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Replace back light bulbs on gauges - Interior/Exterior/Lights/Glass/Alarms/ICE/HVAC - The Lotus Forums Jump to content
Herbert Harvey

Replace back light bulbs on gauges

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if anyone reading this has any experience with replacing the  back light bulbs on the gauges please give me a clue!

The Oil Pressure gauge backlight is burned out on my 1989 Esprit Turbo, Couldn't find anything in the Service Notes or much on line either. As far as I can figure you have to take the thin plastic face off the gauges to replace the bulbs, I took my driver seat out and crawled underneath the dash, doesn't seem to be anyway to replace the bulbs from this direction. So I started taking out the small screws that hold the gauge face off, have one pain In the ass screw left, I am pretty sure i can get it out with some effort. My big dilemma is I am afraid I am going to crack the plastic cover when I go to pry the dim dials off. The plastic is old and seems brittle, However It appears you have to take these dials off in order to take the gauge cover out of the binnacle.

If anyone has any tips on this procedure I would greatly appreciate the help! Thank you 

Oil Pressure Gauge.jpg

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The bulb holders push into the back of the dials so you'll need to remove the binnacle and tip it upside down to access the back of all the gauges. As far as I'm aware there's no way in from the front.

While you're in there it makes sense to renew all the bulbs in the dials and switches to avoid re-living the experience in a couple of weeks!

Binnacle on the Stevens isn't too bad to remove. 4 bolts under the dash plus a couple of multiplugs, speedo cable and the vent hose. All doable from the Lotus position. Much easier with the steering wheel removed!

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Yep. Binnacle off job. When I had to get into the back of mine, I only had to take the cover off. Was not the easiest to get out with the windscreen, but doable. That was a '94 S4 though.

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Hey Ramjet A.K.A. Michael, 

Thank you very much, your comments were very helpful, Took the Binnacle off today and pulled some of the bulbs out and tested, defintly have a bad bulb behind the Oil Pressure Gauge. 

It seems SJ Sportscars doesn't sell replacement bulbs for dashboard. I see a lot of Esprit Owners are going with LED's I remember reading this disclaimer on the Super Bright LED website that only vehicles equipped with a CANBUS system can simply "plug and play" with there products. They also mentioned that the lower power draw can cause the blinkers to hyper blink.. I do know that you shouldn't replace the alternator backlight bulb as the Esprit system needs a certain amount of resistance to work properly.. oh.. to go with LED's or not,, will i have problems? May have to go with LED's if I cant find standard bulbs somewhere..

Below is the disclaimer on the Super Bright LED's Website:

CAN Bus means Controller Area Network Bus. This system monitors your vehicle and reports operating conditions. CAN Bus systems are commonly found in European vehicles such as BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Porsche, and in many American vehicles. While most late model American vehicles have CAN Bus systems, it is always good to check with your vehicle dealer to see which system your vehicle has before purchasing electrical products.

Any thoughts on this subject? anyone?

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You won't have Canbus problems, certainly not on an '89. But LED bulbs do have to go in with the positive and negative side correct, or they won't light up at all, so you need to test all the bulbs work before putting the binnacle back in.

The wires are colour coded though, so you should be able to work out which is the positive and negative side in the bulb holder, and fit your bulbs accordingly.

Not sure about the current draw of the alternator circuit bulb. Maybe stay with a normal bulb just in case on that one.

Also, LED's don't generally like to be dimmed, so if you then try and use your dimming switch, they'll probably just flash a bit then go off. They're generally on or off, although some LED's for houses are dimmable. I doubt you can get ones this size that are dimmable so just make sure the dimming rheostat is turned up to full.

Edited by Glyn Harper

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Thanks for the tips Glyn Harper, Very informative.. Got me thinking maybe I will go with LEDS.                                                                                                             Just out of curiousty; Do you think my 1989 Esprit is fitted with a CAN BUS System?

 

 

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No it isn't but it just means you will have to do a bit of fiddling to get it all sorted. As far as the alternator light goes, you could use an LED provided you add a resistor in series to get the same resistance as the bulb. While that definitely sounds ok, I am not sure of what sort of heat an inline resistor would create. Since it is the alternator light though, it would not come on and be on for ages.

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You can replace a variable resistor type dimmer with a cheap PWM module from eBay and get full range dimming on your dash LED's, but you need to isolate the bulb grounds.  LED rated flashers are commonly available, but you may need to adapt them to your cars relay socket pinout.

 

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Wanted to add to this thread as I just replaced the gauge back light bulbs with LED's on my 1989 Lotus esprit Turbo. Picked them up from SuperBrightLeds.com. I am very happy with the results. I was worried about BUSCAN problems however Ramjet told told me I shouldn't have any issues and He was correct. GlynHarper recommended I  shouldn't replace  leave the Alternator Bulb with an LED as there has to be a specific amount of resistance. So I ran the original bulb to another location and spliced the wiring off one of the other Gauge Bulbs and installed a LED into the back of the alternator gauge and it worked beautifully. I have attached some pictures so you can see the main bulbs I used. They fit very nicely on the smaller bulb holes. You will also need 3 larger bulbs, I didn't think to take a picture of the ones I used. However SuperBright Led's has a filter so you can look at the LEDS they recommend for dash light bulbs. The larger bulbs I chose had a LED on the tip and on the sides.(the bulb looks yellow when its not powered) I have also included comparison pictures the first one is a picture were I have the LED on all the gauges ..The last picture is before I replaced the bulb on the alternator gauge.   (please note the pictures look like the backlight is so bright its blowing out the gauges so they look "foggy" this is just the exposure it doesn't actually look like that in reality) They actually look pleasantly bright but not obnoxious by any means.. Hope this is helpful to someone.  And by the way thank you: eeyoreish, ramjet, Glyn Harper, snowrx for all of your tips!

9F94B78D-2F73-49EF-8CF4-3460EC5CF9DF.jpg

3633BB0D-513A-49F2-89CA-0226A2EBC287.jpg

A82C2EE8-53F8-493A-9418-5D8E126E548E.jpg

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194 Miniature Wedge base Bulb is what I used to replace the Larger 2 Prong bulbs on the back of the Tachometer and Speedo. Be sure to order the bases with wires.. You will find that they fit in nicely after pulling the plastic base off and wrapping the connectors to the bulbs tightly with electrical tape. I am sure some of the other bulbs would work nicely as well and you may find your own way of doing all of this. I used quick dry JB weld to help attach the bulbs.. Strong enough to hold but doesn't crack the back of your plastic gauges when you have to take them out! Be careful not to get any JB weld on the part of the LED's that produce the light or you will find that gauge will be really dim and have to take it back out and do over like I did on one of the bulbs..

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