1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass, Gas Gauge Below Empty

This 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass came in with the complaint that the gas or fuel gauge is stuck below empty. With the key off the gauge reads as seen below.

With the key on the gauge needle rises but is stuck below the peg as shown below. This condition is caused by several factors. One, a poor design, in that there is not a peg or needle stop at the upper end of the gauge. Two, the key was on while a battery cable was being removed or installed. Three, the engine was being cranked with a very low battery charge condition. Both situations, along with the design flaw, will cause the gauge to go past full and rotate all the way around. Getting trapped below the peg.

It is not terribly difficult to repair this condition. Remove the two screws in the instrument cluster trim panel.

Pull the trim panel away from the dash and unplug the wiring as shown below.

Finish pulling the trim panel loose, across to the passenger side of the dash.

Disconnect the hazard switch.

Remove the screws that hold the instrument cluster to the dash.

Rotate the cluster as shown below. Pull the cluster partially out, until the wires can be disconnected. Then remove the cluster from the vehicle.

Release the clips that hold the front bezel and lens, then pull it off of the cluster body.

Simply rotate the needle counter clockwise until it is in it’s proper position above the stop peg.

Reinstall the lens assembly and install the cluster into the dash. Be careful not to let the upper right side of the cluster drop too far below level, as the needles will rotate and may go past center and be stuck again.

After securing the cluster in the dash, switch the ignition on and verify proper gauge function. The finish installing the rest of the trim pieces.

11 discussions on “1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass, Gas Gauge Below Empty”

  1. Tip from Anon worked for me too, in less than 30 seconds. I was glad to see instructions on pulling out the panel, because it was going to save me a trip back to the shop. Thanks to you both!

  2. At the age of 69 I am a female still driving my 1997 Olds Cutlass. Fuel gauge went crazy after new battery installed. Foundf your tips today. Used paper clip. Took less than 3 minutes. Thanks.

  3. I’ve been staring at my gauge for 2 months now and tried the paper clip idea before i tore my dash apart & it worked the first time!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

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