2004 Subaru Legacy, Replacing Blown Instrument Cluster Bulbs

This 2004 Subaru Legacy came in with the complaint that some of the back lighting bulbs for the instrument cluster were blown out. The way that the covers are assembled dictates that I had to start with removing the shifter trim panel. It just lifts up and is only held in place by spring clips.

Two screws hold the storage tray in place.

After removing the ashtray, I had to remove the retaining screws for the bracket. One in the back.

Two along the upper edge.

I also removed the screws that hold the radio and HVAC controls to the dash. The two along the lower edge of the radio are longer.

The two along the lower edge of the radio are longer and need to be kept separate from the rest of the screws.

The reason I removed the screws from the radio and HVAC controls is because I could not get a good enough grip on the harness connector for the hazard light switch. If you can, you can skip removing those screws.

There are two screws on the upper edge of the trim panel in front of the instrument cluster opening.

There are two screws, one on either side of the steering column and behind the lower trim panels.

I adjusted the steering column to the full down position and pulled the instrument cluster trim panel from the dash. I did have to flex it slightly to clear the opening.

The left lower dash trim panel unsnaps from the dash, to expose the one screw on the driver’s side of the steering column, that I mentioned earlier.

There are five screws that hold the instrument cluster to the dash assembly; two on each side.

And one screw in the top center of the instrument cluster.

There are three harness connectors that need to be disconnected from the cluster.

There are locking tabs on each one that have to be depressed.

I used a screwdriver to push in on the locking tab and then grabbed the connector body and wiggled it loose from the cluster. It was a tight fit and took a little effort to remove them. Try your best to not pull on the wires themselves.

All of the illumination or back lighting bulbs had larger bases. Were brown in color and had red paint marks on them. They twist and remove.

I had a hard time locating the correct bulbs. The dealership had to special order them and they were over $4 each. I should have called them first and ordered them before I removed the cluster. The after market does not list them for some reason. I researched past bulb applications for Subaru and found that a 158 bulb was commonly used in the recent past. I tried 161 and 194 bulbs but in the end I stuck with the 158 bulbs as a match. I did have to buy blue bulb covers since the old ones were stuck to the bulbs.

In theory, the bulbs could be changed without disconnecting the wiring to the cluster.

The cluster can be maneuvered around with the harnesses connected to access the bulbs.

Another one fixed.

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