We get a lot of questions about the process of creating a custom instrument cluster, so we wanted to show the process and how it can be an easy weekend DIY project.
We’ll also refer you to this prior post with a few ideas on building your own cluster.
1. Start by disassembling your instrument cluster. Remove it from the vehicle and break it down into its components. As a warning, and if it wasn’t already obvious, once you disassemble certain components there may be no going back and it may be difficult or impossible to repair the cluster. Often, it’s smart to pick up a spare cluster from the junkyard since all you really need are the housings and bezels.
This customers cluster had more components than most standard clusters, but you’ll see them as we continue the walkthrough.
2. You’ll need some kind of faceplate or bezel for the screens. OneGauge sells custom cut bezels like the one in this picture that are pre-cut to fit the screens you’ve purchased. This customer wanted one large 7″ center screen flanked by two 3.5″ screens on either side. We cut him a bezel out of 1/4″ ABS plastic.
The bezel then mounts to the back or base of the instrument cluster (white piece in the photos). However, the screens stick out from the bezel by about 3/8″ or so, and there was going to be some interference from the white base, so we marked the areas of the base that needed cut while trying to leave enough of it to retain its rigidity.
3. Step three is where you test fit everything to make sure there’s enough clearance for the screens and that the mounting setup is going to work as you expect. Be sure there’s room to mount plug the cable into the screen and that you can access the SD card slot if you need to update the screen. In this case, we weren’t able to leave these slots accessible so updating the screens would require a quick disassembly of the cluster.
4. We needed to remove the old cluster face since we were going to have screens that were a completely different shape. One option would have been to keep this face and shape the gauges on the screens to fit into the holes and make them look like factory-style digital gauges, but that’s not the route the customer chose and it would have likely added more time to the creation of the gauges.
Now we have all the separate components of the cluster ready to put together.
5. Use the front of the cluster to mark and cut out your ABS plastic bezel. You only want to do this once, so make sure you take into account the entire cluster face and don’t cut too much.
6. Now time to assemble! Loosely put everything together to make sure it all fits correctly, then drill any required holes and bolt or screw the different components together. This setup is temporarily zip-tied together to test and ensure everything lines up for the customer. Test fit in the vehicle, make any necessary adjustments, and you’re off to the races!