12.12.16 - Odometer

The little dials that tick off the miles of our vehicle have changed over the years to be digital in most cars that are made now, but if you have a vehicle that still has the analog version with the spinning dials you might have to fix the odometer at some point. It seems like an activity that wouldn’t need to ever be done, but just like the rest of your vehicle the odometer can break when the gears and wheels that spin the dials stop functioning or break down. Thankfully this is an easy fix.

Whether you’re a tuner who loves to work on cars and want to know how many miles you’ve driven or you purchase a vehicle at auction or used and this just happens to be one of the items that doesn’t work on the vehicle you want to have this fixed. The odometer is what most of us use to determine when we need to perform specific maintenance tasks such as oil changes. Even though there may seem to be advantages to having an odometer that doesn’t work, the reality is we need this item to work and want to make sure it does so you can celebrate when you reach the 200,000 mile mark.

To start with you have to understand what makes your odometer spin. There used to be a cable attached to the wheel which would spin the odometer. With this type of odometer the idea of spinning back an odometer to take miles off a vehicle actually worked. For both digital and analog odometers of today a small motor is used which is called a vehicle speed sensor which transfers a mechanical signal to an electrical one to turn the odometer. With the vehicle speed sensor if you tried to run the car in reverse to take miles off they would actually be added to the vehicle.

When your odometer stops working you could need to replace the vehicle speed sensor, but that would be the case if the speedometer also doesn’t work. This item is meant to control both these gauges and will need replacing when both no longer work properly. The vehicle speed sensor is located at the back of the transmission under the car and it’s only held on with one bolt.

Unfortunately if the odometer is the only items that no longer works the problem isn’t with the vehicle speed sensor, but with the gears that actually spin the numbers of the analog odometer. These gears are simple and cheap plastic items and can wear out over time.

In order to perform this fix you need a couple screwdrivers, new gears, and while you’re at it you might as well replace the old dashboard lights with some new LED bulbs. Before you begin you should remove the negative terminal on your battery. Unscrew the two bolts under the dash to take the dashboard out. Next pull out the headlight switch, turn it until you see the slot and use a screwdriver to remove the headlight knob.

Pull out the housing around the gauge cluster and remove the screws that hold the gauge cluster in place until you can pull out the wiring harness. Once you have the gauge cluster removed you can take it to an easier place to work so you can take the cluster apart in order to remove the gauges and see the gears that need to be changed out. You then have to remove the motor and find the gear that’s broken so that you can replace it with the new gear.

Be sure you reverse your actions in order to put your gauges back together and have a perfectly working odometer once again. You may be amazed at how easy this is to put back together in order to have your odometer fixed. Changing the bulbs will give you some cool LED bulbs where older bulbs were previously. Now you have an odometer that works once again along with brand new LED bulbs in an older vehicle that has the analog gauges which look even better with the new LEDs in place. Check out this video for the entire process.

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