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How did my speedometer needle get under the resting pin?

Driving today I looked down to see the needle of my speedometer underneath the pin it rests on when the car is not on. Obviously it can’t register my speed because the pin is stopping it. When the car is off the needle drops to the six o’clock position on the dial. How did it get there? Was my 19 year-old headed toward warp speed only to stop dead and fool the needle into continuing around to land on the wrong side of the pin!? Is there a way to fix it without taking it to the shop?

Warp speed in a Dodge Grand Caravan? That would defy the laws of physics!

The only way to fix it if it’s at all possible would be to remove the instrument cluster, remove the “lens” from the cluster (this may involve cutting some ultrasonic plastic spot-welds), and carefully putting the needle back where it belongs. The needle will be press-fitted onto a sleeve, but might be removeable and reinstallable. Godo luch with this.

A Haynes manual might be a good idea. It shoudl show you the cluster installation. If not, the dealership should print an “exploded view” drawing of this installation if you ask nicely.

I was going to suggest warp speed in reverse, but I think mountainbike above had a better answer. :wink: Good luck!

You could also try using a bent wire like a Jumbo paperclip going in through hole where the trip-meter reset button is. (the bent wire comes in handy to remove the grommet) And gently try to “tease” the needle back over the stop pin.

The forum search tool is very useful in finding prior discussions on this topic.

Has this topic been discussed before? This is the first time I have seen it.

Twice recently. For the search impaired- http://community.cartalk.com/posts/list/2146243.page

You mean there are only two other threads about this topic? My goodness. That seems quite underwhelming.

Could there be a solution for a Dodge Grand Caravan that wasn’t mentioned in the other threads? Exactly when is someone justified in starting a new thread when another exists, but is based on a different vehicle?

We frequently ask for the vehicle’s make and model when the OP leaves them out. Isn’t it possible the particular vehicle make could be relevant to the discussion?

What year is your caravan? Some years you can perform a instrument diagnostic test. And just maybe this diagnostic test might command the needle to perform a full sweep which might pick up the needle and bring it back without having to remove the instrument cluster and doing it manually.

Edit. if this is a 92 caravan you may need to remove the cluster and do it manually.

I must have missed it, did you have something of value to add? Or are you just here to be a pita? You find no value in my post but it points the OP to two prior threads that actually have some technical discussion on the very topic AND solutions. Not whining from the peanut gallery…

TwinTurbo, I was just trying to point out that if you are going to say “use the search feature,” there are topics that have been rehashed at least 30 times in the past 90 days, yet you chose a topic that has only been discussed twice before and pertained to other models of vehicles. In terms of picking your battles, I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill.

Also, do you see americar’s response above? It looks like my idea did yield a good model-specific suggestion, so yes, with americar’s help, I think I did contribute something useful to this discussion, even if you are too stubborn to see it. You are coming across like someone who makes citizen arrests for jaywalking.

Easy, your battery is bad. Change it. Then go inside the dash and move the indicator over the pin. This happened to me recently, on every gauge. I found out that I had a “lemon” battery, and although it started the car, it caused a lot of screwy things to happen in the electronic systems. Good Luck!

I have a feeling your speedometer is toast. Even if you succeed in moving the needle, it will not work properly. The clock-spring that returns the needle to the pin and resists the magnetic action of the drive mechanism broke, allowing the needle to now float freely…When you are in motion, it will move up against the pin from behind as it tries to rotate. The pin is called the “armature” and the rotating magnet cup that moves it is called the “field” (I think)…Anyway, get a junk-yard speedometer or try e-Bay…

I also have a 2003 Dodge Carvan and the needle has dropped twice below the resting pin. I took my car to a body shop and and 10 minutes I was back driving. They pull the dash out and adjust it from behind . On damage to the appearance on dash or instrument manal at all. Once moved above the resting pin worked just great. Have Idea why it happens.

Great response, Whitey. I also love your “underwhelming” remark. And, I agree, your initial response did present a good suggestion and brought in americar to help, too. (Never would have imagined that could solve the prob.) CITIZEN’S ARREYEST! CITIZEN’S ARREYEST! Thanks, for the laugh!

The no-see-ums are out now offering their vast wisdom on the topic.

Anyway, had’nt seen your last response Whitey. why does my pointing people to prior discussions have to be the one and only input and decisive answer? It was intended to help the OP locate prior information without having to retype. What difference does it make if it’s 1 post or 100 as long as it is relevant info? And my post isn’t stopping anyone else from weighing in whether they have something of value to contribute or not.

OK, I searched this forum and we had this problem today on our 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport. Yes, our battery has been on the “outs” for about two years. We were doing a bunch of starting and stopping the engine today, and my wife said she saw the needle sweep around and get stuck. So, I searched this forum. OK, the magnet fix doesn’t work. I have some very powerful magnet samples and no dice. So I popped out the cluster entirely. Rotated it in the air so the needle reset, and reinstalled the cluster. Now it works. If you are squeamish about removing the cluster, don’t be. All you need is a phillips head screwdriver, preferably a stubby one and an average size one. Pop off the black plate that is the “bottom” of the bezel just above the steering column, pop the edge closest to you up and remove. Use the stubby to remove the two screws on the"top" of the black bezel around the speedo cluster, and then remove the two on the bottom of the bezel. Now, here is where you will need to pull out and gently squeeze the bezel to get it out, I slid mine out to the left (looking towards the front of the vehicle). Next, there are 4 screws at the corners of the speedo cluster, remove. Now you can pull the cluster out towards you. On the back of the unit, there is a plug with a red slide on it. Slide the red piece away from the cluster, and then press on the black lever, and pull connector out. Now rotate the cluster like you are making a right turn with your steering wheel. Now the needle should be resting on correct side of the pin. Replace cluster and reassemble the cluster, and bezel. Done fixed. It took me about 15 min to do this, and I am sure the dealership would have cost at least $80.

Yes, you can fix it without taking it to the shop. Just ignore it. Speedometers are for people who exceed the speed limit. Alternatively, in many towns there are people who fiddle with cars for money. They typically call themselves “mechanics.” I suggest you travel to a nearby town and find one of these “mechanics.”

Another possible way to fix it is to drill a small hole near the resting point. A Dremel with some small bits or a drill bit meant for a printed-circuit board would do a good job for this. Then use a paperclip or small piece of wire to move the needle back where it belongs. An alternative to drilling might be to heat a paperclip with a lighter and use it to melt a hole in the plastic, but this may be sloppy and may not work depending on what kind of plastic is there.

You can try the ‘test’ mode and see if it helps: If your car has an electronic odometer, hold down the trip counter reset or multi-function button with the key off. Now turn the key on while you remain holding the button down. Keep holding it for 10 seconds or until something begins to happen. Typically all the gauges and lights will go through a self test, turning on and off in sequence and the gauges going through partial, then full sweeps.

Great job and nice description for anyone who follows with the same problem! This issue is becoming more prevalent with the way they’re designed and many gages now have plastic parts and deeply recessed gage clusters so the magnet trick is not successful as often as in the past but still worth trying.

I recently pulled the gage cluster from my truck and the front bezel extends to the center of the dash and down into the radio cluster. Lots of hidden plastic tabs so you have to be really careful when prying it loose. I think that part may scare off a lot of would be DIYers fearing to break the part or snap off the fasteners. Knowing where to pry, how much force to use and how to apply it is an acquired skill :wink: