My MKIII Cluster Mod. - Vortex Link

After getting way too many e-mails and IMs about "how did you do that?!" I decided to make this page up. 

1 - I used these two DIYs 1st. - On how to remove the cluster and take it apart.. and.. - On how to paint my needles orange (from white).

My Cluster started out as a base 2.0 cluster.  The needles are not from a cabby.  This is _not_ a cabby cluster!

2 - I used EIGHT LEDs.  White, wide angle, 12 volt ready LEDs.  No resistors are needed with these, they are built into the LED base.

I got them from SUPERBRIGHTLEDS.COM look under the 12v car section.  I used the bulbs here:

"These 12 Volt Super Bright LED bulbs will replace T3-1/4 (#194/168) filament bulbs found in many automobile and water craft applications. Inverted cone clear lens causes the light to emit from the sides as well as the end. Built in current limiting resistor and diode to protect the LED from reversed polarity installation. These bulbs are polarized so if you plug them in and they don't light, turn them around in the socket and they will light."

3 - Carefully take the BACK off the cluster.

Remove the white light mask from the cluster face.  Just pry it off with a small flathead screwdriver.   I had remove the GREEN filter from under the WHITE light hood.  Pry it off with a screw driver. 

You'll have to remove the foil strips from the cluster and cut them back. 

The only part you need are the major pins that plug into the cluster (where the polarity marks are... I made them.. your cluster will not have marks!)

The bulbs are wired in parallel (see picture to the right!) off the OEM lighting circuit.  I just drilled holes, yes, 8 random ass holes and stuck the lights in. The fun thing about a parallel circuitry with LEDs is you can have as many as you like.  Why 8?  I had tried two and it sucked.  Big time, way too dim.  8 was a number I liked, so I rolled with it. 

You'll also see a spare hole in the middle.  I THOUGHT I might need 9 LEDs... but I kept the number at 8.  Its my thing.

4 - Start to solder.

Note the polarity off the cluster.  This is the same for all MKIIIs.  LEDs do not work if installed backwards.  Make sure all if your connections are PREFECT before soldering.  Test the LEDs  with a 9v battery so you can find the polarity.  I did not use bulb sockets, I did not use a ruler, I did not use glue.  I just drilled the holes, tested the LEDs, stuck them in, bent the little legs back, and then soldered bare wires to them.

You, meet the door. 

Take your time, don't bust the cluster all up when reinstalling it, you'll be fine.  Take your time, make sure no wires are shorted.  If needed wrap a few back with 3M electrical tape.

I tested them BEFORE I installed them with a 12VDC transformer I yanked  from some old answering machine.

And that would be swell.  My OBDI cluster face on my OBDII cluster base.. all modded.. WRONG!  I hate the fact that the OBDI clusters don't have a low fuel light... but the OBDII ones do.  I wanted to keep my "classic" cluster face, with my new mod on my new OBDII cluster base (the old one has blown out, well before I did this mod...)

So:  I'll let the pictures tell the story.

OBDI Cluster.  Note the airbag icon on the far right side.  Note the slick VDO "electronic" logo.  I love that thing.

Problem is, when I run low on fuel, with an OBDI cluster face, and an OBDII cluster base the airbag lights up.  Sure I could pull the bulb.. but I am wicked anal about things like this so:

Using a very small drill bit, CAREFULLY drill out the 4 plastic mushroom heads I have circled. And then remove the white shadow mask.  Watch out for the trip reset and clock buttons.  They will fall out.  Carefully remove the gel filter with the icons on it.

Here you can see the difference.  Now I will have a rear fog icon, AND...a low fuel light! :) Carefully reinstall the new OBDII Gel Filter and then use a soldering iron to re-mush the mushroom caps into place.  Why did VW print TWO ABS gels on the OBDI cluster?  Damned if I know.  Perhaps they were both going to light up when all hell broke loose or something...

BE CAREFUL!  the main black shadow mask is very thin.  Keep debris, solder, smoke, heat, and melted plastic off the cluster "glass".. it scratches very easily!

Put it all back together.

Rock on:

Now I have an OBDI cluster face, with an OBDII symbols. :)