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Repair question on Late model automotive Instrument clusters

 
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mrtorino



Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 7:21 pm    Post subject: Repair question on Late model automotive Instrument clusters Reply with quote

Sorry I think I posted this question already as a guest. I thought I was logged in and couldnt find my post. I dont know how to delete it.
Once again sorry.

Hello,

I am curious if anyone here has any experience working with late model digital instrument clusters. I am wanting to work on one but I need to be able to bench test it. Does anyone know a way to bench test late model instrument clusters outside of the vehicle?
Testing the digital outputs and other leds and lights are my ultimate goal.
Speedometers, tach and other components would be great as well.

Any input would be appreciated as I cannot find what I am looking for anywhere on the web.
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spat72



Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you give more detail? Automotive electronics change very rapidly, often something is added, altered, or deleted every year. Even every month things can change to some degree. That is a big part of the manufacturers switching to ESM's(Electronic Service Manuals). They often send the dealers an update every month. A typical instrument cluster prior to year 2000 May be fully analog, fully digital, or combination of both. Recent years the trend seems to be fully digital. Much of the display is based on info sent by the ECM or CAN. You can easily ruin a portion of the system by performing a test improperly. So a service manual is crucial unless you already know what form of input to look for and where then try to duplicate that input at a controled value. For bench testing, it would be best to at least have a Schematic if nothing els. Or if good at it you can trace the conductive portion of the PCB including jumpers if need be. As I said much of the newest systems are digital and would need some expensive equipment to test anything beyond continuity if yours is in fact digital. Probably best to try to find a forum that caters to the manufacturer brand. But that is easier said than done, I know. If you are speaking of a Nissan then http://www.nissanforums.com/ is best IMO. I have not found much luck with other makes.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, it is on a newer audi. So I would think that it is digital.
I am curious on how to test the mechanical devices as well as the digital screens.
Sounds difficult but I am sure someone knows how to do it.

Do you know anything about the Audi?
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spat72



Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Thanks, it is on a newer audi. So I would think that it is digital.
I am curious on how to test the mechanical devices as well as the digital screens.
Sounds difficult but I am sure someone knows how to do it.

Do you know anything about the Audi?


Sorry I have very little exp. with Audi. I would try to find an OEM service manual somewhere. A manual is cheaper than a new instrument cluster. There is a good chance the mechanical devices(?) such as the fuel gauge and oil pressure are analog input but at what voltages is anyones guess without reference material. Typical on recent vehicles, especially the higher end ones, the ECM monitors everything else and then sends it's on signal to the gauges. Being that the ECM has the info and you have a digital cluster it is cheaper for the manufacturer to use less wires and send the info as data to a processor on the cluster for gauge display. You can try AllData ( an automotive tech resource like chiltons but online) for a temporary subscription but they often don't have that good of detail. Those type problems are usually handled by a manufacturer authorized dealers. Even at the dealer you have a limitation of resources and techs who are skilled enough for the work. Electronics and computer controles was my specialty with Nissan but they always wanted me to work on fords, chevys, etc..... with the same good results. But they didn't have the resources for that. I finally quite partly to frustrations of that but mostly loss of business when this war started. Honestly I wish I could help but if you connect anything wrong you could destroy lots of components on the unit.

The newest systems use CAN, Communications Area Network. Much like multiple computers linked across the web with a server in the middle. These are the systems that where coming into play in 2003 and last I heard this setup was being proposed for standardization in all US sold vehicles. As a tech I had trouble getting info on these systems even from the manufacturer. Often after a few basic checks the manufacturer would say put a new one in and send us the old one. That was one of my frustrations, any time you come to a computer in the system you get stalled because the manufacturer wont release the schematics for the computer or any data sheets. Just simply this wire goes there and so on.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well it doesnt sound promissing. I just can't believe its so difficult.
I found this site on the internet that makes simulators but they look very expensive.
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