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Pelican Technical Article:
Replacing Instrument Cluster Light Bulbs

Jared Fenton
 

 
Time: 1 hour
Tab: $30
Talent: 
Tools:
Set of picks
Applicable Models:
W210 E320 (1996-02)
W210 E300 (1996-97)
W210 E420 (1997)
W210 E430 (1998-99)
W210 E55 (1998-02)
Parts Required:
New bulbs
Hot Tip:
Disconnect the battery first
Performance Gain:
You can see your gauges at night again
Complementary Modification:
Install gauge faces
 
  

  

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     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.
Figure 1
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).
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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).
Figure 2
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.
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On the backside of the cluster are two electrical harness connectors.
Figure 3
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.
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Shown here is the backside of the cluster.
Figure 4
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.
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Replace the bulb housings by turning them counter clockwise and lifting them out of the instrument cluster with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
Figure 5
Replace the bulb housings by turning them counter clockwise and lifting them out of the instrument cluster with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
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Two of the bulbs re-use the yellow bulb housing shown here.
Figure 6
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.
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The smaller bulbs behind the information display have a 6mm nut molded into the housing.
Figure 7
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.
Large Image | Extra-Large Image
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Comments and Suggestions:
Goose nizzleComments: 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  
rockComments: 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  
Marc B.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  
MarkComments: 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
 
dudeComments: 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  
Island boyComments: 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  
amberComments: 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  
jeffrey978Comments: 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
 
Brooksie0000Comments: 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  
sergio diasComments: 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  
GregComments: 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  
RichComments: 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  
WayneComments: 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:

SALES SUPPORT
1-888-333-4642
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
roy@pelicanparts.com
 

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 Applies to: 1992 300SE, 1993 300SE, 1993 300E, 1994 C280, 1995 C280, 1996 C280, 1997 C280, 1995 C36, 1996 C36, 1997 C36, 1994 E320, 1995 E320, 1994 SL320, 1995 SL320, 1996 SL320, 1997 SL320, 1994 S320, 1995 S320, 1996 S320, 1997 S320, 1998 S320, 1999 S320, 1990 300CE, 1991 300CE, 1992 300CE, 1990 300SL, 1991 300SL, 1992 300SL, 1993 300SL
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