97 Escort Gauge Cluster R&R

I’m wondering whether or not anyone has pulled the gauge cluster out of one of these Gen 3 Escorts ('97-02). Its an LX Wagon (includes air bags).

My Haynes is telling me to pull the steering wheel which would obviously make getting the cluster in & out a whole lot easier but in itself is a hassle I’d rather avoid. It looks to me like I should actually have enough clearance to just pull it with the steering wheel in place - a few screws on the trim bezel & a couple more on the cluster & that’s it. So I’m just wondering whether or not anyone has done it w/ the steering wheel in place.

I did this on a '91 Gen 2 hatchback a long time ago but don’t remember it well. I know that I didn’t pull the steering wheel, but I think I dropped the column from its mounts. (At the time I would have been following a Chilton’s for the 2nd gens and just doing what it told me).

The reason if it matters is that my cluster lights have been slowly dying off over the last couple of years. As of last night, I’m now down to one and can’t see anything but my tach at night. So its just time to deal with it.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think the steering wheel has to be pulled just dropped. I have 2 third generation Escorts, but have never needed to pull the cluster. If you’ll register on this site www.feoa.net and ask this question I know you’ll get your answer. This is a forum exclusively for Escorts and there are very few things that have not been discussed there.

Thanks FordMan - I figured I could count on you given all of the Escorts!

I did visit the FEOA & searched there. All I found was people saying that, if you have tilt steering (which I do), its possible to work it out of there without removing the wheel or dropping the column. However - no one provided any details, and there were others saying it can’t be done. This evening or tomorrow I am going to just give it a whirl & see how it goes. I’ll let you know some details in the event that you have to get into one of yours at any time.

Piece of cake. There’s no need to pull the steering wheel or even drop the column - at least if you have tilt steering. I’m not sure how it would go with a fixed wheel. I had the steering wheel adjusted to the lowest position.

If you ever need to do it FordMan (or anyone else who stumbles upon this):

  • Pull the lower, center trim panel under the column (to get at two bezel screws): one screw lower right (7mm socket or T20 Torx); loosen hood release cable bracket nut & remove cable (17mm nut); the rest is metal spring-clip panel retainers - gently pry.

  • Pull cluster trim bezel: three screws (7mm/T20) on top/inside & two more facing you that were under that trim panel above; the rest are metal spring clips - pry gently. There are two clips on either side of the center vents & one near the left side vent.

  • Pull the cluster: 4 screws (7mm/T20); wiggle & jiggle a bit; cock it toward the left side to come out toward the driver’s side door; three harnesses (at least on my model) & there is plenty of slack to pull it out enough to make room to get a hand back there. One harness upper left above the fuel gauge; one low closer to the middle behind the trip OD; off on the right side behind the tach. Once those are out it wiggles its way out pretty easily. (A particularly dexterous person with small hands could probably do the bulbs without pulling the whole thing out).

  • for the basic back lighting there are six 194 bulbs - just basic twist & pop-out plastic sockets.

Its an hour at most, but if you tend to fuss over things as you go (as I do) budget time for cleaning up all of that gunk that’s collected down there over the years & maybe giving the cluster lens a good cleaning as long as you have it out.