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Just curious if anyone else's 1st knob for controlling the strength of the vents light has gone out? If so, is this an easy fix it yourself? The actual AC Knob and Defrost Knob lights up fine.
 

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Re: No Light on Mode Control Dial for Heat/Cool

Try tapping the dial. My selector knob light went out a month or so ago and on occasion if I tapped it hard enuff it would come back on. Eventually I basically punched it and I never had anymore problems with it. My motto is: If your Element isn't doing what it's supposed to, then beat the crap out of it."
In my case it was probably a loose connection.
 

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Re: No Light on Mode Control Dial for Heat/Cool

My center dial went out and I replaced the bulb for about $5 from majestic honda, since I had a big order from them I did,nt get socked $10 on a $5 bulb. It would come on if I tap the dial and since I was replacing the center trim piece, I tried to reseat the bulb and still was a problem so I just replaced it and it has been fine ever since.
 

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Good to hear someone has done their own replacement

Tapping did not work for me either...

ShaneS.... is there a trick to popping off the dash or can you suggest somewhere I can get more info on how it is put together. I just don't want to go in there and break something that is holding it together. I do have someone to help me out but would like some info before I call him in.

Thanks for the info.
 

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Re: Good to hear someone has done their own replacement

TallGal said:
Tapping did not work for me either...

ShaneS.... is there a trick to popping off the dash or can you suggest somewhere I can get more info on how it is put together. I just don't want to go in there and break something that is holding it together. I do have someone to help me out but would like some info before I call him in.

Thanks for the info.
With a flat head screw driver (wrapped with electrical tape or something), pry out the radio trim piece. (look at pic where black arroes indicate), Then take the radio out (4 screws), take out the sub woofer to gain access for popping up the trim piece around the shifter (the piece with the hazzard switch not the round piece with PRND12), I used the end of a breaker bar to pop it up from underneath the shifter. once you get this piece off you can lift the whole center panel up from where the shifter is, it is held on by the same clips that held the radio trim piece on, no screws except for the radio.

If you scratch the pieces, not expensive at all to replace. about $50 total to replace all those pieces there.
 

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Honda parts illustration courtesy of Honda Parts Now

Each control has three light sources:
• a larger incandescent bulb (79629-S3V-A01, No. 9 in illustration above, No. 1 below) that illuminates the front cover;
• a 0.84W LED used for the lower control button's "on" indicator (No. 2 below);
• a smaller incandescent bulb (9629-SCV-A01, No. 8 above, No. 3 below) that illuminates the lower control button's text/icon



The incandescent bulbs are accessed from behind the main circuit board. The LEDs are soldered to the individual controls' sub-boards.

The bulbs:



1. 79629-SCV-A01 "Bulb, Neo-Wedge (blue)," lower buttons (recirc, AC, rear defog)
2. 79629-S3V-A01 "Bulb, Neo-Wedge," front covers (fan speed, temperature blend, outlet selector)
3. S3V bulb removed from socket
4. #74 instrument bulb (for comparison)

The -SCV- bulb is clear. Its socket post is white. Apparently it is referred to as "blue" because it illuminates the lower control buttons, all of which use blue-green filters.

The -S3V- blub is also clear, but its socket post is made of blue-gray plastic. Don't mistake this for the "blue" in the -SCV- bulb's description when ordering replacements.

The bulbs' socket posts twist in to the back of the circuit board. The connections between the traces on the board and the wires on the posts are pretty delicate. Sometimes vibration and maybe a little corrosion will break the circuit, even though the bulb is good, and simply reseating the post will fix the problem. However, it makes sense to have a new bulb in hand before taking everything apart ... maybe even replace all six bulbs while you're in there.

Reportedly, 79629-SCV-A01 interchanges with a standard 7219 bulb (Radio Shack 272-1092) and 79629-S3V-A01 with an 8640 bulb. Illustrated list of all Element bulbs here.


More:
Hondaguru04 on replacing HVAC control bulbs with LEDs
Chubs12385 on painting the bulbs
My page on replacing the blue-green filters on the controls with red ones

 

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Also I was thinking about maybe adding a different color to them, can I get the very same bulbs at an auto parts supplier?

Need some help
You could purchase the old bulbs and then color them with some glass stainer or even try using a sharpie marker (as it was suggested earlier). For vibrant color, the best way is to with an LED conversion but to do this with the HVAC controls is much more involved and time consuming than doing the gauge cluster. The bulbs you need for the HVAC controls are placed in a 'custom' plastic housing which you can get from Honda. That's the easiest way anyway. I mean if you really wanted you could replace the bulbs yourself by pulling them out and inserting new bulbs, but honestly it's probably not worth it unless you intend to do the LED conversion. To change the bulbs is fairly easy. Basically you just have to pop off the center console, disconnect the plugs that attach to the HVAC controls and the hazard switch and with a flathead screwdriver unlock the twist bases which you can see on the back of the HVAC controls. They will fall right out. Pop the new ones in, twist lock them and you should be set to go.
 

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As for the HVAC controls: it is no where near as easy and I found it to be fairly complicated but maybe you'll have better luck with this advice:

1. You need two kinds of LED bulbs: 5mm and 3mm. The 5mm are for the dial faces while the 3mm are for the buttons. You are also looking for the following characteristics for both:
  • 12v Ready
  • 5mm: Has a wide angle of light (135° is recommended for at least the dial faces otherwise you will have more of a chance for uneven light distribution)
  • Contains an integrated or supplied with external resistors (I strongly recommend integrated resistors for ease of installation)
  • All leads are solid metal and fairly long (at least 2")
  • Has significantly high light output. The LED's I used could project a focused beam onto a surface from about 1-2 feet away with distinguishable color. Basically: they are bright.
You may want to invest in several of these. I destroyed about 10 through experimenting and trying to get the finished product.


2. Remove the center dash trim piece that has the HVAC controls attached. Disconnect the plugs for the unit so you can take the piece away from the dash. Remove the unit by removing 4 screws on the back end (key for later on when you're testing it out). On the back side of the HVAC unit you will see the same thing you saw with the instrument cluster - twist lock posts. 1/2 turn and it should come out... sometimes with a little upside down shaking.


3. Analyze the things which came out and take note of how the metal wraps around the bottom of the post. You will have to do this later on since this is how they make contact with the circuit board. Straighten the metal and pull the bulb straight out with the leads. The general idea is to install the LED's the same way the bulbs were oriented. Make sure when you install the LED's that they are pointing straight.

If you purchased LED's with integrated resistors and solid metal leads which are long enough to wrap around this will be fairly easy. In the event that they will not fit (too long with the LED in the post) simply cut the post down bit by bit until it fits. You can also do this if your leads are not long enough. They just need to be able to reach the top of the base to make contact. Now: unlike the old bulbs, LED's have a + and a - end so simply placing the newly modified post back into the HVAC unit does not mean it will work right away. Place it in, plug in the controls and try it out. If it does not light up, then try rotating the post 180° and try it again. It should turn on either the first or second time. Now you know why you separated it from the dash piece.




In the event you have external resistors, you will need to do the following:
  1. Determine which is the positive side and which is the negative side of the LED. Wrap the resistor around one lead and attach it to a 12v source. If it does not turn on, try it the other way. If it still does not turn on, then the resistor must be placed on the other lead. Test again. Take note of which side the resistor must be on. Usually the LED will have some kind of 'landmark' so you can determine this simply by looking at it.
  2. Take your post and feed the resistor through one hole so the bulk of the resistor is at the bottom. Wrap the other 1/2 of the resistor around the base so it makes contact with the circuit board when installed. Depending on how much slack is on the other end coming out of the post, you may want to break some of it off. Insert your LED with the positive end sharing the resistor. Do a quick test fit with the first one. Cut down the post as necessary. Once it is at a suitable height, feed the LED through the hole with the positive end sharing with the resistor (you may have to cut off a majority of the positive lead) and solder a point of the positive side for a secure connection. Wrap the negative lead around the base and test it out. If it works, repeat 3 more times and use the original as a height guide. Try to keep the bulbs straight. It will be more difficult with this approach but if you mount them on an angle, you will see uneven distribution on the dial faces.


Good luck. PM me if you need help. Oh, yeah - "Hyperwhite" is white with a tint of blue... almost like a light blue BTW.
 

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To replace the HVAC control bulbs:

For an automatic I'm not sure how to initially approach this, but a manual: pull the boot off of the shift knob at the silver grommet piece and twist off the shift knob by turning it to the left until it comes off. With a small flathead screwdriver wrapped in a terry cloth (to prevent damage), insert at the lower right edge of the center dash piece... slowly wedge it in and carefully pry it upwards to pop it out of the socket. Repeat for the lower left side. With a pair of work gloves, pull gently and steadily from the bottom upwards until the center dash piece is relieved from the middle section. Proceed to pull from the middle section until the top is off and the unit is loose. Look behind the unit and disconnect two plugs - one for the hazard switch and one for the HVAC controls. At this point, the trim for the radio may have popped off. If it has, simply place it aside so it can be reattached later (pops in). With the center piece free, look behind the HVAC controls - you will see 6 holes with what appear to be plastic screw heads inside. Those are the mounts for the bulbs. Take your flathead screwdriver and twist upto a 1/2 turn to unlock them. Turn the unit right side up and shake the loose bulbs out.

Insert new bulbs by dropping them in and turning upto a 1/2 turn right. Reattach the plugs, line up the center dash piece, feed the shift lever through the boot, press firmly forward to snap everything in, reattach your shift knob and you're done.


240 is a ridiculous price especially if the bulbs only cost 40 cents each.

Estimated time: 10 minutes. Save $239.60 with a DIY.
 

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LEDs for the HVAC controls

I know others have done this mod, but I thought I'd share my approach and some lessons learned.

Background
Behind the HVAC controls sit six bulbs in proprietary twist-lock bases: three 5mm bulbs to illuminate the dials and three 3mm bulbs for the lower three buttons (Recirc, A/C, rear defrost).

Remove the HVAC controls from the center console by removing the four screws holding them in place, then remove the four screws on the back side and pop the tabs out to remove the back of their plastic housing. Once you have done this you can rotate the PCB out, though it will remain attached to the rest of the unit via ribbon cables. I was unable to figure out how to disassemble the unit any further--it looks like there are screws on the front PCB's that are soldered in place.

For the upper bulbs I used #74 tri-star LED modules from superlumination.
  1. Remove the existing bulbs from the upper twist-lock bases.
  2. Cut the bases short.
  3. Straighten the metal leads on each module, then solder really thin wires to the ends (or cut off and use the leads from the existing bulbs)
  4. Since the tri-star modules won't fit through the hole in the PCB, you have to assemble the LED module to the base with the base already in the hole (see the pic below)
  5. Secure the modules to the bases with hot glue.
I suggest using white for the middle dial since it has multiple colors on the face. I chose red for the left and right ones, but I do perceive a difference in brightness--the white one definitely is brighter, especially on the blue side of the temp. dial.

One more note--LED's, even these tri-stars with a decent projection angle, will not illuminate the little red dots on the edge of each dial. When it's completely dark it's difficult to see what each dial is set to.
 

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Lower three bulbs

For the lower bulbs, I first tried the same T-1 LED's I used to replace my cruise control and power mirror bulbs, but they were too dim for this application. Unlike those other buttons, the HVAC control buttons are not sitting directly in front of the bulbs--instead, there is a white plastic piece that reflects the bulb's light onto the back of the buttons. Aluminum foil covering this plastic piece might do the trick, but I was unable to disassemble the controls any further than I described above.

My next attempt was T-1 super bright (2000mcd) red LED's from Action Electronics. The problem was that these LED's are not 12V-ready, so I had to add limit resistors. Since these bulbs with a 2.5V max forward drop and 25mA max current, I selected 470 Ohm 1/4 Watt resistors (I can explain the math upon request). I soldered the resistors to the LED leads after inserting them through the twist-lock bases, as pictured below. After I got it looking as pictured, I coated that rat's nest of wire with hot glue to keep it from shorting. Once assembled, these modules can then be inserted normally into the HVAC control box.
 

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Hmm.. that is tough to say. It just might work. If it does, it sure would make the HVAC conversion that much easier but assuming that they do work, I wonder how well they would. Considering the cost, may as well order one and guinea pig it for the rest of us! ; )
 

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The only problem is that LED's are spotty, they will only be bright from the top center and will not look right. The regular bulbs are incandescent and shed light all around and the HVAC controls are designed with that in mind, the LED's will leave dark spots in the HVAC controls. I would not do it as you will not be happy with the results.
 

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thats true. i thought of that myself. but with the stems being substantially shorter (about half the length) wouldnt that let the light expand enough to cover it?

looking at the picture of the lit LED's it doesnt look like the beam shines in a uniform straight beam | | it looks more like it would be \ / hopefully it would short enough for the beam to cover the whole thing
 

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Depends on the LED type. The best bet is to go with a 135° angle of light distribution but most LEDs are 'naturally' 35°. Hence why the Tristars are a popular choice and have proven to be an excellent solution for applications such as the gauge cluster. 3mm 35° LEDs are fine for the buttons as long as they are pointing straight. The surface area is small enough to distribute light evenly. The gauge faces however are a different story. Even with 135°s you may still get a fade effect or dark spots depending on how 'straight' you can get the LED to point. Not to mention the original bulb is sitting on a ~2" stand and so trimming it down would give you better coverage assuming that there are no other obstacles with in the 'pathway'. I did the mod quite some time ago but if you were to examine the inside you could evaluate as to whether or not a wide angle short post LED will give you nice even light distribution.

I put in 5mm 135°s with the head of the LED positioned at approximately the same point as the original bulb (sawed off 1/2 the post to get it on). My end result is a fading darkness that extends to the outer edges. It doesn't bother me too much but it certainly stands out. Not to mention, the red tabs on the gauges are not illuminated at all. Even with Tristars as documented here from drivestoclimb.


Also, definitely go with some kind of white for the center just to get proper color illumination. : )~
 

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yeah i noticed the red on the knob was prone to not showing up well. i figured if i were to do this i would go with blue in the 2 outside knobs and a superwhite for the center. once i go take out one of the stems for proper measurment and type identification i think ill just bite the bullet and buy at least just the one superwhite and test it out..
i hope it works, those knobs are too dim
 

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Would the wide angle leds like the ones you find in Christmas lights or 360 view leds (diffused coating) work?
 
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