It’s inevitable—one day, one of the lamps will burn out in your gauge cluster. Most people just tolerate this because, in their minds, the bulbs are difficult to reach and nobody knows how to get to them anyway. In reality, it’s quite easy if you know the procedure for safely pulling out and removing the gauge cluster.
The first step is to disconnect the battery. With the battery connected, it is possible that disconnecting the cluster can trigger the airbag light as the computer thinks something is wrong with the system. Unfortunately, you’d need to visit the dealer to have this light reset.
Make sure you have the proper radio code required to reset your radio if you do disconnect the battery. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing your radio is dead and you don’t have the code. It is available from your local Mercedes-Benz dealer, upon showing them proof of ownership such as your vehicle registration.
The instrument cluster on the Mercedes W210 chassis simply pushes into the dashboard. You remove it by using two picks in the area shown here (green arrows).
As the cluster is removed, you can see the gated part of the cluster on the side where the picks fit into the sides of the cluster (green arrow). Pull the cluster out a half inch at a time alternating between the left and right sides. Eventually, the cluster will pop out.
On the backside of the cluster are two electrical harness connectors. Press the tab (green arrow) and rotate the locking tab (purple arrow) down. This will unlatch the electrical connectors from the instrument cluster.
Shown here is the backside of the cluster. Our project car is 15 years old, so I opted to replace all of the light bulbs at the same time. Depending on the year and model of your car, the bulb locations and wattages may have changed. Look at the back of the cluster. There should be text molded into the housing that tells you the bulb size and wattage. In our case, the green arrows point to 12V-1.2W bulbs with a blue base, the yellow arrows point to 12V-1.5W bulbs with a beige base, The purple arrows point to 12V-1.5W red bulbs with a brown base and the red arrows point to 12V-2W bulbs which re-use the yellow base.
Two of the bulbs re-use the yellow bulb housing shown here. Pull the old bulbs straight out of the housing. When inserting the new bulbs, use a paper towel. The oils on your fingers can cause a hot spot on the glass of the bulb, causing it to burn out prematurely.
The smaller bulbs behind the information display have a 6mm nut molded into the housing. Use a 6mm socket to remove these. Once all the bulbs have been replaced, reconnect the electrical harnesses and push the cluster back into the dash.
Comments: I have 1997 C230. the instrument working fine only when the night come I turn the light on, but the light in the instrument panel not on, any thing work fine, only when turn the light on when the night time come in, the light in the instrument panel light not on. I was change 2 bulb 15v 2w already, but still same problem. Some one can help me what wrong.
July 24, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you the bulbs are good and you have power to the cluster from the lighting control, the cluster itself may be faulty. They are problematic. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: The Mercedes technician quoted me $550 while looking me straight in the eye. At the time, I only had one light out, but now I have the whole right side out. This article helped me so much and saved me $550! I can't thank you enough!
July 24, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I just bought a 1997 S320 Mercedes. The instrument cluster illumination dimmer doesn't work. I have removed the cluster and checked all the bulbs. They are all good.
I did replace the ambient temperature bulb. Any suggestions on how to check out the dimmer control?
June 15, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The problem could ne the dimmer switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Sounds good. I will take a voltmeter to the ground connections on the cluster. Where do I check- at the two side connector points? sorry not electrically inclined but it seems simple enough. Looking for less than 12 volt reading? If it shows a drop do I have to replace the cluster then?
June 13, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will want to test at the harness side. Ground should be almost zero volts. I would grab a repair manual, it will have the wiring diagrams. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Nick thanks for the feedback on the cluster light dimming. Would a power or ground issue come up as a problem code if I plugged the car into a code reader? Is there anything I could do as a DYI person or would I need to have it inspected by a mechanic?
June 11, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It may shows as a code, if it has a voltage drop (lower than expected voltage) it may not show s up as a code. You can check the power grounds at the cluster, voltage drop test them. This is the nest step. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks for the advice. Went ahead and changed out my dash bulbs in a flash. Only problem is that my issue hasn't been fixed. After about 1 hour of driving the odometer/time/temp display is still fading out. What do you think is the issue?
June 9, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a faulty cluster or power / ground issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I would like to change out the headlight bulbs high & low beam for the high intensity bulbs that you have on your site. Do you have a tech article for DIY?
I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.
Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks for the response for the light bulb change out question on the seat adjustment controls on the front door panels. Since Im not experienced with removing interior door panels, where are the panels attached to the door and what tools if any would I need to remove the panels? Also am I in danger of damaging any clips holding the panels in place? Also regarding your response to another question on removing the cluster from the front dash of an E320 1997, I can see how to remove the cluster using the two pics you show but how do you get the cluster out enough from the dash in order to place those two picks? Ive tried to gently pull on both sides with downward pressure to bring out the cluster enough to place the two picks but it won't budge.
May 18, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: All of our tech articles for your vehicle are located here:
The cluster may be stuck, you may need a stronger hook tool for leverage. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 1997 Mercedes E 320 and the light that outlines the seat adjustment controls on the door are out. how do I access the back of the control and which bulbs do I need?
May 12, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, you have to remove the door panel. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I removed all my bulbs and replaced them with led bulbs and everything went smooth uuntil I got greet and did one more ...not sure what I did but now all light inside cluster stay on even if the car is off with no key...any suggestions.
April 2, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a short. I would return things to normal and see if the problem goes away. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Had to remove instrument cluster in order to change the ignition housing & tumbler,got it back together, car starts but instruments won't work.Have had a terrible time with this car,any advise would be appreciated...2003 Mercedes 230 slk
April 1, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would start by checking that the instrument cluster electrical connections are installed correctly. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi I've got a w202 c280 and can seem to be able to remove the tiny T5 bulbs from their socket/holders. I'm trying to replace the bulbs. Is there a trick to pulling them out of the socket without breaking the bulb?
February 15, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The bulbs may not come out of the socket, you may have to replace the socket with the bulb. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right bulb. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: My odometer bulbs are dim at the center area. I have a w210 year 2001 e class . I need to know which bulb do i purchase to DIY myself. I can hardly see the speed especially at night.
Thanks for your know how to replace bulbds in cluster. If i remove the battery terminal does it messed up the setup of the car
February 13, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right bulbs.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: 1998 ford burned how to replace it
January 26, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure what you mean by burned? - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 1993 Mercedes 300SE and the Odometer has stopped working. I took it to a local MB dealer and they told me that the part alone would cost approx. $1600, however, they did not have the part. Can you recommend a more economical solution? I am now on a fixed monthly retirement and I cannot afford $1600 plus labor to fix the car. It is in excellent condition, both inside and out and I really would like to keep the car. It had about 132k miles when it went out 8 months ago.
Thank you for any assistance that you can provide.
January 26, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can send the cluster out to an automotive electrical repair service. They may be able to repair it for a few hundred dollars. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi I recently replaced my cluster as the lights went dim in it. my car only had 87,000km on it but the new cluster now reads 250km how do I if possible fix this to its actually 87km?
January 7, 2014
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will have to visit a dealer to see if they can do it. They will likely be able to make the adjustment. You may have to provide documentation of the old mileage. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thank you for this 'how to' description. We just purchased a 2002 E320, and the daylight test drive didn't reveal the fact that the transmission gear and time display on the right side of the dash cluster is not illuninated. I am handy enough to do the bulb replacements, but don't understand the specified tool, i.e., a set of picks. Do you sell these picks, or can you describe them? Thanks
December 26, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: A standard small pick set. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right picks.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi there i own a late 96 w210 e320 just wondering if the 2001 still w210 modle updated clusters will fit onto mine? Just not 100% sure on that
November 29, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think your model will take up yo a 1999 cluster. The 2001 will not work. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi I own a 1997 mercedes E 320 I wanted to change the original lamps to leds colored or white , do you have any replacements ? also for all the switches?
October 17, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Call our parts specialist at 888 280 7799 and they can help you get what you want. - Kerry at Pelican Parts
Comments: How do you remove the instrument cluster on a 1995 SL320?
October 15, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Typically you remove the surrounding bezel and use two hooks to pull out the top of the instrument cluster - Kerry at Pelican Parts
Comments: I'm looking for a instrument cluster for a 1996 Mercedes Benz C280. Where can I find one and about how much.
August 25, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: COntact one of our parts specialist at 888 280 7799 and they can help you find what you need. - Kerry at Pelican Parts
Comments: I need to buy some colered bulbs to replace in clusters.03 -06 GM.
February 23, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I suggest you contact:
Mon-Fri 7:00a-5:00p Pacific time "California"
Toll-free from the United States and Canada at 1-888-280-7799
International customers 1-310-626-8765
Check out some other sample projects
from the book: