to keep your PATs system in tact as well as keep the correct mileage on your car.

    I would recommend this swap if you are swapping to the same cluster model as your stock cluster.

    Pros:
    Retains Mileage
    No PATs Problems

    Cons:
    Longer Install
    Loses Cluster Calibration (if swapping "up/down")


    Tools:
    Torque screwdrivers

    Removal:
    Start by turning the cluster over and you will see 7 torque screws holding the back of the cluster on. Start by removing the 7 torque screws. Once those are removed remove the back plate, and you will see ribbon cable attached to the center of the circuit card. Carefully disconnect that cable from the circuit board. Now you can lift the circuit card off. The only things holding the circuit card on are the metal posts that are slide into the circuit card. Make sure that you are careful as you guide the ribbon connection through the circuit board. Set the card off to the side.
    Repeat the above for the second cluster.

    Installation:
    To install the old circuit card in the new cluster guide the ribbon cable through the hole in the circuit card. Then line up all the gauge posts relating to the location on the circuit card. Slowly push down on the circuit card until it is fully seated. Now hook up the ribbon cable carefully making sure that you don’t bend any of the pins on the circuit card. Once the card is seated and the cable is hooked back up place the back of the cluster back on and reinstall the torque screws. Now you can install the cluster in the car and you should be good to go.



    4. Clusters which are available

    V6
    Speedo: 120 max
    Tach: 5400 Redline, 7000 Max
    [​IMG]
    LED Swapped


    GT
    Speedo: 150 max
    Tach: 5800 Redline, 8000 Max
    [​IMG]


    00 Cobra R
    Speedo: 180 max
    Tach: 6500 Redline, 8000 Max
    Top right: Digital Volt
    [​IMG]


    99-01 Cobra
    Speedo: 160 max
    Tach: 6800 Redline, 8000 Max
    Top right: Digital Volt
    [​IMG]


    03/04 Cobra
    Speedo: 160 max
    Tach: 6500 Redline, 8000 Max
    Top right: Mechanical Boost
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Mach 1
    Speedo: 150 Max
    Tach: 6800 Redline, 8000 Max
    [​IMG]


    Roush
    Speedo: 150 Max
    Tach: 5800 Redline, 8000 Max
    [​IMG]


    Saleen
    Speedo: 200 Max
    Tach: 5500-6500 Redline, 7000 Max
    [​IMG]


    5. Swapping "up/down" clusters

    Swapping "up/down" refers to swapping the gauge cluster to that of a different model than your car. Unless the Speedometer and Tach specifically match, the car is going to be out of sync. We'll use the examples of the v6 and GT.

    Remember how I said that the motor spin was controlled based on the CB. The issue with swapping up or down means that unless you have the entire cluster, your speedo and tach can possibly be off. If you swap your stock CB into the replacement cluster to preserve your mileage and PATs system, you're going to experience a situation where the tach and speedo are off.

    Consider the following scenario. You're currently sitting in your v6 driving down the highway at a steady 65 mph.
    [​IMG]
    The needle will be standing straight up on your speedometer pointing at the has mark indicating 65 mph.

    Now imagine you swapped "up" to the GT cluster using the swap CB method. BAM you got to keep your mileage, you got to keep your PATs system. You're cruising at 65 mph. The CB pushes the needle for you is pointing straight up again... wait what?
    [​IMG]

    Now it looks like you're going 80mph... Cobra cluster would put you at 86mph, Saleen 100mph. You'll physically be going 65 mph but your gauge cluster will be off. Now imagine the same problem happens with the Tach.

    This is why I recommend doing the Swap without keeping your stock CB. Once again, you'll lose your mileage and PATs (through Tune disable) but at least the speedometer and tach will be correct.

    Also, another thing to keep in mind with the tach is that the red line may change from cluster to cluster. Always remember the limitations of your own engine.




    FINAL REMARKS:
    I've done this swap twice. First going from a v6 cluster to a GT cluster. Second going from a GT cluster to a Mach 1 cluster. Both times, I've left the circuit boards in the clusters and upgraded. I also decided to keep my stock v6 cluster on a shelf a long time ago, on the off chance that I somehow do sell my car, I can return the car to stock through the tune. If you get rid of your original cluster, you will never be able to return your car to stock tune because the car won't start...


    Update:
    Decided to sell the car and ran into this issue:
    Put my original v6 cluster back in to restore the car to stock tune. My car had 101k on it. I swapped to a GT cluster with 144k on it. Had my hub replaced at ETD tire and they pinged my car with Carfax as having 144k on it. Dont you know it, a buyer brought that up when I sold it and I had to explain to them why the mileage was different.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2013
    pacbelt and getsidewayzdrift like this.
  2. davidcseifert

    davidcseifert that V6 guy

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    very nice, this will be a project of mine later for sure, tired of maxing out the 120mph gauge lol
     
  3. slonison

    slonison Active Member

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    It is an easy swap that not many people have the actual correct information on.
     
  4. slonison

    slonison Active Member

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    Added Cobra R Cluster.
     
  5. davidcseifert

    davidcseifert that V6 guy

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  6. Derfdog15

    Derfdog15 Active Member

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    Very nice writeup. Thanks!
     
  7. mustangmansam

    mustangmansam Active Member

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    I got mine also
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Derfdog15

    Derfdog15 Active Member

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    I have a 99/01 Cobra cluster on the way!!!!
     
  9. getsidewayzdrift

    getsidewayzdrift one- wheel peelin!

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    very nice writeup
    this has loads of useful info in it and will come in handy.

    and go figure you weren't planning on selling the car and had the hub replaced at that place and they reported that to carfax at that time, bad timing lol cool it all worked out though