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Old 03-24-2011, 02:54 AM
Judee's Avatar
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Thumbs up How-To: Change Your Instrument Cluster Color!

As a Disclaimer, this is definitely not a simple plug-and-play DIY. If you don't have experience soldering circuit boards and specifically LEDs or other SMD/SMT circuitry, I would recommend you find someone who can help you. If you melt something, you pretty much have to live with it forever. You can't really "fix" a circuit board with integrated dyes very easily.

Total Time: Took me about 2 hours to do Nubz' instrument cluster, figuring out some stuff as I went and soldering only a few LEDs at a time then testing. Took me about 2 hours to do mybugrocks' instrument cluster but I was soldering almost twice as many LEDs that time. Your time will vary.

Tools Needed:
  • T10 Torx Screwdriver, or T20 Torx Screwdriver
  • Tiny Phillips Screwdriver
  • PLCC2 LEDs (20 for 2006+, 24 for 2002, 20 PLCC2s and 6 RA SIDELEDs for the LCDs in 1999, more PLCC2's if you want to change other warning lights, turn signals, etc.)
  • Tweezers
  • Soldering Iron with an appropriately tiny tip
  • Solder (Preferably Rosin Core, Lead Free)
  • Lots of light (these LEDs are SMALL and the solder pads are even smaller!)
  • Steady Hand
  • Good Music
  1. Pull the fuse (5A) for the Instrument Cluster from the Fuse Box on the driver-side of the dash. I haven't had to disconnect the battery for this one, but it might be a good idea if you want. I just found pulling the fuse to be much easier and I don't wipe out my radio settings.
  2. Remove Instrument Cluster Video (works for all years): Click Here
  3. Dissect Instrument Cluster Video (2006+ Only): Click Here - For 2006+ Beetles, the needles pull straight out in one piece, no need to disconnect the hubs (the silver round thing).
  4. Dissect Instrument Cluster How-To (1998-2005): Click Here.
  5. Remove the rear white casing (the side with the connectors) of the instrument cluster by unscrewing the phillips screws around the perimeter of the housing. The white shell will pull right off without resistance. You may need to remove the sticker that says "Do Not Tamper".
  6. At this point, the remaining assembly consists of the circuit board, a white molded plastic piece, and your LCD display. The two pieces are held together by a metal frame wrapped AROUND the LCD, with two clips connecting to the circuit board (4 clips for 2006+ LCDs).
  7. Remove the speedometer magneto and mark the pins that were used (the connector on the circuit board has 5 pins, while the magneto only has 4 pins.
  8. Unclip the LCD retention brackets and the white molded plastic will completely separate from the circuit board. Be ready to catch the LCD, as it will come right out.
  9. Now with the "naked" circuit board, we're ready to solder!
  10. Note the polarity of the LEDs that you want to replace. There should be a corner of the LED with a notch taken out of it. That is the cathode. Take a high-resolution picture, or desolder the LEDs one at a time. You'll need to re-solder the new LEDs in the same polarity, and the circuit board is not clearly marked.
  11. This step is optional, but once I desoldered the LED, I re-applied a tiny bit of solder to the pads because some of the solder material would always stick to the LED that I just removed.
  12. I did a few LEDs at a time and hooked them up to make sure I didn't melt them (LEDs are extremely heat sensitive).
  13. Re-Assemble Instrument Cluster Video: Click Here
  14. Re-Install Instrument Cluster and Re-Align Needles Video: Click Here

I'm also available to do this for you if you are so-inclined... just buy the LEDs that you want and ship them over with your instrument cluster and a return shipping label... give me a few days to work on them and I'll ship it back to you. No charge for labor.

Feel free to PM me if you have questions or to discuss me changing the LEDs for you... but for those of you who have questions about how to solder, you probably shouldn't be trying this.

All I ask in return if you do this yourself is that you let me know if you did this and post some pictures to contribute to the community! Imagine if I was a lurker just kept this DIY to myself... NOT COOL.

Cars already done, links go directly to Instrument Cluster Posts:
  1. Judee: Nubz (1st Ever!) - Night-Friendly Red: Click Here
  2. Casey: Fiona - Pink Everything: Click Here
  3. Evilina: Pink Everything, except LCD remains blue because of differences in the LEDs that were used: Click Here

I'm curious for someone to do green. Someone photochopped a green one using an ugly shade of green while in reality the color wavelength tells me that the green LEDs should be more of an emerald green (like the cruise control display) rather than a straight-out-of-the-80's faded green.

Next in Line for Colored Instruments done by Me:
  1. DisneyBug - Pink! What else?

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)
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Last edited by Judee; 05-07-2012 at 10:55 PM..
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Old 03-25-2011, 02:21 AM
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Do you mind if I use this link in my photo thread?? I was also wondering if there was a way we could change the color of the needles, it is a little tough to see with the brightness of the pink. I am going to order more pink LEDs just in case and possibly see if we could get the rest of the LEDs in my cluster pink
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Old 03-25-2011, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mybugrocks View Post
Do you mind if I use this link in my photo thread?? I was also wondering if there was a way we could change the color of the needles, it is a little tough to see with the brightness of the pink. I am going to order more pink LEDs just in case and possibly see if we could get the rest of the LEDs in my cluster pink
No problem - just bring Fiona and the new LEDs down some weekend. Maybe we can make a SoCal meet out of it and have a BBQ in the back yard or something.

LED Party!... like a Tupperware party except I'm not selling anything.

As for the needles, there are red LEDs underneath, but they also have red paint on them so they'll be red regardless of what color LED is lighting them. We can put some pink LEDs to replace the reds, see what happens. I suspect they'll look brighter but they'll still be red.

The needles use what's called a "Light Tube" system, so the only way to really change the color of the needles is to scrape off the red and repaint them. I guess it sounds easy enough, but I've never done it before. I can help you with it if you don't mind doing groundbreaking DIY modding with Fiona.

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:45 PM
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That sounds AWESOME!!!! I would LOVE that :-D

I would like to try doing the needles if it's possible, even if they are still red that's okay as long as the are brighter that they are now. Worst that could happen is they are still red, I'm not worried about it. I know you will take good care of Fiona while doing some mods to her ;-)
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Old 03-26-2011, 03:20 PM
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please expand on what a "plcc2" led is .....I spent years in the electronics industry and I know "plcc" is "plastic leadin chip carrier" (an integrated circuit socket for square chips)
but ive never heard of plcc2 led's
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Old 03-27-2011, 12:47 AM
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It's not really a "socket" - it's an SMT/SMD (Surface Mount). A PLCC2 is just a two-post PLCC. A PLCC4 is a 4-post PLCC.

Just do a Google search for "PLCC2" and you'll see what they are.

Instead of images, I shot some video... this is much harder to do when you can only use one hand!


addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffer)

Last edited by Judee; 04-06-2011 at 02:30 AM..
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:41 AM
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I had a chance to dissect the clock/temperature display this weekend, and unfortunately the circuit board, the LCD, and all the connectors are soldered together. Disassembling the components to the point where you can change out the LEDs would involve desoldering about 30 contiguous pins from the LCD and about 6 pins from the connectors... so it would not be an easy task to do without some specialized equipment.


Just in case anyone decides to take this on, I did get a good look at the LEDs through an opening - they ARE PLCC2's also. There are 5 of them in a 2008 Beetle clock/temperature display.

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)
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Old 04-01-2011, 03:17 PM
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I'm doing mine in orange leds soon. I'll post soem pictures on here when it is finished.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huck731 View Post
I'm doing mine in orange leds soon. I'll post soem pictures on here when it is finished.
Any updates I hope it all worked out for you!

Feel free to PM me or post here if you have any questions!
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:19 PM
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Updated How-To with Videos.
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:49 PM
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So everthing has been sent!! Including the all the pink LED's for Evilina and for Fiona. I am sooo excited and can't wait!!

Casey! Once I get Evilina's gauge back, I have hot pink needle paint I bought online. I'll make a photo how-to
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:02 PM
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haha we were actually talking about painting mine with sparkly nail polish
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:00 PM
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OK! Pink Bubble Wrap!!??

So get this... Even though Evilina and Fiona are exactly the same year, and even the same trim (I think), Evilina's gauges are slightly different.

The 6 LEDs behind the LCD are not PLCC2's like Nubz and Fiona... Evilina wants to be different and use these funky side-emitting LEDs: Click Here.

I can see on the circuit board that the pads for PLCC2 LEDs (like Nubz and Fiona) are there, but there aren't any LEDs hooked-up to them. In fact, Evilina's LCD has a completely separate circuit board!

So bottom line is I can make everything pink... except the LCD!!!

Working on them right now.

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)
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Old 05-01-2011, 06:27 PM
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Evilina is actually a 99, Fiona is an 04 but I thought we would have the same cluster pattern or whatever, that is super strange

Oh and please don't forget to keep some of those LED's for me when I come out there, I ordered the fluorescent green needle paint, should be here Thursday or Friday, do you still need me tomorrow?? I plan on driving out there, just let me know
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judee View Post
OK! Pink Bubble Wrap!!??

So get this... Even though Evilina and Fiona are exactly the same year, and even the same trim (I think), Evilina's gauges are slightly different.

The 6 LEDs behind the LCD are not PLCC2's like Nubz and Fiona... Evilina wants to be different and use these funky side-emitting LEDs: Click Here.

I can see on the circuit board that the pads for PLCC2 LEDs (like Nubz and Fiona) are there, but there aren't any LEDs hooked-up to them. In fact, Evilina's LCD has a completely separate circuit board!

So bottom line is I can make everything pink... except the LCD!!!

Working on them right now.

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)

Did you expect any other color bubble wrap?!?
So please excuse my ignorance but which is the LCD part again?
AND everything but should be all good! I do apologize for Evilina's wackiness. She is definitely my one of the kind black and pink baby.
With that said, THANK YOU AGAIN FOR EVERYTHING!!!!!
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:11 PM
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That's the part that shows your mileage and what gear you are in, the middle display
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Old 05-01-2011, 09:21 PM
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OH!! Thanks!! Got it! I'm sure it will look fine especially since my clock and stuff will still be the same color. So it will make for a nice tie in
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Old 05-03-2011, 04:02 AM
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Okie Dokie... Double Surgery is done! The surgeon is going to bed!

Fiona is now ALL pink; red accents are gone.
Evilina is now all pink EXCEPT the LCD.

Shonnel, I think Casey sent pictures to you already. Evilina's cluster is now in Casey's hands!

Enjoy! And remember to upload pics when she's all put back together so we can all see the awesome pinkness!

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)
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Old 05-03-2011, 03:17 PM
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Updated How-To with 1999 LED information.

1999's use different LEDs behind the LCD. Still use PLCC2's on the main circuit board, and the indicator lights, but the 6 LEDs lighting the LCD are side-emitting LEDs, and look like they are an OSRAM-only product called a SIDELED.

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)
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Old 05-06-2011, 05:11 AM
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"How Fast" is really up to how much you're willing to pay for fast shipping. It only takes me a few hours to do the work and ship it back out.

If I receive it on Monday night, and I know it's coming, I could have it back in the mail by Tuesday... Wednesday at the latest.

.addicted2sp33d (Judee's Chauffeur)

Last edited by Judee; 05-06-2011 at 05:31 AM..
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