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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! Hopefully I'm posting in the correct section.

So I'm experiencing an issue with my gauge cluster (2006 Zx5 with the 2.0l) where the tach/temp gauge/ speedometer/odometer will randomly die on me. When this happens, most/all of the warning lights come on (the air bag light come on first, then the gauges die and the rest of the lights come on). There is no rhyme or reason to when this happens or how long it lasts. Some times they go out for a minute and then come back, sometimes they come and go, sometimes they don't act up. The car runs/drives as normal when all this is happening.

This started about a week ago. I left my doors open with the radio on and killed the battery. I charged the battery back up, and the car starts and runs fine, other than the issue described above.

I've done a little digging and it seems like a weak battery could cause issues like this. But, I poked around with a multi-meter and I'm getting ~13 volts at the battery with the car off and ~14.25 with it running. I haven't load tested the battery.

So, any ideas? Could it be the battery? Is there a voltage regulator some where that I could've pissed off? Any other components I could've damaged?
 

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Sounds like an Instrument Cluster (IC) issue. There are many stories here at FF about IC circuit board dirty/corrosion/white-dust that cause that kind of behavior. These are often fixed with DIY fixes; where you remove the IC, then expose the back-side of the IC and clean the circuit board. Please search for threads about this process.

BTW there is no external voltage regulator. This is a closed-loop system (serial-digital-data) between the Alt and the PCM.
 

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Also, I am unsure if this IC "circuit board dirt" problem extends into the 2006, but it is an issue with most earlier models 2000-2004. It might still be an issue with 2005-2007.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That’s not what I wanted to hear. Lol. Yea, I was doing some searching and it seemed like instrument cluster issues were a fairly common problem. The weird part is I had no issues with it until the battery died. That’s kind of why I was hoping it was a battery/voltage issue.
 

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LOADTEST the battery, you can get 13 volts on one and it be bad as heck. You only get that immediately after killing the engine, the high volts is because the alt just got through charging battery and the battery has not leveled all that charge out yet. Read up on 'surface charge'.

Alt sounds OK but get battery checked quick as it now may kill your alt, they absolutely hate refilling batteries that never 'fill up' due to going bad.

The true test of a battery is letting it sit hooked to nothing to see how much the volts drop back to, the norm is one drops back to a 12 number of some type then quits dropping, if they keep slowly dropping the battery is bad and the clusters can do some really weird sh-t if that has happened due to running it down all the way. Some come back up OK and some don't, the damage is done. A loadtest is a method of simply pushing the battery hard to speed up that running down slowly thing so you can quickly see a result.

After that go to the cluster.
 

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LOADTEST the battery, you can get 13 volts on one and it be bad as heck. You only get that immediately after killing the engine, the high volts is because the alt just got through charging battery and the battery has not leveled all that charge out yet. Read up on 'surface charge'.

Alt sounds OK but get battery checked quick as it now may kill your alt, they absolutely hate refilling batteries that never 'fill up' due to going bad.

The true test of a battery is letting it sit hooked to nothing to see how much the volts drop back to, the norm is one drops back to a 12 number of some type then quits dropping, if they keep slowly dropping the battery is bad and the clusters can do some really weird sh-t if that has happened due to running it down all the way. Some come back up OK and some don't, the damage is done. A loadtest is a method of simply pushing the battery hard to speed up that running down slowly thing so you can quickly see a result.

After that go to the cluster.
I just love reading your posts about batteries!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So I took the car to Sears today and had the battery tested. The tech that tested it said it was OK (tested at 590 CA and is rated for 600 CA) but needed to be charged. Not sure how much I buy the "needed to be charged" part, but I pulled it out of the car and put it on a charger anyway, since I don't really have anything to lose. So, we'll see if leaving it on the charger overnight helps the situation any (my hopes aren't exactly high). The date code on the battery is 11 of 13, so it's coming up on 5 years old. Not crazy old, but I guess it's had a good run. I'd hate to blow money on a new battery if it isn't needed though.

So, I guess my next step, assuming charging the battery does't fix things, is to pull the cluster and see if there's any dirt or corrosion back there. If that doesn't work, then maybe we'll gamble on a new battery.

Thanks for the advice guys, I'll keep this thread updated for future reference. If there's anything else I should try, feel free to shout it out.
 

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All testers pretty much charge the battery up to begin with, it has to be topped up to test correctly. If it was already down some they will tell you it needs charging. They quick charge to get the battery up for time restraints, but often you can get better result bringing it back home and letting it sit under trickle low amp for a good while. A battery quick charged is not as full as one that is slow charged, the time element really allows all of the acid to drive out of the plates and breaks down more sulfation.

To sykosis...........'A loadtest is a method of simply pushing the battery hard to speed up that running down slowly thing so you can quickly see a result.'

You and I know that is technically not true in and of itself but it works close enough in similarity that I can draw solid repeatable conclusions based on it. The letting battery sit thing while chasing the charge drop over time is a good idea if one has time and it holds up, at least for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sorry this took so long, it’s been a busy few weeks.

So the battery charging thing didn’t work (surprise surprise). So I just ran with out the gauge cluster for a while.

I had a some free time today so I decided to pull the gauge cluster and check for corrosion. Everything looked clean, so I replaced some bulbs cleaned the plug with some contact cleaner, applied some fresh dielectric grease and reinstalled. This didn’t fix the issue (not that I really expected it to).

So, I was kinda at a loss. But, just for shits and giggles, I pulled the battery out of my truck and put it in the car (truck battery is only a few months old) to see if that had any effect. Lo and behold, the problem went away. I drove around for an hour or so (high way/ stop and go/county roads) and the cluster didn’t die on me once. So I picked up a new battery and threw it in. I’ve put about another 20 miles on it and haven’t had an issue, so I’m tentatively calling it fixed. We’ll see how the next few days go

Thanks again guys for the help and advice!
 

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I must confess that I too have seen some strange cluster activity that later turned out to be an old battery only, the car started and ran perfectly through the entire thing. I too found out from an accidental battery change. On an '02 one.

The battery can apparently have some odd effects on them at times. Seems to be toward end of life even though loadtesting shows it as still good.
 
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