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Update on successful wedge fix

Thanks to this site and a youtube video showing how to remove the instrument cluster, I was able to fix my suddenly dark instrument panel in about fifteen minutes.

My panel went dark a few weeks ago and I assumed it was bulbs. On reflection it didn't make sense that all bulbs would go out together. Only the needles and odometer remained lit. After finding this thread I was quite sure I had the same problem many of you have described: loose main connector.

I decided to try out the "wedge" fix for the larger electrical connector on the instrument cluster. Easy to pop the fascia off and access the cluster with a flat screwdriver to pop off the side fascia and philips screwdriver for main shroud and instrument cluster. I first pressed up on the larger connector and determined that pushing it up did cause the instrument lights to work. I then took a 30x20x3mm piece of rubber/silicone from a set of car mats and wedged it into the slot below the connector. After checking that it made the lights work, I then ziptied it into position around the connector.

Took literally fifteen minutes including a minute or two hunting in the garage for an odd piece of material to use as the wedge.

Photos show rubber piece installed and the source of the rubber section.

Thanks guys.
 

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Well as it stands, My new to me E seems to run the gamut of E problems. Went to drive to work this morning (-20c) and when I turned my headlights on my dash lights did not come on. Quick search and I find this thread with very clear indications on what the problem may be. Oddly enough after about 20 minutes of driving to work (and the interior being heated up at that point) the dash lights came back on. Even though they are on I'm still going to head on up to the wrecker and grab the cluster out of the E there. I'm not worried about the different KM reading on the cluster as I plan to be the last owner of this vehicle. I'll be adding some LED lights to the wrecker cluster before swapping it into my E. I was planning on doing this down the road but having this issue pop up has pushed my agenda ahead a bit. I'll be curious to see the KM on the wrecker unit as mine reads 280,000km lol
Before swapping it out I will wiggle that connector and see if that was indeed the issue in the first place.
Lots of great knowledge on this board. Thanks to all

Berz out.
 

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I had a problem with my dash lights not working. I talked to a mechanic who said there was more than one light under the dash. And although rare sometimes they all burn out at once.
So I started to unscrew the dash from the drivers side. I then started whacking the dash piece with my hand to get it to pop out. All the lights starting working again. I put the screws back in and figured it was a gift. That was over 2 years ago and the lights are still working.
 

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...I then started whacking the dash piece with my hand to get it to pop out. All the lights starting working again. I put the screws back in and figured it was a gift. That was over 2 years ago and the lights are still working.
yeah, sometimes you just have to get its attention. <grin>
 

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I've been dealing with the loose multiplex connector on the back of my instrument cluster for about 3 years now. It's getting to the point where my "wedge fix" is failing regularly and I have to bang on the dash to fire the lights up.

I found an online business that specializes in instrument cluster rebuilds (https://modulemaster.com/rebuilds/) and I have corresponded with them and they said they have had luck in the past correcting the problem we are all having. Has anyone used them? It's $125 shipped and I was assured that if they can't fix it, they won't charge me. Just wanted to see if anyone knows anything about them.

I will be happy to report back here if I do end up using them and my experience with getting the cluster repaired permanently.
 

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I found an online business that specializes in instrument cluster rebuilds (https://modulemaster.com/rebuilds/) ...

I will be happy to report back here if I do end up using them and my experience with getting the cluster repaired permanently.
UPDATE: My cluster has been consistently failing so I removed it last weekend and shipped it off to Module Masters in Idaho for assessment. They received it yesterday and this morning they called to let me know it has been repaired. The technician said that several of the solder points had failed and had to be re-soldered. He also replaced some of the bulbs while he was at it.

I will receive it in a couple days and put it back in and report back as to success of repair. I am going to see if there's a way to support the multiplex cable to take some of the downward strain off of the connector port.

Total investment including shipping both ways has been $167.00.
 

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UPDATE: My cluster has been consistently failing so I removed it last weekend and shipped it off to Module Masters in Idaho for assessment. They received it yesterday and this morning they called to let me know it has been repaired. The technician said that several of the solder points had failed and had to be re-soldered. He also replaced some of the bulbs while he was at it.

I will receive it in a couple days and put it back in and report back as to success of repair. I am going to see if there's a way to support the multiplex cable to take some of the downward strain off of the connector port.

Total investment including shipping both ways has been $167.00.
I'm hoping this will be my final-ever update to this page and the last time I ever have to deal with my dash lights going out.

I received my instrument cluster back from Module Masters a few days ago. It came beautifully packaged in form-fitted foam and an oversize cardboard box. Cluster was also wrapped in a clean plastic bag. Very professional shipping.

Invoice says, "reflowed bad solder joints and replaced backlights." I reinstalled my cluster and I'm happy to say that it's been 3 days and the dash lights have not gone out once during that time -- I have even tried banging on the dash to see if they would go out. Moreover, the dash is probably 50% brighter with the new bulbs and looks fresh and new again. I tried seeing if there is a way to support the multiplex connector better but every way I tried seemed to put too much back-pressure on the connector so I just left it as-is.

Only caveat is that after reinstall, my SRS/Airbag warning light came on and stayed on. I tried resetting it using this method (http://www.skidmore.edu/~pdwyer/e/dtc_reset.htm) but had no luck with it staying off. I then checked all my seat connections and cleaned my seat belt buckle female connections with no success. I contacted Module Masters and they could not see how their repair would have affected the airbag warning light and suggested I take it to a mechanic for diagnosis, so I reluctantly went to a Honda dealership. They plugged it in and reset the warning light and it has stayed off for over 24 hours now -- and, even better, they did not charge me for this. So, I am guessing that having the instrument cluster out of the car for 7 days might do something to the SRS system. I also started and moved the car a few feet (yes, apparently you can start and drive your Element even if it is missing its instrument cluster!) in my driveway so maybe that confused the SRS system as well. All that said, you might anticipate having to have the airbag light reset after an instrument cluster repair.

So, if you want to get your instrument cluster repaired, I recommend Module Masters in Moscow, Idaho. At $167.00 for everything, I am sure you save a few hundred dollars over the dealer. Thanks.
 

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finally theres lights !!

after getting a taste of cluster lights and not having to memorize the heater/fan position and stock radio lights for about an hour of driving made so much of a difference that i decided to jump in. dont know about cars much. had to borrow peoples tools even but luckily we got a honda.

followed the instructions to get to the cluster. 5 screws?

wiggled bigger connector as someone here mentioned that was the culprit. noticed when it was down the cluster had no lights. and when wiggled up we had lights normal.

noticed someone here had a wooden shim. and another had a rubber/silicone wedge? things people may have in a garage but nothing in mine. even tried zip ties like someone did here that wasnt much of a wedge. but I did have electrical tape!

1. I folded over about 2 inches of electrical tape 5 times. had to do 2 sets as theres a crease in the middle bottom of the connector so it has to be into 2 wedges

2. trim off both sides about 1/8th-1/16th inch to clean it up. also it'll be easier to install later.

3. try and fold about a 1/4" - half inch on both your electrical tape wedges and tuck them underneath the larger connector. avoid the tape to the prongs. it may be frustrating taking you longer than you think.. or not. since theres 2 tapes they have to be more aligned. i found out if the electrical tape is too thick to begin with it wont work as folding it will be impossible to put the folded part into the conncector and if you dont fold the tape over then theres no wedge effect.

4. basically you want the folded part to wedge from the bottom. while the thin part makes you clear the rest connector. if you dont have to use 2 wedges itll be so much easier.

mine worked so well that when i pushed down on the connector the lights went out again but the whole thing came back up by itself.
anyone know if e. tape loses its..elasticity?

heard a more permanent fix it to take it apart and see which connector is loose and go from there? idk .. im happy half an hour of work and trying to MacGyver this thing together made for a positive experience.

cheers
 

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I have acquired a 2003 Honda Element that was rather moldy inside when I got it. The dash lights, radio, shifter lights and the odometer lights dont work. The glowing needles work though. I can't seem to find any sort of dimmer switch anywhere or info on it. Thought I would try easiest thing first. Does the 2003 EX have a dimmer switch?
 

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I have acquired a 2003 Honda Element that was rather moldy inside when I got it. ... Does the 2003 EX have a dimmer switch?
moldy is not good for electronics.

the dimmer switch is "quantized" by a little plastic rod that sticks out from the instrument panel, sort of the complement to the rod that resets the trip odometer. for each push of the dimmer rod, the brightness increases by some quantum determined by Honda (not theoretical particle physics), but if you push it too many times you get back to darkness, as i recall.
 

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dash lights out and repeatedly blowing fuse

Hi,

I have an 06 element. Recently the dash lights and all the climate control lights have gone out- well, they don't come on when I use my headlights, and the odometer doesn't dim. I changed the fuse and they all came back on, but it didn't last. Less than 10 seconds of having headlights on, and it blew again. Anyone who can help me troubleshoot this? I haven't read through this entire thread, but it doesn't quite sound like the loose plug issue some other have had. Also, it's still an original radio (though one of the button has been replaced.) Thanks for any help you can give me!
 

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ellebelle,

i had the same issue on my element, i tapped the top of the gauge cluster with my hand and all of the lights came back on. there is also a relay that could not be working correctly. if you have to take the gauge cluster out its really easy, open the drivers door, you will then find a cover on the side of the dash, take that out and then take the screws out, then you will be able to pull the cover off that is over your cluster. once that step is done you can then take the bolts out and check to make sure that the connections are tight. then go in reverse to put everything back in. if you need to check the fuses and or reply they will be under the drivers dash. i don't have a diagram to help out. Hope this helps you out.
 

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Hey guys,
my recently acquired 2005 Element also was suffering from the gauge cluster backlights not working. Only the needles and odometer lights would work, all else was dark in accessory position.
I tried replacing all the bulbs, but still only the needles and odometer backlights worked.

I attempted the "wedge" fix, where the large connector is wiggled/forced to one side and it worked for a few minutes, but quit shortly thereafter. I really didn't like the idea of driving around with a wedge of cardboard/wood in my dash cluster, so I decided to figure out/fix the root cause: a bad connection somewhere involving the connector to board.

I followed this video for info on removing the cluster, and also how to access the internals:
Everything is straightforward, except maybe removing the gauge needles: they're essentially mounted on the cluster via hollow "tubes". Just make sure you're pulling/prying as close to a 90-degree angle to the board to ensure you don't bend/kink the little tubes.

Now onto the board/problem: Looking closely at the circuit board where the large connector plugs in, notice anything amiss here?
202188



The very bottom right connector is a classic example of a "cold joint". I used some solder wick to try to remove as much of the existing solder as possible, and applied some fresh solder into place. This is one instance where "less is more", you really don't want to get carried away with the solder or you'll bridge onto the neighboring connection:

202189



After that, I took the board back to the car and plugged it in:
202190


Looks good!
From here I re-assembled everything. Don't forget to re-align your gauge cluster needles (the video covers this) before closing everything up.

The final product:
202191


Hope this helps out anyone else with this problem. If it's helpful I can try to put together a quick video of the procedure. There's really not much to it though, once you actually get in there.
 

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Fixed!

Problem fixed! It ended up being a bad relay in the wires. Took about three hours for them to figure it out and fix. The dealer told me this is the third 2005 they have had with similar problems on the relays.
Mine has the same problem and i tried everything already just no relays do you know which relays were changed by any chance ??
 

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It worked for me by re soldering the joints as posted in the picture. My joints did not look bad but went ahead and did it anyways, the problem never came back.
 

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UPDATE: My cluster has been consistently failing so I removed it last weekend and shipped it off to Module Masters in Idaho for assessment. They received it yesterday and this morning they called to let me know it has been repaired. The technician said that several of the solder points had failed and had to be re-soldered. He also replaced some of the bulbs while he was at it.

I will receive it in a couple days and put it back in and report back as to success of repair. I am going to see if there's a way to support the multiplex cable to take some of the downward strain off of the connector port.

Total investment including shipping both ways has been $167.00.
Hi, did this work long term? I assume the odometer numbers will stay intact as well?

-Tom
 
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