DIY: 1st Gen Acura RL Instrument Guage Cluster LED Bulbs - The Acura Legend & Acura RL Forum
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First Generation RL (1996-2004)

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Old 02-06-08, 04:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Smile DIY: 1st Gen Acura RL Instrument Guage Cluster LED Bulbs

I would share the instrument gauge cluster LED bulb conversion on 1st-gen RL. I bought the following T6.5 3-LED bulbs from an eBayer ID, warden_jp2002. The seller is an eBay power seller who lives in Hong Kong. He is an expert on LED bulbs business and ships the bulbs so fast. The most of buyers can expect to receive bulbs in 2-5 business days.

Disclosure: I'm not related with the seller anyhow.

Anyway, I bought the 4 pairs of Spark blue and 2 pairs of Xenon white LED bulbs from him at $18 ($3 x 6 pairs) plus $6.80 (shipping). What a big deal? You just need 10 bulbs but I bought 2 more LEDs as extra. You may figure out where the blue and white LEDs go on the photos……

The seller is no longer listing these bulbs on eBay, but you may ask him to list them or search on google to find the same LED bulbs. These are wide angle wedge based 3-power LED bulbs (Cross reference: #24 or T6.5) for using in instrument panel and gauges working at 12V. (#74 blubs (5 mm) are not right size on our RL, and single LED bulbs are not bright at all. They are not wide resulting to dim areas. I learned it from a trial and error)

FYI: Don’t buy the wire-lead wedge type LED bulbs (These LED bulbs that I bought are not). They are easy to be non-functional when you push them into the wedge base because the wire-lead between the resistor and LED is apt to be broken causing 99% of LED bulb problems. The LED itself has 180,000 hours of lifetime. The most of LED bulbs working on 12V directly have a built-in resistor which has 470 ohms. LED itself is only working at 3.2-3.6V, thus, it requires a resistor to drop the operating voltages and work properly at 12V by ohm’s law. But these bulbs doesn’t have resistors since those 3 LEDs are connected in a series resulting to drop the operating voltages on each LED to 1/3 by ohm’s law to work at 12 volts directly.

If you have those LED bulbs in handy, you can start following……….


96-04 Acura RL instrument gauge cluster removal procedure

It involves the removal of shift selector console, audio unit and climate control console, and instrument panel to remove the gauge cluster. You may need to refer the repair manual for better understanding.

1. Unscrew the shift knob.
2. Pop off the black gear select cover. There are four clips to pop off.
3. Pop off the wood console panel and pull it out to access the two bolts at the bottom (96-04). There also are four clips to pop off.
4-1. Remove the center air vent (96-98 only). There are eight clips totally. Four are up and the other four are down of the center air vent. Insert a flat-head screw driver under the center air vent to pry the clips up and pull it then insert the screw driver upper the center air vent to pry the clips down and pull it gently.
4-2. Remove the two bolts on top of the center console, then, carefully pull the climate control and audio unit assembly out. You don’t need to pull it out completely (96-98 only).
4-3. Remove the center console lower carpets from each side (99-04 only). You can see a screw bolt each side. Unscrew them and then, carefully pull the climate control and audio unit assembly out. You don’t need to pull it out completely.

Now you can start to remove the instrument panel.

5. Remove the two screws located at the upside of the instrument panel.
6. Detach the four clips by gently pull the right and the bottom of the instrument panel.
7. Pull the instrument panel form the right side and top down. Use a flat-head screw driver to push the two clips from the left side air vent and pull the instrument panel.
8. Remove a connector for select and reset switch.
9. Remove 4 screws holding the gauge cluster.
10. Pull the gauge cluster and disconnect the two connectors on top back side of it.

Now the gauge cluster is out and you need to remove the back panel of it to access the 10 bulbs.

11. Remove three screws and pull the white plastic face back plate. DO NOT try to remove the front plate of the gauge cluster and DON’T touch any needle of the cluster. Otherwise, you will need a new gauge cluster.
12. Remove totally 20 screws from the back panel. There are two types of screws (6 and 14 screws). The description of the screws is shown on the board but you’d better draw a diagram so that you don’t forget which one goes where.
13. Remove the board by pulling and swinging it.
14. Remove the 10 filament bulbs and replace with the amazing LED bulbs. LED bulbs have a polarity so you have to place them in right direction. You need to figure out which side is positive on the board. You’d better check which side is positive on each LED bulb by a 12V source even though the polarity is written on the LED bulbs. Manufacturers used to label the polarity wrong on the bulbs. It happened on me, and 4 out of 12 LED bulbs had the wrong polarity indication.
15. Installation of all things is reverse. (Caution: DO NOT push or over-tighten those 20 screws on the back side of the gauge cluster board when you unscrew or re-screw them. The plastic board is easy to be marred.) (Caution: You must be very gentle to unscrew and tighten screws on the back panel of the instrument cluster. Otherwise you will mess up the whole cluster. And also there are two types of screws so you must memorize which one goes where.)

Please correct me if I’m wrong.


Here's some photos of the 3-LED bulbs installed on my RL.


[T6.5 3 LED Bulb Dimension]


[Spark Blue]


[Xenon White]


[Night shot photo of my 97 RL Instrument cluster]


[Nightshot-Tacometer]


[Nightshot-Speedometer]


[Nightshot-Fuel and Temp gauge]


[Day shot of instrument cluster]


[Day shot of interior]


97_RLer

Last edited by 97_RLer; 02-12-08 at 02:43 AM.
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Old 02-06-08, 04:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Very nice DIY, though pictures to accompany the text would be nice.
Results look great!
Do you have any before pictures for comparison?
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Old 02-06-08, 09:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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nice DIY. I'll be putting this post in the RL newbie FAQ as well as finding hosting for the service manual that I have.

I wonder what those LED's will look like in my 2004's cluster...even though it's got the blue/white combo. I'm afraid it'd be tacky looking.
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Old 02-06-08, 11:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hnic View Post
nice DIY. I'll be putting this post in the RL newbie FAQ as well as finding hosting for the service manual that I have.

I wonder what those LED's will look like in my 2004's cluster...even though it's got the blue/white combo. I'm afraid it'd be tacky looking.
Basically the filament bulb gives off all wavelength lights like the sun, but the LED bulb emit only a narrow wavelength band light correspondent to its color but the light output is coherent, focused and intense with the specific color. If I use all blue LED bulbs, the red zones on the gauge will be dark. That's the reason why I mixed the blue and white LEDs. But the Xenon white LEDs give off lights close to the natural colors but coherent lights. Thus, they will lighten the red zones as well and be brighter than the filament bulbs.

For 04 RL, you may replace all bulbs with white LEDs and you will have much brighter and a crystal look gauge cluster. Blue zones will be much more blue and white zone will be much more clear. But if you replace them with all blue LEDs, then, red zones cannot be seen too.

Last edited by 97_RLer; 02-07-08 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 02-06-08, 12:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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B-E-A-UTIFUL!!!

Great job!!! !!!!
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Old 02-06-08, 03:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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is there any website that got these bulbs for sale?!?! i just cant find them!
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Old 02-07-08, 12:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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That looks really good, well done!
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Old 02-07-08, 04:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hnic View Post
nice DIY. I'll be putting this post in the RL newbie FAQ as well as finding hosting for the service manual that I have.
I forgot to say thank you for putting this thread in the RL newbie FAQ.
Hey, Hnic.
I need some information if you have a 04 RL ETM. I need a connector view of emergency hazard switch and fog light switch on the center console. I'm doing swapping the center console to 04 edition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telion View Post
That looks really good, well done!
Thank you for your compliment!
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Old 02-09-08, 04:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Smile Sources to find the LED bulbs

A number of folk asked me where they can buy the LED bulbs. So I searched the internet for about half an hour. At first, I’m sorry but I had misguided you that the cross reference for RL’s gauge cluster bulb is #24 but #37 (6 mm) is right bulb. As I told you #74 (5 mm) is smaller than OEM bulbs. Anyway, you can search on the internet, “T6.5 3-LED bulb”, then, you can find the same bulbs that I bought. Google will show you a number of Chinese websites. I don’t know you can directly place an order at there or not.

Anyway, the best way to get the LED bulbs that I would recommend is email to eBay ID, warden_jp2002. I’m sure that he is the cheapest and fastest in the world.

Another choice is……….
http://cgi.ebay.com/PAIR-12v-T6-5-WE...QQcmdZViewItem
I found the seller on eBay (ID: brightlightautoparts) who are in Australia. The seller are selling the same LED bulbs and a pair of the LED bulbs at AU $8.50 plus AU $15.00 shipping to USA. So expensive!!!……..

Another choice is ………
http://cgi.ebay.com/T5-37-Wedge-12V-...QQcmdZViewItem
The eBay seller (ID: p0o0ohbear) is also from Australia. The LED bulbs are not the same type but are also 3-LED wide angle bulbs. They are selling at AU $3.95 as a pair plus AU $6.00 shipping to USA. Each additional shipping fee is AU $1.00.

Good luck to find good LED bulbs at cheap price……….

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Old 04-08-08, 12:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Here is a good news!

Finally the eBay seller, warden_jp2002, lists the same bulbs on eBay at the cheapest price. The title is "2pcs 24 T6.5 Instrument Panel 3 LED Bulbs".

Here is the link.

eBay Motors: 2pcs 24 T6.5 Instrument Panel 3 LED Bulbs(Blue/White) (item 190212426319 end time Apr-12-08 03:17:18 PDT)
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Old 04-09-08, 03:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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so i would need 10 bulbs right?!?!
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Old 04-09-08, 04:22 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
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so i would need 10 bulbs right?!?!
they come in 2 packs... so quantity 5 makes 10 individual bulbs

4 for tach
4 for speedo
2 for the fuel and temp
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Old 04-09-08, 05:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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that looks amazing !
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Old 04-16-08, 11:22 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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I ordered my LED's yesterday.

I will take step by step pictures of the process.
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Old 04-16-08, 12:06 PM   #15 (permalink)
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That sound grrrrrrreat! Good luck with your project!
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