CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Replacing Honda Accord Instrument Cluster Lights

I have a 2000 Accord and most of the bulbs that back-light the instrument cluster have gone out.



I believe that the bulbs are replaceable, as there are web sites that sell different colored bulbs. I’ve seen photos of the cluster pulled out, but no instructions on how to do it.



I have tried to unscrew and pull out the instrument cluster (using alot of force), but it just won’t come out, and I can’t figure out how to pull it out.



Is there some trick to pulling out the instrument cluster so that I can replace the bulbs?



The Honda dealer wants $200 just to look at it, which is ridiculous, as I find it hard to believe that it takes 1-2 hours to do.

You need to get a Haynes manual for instructions on how to do this job; and make sure you’re diagnosing the problem correctly.
If MOST of the bulbs are out then it could be a fluke that many have burned out; if ALL of them are out then it’s likely a bad rheostat or main lighting switch.

The dealer is not ripping you off nor are they charging you 200 bucks just to look at it.
I can guarantee you that an instrument cluster can take an hour or two to R and R; and with some cars it takes much more time than that.
Why should the dealer and the mechanic work for peanuts because you choose not to pay for their time and expertise in doing it. Both have expenses to cover and as you are now discovering, things are not always so easy.

After finding more info about the 2000 Accord, it seems that the black plastic in front of the gauges is actually a bezel, or trim piece, that is held in with clips.

You have to remove the two screws in the top of the bezel, and then gently pop the top part of the bezel towards you to slide it out.

The tough part that I had a problem with are the two spring clips that are in the bottom corners of the bezel. They are extremely tight and require quite a bit of force to pull out.

If you have a pry tool (used by stereo installers, Crutchfield, etc.), you can try and gently pry the bottom of the bezel towards you. You basically need to pull the bottom corners directly outward, towards you, and not up.

It took quite a bit of force, but I was able to remove it without breaking the bezel.

I tried the aftermarket manuals–they didn’t provide enough detail, as they did not show the clip locations for the bezel.

The dealer is absolutely ripping me off with their aribitrary estimate of $200. And you have demonstrated you can’t guarantee anything about how long anything will take, as I’m not talking about “some cars”–I’m talking about a very specific car that is being serviced by the dealer. They shouldn’t have to guess how to pull a cluster out.

To make my point: It took less than 5 minutes to pull the instrument cluster out (once I was able to find out about the stupid spring clips, which they should know about). 5 more minutes to check every single bulb. Less than 10 minutes at the dealer to get new bulbs (mostly waiting), and 10 minutes to replace the bulbs and put everything back together.

If you don’t think that $200 for just the labor for a 30 minute, trivial, grease free repair task that requires only a screwdriver and half a brain is a ripoff, I’ll give you their number and you can just send them your money.

They charge $15.95 for a oil and filter change, which requires more equipment, a replacement part, waste disposal and a car lift. Ergo, $200 is a joke.

I understand them needing to do CYA in case the diagnostic process is a mess and involves other electrical components. If that’s the case, fine, just charge me $30 to check only the bulbs, and if it is something else, tell me. But don’t attempt to charge me $200 for a 10 minute diagnosis by telling me they have to pull the entire dashboard off the car.

Take it to a shop that installs car alarms, remote starters and audio equipment and PAY one of their dash monkeys to do it for you.

OR Go to a U-Pull-It junkyard and learn on a wrecked car how to gain access to the dash lights…