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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are a lot of posts and discussion on the topic of instrument clusters, panel lights and odometers spread over different threads on this forum. What I seem to be missing, however, is knowledgeable input from a Chrysler mechanic, so I did an investigation of my own, and would like to take this opportunity to share with you what I discovered. I present this, not as any sort of “expert” on the subject, but just as a factual presentation of the material. I’m sure others may have additional and helpful comments, as well.

Getting to the instrument cluster to replace it requires, basically, the disassembly of the dash. Not sure why this is, but I can only surmise that Chrysler does not really expect anyone ever to have to do this, but we know from reading herein that this is not necessarily the case. It seems to the untrained layperson that this is a lot of trouble to go through just to get to 4 screws that hold the cluster in. Know, however, that the entire cluster must be replaced if ANYTHING goes wrong with it—dash lights, instruments, warning lights or odometer. Know, too, that the cluster panel, or circuit board, contains the chips for the memory that controls many other vehicle functions that are seemingly unrelated to the cluster itself—things such as lights, wipers, door locks, windows, etc. This means, if there are problems in those areas, you may have to consider the instrument cluster as the culprit. Personally, I do not feel confident tackling the job of disassembling the dash myself, so I am one of those who would defer any work of this nature to a “professional.” In this case, that pretty-much means the dealer, as I have not been able to find anyone in the business in my area who would work on or even replace this instrument cluster. The reason always cited is “liability,” which means “odometer.”

There are at-least-two designs of the instrument cluster. As best I can tell, there is one for the 2006-2009 models, and another for the 2010-2012 models, and they are not interchangeable. I compared the pins on the clusters to the plugs, and there is a variance in 2 of the pin-plug connections. I do not know how this would affect the functioning of the cluster, but the dealer says it will not work, and that the “programming” is completely different. (It’s always the “programming” whenever they know of no-other excuse.)

The mileage in late-model Chrysler vehicles is stored on the instrument cluster, not on the on-board computer. (Vehicles which have this information on the computer need only be driven a short distance for the mileage to reset itself on the odometer. Not so with ours.) Only the dealer can (will?) reset the mileage. A dealer may or may not choose to reset the odometer on a cluster that has been owner-replaced. If you buy a used cluster, you may be stuck with whatever mileage is on it. However, the law requires that, in such cases, the mileage be reset to the actual. If the mileage is higher than was on the old cluster, this is not a big deal, but, if the mileage is lower, you should have it rolled forward to comply with the law. Since only the dealer can (will?) reset the mileage, this translates into extra trouble and expense. Note that the odo can be rolled back once—and only once—by design. Once an odo has been rolled back, this can never be done again, as there is an onboard mechanism that will prevent this.

Instrument Lights.
The lights are actually LEDs imbedded in the circuit board, and cannot be replaced. Chrysler says this should never occur, and that the lights should illuminate for the life of the car. (HA!) If you want to change the color of the display, you have options. You could put a dab of translucent paint of the desired color on the LEDs once you locate them. You could put a colored film on the panel lens, either inside or outside. There is a product called Lumin-X, which is used to cover headlights and fog lights that might work. It is self-adhesive, but can be removed. There are also products that are static cling. My research uncovered a technique known to and used by modelers for coating transparent plastic parts. This consists of mixing food coloring to the desired color and adding this to Future floor finish. They claim this is self-leveling, so it can be either sprayed or painted onto the lens. I am actually going to purchase the materials to do this and experiment with it. If it works, our problem is solved, and this could be done without removing the cluster.

Some have said that the lights on the EVIC cluster are blue, and I must assume this is true, because they reported this. I have also seen pictures of the dash on ‘11s and ‘12s in which the display is blue. I thought all newer models had blue lights, but, upon acquiring my ’11, discovered this is not the case. My dealer knows nothing about this. (Isn’t it amazing how-little dealers actually know?) So, replacing the standard cluster with an EVIC one may solve the problem. Those who have done this report that not-all of the functions of the EVIC were functional, even though the exchange was “plug-and-play.” We know that the compass function definitely will not work, unless you purchase and install the compass module, which resides behind the center of the dash, near the radio. If I were to go to the trouble of installing or having installed an EVIC cluster, it seems to me I would want all of its functions to work, and I would most-certainly want a compass. I would not do this just to change the color of the display.

I hope this information is helpful, at least to some degree.
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