How to Upgrade Instrument Cluster on Jeep JK? (Explained!)

The instrumentation showing speed, fuel levels, and odometer are very important for the man on the wheels. It displays everything you need to know as a driver. This is why an instrument cluster upgrade is a big deal!

But does it matter how your instrument cluster looks? What makes a cluster go bad? When, how, and why should you upgrade the setup? Will the upgrade strip your pockets off?

The plug and play is as important as the looks! A brain-gasm every time you look at that speedometer is what we strive for. In this article, I will discuss all these criteria. So, you get the best upgrade of your cluster accessory.

Can You Upgrade Instrument Cluster On Jeep JK?

You most certainly can! Replacing the instrument cluster is as easy as prying off a few parts with a pry bar. However, the real focus is whether you should upgrade it. How essential is it?

Here’s the deal: new and upgraded models of instrument clusters come out pretty often. Every now and then you see a vlogger ranting about ‘the most awesome instrument cluster ever’. There’s simply no end to it.

But you should only replace it when you are having trouble with the existing one. The issues can be electrical, visual, or simply psychological. Driver satisfaction is of prime importance.

Unless the instrument cluster has gone bad or boring, it does not require an upgrade.

When Should You Upgrade Instrument Cluster On Jeep JK?

It is crucial to recognize a faulty instrument cluster. Otherwise, you will miss crucial information for a safe drive.

Following is a brief overview of the symptoms to be aware of:

1. Bad Fit/Loose Connections

This is a more usual, non-invasive issue. It is easily fixable by securing connections. You should look for this symptom first.

The plugs connecting the cluster to the car system come loose. You’ll find the instrument cluster getting black often. Then coming on again

In this case, switch off the car batteries first. Take off the instrument cluster box (I will discuss how later in the article). Secure the connections. Then put the box back on.

2. Damaged Sensors

The most prominent sign is either the speedometer or the fuel sign not working. Either of the gauges malfunctioning can be traced to damaged sensors.

The Speedometer usually goes off. In this case, glitching is common. This also happens in case of any electric component failure.

3. Fuse Gets Blown

The most common manifestation of a blown fuse is all the gauges going off. If a fuse is blown, the instrument cluster will surely go off.

A fuse problem brings about many other symptoms too. Lights not working being one of them.

A change of fuse can resolve these problems.  

4. Faulty Software/Hardware

The software controls the electrical functions. This is assisted by the hardware. So any kind of malfunction in these will cause the gauges of the cluster to glitch. Or it may completely shut off or freeze one or both the gauges.

5. Circuit and Wiring Problems

Wiring problems may include grounding. Grounding usually gets the circuit to be short. So the power supply cuts off from the instrument.

The voltage regulator fails causes the short circuit to happen. Erratic readings, complete power cut of the gauges are symptoms of this.

6. Overuse

Over time, the intricate machinery inside the dash weakens. This is natural. After a long time of usage, the instrument won’t be as fast. Nor will it be as efficient.

In this case, the only option is to upgrade or replace the cluster instrument.  

How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade Instrument Cluster On Jeep JK?

Keep a few things in mind when assuming a cost or making up your budget. The first is the model of your vehicle. And the second is the condition of the dash.

There is rarely a labor cost involved. Moreover, reading this article will equip you with all the knowledge you need. So you will be able to do the upgrade yourself.

Changing an instrument cluster starts from $850 to $1,500. The newer models may cost more.

However, the very regular ones start from $60. This varies over the ranges of $70-80, $90-100.

My Top Recommendation on Jeep JK Instrument Cluster Upgrade

Want the best visuals with fast performance on the dash? Look no more. I have summed up the top recommendations for the JK instrument cluster for you.

I have included not just a budget-friendly option. But you will also find the important criteria for selecting an instrument cluster.

Here are the recommendations:

1. Carobotor J-Pro Digital Dash

The incredible J-Pro Digital Dash comes with accessories including buttons. Additionally, you get two wiring harnesses and a wire. This will help you replace the old ones.

This one is on the more expensive side. It costs around $1200. But the features are fantastic. Including running in more than 5 modes smoothly.

This is the best luxury thing for your jeep. Carobotor is the company that covers pretty much everything regarding instrument clusters. 

2. Jeep JK Wrangler OEM Speedometer Gauge Cluster

This is one of the basic ones. But it is albeit a good one for those old-schoolers. It doesn’t have that sophisticated digital feature. But it has good visuals.

Moreover, it is very budget-friendly. It costs around $200 on eBay. Usually, it is difficult to find a first-hand one of this online.

How to Upgrade Instrument Cluster On Jeep JK?

Before getting started, keep some instruments close to your hand. To replace a dash requires minimal tools. What you should keep in hand is:

  • an extension
  • 7mm socket.
  • 10mm socket.
  • Screwdriver.
  • T-25 screwdriver.
  • T-10 screwdriver.

Now, this is how you can remove and replace the dash instruments:

  • At first, three 7mm bolts need to be removed. One is behind the window controls. The other two are behind the plastic trim underneath the steering wheel. 
  • Below the steering wheel, find a plastic piece with an indent on top. Slide your hand on the indent and tug below. The plastic piece will come off. With the 7mm socket on the extension, take out the bolts from there.
  • Then pop the window controls and disconnect them from the wiring harness. From inside it, remove the 7mm bolt with the socket. At this point, the dash should come off at a slight tug.
  • You have to remove four more 7mm bolts on each corner of the instrument cluster. Remove each of these too with the 7mm socket and extension.
  • Then pull out the instrument cluster from the dashboard. Unplug all the wiring harnesses.
  • Sometimes, the new digital cluster comes with buttons. These need to be installed on the steering wheel. For this, the air back need to be loosened slightly. There are two 10mm screws on either side of the steering wheel. Pry them off with a 10mm socket. Now slightly slide the airbag forward. Don’t remove it completely.
  • Remove two Philips head screws behind the steering wheel below with a screwdriver.
  • Remove the T-25 bolt that’s holding the buttons at the back of the steering wheel.
  • There are four more T-25 bolts behind the airbag that need to be removed. Simply slide the airbag carefully and remove the bolts. 
  • Then pop off the steering slightly. Well enough to expose the back of the buttons. Unscrew the three screws with a T-10. Remove the wiring harness.
  • Slide the new set of buttons in place. Screw-in the buttons and reattach the wiring harness.
  • Grab the new instrument cluster and the wiring harnesses. Plugin two of the harnesses into the factory cluster. Attach the other two ends of the harness on the back of the new cluster. Two more will connect this to the factory wiring harness.
  • Put in the password if there is a requirement. Synchronize the information to the new instrument cluster. Do this by connecting the new cluster to the old one via the harnesses.
  • Now attach the new cluster via wiring harness with the dash. Screw in the four 7mm trims to secure the cluster to the dash. Reattach the plastic trim and tighten the screws. Put on the dash in place.

Pro Tip: Disconnect the car battery before the dismantling. Make sure no electrical connections are turned on before working.  

Before ending the article, I want to share a video of replacing the existing instrument cluster on a Jeep JK.

Watching the video till the end will make you confident about doing it yourself. Generally, you don’t need a mechanic to replace the instrument cluster. Good luck on getting the pro upgrades fixed!

Conclusion

Visuals of the instrument cluster gauges acts as the life of the drive. I’ve seen unsatisfied drivers change jeeps because they aren’t happy. When in reality, it was just the minor issue of the instrument cluster. My suggestion will be to go for a fancy upgrade. Possibly consider my top recommendation from this article. Make your drives worth-while because what else do you live for?

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