Replace odometer LEDs?

toyota
sienna

#1

Just bought my first Toyota, a 1999 Sienna LE, with instrument cluster issues. It was priced accordingly, worth the risk. The main issue is that the left two odometer LEDs are dead, so true mileage was unknown. I had to sign a form acknowledging no mileage data.

A speedometer specialist shop will repair the cluster for about $180 if I remove the cluster, which should be no problem. They claim they can restore the actual mileage too. But the shop is 90 minutes away so there’s a cost for driving time, plus an inconvenience factor in that I have to drop off the cluster and wait all day, or come back another day. So I’m inclined to just buy a junkyard cluster, likely price about $50. But Siennas are scarce in the wrecking yards.

Is it feasible to just replace the odometer LEDs as a DIY job? Are the components available, and if so, from who? I’m guessing that replacing them is a circuit board repair, which I might prefer to give to a local electronics repair tech far more proficient with that than myself. Or is this a highly skill intensive job? Depending on cost of parts and work on the board, this might be an easier and / or more cost effective solution.

Anyone have any thoughts?

I’d just forget it, but my business bottom line benefits from mileage deductions, so I’d like to be able to track those miles. Turns out the transmission looks like just replaced, which I hadn’t detected before buying.


#2

I’d be inclined to have your cluster repaired, versus getting a junkard cluster, which might not be any better.


#3

Yep me too. 90 miles is nothing-a stroll in the park on a nice day. Just pay the money and get it done right. It’d be fun to know the true mileage too. I used a GM factory speedo shop before to install a new board on my radio. Did it quick, reasonably cheap, and didn’t have to worry about the same defect in a used unit. Problem is they don’t give the schematics and repair manuals to other than authorized shops so a local electronic whiz might not be a good idea nor would they likely have the part nor be able to restore the mileage.


#4

If the 90 miles drive, two trips, is an inconvenience, and I could see how it might be, why not just box it up and ship it to the repair place? That seems the best path.

How difficult it would be for your local electronics repair shop to do depends on how that part of the instrument cluster is constructed. If it is discrete LED’s soldered into an accessible circuit board, that would be easier. The LEDs might just need to be re-soldered is all. An failed LED module might be easy to replace too if a replacement module could be found. If it is a surface mount LED array embedded into the cluster, that would be considerably harder. And if it is some kind of hybrid manufacturing method it might be well-nigh impossible to do without the proper knowledge and equipment.


#5

I thought those clusters had a LCD display for the odometer. Miniature incandescent bulbs are used for cluster illumination. Whether it has a LCD or LED odometer, can you buy a replacement display? I believe it would be best to have the cluster repaired by a professional.


#6
I thought those clusters had a LCD display for the odometer.

I’m actually not sure I know LCD from LED, now that you mention it. What I see reminds me of what I saw on the only digital watch I ever owned, years ago, I guess that’s LCD. I can replace the bulbs used for illumination, that part should be simple.

But starting from the right, I can see four digits and then a tiny bit of a fifth, both in odo and in trip. I definitely do want to know the mileage, could be over 300k but judging by condition, I doubt that.

The problem with going to the speedo shop is that as soon as the cluster is out, I have no warning indicators so what if temp goes up, or I lose oil pressure? I don’t want to drive 90 miles home at freeways speeds, then 90 miles back, with no clue about what’s happening under the hood. It’s a similar problem having it out for several days after shipping it to the shop - while still needing local transportation. If I had two vehicles, it would be simple, but suddenly I’m down to just one.

Thanks for the comments. I think I’ll get the cluster out and take a better look at it before I decide which route to take.


#7

Almost all of these displays are LCD. And most of them are custom made for the manufacturer, so you may have difficulty in finding a replacement, in addition to the difficulties noted by George.


#8

I agree. LED’s came into use, for the most part, after 1999.


#9

Chances are, the gauge cluster is just a display. The ODO reading is probably stored in the ECU but displayed on the cluster. I’d look into that further because that would mean you could buy any old junker display and it should provide the same odometer readout as your original unit…


#10

Thanks TwinTurbo. That’s the way I understand it - the actual mileage stored in the ECU. The speedo shop had explained that. What I don’t yet know is how difficult it is to swap the display. I’ll know more when I have time to extract the cluster for a look. I’m grateful for the comments thus far.


#11

There are companies that as their business model fix auto electronics modules like these. You’d need to find one that fixes your brand though, as they seem to specialize. One company is called Module Master. Never used them myself. But others here have said they were pretty helpful, even if they couldn’t fix it themselves they had some helpful advice to offer. Googling might turn up other companies that do this too, which specialize in your brand.


#12

Mail it to the shop 90 miles away and have them mail it back. Just check your oil and radiator cold before you drive it. If you have or can borrow a GPS, that will give you the speed.


#13

Considering the cost of shipping these days I think I’d drive it there. :smiley:


#14

I wouldn’t drive my own car with the instrument cluster removed. I’d be worried it would be unsafe, might result in the car being damaged, and it is probably illegal in any event. A ticket for something like that here in San Jose would run you $500 easily. Instead I’d find another method of transport until I had the car back in good operating condition again.

That’s just the way it is with cars. Even though your are dependent on your car, when it breaks you may not have a simple way to get where you need to go until it gets fixed. Pro mechanics probably hear complaints every day about this from their customers. Suggest to beg rides, take the bus, borrow a spare car from a friend, etc. My solution to this problem is to own two vehicles.


#15

mountainbike

That’s 90 miles to get there to drop it off

Unless they fix it while you wait . . . which I find unlikely . . . it’s another 90 miles back home, with no cluster

And that scenario repeats again, when it’s time to pick up the cluster

Doesn’t make sense to me