Last night, I got my order of #194 LEDs from superbrightleds.com
so I went to work on installing them as my panel backlighting. I also used one #74 LEDs for the backlighting on the climate controls, and one each for the labels above the rear wiper control and defrost.
I chose LEDs because they last longer, are a lot more durable (not that that really matters back there, but if you drop one, it won't break) and they don't create any heat. They also consume far less power than conventional bulbs, so running your panel lights now won't put a drastic load on the battery.
I chose red LEDs because they preserve your night vision better than any other color (NOTE: Blue and Violet are the WORST for night vision) and they just look cool.
YOU WILL NEED:
(5) - #194 LEDs
(3) - #74 LEDs
Various tools (torx bit, philips screwdriver, etc. . .) to get panel and other components disassembled.
This write-up is for a '96. Another thread I read mentioned having 12 bulbs in the cluster. Well, mine only has five so I'm not sure what the different years had. Best thing would probably be to pull your cluster first before you order the number of LEDs you need.
Bascially, all this involved was removing the guage cluster, taking the old bulbs out and replacing them with the LEDs.
I started by removing the dash bezel and steering wheel shroud with a torx bit and screwdriver. I found that it's easiest to get the bezel off by tilting the steering wheel all the way down.
After that, I removed the screws that hold the guage cluster in. They are the four black ones above and below the cluster and the two aboe and below the indicator light panels (not in pic). The brass screws just hold the plastic cover onto the guages. It is not necessary to remove it.
After you get the cluster unfastened, now you need to pull it out. This was a big pain because, mine at least, barely fits in there. It would've helped to remove the panels for the rear wiper and defrost switches, but I never got around to that, so I kinda bent the tabs on the guage cluster.
Once it's out, remove the two wire harnesses that plug into the back of it. Mine simply has tabs that you squeeze down on. For ease of install, I took the cluster all the way out of the Jeep and replaced everything in a lighted area (my room).
In this pic, you can see the five lights we will be replacing. They are the five that are the lowest on the cluster (kinda the ones the go across the middle) The three across the top are for the turn signal flashers and high beam indicator. I left the stock bulbs in those, but you could change them if you want to.
The bulb holders simply turn and pull out. Pull the bulbs out of the holders and replace them with the LEDs. Now, LEDs are polarized unlike bulbs, which means they have to go in a certain way or else they won't work. Because my cluster was out of the Jeep, I ran 12V through the lighting circuit to energize it so I could know when the LED was inserted right. If you don't have the means to run power, just plug the wiring harness back in and turn on the parking lights. If they don't light up one way, pull the holder out, turn it around an re-insert. Once you get all five in, plug it back in (if you haven't done so) and confirm that they all light up. Since it was out, I also replaced the light for my Low Washer lamp while I was back there.
Reinstall the panel. Make sure that the plugs go in firmly and securely or else your guages may start acting up.
Now, I also did the LED conversion to the wiper/defrost and climate controls. Both of these were easy. Undo the four screws holding in the climate controls and pull the cluster out. Do this slowly, as I found that there is little slack in the wiring and if you pull too hard, you could pull something out. There is only one bulb back there to replace and the hardest part was getting it out of its socket. Once again, this was a #74 bulb.
The wiper and defrost controls are just as easy. Take out the screw that holds each panel in and you'll see the socket for the one #74 light that it uses. Pull the socket out, replace the bulb and reinstall.
Start the engine and make sure your guages work beofre you seal everything back up. At first, my temp guage was acting up, but then I fould a loose ground screw on the back that when tightend back down, fixed the problem.
Note that I also could've done the shifter and t-case lights, but held off for right now. Those are much more straightforward to replace, though. Also, you will lose the power to dim your lights after this conversion, but mine ended up being the exact luminosity that I like, so it doesn't bother me.
Reinstall your panel, bezel and steering shorud and enjoy your new LED panel lights!!!!