Building a Digital Dashboard: Fuel Gauges

  • 2-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150-500
What You'll Need
Digital Dash Components
Wiring Diagrams (for your specific vehicles)
Wire Stripper/Cutter
Electrical Connectors

A digital dashboard can give you more accurate readings. An analog gauge can only show you a range and may not be exact. Upgrading to a digital dash unit can be the solution. Many of these digital dash kits will fit where the original instrument cluster was. With digital gauges, you can measure oil pressure, water temperature and fuel levels. You can also get exact rpm and speed readouts. The tachometer is in numbers and displayed as a bar graph. You can even have a shift light included for manual transmissions. Many digital dash boards are easy to install. Here are some guidelines.

Step 1 – Purchase the Digital Components

Find the right digital components for your vehicle and purchase them. Consider the number of components you want to install. There are different styles to choose from as well, so decide which one will be best for your vechicle. Also make sure that the wiring of the components is compatible with your vechicle. When you purchase the units, the manufacturer will ask you for information about your vehicle so that they can include specific instructions.

Step 2 – Test the Components

Using the multimeter, test the components to be sure they are working properly. It is important to test each component seperately so that if there is a problem, it will be obvious which component needs to be repaired or adjusted.

Step 3 – Wire the Components

When you purchase the digital components, a wiring diagram will be included. Following the wiring diagram, wire the harness for the digital cluster, leaving the analog cluster plugs intact. Depending on the components selected, there may be additional wiring outside of the harness that must be connected. To do this wiring, you may need to use your wire stripper and connectors to hook everything up properly

Step 4 – Rewire the Body Computer

Wire in the new body computer. Closely follow any instructions given for programming or settings that you will need to fix or adjust for your particular application. Once the computer is hooked up, plug the cluster in. There will be instructions for this step with your components.

Step 5 – Test the Guages

Test each gauge independently to ensure that it is working properly. Use your multimeter if necessary to get accurate readings. If there is a problem, check the wiring and go back over the instructions and diagrams given to you to see if you can diagnose the problem. You can usually get help with any unusual problems from the technical support department of the manufacturer or even from the dealer where you purchased your components.

If your digital dash is more complicated than just a plug-in configuration, then you may need to have someone who is an expert at wiring help you with the project. Sometimes sensors will have to be updated or other adjustments must made for it to function properly. The units should come with wiring diagrams and suggestions for making it work in your vehicle.