Replacing instrument lights in a 1997 Toyota Corolla

I have a 97 Corolla CE with several dead light bulbs, one in the center transmission box and two in the instrument cluster. I tried opening up the transmission box, hoping it would be straightforward, but I could only get as far as removing the plastic ring and the cover with the lettering, exposing this little well with a glass dome at the bottom. The light bulb is under that glass dome and I see no way to remove it. I guess the next step is to remove the entire trim but it doesn’t come off when I take out the screws, maybe need to remove the glove compartment and the center trim (AC/Radio) as well. Yikes! Is there an easier way to get at this light bulb? I’m wondering if I should just rig up a little LED and battery pack from Radio Shack and shove that in; just want to see if I’m in drive at night!

Also, how involved is it to remove the instrument cluster to get at the light bulbs? The mechanic didn’t want to do it because he said it would cost a lot in labor. I’ve heard all I have to do is remove the two screws and pull out the cluster and then can turn these tabs to extract the old bulbs. My Chilton’s manual doesn’t go into any detail on these items. Any help appreciated!

Guess no one’s needed to do this! So what happened was that the Toyota dealer sold me the wrong light bulb, which is why I was scratching my head trying to figure out where it installs. The “glass dome” is the light bulb and can be extracted with tweezers and the new one inserted. I also found a description on the web of how to remove the rear center trim–you start by removing the bit of carpet in the storage well, then unscrew three screws plus the two side screws, and you can then lift the trim and slide it off the emergency brake handle. This gets you closer to the guts of the shifter box, but I think it’s not really necessary. Anyway, now I have a light!

Next project: replacing the instrument lights. The Toyota dealer needs me to produce the old bulbs first. So I need to pull off the dashboard trim, extract the bulbs, then drive to the dealership? Hm, maybe I need to find another supplier. Who on the web sells dashboard light bulbs?

Sylvania has replacement guides for most cars, here’s one for your Corolla

I buy my bulbs from any auto parts store (Pep Boys, Autozone, Advance, etc)

Autozone has a repair guide for 88 to 97 Corollas, here is the section on removing the instrument panel.

Hope this helps.

Ed B.