Dash-board light bulb replacements--$200 service fee?

2002 Chrysler Town & Country 116,000 miles and great condition EXCEPT the light bulbs illuminating the speedometer and the gas guage are out. Local mechanic says the dash has to be removed to change them. Say it isn’t so…

Sounds about right. Sorry.

Ok, maybe I wasn’t 100% correct. I have the 2001 Grand Caravan Factory Service Manual in PDF, and I’m pretty sure the Caravan and Town & Country are the same thing, and not much has changed from 01 to 02. I’ve attached the page that describes how to remove and install the cluster. Seems like not the entire dash has to be removed, but a part of it.

Also, I think the light bulbs that illuminate the instrument cluster are part of the cluster, so I’m guessing the entire cluster would have to be changed out to fix this.

I’m not familiar with this problem on a T & C but on many vehicles changing the bulb(s) can be a labor intensive project so the price could be about right.

Now the kicker. If all of the instrument cluster lighting is out then it’s not likely the bulbs are the problem. Either the rheostat (dash dimmer) has been inadvertently turned down or the rheostat/main headlight switch is bad.

Typical of a Chrysler product.

I have a '02 van also and so far those lights are still good in mine but I only have about half the mileage of yours.

I very much doubt that the dash needs to be replaced in order to fix the lights. They should be in removeable sockets like most other dash lights are. After reading the info that JAD2007 so nicely posted it looks to me the proceedure to get to the lights is pretty easy and any DIYer could handle it.

I’ve had that experience and several others where there have been huge labor costs involved in replacing inexpensive parts buried behind the dash. One of the bulbs that illuminated the speedometer on my '01 Caravan went out and I had to pay the dealer about $200 to have it replaced because the dash had to be removed. I had them replace about eight of the bulbs back there at the same time to save money down the road. The same kind of thing happened when the A/C fan would only work on high and it cost $150 (maybe $200) to take off the dash and replace a $10 capacitor to fix it. Currently we are having problems with the heater blower control (it won’t work on the floor vent setting) but it’s $400 labor to replace the solenoid switch to fox it and we have decided that we can live with the problem. It’s infuriating to have to spend so much for labor for such simple repairs!

That’s helpful. I’ve seen lots of Honda/Toyota vehicles with stupid little problems, too. Does that mean those problems are typical of those brands?

Besides, even if this costs $600 to fix, the OP still has about $10,400 more in his pocket than the next guy with an '02 Honda Odyssey.

I have had the instrument cluster apart in my 95 Stratus a few times, and if the vans cluster is anything close to the stratus its should be fairly easy.