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Please read through all of the instructions here and make sure you understand them before attempting this procedure!

I recently had the backlight bulb for the exterior temperature display and shift position indicator burn out in my 1996 A6 Wagon (a very nice car by the way). This is becoming a common problem in the cars with this type of display. I had seen that others have fixed this same problem, so I decided to attempt to fix it myself as well. This procedure worked on my 1996 A6 wagon but should work for other models with the same style of indicator.
This took me about two hours and $4 to complete. I have heard that Audi dealers charge almost $300 just for the parts -- if you feel comfortable with a soldering iron, you should try this yourself.

Tools Required:

  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Desoldering pump or solder wick
  • Phillips-head screwdriver


Parts Required:

  • 12v, 50mA 2-pin bulb: Radio Shack part number 7219 (272-1092C 12V 60mA)
    - Temperature display requires one bulb
    - Shift display requires two bulbs


Procedure:

  1. First you will need to buy the light bulb or bulbs that you need. The bulb is available from Radio Shack -- it is about 3mm in diameter and about 7mm long.
  2. You will need to remove the instrument cluster. According to the Bentley manual, the right way to do it is to take off the steering column. The big drawback with this is that you will need to disconnect the airbag, which is dangerous, and it also requires you to disconnect the battery, so you'll need to know your radio code. I did not have my radio code, so I decided to take off the instrument cluster without removing the steering column. It is harder (there is not much space) but definitely possible. When you remove the instrument cluster, be careful not to scratch it or people might think it has been tampered with.
  3. First, adjust the steering column so that it is all the way out and all the way up. Then locate and remove two screws under the trim piece at the base of the instrument cluster. Remove the trim piece (start from the door side and move toward the center of the car).
  4. Adjust the steering column as low as it goes. Then locate and remove three screws that secure the bottom of the instrument cluster. Now you can pull out the instrument cluster, bottom first.
  5. Next, locate and remove the temperature indicator. It is a black box about 8cm long, with a yellow 5-wire connector on it.
  6. If you want to fix the shift position indicator, it is a black box about 5cm long with a black connector. There are two screws, one on each side of the box, that hold it in -- remove them.
  7. Disassemble the indicator (the two indicators are similar) by removing the two screws on the back of the assembly. The temperature display indicator has electric tape around it -- don't forget to put that back when you reassemble it!
  8. Carefully de-solder the old bulb(s). Use a de-soldering pump if you have one, or a wick if you don't.
  9. Test your new bulb with a multimeter, just in case.
  10. Attach the new bulb in the same orientation as the old one. Your new bulb may be slightly bigger than the hole in the display -- you can very carefully widen the hole (but be careful not to damage the LCD part behind it).
  11. Attach the wires to the connectors on the cluster, start the car, and check to see if the new bulbs work.
  12. When you reattach the shift position indicator, take care to remember which side is up -- it is possible to attach it upside down.
  13. Insert the instrument cluster into the dash and secure it with the three screws.
  14. Attach the lower trim strip. It has a metal pin on one side -- insert this pin into place first.
  15. Adjust the steering wheel to your preferred position.
  16. Turn on the car and check that the speedometer, odometer, tachometer, lights, gauges, wipers, and turn signals all operate properly. it's possible that something got knocked loose when you were moving the instrument cluster.
  17. Drink your favorite beverage and think about the hundreds of dollars you just saved!


Procedure by Viktor Borisov, who takes no responsibility for your actions. Questions/comments about the procedure go to him.


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