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44 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
SO this is a Re-Re-post of the orignal thread posted by RockyNBullwinkle, later re-posted by Madness.

The thread that RockyNBullwinkle originally posted contained the How To in a Word .doc and there have been many people posting links for this fiel over the years. Instead of just continuously re-posting links, I've decided to just put all the info in a thread. This is that thread.

All the credit should go to RockyNBullwinkle. None of this information was written by me. It's a great How To and awesome mod.


HOW TO: Dash LED Colors

DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY: The author of this How-To document and the hosting site is in no way to be held liable for any personal property loss or damage. Though these modifications have been attempted by many and they have been successful, we can not be held liable for each person’s lack of skill or malfunction of recommended tools. This mod requires skill of unsoldering and soldering, use of dremel tool, use of acetone as a molding agent for plastic parts. The tools recommended must be used properly or they can cause bodily injury not limited to: electrocution, lacerations, third degree burns, eye injury and loss of limb due to blood loss.

The following methods are open to revision and are NOT the only way that you can do these modifications. These are the methods that I felt were easiest.

Parts Sources were (PowerTops)
Radio Shack for resistor, Ace Electronics of Houston for small SMD's and Ultrabright 5mm Diodes.

The parts that are required: Powertops and 3mm LED's from

List of Tools REQUIRED!!
  1. Solder iron Below 30 watts preferably (25 watt Radio Shack $7.99)
  2. Rosin core solder (Radio Shack $2.99)
  3. Dremel with round sanding bit ($57.00 – $99.00 Hardware/Wal-Mart)
  4. Acetone or nail polish remover (Anywhere $2.75 NPR, Acetone $4.50)
  5. T5,8,10,15 and 20 Torx drivers ($5.99, Lowes, Home Depot)
  6. 8mm, 7mm socket
  7. Exacto knife/hobby knife ($7.99 Hobby Lobby, found cheaper at R/C shops)
  8. Printer
  9. Label paper
  10. Small slotted driver
  11. #2 Phillips driver
  12. Stock Head Unit removal tools (recommended not required, $6.99 Auto Store)
Step 1

Before you begin analyze your needs. You will be needing parts of course. Take inventory of your tools and ensure they all work properly before touching this mod. Take a look at the parts list and ensure you’ve taken into account human error and that you have at least two spares of each item.

Step 2

I did this order to keep my vehicle available for use as my daily driver.
1st Head Unit
2nd HVAC BUTTONS not the HVAC cluster the BUTTONS
3rd Heated seats and Traction control switches (in front of the e-brake handle)
4th Moon roof switch
5th Window and lock switches
6th Headlamp switch
7th HVAC (Cluster) controls

Head Unit

  • Insert the u-shaped keys into the holes on the sides of the face
  • Push until they lock
  • Pull the keys out towards the sides of the car, this depresses the holding tabs on the inside of the bezel, pull the unit out towards you at the same time.
Before we begin unsoldering anything take note of your Head Unit. Is it an Audiophile, does it have a security key? If it does be very careful because there is a receiving diode that you will NOT take off. This is used to receive light from the diode sitting directly to its left from the optical prism within the key. You can identify this diode by its color, it will appear to be gold or brown. Place a piece of tape over this one so you don’t accidentally remove it.

Unsoldering now begins.

  • Heat up your solder iron for a good ten minutes and make sure the tip is clean.
  • Take note of the direction of the triangles on the POWERTOP Led’s
  • DO NOT try to heat up both sides of the diodes to remove them.
  • Because these diodes were taking off are junk, we’ll use a crude technique, put the tip of the iron against the diode and board, let if heat up the solder and push against the diode allowing the angle of the tip to push under the side slightly to separate it from the board.
  • Repeat the above step to unsolder the opposite side of the diode. This should go fairly quickly if the iron is clean and HOT!!
  • The LCD in the Audiophile 9006 has a metal bracket that goes over the screen, it’s held on by tabs that go through the board and are twisted on the backside.
  • There is one post for the bracket that is soldered in place. Unsolder this only after you’ve bent the rest of the tabs to align for removal. Pull from the opposite side as your unsoldering if you don’t have a solder removal braid.
Solder on the new.

  • All of the triangles are going in one direction.
  • I used a small 39 cent clamp to hold the new powertops in place while soldering.
  • This technique works rather well.
a) Place the LED in its appropriate orientation with respect to the triangle.
b) There should be enough solder left on the board that you can tack one side (tacking is a technique that involves very little solder and very little duration of applied heat)
c) Once one side is tacked down, I took a pair of needle nose to apply pressure to the top as I tack the other side.
d) Once both sides are tacked I go back over and use more solder to secure the connection. Not really required if you’ve already got adequate coverage of solder.

Test the lights first before reassembly. My method is not recommended for beginners. Reapply the face to the unit without the screws inserted and without the plastic face cover. Turn on your lights and they should light up. After verifying they work properly Reassemble the LCD cover before placing the plastic face on the board.


HVAC Buttons

  • Remove the bezel around the stereo by removing the four 8mm bolts.
  • Pull the bezel out one inch, reach around the back and take off the cig. Lighter connection. This one pulls right off.
  • The Hazards switch is a little more difficult. It has a safety catch designed into it. There is a RED/Orange safety tab that must be in the up position before you can depress the tab to remove the connection.
  • Once these are removed you can lay it back using the bottom as the pivot point. Remember the HVAC controls are still connected.
  • Remove the connection going to the HVAC buttons (depress the tab on top of the connector)
  • There are three Phillips head screws holding this unit in. Two on the sides and one below the unit.
  • Use the small slotted driver to separate the front enclosure from the back.
  • Using and exacto knife (recommended) or dremel (YOU’D better be good with it) to remove the black tabs that are securing the board within the bottom case. Remove the board once this is complete.
  • BE CAREFUL. DON’T Get excited. If you cut the traces on the boards they are very difficult to repair.
  • Unsolder using the same technique, this time replace them as you go. The triangles are oriented differently on three of the powertops.
  • Solder using the same technique as the radio install.
  • Reassemble in reverse order.

Heated seats and Traction Control

  • Remove the bezel around the shifter. This may differ between models. SVT is simply removed by pulling it up.
  • Don’t pull too far. There are wires connected to the switch.
  • Once you disconnect the buttons you can remove them from the bezel by depressing the tabs on the sides and pushing them out towards the top of the bezel.
  • DON’T TRY to disassemble the switch from the bottom. The switches will come apart from the top. Pull the top part of the switch (the part you push on to use the switch) off of the bottom part.
  • There are two LED’s in each of the heater switches. Keep the yellow LED in there, Unless your hell bent on changing the indicator light.
  • These switches don’t have built in Resistors, You’ll have to wire in a 1k ohm resistor. ( See Resistor and LED picture. ) I sued a 1k resistor because the LED’s I used are very bright, the larger resistor helps to limit the current so it’s not as bright.
Reassemble once done soldering and verifying you have the clearance needed.

Moon Roof Button

  • This will require the use of two small SMD’s NOT POWERTOPS
  • To remove the switch, insert the small slotted driver in the seam at the front side of the switch housing.
  • There are two indents where the driver can be inserted to GENTLY pry the cover off
  • Remove the connection (depress the keeper tab)
  • Depress the tabs keeping the switch in place
  • Push the switch- out
  • Look at photos for this…
Replace the small SMD’s with the new one’s, using the same technique as mentioned before.

Windows and Lock Switches

  • Remove the small cover/cap that is located just behind the door handle (use either the small slotted driver or a small pick)
  • Remove the bolt/screw with the T15 Torx driver
  • Use a small driver to insert just below the front edge of the plastic to separate it from the door (there are three tabs securing it to the door)
  • Disconnect both switches from the harness
  • (Drivers side door window) Remove the switch from the door, remove the Torx screws from the back of the switch, Separate the two sides of the case, Pay attention to the input side of the LED’s already soldered to the board, Unsolder and solder the new
  • (Passenger side window and locks for both driver and passenger) Remove the switch from the door
- a) Remove the face of the switch (the part that you touch to actuate the button) Pull it off, It has notches that go around an axle to keep it on.
- b) Remove the WHITE or GRAY axle by inserting a small slotted driver in between the outside of the case and the axle
- c) DON’T PRY UNDER THE AXLE YOU WILL BREAK IT. Bend the outer case out slightly until the axle falls out on its own.
- d) There are two brass shims that sit in the switch, DON’T LOSE THESE they are used to actuate the switch
  • You now have access to the LED’s. Remove them and solder in the new ones. DON’T REMOVE THE RESISTOR. Input side of the LED goes to the resistor.
  • Reassemble in the reverse order. Test it before you put it back in the door
  • You have to turn the key for these switches to illuminate.

Headlamp Switch

  • Remove the four bolts that hold the cover below the steering wheel
  • Once this is off there is one bolt holding the vent and dash cover for the drivers side vent
  • Remove that bolt and Pull the cover and vent off.
  • Recommended that you pull your steering wheel out and down as far as it will adjust to
  • Remove the three Phillips head screws securing the switch to the dash
  • Disconnect switch from the harness
  • Use the small slotted driver inserted in the seam to remove the back from the front case
  • Pull them apart halfway and then rotate the top half approximately 15 degrees counter clockwise. Keeping the knob in the off position.
  • There is a notch on the end of the knobs stock that has a key way that it slides through. Remember when you reassemble this that you have to put the knob in the off position and slide it in the key way half way then rotate the whole upper portion back to level and slide them together. There will be some friction but not much. DON’T FORCE IT!!
  • Pull the circuit board out of the lower casing, you can use a small pick or small slotted driver.
  • Pay attention to the input side of the LEDs, replace them one at a time so you don’t lose your train of thought.
  • Reassemble reverse order and test the switch in the key on position, DO THIS BEFORE PUTTING IT BACK IN THE DASH.

HVAC Cluster

  • Remove the cluster from the bezel by removing the three screws that keep the control units secured to the back of the cluster, then remove the four Phillips screws holding the Cluster in place against the back of the bezel.
  • Separate the front of the cluster from the back by depressing the four tabs, two on top two, on the bottom
  • Get your dremel with the cylindrical sanding bit, not the discs
  • I ran at the 8th speed setting applying moderate pressure in a circular motion
  • Once the green is off of the face run 220 grit over it to help smooth the surface.
  • Run 600 grit wet sand over that.
  • Apply a small amount of acetone to a paper towel.
  • Rub the front surface gently to help smooth the surface and fill any ruts left from overworking. Acetone is very abrasive to plastics such as this and can be used to rework or fill any crevices when applied with the proper technique.
  • DON’T overdue it with the acetone. You’ll know it’s working properly because you will see a white film begin to develop when the acetone dries.
  • Rinse and sand with the 600 grit to polish the surface.
  • You’ll need to make stencils to place for the symbols
  • The stencil choice is up to you (I’m working with a decal shop currently to replicate the OEM symbols, using a digital pick for the reference.)

(Picture was taken after the application of the Matte Finish)
  • Use Testors or a similar paint that is designed for plastic adhesion.
  • After three coats or so apply a matte finish over the top after removing your stencils.
  • I used Flat Black Testor’s and Matte Finish Krylon.

Lighting of the Cluster

There are two methods. I have individually lit each symbol using an LED for each symbol. The tempature side does not require LED’s as I did not paint over them. See the diagram for proper use of LED’s with resistors for this application.

The other method ivolves only 4 LED’s, acrylic rod to simulate an optic cable a heat gun to bend the rods into place. The LED sources are used at both side of the optic cable to supply light through the whole rod. You’ll bend two rods, one for the number side and one for the middle Vent control dial.

Taciturn. Your turn.
2,207 Posts
I surprised that no one has responded to this yet, I did this earlier this year and it's a great mod to do. I can add details from my experience later on if you want.

44 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Yeah definitely. Yet to do it myself so i cant really add any input haha, hope to try sometime this summer. I'd love to have all blue LEDs

Taciturn. Your turn.
2,207 Posts
I kind of wanted to make another set so and take better pics one day. Plus I wanted to test mine to make sure it lasts.

Since they had the hard to find LEDs for the sunroof, I just ordered everything from this one place
And a resistor calculator if you need or want to change resistors, I used 1/4 watt resistors.

-The HVAC buttons, and Euro clock use SMD PLCC-2 LEDs. HVAC buttons x6 total (Clock x2)

-The sunroof button uses 0805 SMD (x2), have fun with those LOL…

-The headlight switch uses 3mm dome top LEDs. x8 for fogs / x7 for non-fog switch. The two LEDs in the window lock out switch for the 4-door are dome top. The heated seat "ON" LED also uses dome tops.

-Every other button uses 3mm flat top LEDs, so just buy a load of those.

-If you want to change the color of both LEDs in the heated seat buttons use a resistor on each LED. Or else the button will gradually dim as the seat gets warmer. [facepalm]

The three LEDs for the illumination in the headlight knob will blow guaranteed in a few days if you don’t add your own resistor in the circuit. You can also solder the three LEDs with their own resistor on top of the circuit board.

Or you really could add a resistor to the stock circuit like my buddy did, but I think most people would understand this.

For the HVAC dials I just made a template, and you don’t have to sand or grind the green filter off if you want to use blue. Plus with the LED being so close to the lens you don’t get a turquoise-ish color; I used 3mm flat tops.

This one is the most time consuming no mater what method you try.

Stock symbols, no strange looking alien spacecraft symbols here... and this is the time to touch up any chips.

For the trunk release I drilled two small holes and put the LED in like so, then I put the resistor on the wire and spliced it to the headlight switch. (It does show a reflection high-up on the windshield, it bothered me at first but now I don’t even notice it.)

Here’s my how-to for the SVT power seat, the switch is basically the same as the locks and passenger windows.

44 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
This looks great! Nice to see some pictures of it finished. cant wait to get started.

Also thanks for posting the LED/resistor sizes, that helps out a lot.

Taciturn. Your turn.
2,207 Posts
About the resistor sizing I calculated for 14.4v the calculator says 16v to be safe. Just don't do 12v, alternators don't generate 12v. Also, use the smaller number in the Forward Voltage in the LED specs, (such as 1.8-2.0v) punch in 1.8 in the calculator.

1 Posts
Hey Guys,

I have a question about these led conversions, i started this conversion today and did both windows switched (3 Doors focus 1) the right single siwtch works fine, but the driver side switch doesn't work well.

Most of the time one led goes off then later its on again and both randomly fluctuate, also if i press the up button for my window one led turns off ?

I hope you guys know what the problem is i tried the switch with and without resistors, same result dont get it.


Taciturn. Your turn.
2,207 Posts
^^ I had the same problem, the drivers window switch doesn't like being taken apart.

If you removed the circuit board out by loosening the "clamp" contacts and squeezed them back when done they won't make a good connection anymore no mater how good you try to squeeze them back. So I put a little solder the six contacts after the circuit board on and I haven't had a problem.

53 Posts
quick question... I was reading a post where they put red film paper behind other lights to make them red or blue or whatever the desired color... could I do that with all the lights instead of installing new different colored LEDs? would that be an easier beginners way to get all the interior lights red? just scratch off the green on the back of everything and put red see through film above the lights?

Taciturn. Your turn.
2,207 Posts
MOST of the icons are clear with green colored LEDs, so colored film wont work.

The gauge cluster and HVAC faces are the only things that have green film.

13 Posts
Question about Euro clock

I just added in the Euro clock with alarm light into my ZX3 and see that the LED sizes are listed in this thread. I also needed to know though will I have to add in a resistor to the circuit or just swap the LEDs out?
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