2005 Buick Lesabre, Changing The Gauge Stepper Motors

The gauge stepper motors had failed in this cluster. If you need to see how to remove the instrument cluster please click here.

The first step was to remove the four screws and lever latches that hold the instrument cluster to the dash carrier.

Then using a small screw driver to release the clips that hold the black face assembly to the white housing, I worked my way around the instrument cluster until it was loose. Be careful to not touch the inside surfaces of the lens assembly. It will leave finger prints and disturb any dust that may be present. Unless you just want to fully clean it.

Do Not remove the rear black cover yet. Place your finger in the gauge needles and turn them lightly counter clockwise.

Until they stop.

Using an easily removable masking tape, mark the full CCW position of all of the needles.

Now turn the needles past the stop to loosen them on the motor shafts. Press closer to the center than at the tip to avoid damaging the needles.

Using a dinner fork that will clear the center section  of the needle shaft, pull the needles up and off of the motor shafts. I try to practice pulling straight up. Even if I have to grab the handle and the tines of the fork. This skill will come in handy if the needle has to come back off without damaging the new stepper motors. Sometimes you miss when installing the needles and sometimes something goes wrong. I repairing this particular cluster, two of the new stepper motors were no good. I had to replace them a second time.

All of the needle positions are marked and the needles removed.

Now the clips that hold the back cover in place can be unlocked and the cover removed. It is very important to not remove this cover until all of the needles have been marked and removed. If you were to remove this panel first the needles could be off as much as a quarter of an inch. Ask me how I know.

This is what the inner circuit board looks like. The round white pieces are the stepper motors.

There are four soldered leads at the back of each of the motors. I use a 25 watt soldering iron to do this job. The leads will come loose without much trouble but the plastic pegs seem to be tight in the circuit board sometimes. I find it best to hold the white part of the motor with the finger tips of one hand, while I apply heat to the terminals in an alternating fashion. I use the finger tips of the one hand to apply pressure between the motor housing and the circuit board. Sometimes I have to use a small screwdriver as a lever to pull the motor loose. Do not use too much pressure or apply the pressure before the solder is fully melted or you may pull part of the circuit board through the hole with the lead. Also do not rake the melted solder to try and open the hole. You will damage the circuit board. Either use a solder sucker of some sort or at least use a small piece of wire to insert into the melted solder to open the hole up.

I did not show any pictures of the actual soldering. I believe that if you do not already have some quality soldering experience you should not do this part of this repair. Instead enlist the help of someone who does.

Be careful to not touch the other electronics on the board. It is best to ground yourself so that will will not conduct a static charge that may damage the electronics of the instrument cluster.

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