How to replace stepper motors to fix gauge a cluster


This is a problem that, from what I’ve read, affects 2003-2006 GM vehicles. They used a bad batch of stepper motors that have a very high rate of failure. When a stepper motor fails, the gauge continues to work but it doesn’t reset to “zero” properly so the base point is different every time you start the car. I purchased the revised stepper motors on from Amazon for $19. This is not a very difficult repair to perform but you need to know how to desolder/solder. If you’re not comfortable doing that, there are plenty of companies that will do the repair for you. One example is Gauge pegged. The repair isn’t terribly expensive but it will run you anywhere from $60-100 or more depending on which company you use, which repair you choose (some companies will replace the soldered gauge bulbs as well as other things), and how much the shipping is. Tools needed: – Soldering iron – Solder – Solder sucker/desoldering pump – Rosin soldering flux (optional but highly recommended) – Phillips screwdriver and/or 8/32″ socket (I believe that was the size) To start, the cluster needs to be removed from the car. I followed the instructions at NAIOA for removing the panel trim plate. Once the trim plate is off, there are four (4) screws securing the cluster. There is also a large electrical connector (green) that can be unplugged once the screws are removed and the cluster is partially removed. Remove the cluster from the car. NX8AuMv Remove the plastic cover. There are a handful of clips securing it to the back plate. This step is self-explanatory once you have the cluster in your hands. With the cover removed, you need to mark the “zero” point for each gauge. This point is found by [b]very lightly[/b] rotating each gauge needle counter-clockwise until it stops. Do not push it past the stopping point or the marking will be innacurate. I used painter’s tape and a pencil to mark the point for each gauge. LqtmNQs Remove all of the gauge needles using a fork. It will take a surprising amount of pressure but just be careful and don’t gouge any of the gauges with the fork. Kc0OWuL With the needles marked and removed, you need to separate the back plate from the gauges and circuit board. There are clips securing the back plate to the gauges. This is also self-explanatory once you have the cluster in your hands. With the back plate removed, carefully separate the gauge face from the circuit board. There is a ribbon cable connecting the two pieces. Unplug the ribbon cable from the gauge faces. 0QnwdL8   You can now completely separate the two pieces. Set the gauge faces aside and focus on the circuit board. The white discs are the stepper motors. There is one for each gauge. co0CKWm   On the back of the circuit board, you can find the solder points for the stepper motors. There are four points for each motor. 641kd1u The method I found easiest to remove the motors was to use a small pair of snips to cut off as much of the four posts as possible. Once they’re cut off, I just heated each corner over and over again while lightly pulling on the stepper motor. It takes time but it works well. If you have a small tip for your soldering iron and a desoldering pump with a fine tip, you can probably heat each point and suck all of the solder off. My desoldering pump is bigger (I really should replace it) and I couldn’t do that so I used the method I mentioned. Once the stepper motor is removed, use the desoldering pump to clear out the holes in the circuit board. With the holes cleared out, you should be able to push the new stepper motor in. They fit pretty snugly due to the plastic alignment posts. I had to use some pressure to get them to seat properly. Be sure the new motor is flush with the circuit board before soldering the posts. Here is all of the stepper motors replaced: B4GxPgL Once the motors are replaced, begin to reassemble the cluster. Push on all of the needles at a 12:00 position (pointing up). Once the needles are on, turn each one counter-clockwise until you get to the stopping point I mentioned earlier. Once at that point, continue rotating counter-clockwise and push past the stopping point. You want to move that stopping point to the “zero” point that you marked for each gauge. Once all of the needles are zeroed, leave the plastic front case off and put the cluster back in the car. Just sit the cluster on its plastic mounting points. You don’t need to put the screws in. Make sure you plug in the connector for the cluster. Start the car and verify that all of the gauges are working. Also attempt to verify that the gauges are as accurate as possible. I filled up my gas tank before performing this repair so I know that if the gauge is showing full, it’s working properly. Once you’ve verified that the gauges are accurate, pull it back out of the car, install the plastic front case, and reassemble everything back in the car. This was originally posted on by member Kalgorn. Photos and words are owned by Kalgorn.

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  1. Bill

    My having done a huge amount of soldering and/or desoldering in the last half century, it’s refreshing when I encounter someone giving the proper alternatives to working with a circuit board! Well done.

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