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 Post subject: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:55 am 
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I grew tired enough of my speedometer jumping around and only working half the time so I broke out the soldering gun and decided to fix it. I had first tried to simply re-flow the solder as outlined in the stickied How To and installed it back in my vehicle and this did not fix the problem. So I decided to record the process to give everyone a look at what it looks like to add solder to all the pins, how much, my technique, etc. If you decide to perform this repair I suggest you just go ahead and add solder to all the pins the first time around. As long as you are careful not to add too much and make sure no solder over flows and touches any pins next to it you will have no problems. Now my cluster is working perfectly and I took an hour drive to verify the repair. Not once did the speedometer or any other gauge stop working like it normally would after 20 minutes. Finally I'll be able to see what kind of fuel economy I'm getting by recording every mile with the trip counter. :dance:

I did not record the removal process of the cluster from the vehicle. If you can't figure out how to get it out of the car then maybe you shouldn't be trying to solder anything.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtwnsPmkX1M

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:18 am 
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ok no i see u using a different solder iron than i have does that make a difference? i have the actual gun when i solder wires it makes those wires instantly hot should i get one like urs instead?

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:58 am 
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rev9fan1 wrote:
ok no i see u using a different solder iron than i have does that make a difference? i have the actual gun when i solder wires it makes those wires instantly hot should i get one like urs instead?


My soldering iron is an old radio shack one. That's the only reason why it took some time to melt the solder. I can't really teach you technique over the internet. That's something you're going to have to learn from soldering. Your soldering iron will be fine. Everything will happen a lot faster than in my vid.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:39 am 
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Epix wrote:
I grew tired enough of my speedometer jumping around and only working half the time so I broke out the soldering gun and decided to fix it. I had first tried to simply re-flow the solder as outlined in the stickied How To and installed it back in my vehicle and this did not fix the problem. So I decided to record the process to give everyone a look at what it looks like to add solder to all the pins, how much, my technique, etc. If you decide to perform this repair I suggest you just go ahead and add solder to all the pins the first time around. As long as you are careful not to add too much and make sure no solder over flows and touches any pins next to it you will have no problems. Now my cluster is working perfectly and I took an hour drive to verify the repair. Not once did the speedometer or any other gauge stop working like it normally would after 20 minutes. Finally I'll be able to see what kind of fuel economy I'm getting by recording every mile with the trip counter. :dance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtwnsPmkX1M


Awesome..... Thanks for posting this.
Stickied. :good:

- Nick

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:50 am 
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A pen style soldering is best for this type of work. Mostly because the gun style are so large and get so hot. It doesn't take a lot of heat to melt the solder on the clusters. I used to do a lot of work on car stereo amplifiers and I have got those boards so hot the metal conductive paths have separated from the circuit, thats bad news. In other words I would recommend a lower wattage soldering iron. A ten dollar soldering iron works great for this job.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:31 pm 
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i may have to go buy one then cause i dont want to mess anything up.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:15 am 
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Jamie Ely wrote:
A pen style soldering is best for this type of work. Mostly because the gun style are so large and get so hot. It doesn't take a lot of heat to melt the solder on the clusters. I used to do a lot of work on car stereo amplifiers and I have got those boards so hot the metal conductive paths have separated from the circuit, thats bad news. In other words I would recommend a lower wattage soldering iron. A ten dollar soldering iron works great for this job.


Thanks for the info. I don't usually get into anything like this, but I was confident I could do the repair with the info I found on here. The majority of the soldering I do is soldering wires and making connectors. My soldering iron is a pen style. It was probably around 10 bucks, but I purchased it about 6 years ago so I don't remember. I also have a Blue Point butane soldering iron in by tool box at work and it gets me through whatever needs soldering. That one runs a little hotter than the one I used in the vid.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:35 pm 
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great video helps alot better than just tryin and praying you know what your doing!! :good:

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:20 pm 
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just did it! simple an quick! works perfectly now! :grin:

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:07 pm 
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Excellent vid but im still having problem with the fuel gauge it dosent work it goes up and down crazy...... what else should i do???/ any help plz!!!


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:49 pm 
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could be your sending unit or something with the float, anything along those lines. You know what they say fix the cheapest thing first, and you did just that so its just process of elim the rest of the way.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:39 pm 
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rev9fan1 wrote:
could be your sending unit or something with the float, anything along those lines. You know what they say fix the cheapest thing first, and you did just that so its just process of elim the rest of the way.

I vote for float / resistor in the tank.

BUT, check to eliminate any wiring or GROUNDING issues, first.
As I recall, the fuel module / fuel pump is grounded inside the trunk.

- Nick

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:54 am 
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I've seen a bunch of guys fix their XBox like this using a heat gun/hair dryer instead of the soldering iron.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:27 am 
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Just a quick Thank ya! Job done!

Below is a comment I left on the HQ pics of the broken pins.

TheMatrixhasU wrote:
Well, I watched the video, couldn't find my iron so ran over to the local wallmart picked up a cheapo 10.99 including an extra tip and solder. only pain about the job was I didn't have a really log phillips screw driver for the bottom left screw. But I managed so no matter. Pretty painless to do. took maybe 30 min including ripping it out, solder, and reinstalling everything. Required tools were, long phillip's head screw driver, soldering iron and solder, star driver # T15, and a good set of eyes to see those little @rse pins! also as a side note the pins that are on the gauges that have a catch on the pcb, I bent those little pieces in to make sure of a good connection.

Overall difficulty I would say 3/10 if that.
Drove her around for a few miles and stared at the spedo in amazement!

Ty again for the quick fix on it!
Now to find a good fix for the left blinker sticking when u press the brake hehe

Great guide!

Edit: Saw someone mention how to do this, if needed I can make a video taking the cluster out. if that's what they were asking about anyway.


Edit: Could probably get the bottom screws with a stubby screw driver, but my hands are too large to fit where most peoples do.

But yeah glad to have it working again its great! not sure how off the odometer is, in the year ive had it only shows ive put on 3k miles haha.

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Last edited by TheMatrixhasU on Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:58 pm 
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iblue wrote:
I've seen a bunch of guys fix their XBox like this using a heat gun/hair dryer instead of the soldering iron.


You'd be hard pressed to pull that off on a instrument cluster... There's way more solder involved, and you're directly heating the solder not a hunk of silicon. My biggest worry would be wrecking the traces on the board, they're not that hard to lift.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:50 pm 
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Great video... I just have 1 question, is there a tut I can read or a video I can watch that shows me how to get the cluster out of the dash?

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:06 pm 
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Kritik wrote:
Great video... I just have 1 question, is there a tut I can read or a video I can watch that shows me how to get the cluster out of the dash?

Thanks.

No video that I know of, but removing the dash pad (and cluster) is so easy on a Neon, especially a 1st generation model.

The dash pad simply lifts and pops off. ( 1st gen only )
Once that is out of the way, it's just a matter of removing a handful of screws, and the cluster easily unplugs from the dash.

You might want to practice on a junkyard car, you'll see how easy it is.

- Nick

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-1998 2-dr SOHC MTX= 52mm TB; Maddog STS
-1999 4-dr DOHC ATX= UDP, Kirk Intake
-2000 Ply.LX with MTX = Maddog STS; CAI; Magnaflow muffler

-1971 Ply.Scamp SL6cyl. (TRADED for '83 Ddg.Rampage)
-1968 Chry.300 w/440 V8 (sold)
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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:28 am 
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yea the top part of ur dash just push really hard and it will pop off then its 4 screws on the sides and pull the cluster out..

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:34 pm 
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tried resoldering all of the pins and solder was perfect. Speedometer worked for maybe two miles and then stopped working again any you have any ideas as to what could be the problem?


Side Note : Rest of gauges work fine, just the speedometer and odometer are not working.


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:31 pm 
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darkangel2001lv wrote:
tried resoldering all of the pins and solder was perfect. Speedometer worked for maybe two miles and then stopped working again any you have any ideas as to what could be the problem?


Side Note : Rest of gauges work fine, just the speedometer and odometer are not working.


Did you re-solder both sides? all 20 pins? check the rest of the solder points? I did both sides and noticed a big chunk of solder missing on the right side of the board so I redid that also. and still working great 1 week later for me.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:44 am 
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This is a great video! I used it to fix my speedo cluster a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I've ever used a soldering gun and the vieo was a huge help. :good:

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:39 pm 
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TheMatrixhasU wrote:
darkangel2001lv wrote:
tried resoldering all of the pins and solder was perfect. Speedometer worked for maybe two miles and then stopped working again any you have any ideas as to what could be the problem?


Side Note : Rest of gauges work fine, just the speedometer and odometer are not working.


Did you re-solder both sides? all 20 pins? check the rest of the solder points? I did both sides and noticed a big chunk of solder missing on the right side of the board so I redid that also. and still working great 1 week later for me.



yes re-soldered all 20 pins as well as checked all solder points on the board. Board has no damage whatsoever yet still can't get speedometer and odometer to work. Can Anyone help ??


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:12 pm 
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Darkangel I would try replacing the speed sensor to see if that would fix the problem, if not could be the gauge itself is bad but 1 step at a time.

its a cheap part if i recall like 20-30 usd for it.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:23 pm 
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TheMatrixhasU wrote:
Darkangel I would try replacing the speed sensor to see if that would fix the problem, if not could be the gauge itself is bad but 1 step at a time.

its a cheap part if i recall like 20-30 usd for it.



ok thanks will try that and keep you guys posted thanks for the quick response.


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:41 pm 
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I'm glad this video has helped a few of you guys/gals. People have tried to explain how to solder, so I figured I would take the opportunity to show you. I'm not perfect in my technique, but it shows you how to get it done. Something I noticed while repairing a friends cluster is if your soldering iron is really hot, while you are holding it on one of the points you might start scorching the board. There's a clear coat or film that you'll see darken. I keep an old wet sponge next to me that I brush the soldering iron on after I do each pin. It keeps it cool and cleans off anything that can affect the solder when it reaches its melting point.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:07 am 
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Ya I'm pretty sure the Neon we have is first gen... 97' Ply Neon. Thanks for the help I'll try this tomorrow cuz the gauges are driving me crazy.

NickKo wrote:
Kritik wrote:
Great video... I just have 1 question, is there a tut I can read or a video I can watch that shows me how to get the cluster out of the dash?

Thanks.

No video that I know of, but removing the dash pad (and cluster) is so easy on a Neon, especially a 1st generation model.

The dash pad simply lifts and pops off. ( 1st gen only )
Once that is out of the way, it's just a matter of removing a handful of screws, and the cluster easily unplugs from the dash.

You might want to practice on a junkyard car, you'll see how easy it is.

- Nick


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:47 pm 
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thanks a lot, epix. i followed the vid for the most part and ye ol' neon now has the luxury it once did of telling me how fast she's going. i, however didn't solder all of the pins, just the ones that had damage. i was at the junk yard the other day looking through neons, it seems like the main trouble makers are the most left and right pair of the 20 :scratch:. well, that is at least what my eagle eyes were telling me. on my board, those 4 were my prob as well, my speedometer was wacky, and the tachometer randomly crapped out on me. anyway, thanks again kind sir :good:.


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:27 pm 
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Awesome post, fixed my cluster problem :good:


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:42 pm 
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I don't know who figured out what the problem was, but thank you!


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:48 am 
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great how to vid on youtube!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sun May 02, 2010 8:43 pm 
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Thanks for the vid showing where to solder. My instrument cluster is going nuts, and I was blaming weird readings for TEMP and intermittent SPEEDOMETER operation to various sensors. Tonight, I got into the neon and turned on the headlights, only to see darkness on the instrument cluster except for the fact that my turn light indicators were each on, the high beam indicator was on (even though high beams were off), and noted that when headlamps were on, Tach, Gas and Temp gauges did not work at all, each was frozen to last reading. When I would turn off headlamp switch, TEMP, GAS, RPM gauges all appeared to "cycle", then would work normally. Speedometer was still intermittent.

Am going to try soldering. Couple of tips on this. Watch the heat applied via the iron (do not use a soldering gun, nor hot air gun, this could damage the board and lift foil runs). I personally would recommend a iron with a flat tip vice needle tip, one that is around same size as pad on the board. If board has a coating over the solder connections, then can normally take a exacto knife or something similiar and gently scrape/remove the conformal coating. The iron should be hot, and clean (nice and shiny tip). Touch some solder to the tip and if it melts/flows, then you are ready. Normally, I would recommend removing the old solder with a solder sucker, then applying new solder.......but for most, probably just easier to heat up existing solder and "reflow".

I hope this works in my case....again thanks for the helpful video!!

Sincerely,
Jim


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 7:00 am 
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Just did this last night after watching your video. Thanks man! Works perfectly now!!! :good:


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:13 am 
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I wish we had a kudos system, I would give you some mad props


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:42 pm 
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Excellent video!

As suggested, the speed sensor (the plug to be exact) is a problem on the '95-97. It allows oil,
water, whatever to enter the connection cavity and corrode the pins. Using your newly acquired
soldering skills, get a '98-'99 sensor and pigtail (I usually have the pair for ~ $10) and put it on.

Right also on the fuel level gauge, you can buy the part separate from the fuel pump from
Mopar, however it's fairly expensive. I usually have a few laying around, you'll also need the
rubber gasket for the fuel pump.

Don't try to re-invent the wheel here-follow his video. You can use sal ammoniac to clean the
iron tips. I've ended up doing ~ two dozen of these, and reflow + adding a bit of solder always
does the trick.

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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:35 pm 
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Just wanted to say thank you for the video. Just bought my second neon and driving off I notice no gauges.

Thanks again.

-Ford
my first post :yes:


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:36 pm 
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Hey guys,
I just re-soldered everything but the gauges still doesn't work. Everything on the cluster works fine. So now i'm thinking maybe it's something else because the gauges and the door chime stopped working at the exact same time. Is the door chime stuff is on the cluster circuit board? or on something else? What do you think? I'm just really confused.
Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:20 pm 
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I have a 98 Neon with a speedometer that stops working, jumps, and twitches. I took it out and re-melted the connections as recommended here and on many other Neon sites. It worked for a month. Aggravated, I went to a junkyard and found an identical cluster. I swapped out my odometer, installed everything, and to my dismay, it failed again after three weeks. I went back to the junkyard, pulled an upgraded cluster with the odometer reading 80,000 miles off another car. This one has a tach and a low fuel light. Pretty cool, and it's a plug-and-play modification. I also snagged an almost-brand new sending unit off an almost-new transmission from the same car. Further dismay. It lasted two weeks before it quit. Additionally, the temperature gauge, fuel guage, tach, and turn signal indicators also started acting out. By this time I have pretty much eliminated the sending unit and the cluster itself as possible causes. I found that while driving, if the speedometer quit, I pushed in on the bottom of the cluster, and it would come to life. It also tended to fail in the heat of the day. The problem is the entire underside of the dash is made of black plastic, and heat will warp it slightly. While many people have remelted the solder and had no further problems, not everyone is so lucky. The pins and sockets are another culprit. The connectors in the dash are loosely attached so they can float a little when the cluster is pressed in, they don't push in to the sockets on the back of the cluster very far, and if the dash gets hot and warps, the connectors pull apart or become misaligned ever so freaking slightly, which causes intermittent or completely open circuits. I shimmed them with thin plastic to keep them pushed out from the dash, so when the cluster is installed, maximum penetration is achieved. So far, so good. The socket that controls the speedometer is the one on the right as you look at the instruments. But since all electrical signals to all the cluster functions go through these two sockets, it is wise to shim both sides. For what it's worth... Peace.

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1998 Highline Sedan, AKA Ghostrider


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:58 pm 
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Location: Spokane
I would also like to add that you can slightly bend the metal tabs inside the plug in socket to get a tighter connection - some times the actual plug on the back of the cluster causes issues as well!

So, re-flow and "bend slightly" the pins in the actual connector.

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99 Dodge neon highline 2dr coupe >>K&N CAI, High flow Cat + Muffler setup, Nology Hot Wires, Front upper strut brace. >>17" 5lug 7 spoke, 205/40/R17 >>Custom audio install (all speakers upgraded) +mp3 >>Rear sway bar From a ACR // Custom front engine mount >>Replaced both rear struts- twice.. thanks pot holes.


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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:26 am 
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Location: Covina
Would this be the proper fix for if all of your needles go down at the same time? When I'm out driving, all of a sudden, all of the needles will drop down. And then a few min later or so, they will all go back to their normal positions...

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Blue 98 2Dr Dodge Neon R/T DOHC
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 Post subject: Re: How To: Instrument cluster soldering repair *vid*
PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:17 pm 
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I have remelted the connections on those two connectors, but alas, that is not the problem. Usually, my speedometer is the gauge that cuts out. But my gauges are all occasionally cutting out at the same time, along with all the lights, and the problem is actually the pins and sockets not connecting properly, not cracked solder joints. I found this out when all the gauges dropped out and I pushed in on the bottom of the gauge cluster and they all came back to life. Bending the pins a little helps, as does shimming the connectors that are connected to the dash. This pushes them further in to the sockets on the cluster. It is a really poor design, and I still have problems with them. If you pull out the cluster and resolder the pins, the simple act of replacing the cluster causes the pins to connect right for a while, then vibration and heat make them disconnect a bit. I suppose the only long-term solution would be to hard-wire the connections somehow, and replace the bad connectors with better ones.

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