Ever noticed faded gauge needles on your Jeep? We have two ZJs with this problem, so with the induction of our 5.9 into the family, I decided to do something about it.
The supplies I got from hobby lobby:
- $12 to purchase supplies
- "International Orange" Acryl paint
- Flat Clear Coat Acryl
- Little plastic model brushes (the smaller the better)
The paint mixture is 50/50. Mine was more of a 60 paint/40 clear, but it can vary. My mix wasn't perfect by any means.
Be sure to shake the bottles of paint as well as stir them. Stirring is EXTREMELY important, as the paint likes to clump together.
The setup is easy. The hardest part is getting the paint to look good and keeping everything clean. A small brush will make getting paint to the base of the needle without getting paint on the black. A steady hand and careful eye will make that easy.
The key is to take your time. Let 5-10 minutes go between coats. If not, you can end up pushing the semi-dried paint with the brush and making a raised area.
- Remove 4 screws (2 per side) from cluster. This will allow you to remove cluster from Jeep
- The cluster connector is fixed on both the dash and the cluster itself. Wiggle and pull the cluster gently and it should pop off without fuss.
Now the picture/writeup portion:
When painting, paint the top side, as well as the sides. the bottom will not be important and would also be uneconomical to paint.
What my cluster looked like after it was out. Notice the heavy fading in the needles?
The next 4 photos show the tabs that need to be pressed in, in order to release the clear plastic cover. These are NOT super tight, so be careful with them and you'll be fine. Those fine opposable thumbs will do the trick here.
Cover off and cluster exposed. BE CAREFUL with the needles. The last thing you want to do is break one of these in anyway. They are extremely easy to turn, so go easy on them
First layer of paint. You will likely need 2-3 coats on the larger needles, but this is all dependent on if you use any clear coat, as well as what color paint you go with. Cut up playing cards work great here. You can safely slide it underneath the base of the needle to hold the needle in place. I did so on the small needles and it worked great.
Dried and looking good. Mine, if you can see in the photos, have little bubbles and streaks, but from 3 feet away, they look MUCH MUCH better.
This is a good time to clean the front cover. It is likely that when you removed the cover, you got finger prints on the inside. In my case, the inside of the cover was covered in a thin layer of dirt. Some liquid dish soap and a sponge will do well here. Just don't use the abrasive side...
Installed and lights on.
If anyone has questions, please post them here. If anybody has picture requests, I can do those as well.
Enjoy your refreshed gauge cluster!