The speedometer in your vehicle is an important informational tool that gives you the ability to know how fast you are driving. Issues that arise with this aspect of your car can present itself as a vibrating speedometer needle or one that will not budge at all. Often the fix for a non-functioning speedometer is something you can take care of at home with a few tools you probably already have, and a bit of time.

This article will give you a general step by step guide to answer your question of how to fix speedometer. This specific set of instructions will show you how to fix speedometer on a GM vehicle that is at least a model year of 2000. However, this guide can be followed with a few minor changes for any vehicle speedometer repair.

Car speedometer closeup

Things You Will Need

  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Pen
  • A pair of needle node type pliers
  • Something you can use to pry with such as a small tipped screwdriver or an awl
  • Solder bulb
  • A fork from your kitchen
  • Masking tape
  • Speedometer cluster repair kit

Method on How to Fix Speedometer

1. Gather all of the necessary items needed on how to fix speedometer stated above. This will streamline your repair and speed up the process. Having everything prepared will also eliminate the need to run and grab something. This is important because you will be dealing with loose wires and you do not want to lose them in the interim.

2. The first step of how to fix speedometer is to remove the cluster itself. For most vehicles, the cluster is held in by some black plastic clips. These clips can be pushed in to allow the cluster lens to pop loose. Use a small flat head screwdriver or other item to pry underneath the lens to get to the clips. Some vehicles are different and may use screws or have frames that need to be removed. Regardless of your model, it should be easy to figure out how to get the cluster off. You can always research online or in a manual if you need help figuring it out.

3. Remove the clear protective cover from the cluster. It should separate easily. Be careful when separating clusters with a manual trip counter reset button. They have a spring that will cause them to pop out. Be sure to keep the button and spring to replace when you go to put the cluster back together. You will need to replace the button and spring before replacing the clear cover.

4. Next, tear a piece of masking tape for each of the gauges. Push each of the needle on your fuel gauge until it settles in its start position (on empty). Slide a piece of the masking tape between the needle and the cluster surface. Take a pen and mark this position by making a line that extends out from the tip of the needle. Repeat this for each needle on your cluster. This will give you a reference that will help you set the needles to their original positions after you replace the stepper motors. It will also ensure that you will get accurate readings.

5. Grab the base of each needle gently and firmly rotate it counterclockwise about an inch in order to loosen it from the shaft.

6. Take your kitchen fork and slide it under the base of the speedometer needle so that you wedge the shaft between two of the tines. Then you will need to gently pry upwards by pushing downwards with the fork handle. Take caution when doing this step so that you do not scratch the face of your cluster. Remove the needle once you have successfully pried it loose. Do this for each needle.

7. Next, the cluster face can be removed by once again prying up any plastic tabs that are keeping it in place. This will expose the circuit board which can easily be removed. Be careful when lifting it off as there may be a small connector or two that attaches it to the cluster.

8. On the front of the board you will see a small, round, white motor where each of the needles sat. There will typically be four solder points on the reverse side of the circuit board that are holding each motor into place. You will need to use your soldering iron to heat up those points in order to remove the old motor.

The easiest way to do this step is to warm the solder and quickly use the solder bulb to suck up the hot solder. Be sure to do this quickly as too much heat can damage the board. Also be sure to not allow the melted solder to touch any other solder point. This can cause a bridge between components that can cause your cluster to malfunction or fail.

9. Once the solder is removed from the points, you will need to use the needle nose pliers in order to straighten the 4 wires that are threaded through the board. This will allow you to slide the motor safely out. Repeat the removal steps for each of the motors.

10. Next, you will take the new replacement motor and slide it back into the four holes by threading the wires through the board. You can only install them in one direction because one post is larger than the others. Slightly bend each wire and solder them down. Replace the board being sure to reconnect and wire connectors. Snap your frame back onto the face.

11. Now replace the needles back into position and rotate them to line up with your masking tape reference points. Remove the tape once back in position. Reinstall the spring and trip reset button and then the clear cover.

12. Finally, replace the unit back onto your vehicle.

Conclusion

A non-functioning speedometer is more than annoying, it can be dangerous. However, the repair does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Taking care of it yourself with these how to fix speedometer steps is easy and can get you back on the road safely without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that it’s useful to pay attention to your vehicle speed sensor as well.

Have you ever had to repair a speedometer? What tips can you share to help others learn from your experiences? Feel free to leave comments below.

Image source: vehicle speed sensor

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