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1999 Impreza 2.5rs.
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I decided I wanted a red light instrument cluster. I love the look of the red at night and after my swap, my gauges all illuminated red as well. So I thought it would look really good. I read a lot of threads about changing the color of the bulbs, and I finally decided to go for it. The first thing I did was to order some new bulbs. I ordered enough bulbs from superbrightleds.com to change what I wanted.

I ordered for my 1999 2.5RS:
(1) #194 size red LED. This goes behind the fuel/coolant temp gauge and,
(4) #74 size red LED. These go behind pretty much everything else.

The other lights in the cluster, such as turn signal, fuel low light, and most other warning lights use the smaller #74 sized bulbs. But I didn't see a need to change them all.

When they arrived I promptly installed them.

To remove the cluster, drop your tilt column all the way down. Unscrew the cluster surround by removing the two screws at the top of the surround. Then pop the bottom out and remove. Then unscrew the cluster itself. There are two screws on the bottom, one on each side, and one on the top. Remove the cluster. If you are having a hard time with this, you can remove the plastic shield. There are about seven (7) clips around the parameter to do this. The remove the black trim in the same manner. The cluster will come out much easier this way. There are three (3) plugs in the back at the top to remove.

***DO YOU BEST NOT TO TOUCH THE NEEDLES. THEY ARE FRAGILE AND CAN EASILY BREAK***

This is what you will have when you get it out.


The two gauges on the left, fuel tank and coolant temp, use the one (1) larger bulb. The speedometer and tachometer use three (3) smaller bulbs.

You CAN just install the bulbs. I did this at first. I installed red and the color DOES show through. But the film on the back of the gauges blocks MOST of the light. So much so that at dusk, I could not even read my gauges. So after reading about removing the green film on the back, I decided to take it on. This is what I did:

***CAUTION*** I do not take ANY responsibility for anything you may do that ruins your cluster if you follow these steps. It is at your own risk. If you break needles, they cannot be fixed. You will need a new cluster. Read through this ENTIRE write-up before you attempt this so you know what you are in for. With that in mind, lets go.

Items you will need:
Q-Tips (A LOT)
knife (or something else long, slim and rigid. Not a knife with a sharp tip though. One with a rounded edge.
Rubbing alcohol or Nail Polish remover (I found that the latter did best)


With the cluster out, remove the plastic backing to expose the electrical board. We need to remove the individual gauges to get behind them and remove the green film. There are two. The fuel/temp gauge is in one, and the speedo/tach is in the other. They are held in place with small metal tabs. Each gauge has a motor, and each motor has two tabs. They need to be bent straight so the gauge will slide out. Here is what they look like.


Once they are bent, use something small enough to fit in the center hole between the tabs you just bent, push the gauges out through the front. Careful not to touch the needles. Hold the gauges by the edges.

Use the Q-Tips and polish remover to remove the film. There is three layers to get through. Some areas have a black layer. This layer is usually directly above the bulb and tapers away to a white color. This keeps your factory/stock gauges illuminated with equal brightness. Once you remove this layer, the areas of your cluster directly above the bulbs will light up brighter than the other areas. Below the white layer is the green film. Stick the Q-Tip between the plastic and the face of the gauge and rub until the layers are removed and the numbers and dashes are visible from the back.



I also used a case/butter knife the scratch the film away. This saved a lot of time as the Q-Tip/Polish remover takes a long time, and A LOT of Q-Tips.

Holding it up to light will show you what you have gotten, and what you haven't gotten.


I didn't bother removing the film behind the redline since red is the color I chose anyway.

If you want to change the color of you other warning lights, turn signals, now is the time. Remove that film too. I made my turn signals red, but I didn't buy enough LEDs to do it. So I scratched the green film off of the turn signals. The turn Signals are located in the two small black pieces just above the speedometer.

I removed the signal film.


And since I didn't have anymore red bulbs, I used a red Sharpie. The white bulbs will bleed through the red of the sharpie, so I made three layers. I colored the signal lens red, then I added a small piece of scotch tape over the arrow. I colored this red. I added another piece of scotch tape and colored this red too. Looked like this:


Once I had removed all of the film I wanted, I replaced the gauges, not touching the needles! and bent the tabs back. Removed the bulb housings and replaced the bulbs with my new ones, and reinstalled the instrument cluster in reverse of removing it. Once I had it in and it was dark I tried them out!


Notice the Fuel gauge is WAY brighter than the other gauges. This is because that large bulb is directly behind the fuel gauge. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have removed the film from the fuel gauge. The light is bright enough to shine through. I CANNOT say this will work with ANY color you choose, but red will shine through the green film without looking green. If you choose yellow/orange/blue, it will mix with the green film and look different than you want. in the future, I plan on removing the instrument cluster again and adding a piece of tape with black Sharpie behind it to defuse it again. But until then, Im happy.

The turn signals are a nice deep red also!
 

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This is a really good writeup! I need to replace my check engine bulb so I may as well remove the green film and see if I can tint the gauges pink. Thanks for this, I learned a lot without having to break anything :)
 

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99RS 207 V9 AW
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1,285 Posts
First, thanks for the good write up.

I put Scotch tape at the fuel corner vent to reduce reflection from metal can right behind fuel/temp gauges, it helps but nothing you can do about fuel gauge brightness since light source is directly located behind fuel gauge, and love blue LED.




 

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1999 Impreza L sedan
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61 Posts
Sweet writeup! Question about the clock. Did you only change the bulb to get the red light to show, or is there a green film behind it that also has to be removed?
 

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2000, 2.5RS, Sedona Red Pearl
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110 Posts
My fuel, temp and part of the speedo (0-60mph) is out. 0-60 used to work but doesnt anymore even after I replace the LED and the fuel/temp never worked to begin with. Does any one have any idea as to why it does light up?
 

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My fuel, temp and part of the speedo (0-60mph) is out. 0-60 used to work but doesnt anymore even after I replace the LED and the fuel/temp never worked to begin with. Does any one have any idea as to why it does light up?
Make sure you twist the bulb in the same direction you took it out
 
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