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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So you want your gauge cluster illuminated without the parking lights on

It's no secret that the gauge cluster is a bit difficult to see in these cars, here's how you can force the back lighting on in the gauge cluster! What we need to do is cut the illumination wires at the gauge cluster and feed it a power and ground of our own to make it light up. and yes, I did mean cut. I'm not sure what would happen if you fed the dimmer circuit 12v, but I doubt it would be good.

Tools Needed:
•Phillips Screwdrivers short & long
•Wire strippers
•Soldering iron
•Solder & flux (I recommend rosin core solder)
•Electrical tape
•Single pole double throw relays (x2) (I'll be saying SPDT for short) [optional]
•Switch [optional]
•Wire

Step 1: Remove the gauge cluster trim. There are five clips and two screws holding the trim in place. Once you remove the top screws with a stubby phillips screw driver, slip your fingers behind the glass on the bottom and pull back.


Step 2: Remove the gauge cluster fasteners. There are four phillips head screws holding the gauge cluster in on both sides, I recommend a magnetic screw driver to prevent them from falling behind the dash.


Step 3: Remove the gauge cluster Connectors. There are two connectors if you have a manual, three if you have an automatic. Standard style, push down on the retaining tab and pull back, the one we're after is the far left connector (the smaller / middle sized 16pin one) (M10-2)


Step 4: Cut the illumination circuit wires. Yes, I know it's scary cutting wires, but unless you wanna risk destroying the dimmer circuit, you gotta do it. The wires we're after are pins 15 & 16 on the M10-2 connector. This will isolate the gauge cluster from the rest of the interior illuminations.



Step 5: Option A - Splice pin 15 to power and pin 16 to ground. This is the fast & easy option. If you're ok with the illuminations being on always and forever, solder pin 15 to pin 2 & solder pin 16 to pin 5. All on the connector M10-2. Pin 2 is the switched ignition signal that turns on the gauge cluster and pin 5 *should* be a constant ground. I say should because I have not tested it and am relying on the wiring diagram to say so, I'm using pin 2 for my multi gauges so I know that's good.


Step 5: Option B - Use two SPDT relays to maintain original illumination functions & add on demand illuminations. I have an old relay PCB from anther project I'm going to use for this, but it's the same idea with two SPDT relays. Single Pole Double Throw relays (or SPDT for short) are used to switch a pin (30) between two other pins (87 & 87a) by sending power through a coil. When there is no power, pin 30 is connected to pin 87a in it's normally closed state. When you send power through the coil, it'll connect pin 30 to pin 87. Relays can be used in many ways, but in this case we'll have the factory illuminations on pin 87a and our external power on 87, with the wires coming out of the gauge cluster connected to 30.

Splice the wires coming out of the gauge cluster to the closed contact on each relay (30). This way if the relay is on or off, the cluster will still be connected to the dimmer circuit or your external power & ground. Put the factory illuminations on the normally closed pins (87a) and the external power & ground on the normally open pins (87). then give your relay a power and a ground of your choosing to switch between normal and forced illuminations. I used the factory hands free button & modified it to be a holding switch and used that to trigger the relays.


Step 5: Option B - Continued. For more traditional relays, pin 87 (normally open) can be joined with pin 86 (coil +) to act as your power for your illumination+ relay. You can do the same thing with pin 87 and pin 85 (coil -) for your illumination- relay. Note: it does not matter which side of the coil has power or ground, as long as one side has power and one side has ground, it'll close the normally open contact.


Step 6: tape up your wires and install is the reverse of removal. Use some cloth tape to make your wiring look factory, or don't, I'm not your mom. Find a place to hide your relays, if you did that, and put everything back in the way it came out, you're done!


Fairly straight forward mod, works better with the FL/2 cluster. Don't use the factory hands free switch unless you have another switch to sacrifice, it's a momentary switch and needs to be modified if you want it to be a holding switch. A side effect of doing this for the gauge cluster was that my multi-gauges also lit up due to how I wired them. That won't happen with multi-gauges that came from the factory, if you would like to do this with your multi gauges it's the same process but on pins 9 & 10 for the illuminations and pins 3 & 12 for power and ground. You could also probably do this with a toggle switch that has 6 pins, the gauge cluster illuminations are all LED so they don't take much juice. Don't take my word for it though.

Also, the gauges will be stuck at full brightness when you have the illuminations forced on. I'm not sure what you'd have to do to dim them, but that is the primary reason I didn't make mine always on.

multi-gauges connector

 

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Nice DIY.
I will let others comment or ask questions, then a staffer can move it.

Notes before we move it..........

You say "flux core" solder, I suggest making it "rosin core". Flux core could be acid core like used in plumbing, a BIG no no for electrical.

You say "gatta do it", more correct to say "gotta do it".

Otherwise, good job.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nice DIY.
I will let others comment or ask questions, then a staffer can move it.

Notes before we move it..........

You say "flux core" solder, I suggest making it "rosin core". Flux core could be acid core like used in plumbing, a BIG no no for electrical.

You say "gatta do it", more correct to say "gotta do it".

Otherwise, good job.
Thanks! I made the changes. I was honestly a little surprised this wasn't already a DIY, unless my blind-man powers were kicking in again. I'm going to add one more picture for wiring standard SPDT relays, I'll have it up shortly.
 

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Great.

Maybe add in what a "SPDT" relay is.
I know what it is, could be good info as well.:wink2:
 
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