How To Reset Instrument Cluster? (Try This Before Replacing)

Your car’s instrument cluster or dashboard is often one of the most underrated but still one of the most useful parts of the vehicle.

Because of how important the instrument cluster is, it is necessary that it is working as well as it should.

But what happens if an instrument cluster suddenly doesn’t work the way it should?

How do you reset an instrument cluster?

In most cases, you first need to do an instrument cluster check before resetting. After that, most instrument clusters can be reset by pushing a dedicated button that would allow you to reset them. The way you reset an instrument cluster depends on the type of car and on the manufacturer itself.

Car odometer dashboard

Because a lot of different instrument clusters can be reset with just a push of a button, it might sound so simple for you to actually reset it.

However, what you need to know is that there are more things that you might have to do before you can actually reset the instrument cluster.

And that is what we are here to talk about.

Signs of the bad instrument cluster

While the meat of this article is to talk about resetting an instrument cluster, you have to understand that you should only reset it if your instrument cluster is actually busted. But how can you tell whether or not an instrument cluster is bad?

What are the signs of a bad instrument cluster?

There are many different ways for you to tell that an instrument cluster is busted because there are plenty of different instruments that can be found on it.

When one or two of those instruments seem like they are showing readings that are incorrect, that is when you would know that the instrument cluster might be bad and would need to be reset.

A good example of a bad instrument cluster is when the fuel gauge is showing the wrong reading.

This can be problematic because it might make you spend more money because you thought you didn’t have enough fuel.

And the worse scenario is when you thought you had enough fuel but you were already running empty in the middle of a long road trip.

If your instrument cluster is giving you the wrong speed readings, then it is obviously busted.

This can be easy to detect if you are a seasoned driver and you are used to knowing what speeds you are running at without even looking at the speedometer. But if you are running at your usual speed and you notice that the speedometer is showing a different reading, then it might be a sign that the instrument cluster is busted.

If your odometer is going too fast or your odometer going crazy this could land you in legal trouble while selling your car.

In some cases, an instrument cluster’s gauges may be giving you the right readings but the indicator lights on the cluster are not exactly working.

There will be instances where these indicator lights might flicker on and off over and over again even though there isn’t anything wrong with the car itself.

A good reason why the indicator lights are flickering is that the lights themselves are busted but there will be cases when the instrument cluster itself is what’s at fault here.

All of these instances can be good signs that there is something wrong with your instrument cluster.

In some cases, two or more instruments might be showing readings that seem off.

Meanwhile, there will be instances where there is only one bad instrument on the entire instrument cluster.

In all such instances, it might be a good time for you to try to reset the instrument cluster so that you can try to DIY your way through it instead of having it fixed.

What causes the instrument cluster to stop working?

If you are wondering why an instrument cluster would actually stop working or why some instruments on the instrument cluster go bad, the primary reason is the usual wear and tear that they go through on a regular basis.

You have to understand that traditional instrument clusters are still made of different moving parts that will naturally go through wear and tear the more they move.

As such, the more you use your car, the more likely the instrument cluster would stop working or end up with one or two bad instruments.

The usual wear and tear of an instrument cluster involve the following:

  • Burnt out indicator lights.
  • Corroded or disconnected wires.
  • Stuck needles.
  • Burnt out backlighting.
  • LCD or LED showing wrong readings.

Another reason why an instrument cluster stops working properly is a blown fuse.

If the reason why your instrument cluster has gone bad is due to a blown fuse, the only way for you to have it fixed is by replacing the fuse.

How to test and reset an instrument cluster?

There can be plenty of reasons why an instrument cluster is busted.

In some cases, it can be fixed with a simple reset. But there are instances where you actually need to get it fixed or to have the entire instrument cluster replaced. 

So, before you take it to the shop or before you buy that new instrument cluster, you can perform a simple instrument cluster test that would indicate whether or not a simple reset can be enough to fix it.

The test itself will also allow you to rest the entire instrument cluster and put the gauges back to their proper places.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Insert the ignition key into the ignition lock while leaving the position in 0 or 1. 
  2. After that, push and hold the Sel/Reset button or turn the Sel/Reset knob that you can find somewhere on the right hand of your steering wheel. You can find it just below the Multi-Information Display button.
  3. Turn your headlights on. Make sure that the headlights were off before you initiated this test. Otherwise, repeat step 1 if you forgot to turn off your headlights before starting the test.
  4. From there, you should now turn your ignition button over to the ON position from either the 0 or the 1 position. You will see that some of the lights on the instrument panel will turn on.
  5. While you are still holding the Sel/Reset button or knob, turn the headlights on and off repeatedly. Do this within five seconds.
  6. After five seconds, release the Sel/Reset button. From there, push the same Sel/Reset button three times. At this point, the instrument cluster will begin its self-test.
  7. Every time you push the Sel/Reset button, the instrument cluster will reset itself in the proper position.
  8. In some cars, you will see “sweep gauges” flashing on the screen to signify that the instrument cluster is sweeping the gauges and resetting the instrument cluster.
  9. The test will end the moment the car will run at a speed of more than 1.5 mph or when you turn the ignition switch to OFF.

If the bad gauges on your instrument cluster are still showing numbers or readings that are obviously wrong, that is when you would know that a simple reset was not enough to fix it.

Take it to the shop immediately to have it fixed.

However, if the readings have gone back to where they are supposed to be and the gauges are showing correct values, then you would know that test and reset did their job and that your instrument cluster is now working the way it should be working.

Sources

ifixit.com: Initiate the instrument cluster self-test

Car care portal: HOW TO RESET A FORD INSTRUMENT CLUSTER?

Auto Troop: How To Reset GM Instrument Cluster