2003 Ford F150, Odometer Works Sometimes

This 2003 Ford F150 came in with the complaint that the odometer works sometimes and sometimes it does not. The customer stated that it rarely works now. As you can see in the next picture it was not working when it came in. I have done a few of these in the past and have been waiting for an opportunity to do this post. The problem is weak solder joints inside the instrument cluster assembly.

The first step in removing the instrument cluster is to remove the upper steering column trim panel. The panel is snapped into position and is relatively easy to remove. Start at the lower right side and work you way up and around to the left of the steering column. Once the panel is loose, switch the ignition on and move the gear selector down. You may also want to tilt the column down.

There are three screws along the upper edge of the instrument cluster trim panel that have to be removed. They all have 7 mm heads.

There are two screws, one at either side of the instrument cluster. They are on the outer edges.

The headlight switch has to be pried out of the dash. Be careful to protect the dash surfaces as they are easily damaged/scuffed. I used tape along the lower edge where the initial pry point is located (slight notch). Make sure that you use a tape that will release without damaging painted surfaces. Especially if the dash has been cleaned (Amour Alled). I also wrapped the tip of my screwdriver with tape so that the finish would bot be damaged as I worked my way around the headlight switch bezel. In some cases it may be better to just wrap the screwdriver tip.  In earlier model trucks you had to go through a series of motions to actually unlock the switch from the dash. Prying those switches would result in damage to the switch and the inner dash retainers.

There is one screw behind the headlight switch assembly.

Now the ignition can be turned on, the steering column tilted down and the gear shifter can be pulled down into low range. The brake pedal will have to be depressed to move the shifter.

There are four screws located at the corners of the instrument cluster that have to be removed.

The instrument cluster can now be lifted and tilted slightly so that the clips that hold the gear shift indicator in place can be depressed and the shift indicator can be gently removed. It is tedious and delicate work.  Sometimes I just remove the steering column covers and disconnect the other end. Depends on my mood and what I think my chances are of breaking anything are.

Tilting the instrument cluster some more will now allow you to reach behind the cluster and disconnect the two wiring harness connectors. Some year models have more connectors. There are thumb latches that have to be depressed before removal.

With the cluster removed, I had to turn it face down on a piece of cloth to protect the lens. Then the screws (5.5 mm heads) all around the outer edges had to be removed. The back cover lifts off.

The ribbon cable had to be carefully removed. Prying out on the latches while pulling up on the connector body. Do not pull on the ribbon cable itself.

The circuit board has to be carefully lifted off of the remaining instrument cluster assembly. There will be resistance at the points where the gauge pins are inserted into the mating sockets that are part of the circuit board.

Make sure that the gray silicone contact part of the trip odometer reset button stays in place.

Now that the circuit board is fee of the remaining instrument cluster the faulty solder joints will need to be located and repaired. They are on the underside of the ribbon cable connection point.

If you have good eyes you may be bale to spot the cracked joints. They are normally located at either end of the connector.

If you will click on and enlarge the following pictures you should be able to see the black rings around the solder joints.

The rings are the actual separation points. I resolder all of the joints of this connector while I am there.

Gently and evenly push the circuit board back onto the instrument cluster assembly. The push the ribbon cable back onto the circuit board connector. It takes a little bit of effort to seat the connector. Put the cover back on, connect to the dash wiring and test the repair.


I should point out that before installing the cluster that I removed the lens assembly (being careful to not leave finger prints that will collect dust). I then used a fine brush to remove as much dust as possible.

Of course I had to reassemble everything. Installing the shift indicator assembly back into the lower edge of the cluster is probably the most tedious and difficult part of this repair.

Another one done.

Share Your Experience: