You're temp/fuel gauges don't work and you've already checked the output from your fuel/temp sensors to make sure they are not the culprit. You checked continuity of the wires from the sensor to the gauge and the output from the current voltage regulator to find out that it outputs the wrong voltage, none at all or it's fluctuating. Well guess what, I have a solution for you!
I recently found out that my gauge cluster didn't have a voltage regulator, which is why my fuel/temp gauges don't work. Well that's totally unacceptable for me because i want to run all the stock gauges in my 510. It would bum me out to have to run aftermarket gauges when I have perfectly good gauges already in the cluster.
Fast forward to a few posts and questions later I learned the following.
Some basic info needed to figure out the problem
- The gauge cluster needs ~ 9v to power the fuel and temp gauges
- The car is DC and runs off 12-15v (i'm only putting this for people who may not know)
- Without a voltage regulator, the gauges do nothing
How the sensors work with the gauge cluster
The gauges always have power. As temperature or fuel level rises/lowers the resistance in the sensor changes. It allows more or less current to pass through it to the chassis ground. Both sensors work in the same way.
So the problem is we just have the wrong positive voltage going to the gauges... Well all the voltage regulator does is keep the voltage constant given any input power. OK... What are some options? I personally didn't want to buy a whole gauge cluster just for the voltage regulator. I have a background in basic electronics and arduino stuff, so I started searching mouser electronics, digikey and my local parts place marvac.
I found out something awesome.
There are a million really cheap tiny voltage regulators that do the same job as the big metal one on the back of the gauge cluster. Average cost? ~$0.43 to $2.00.
Well that's bad ass isn't it?
I picked up two just to be on the safe side and a PCB (printed circuit board) and set to working.
- Voltage regulator
- NTE1910 or
- Wire (preferable 3 colors)
- PCB board (optional but makes it nicer)
- Project box (optional but makes it nicer)
Explanation of pins on the voltage regulator
Here's a picture of the voltage regulator for reference.
- Pin on the far left is the power input (in our case 12-15v)
- The center pin is a "common ground". Just connect it to your chassis ground
- The far right is the power output (9v)
There are some upgrades you could do to stabilize the signal by adding capacitors, but i honestly didn't think it was a big deal. this isn't the biggest deal in the world, it's a gauge.
- Soldering iron
- Multimeter (handy but not necessary i guess)
- Third hand tool
- Dikes to cut the wire
- Wire strippers
- Electrical tape
- Black wire*
- Red wire*
- Another color of wire*
- Project box (optional)
*Solid core wire would be best in my opinion for this project since it is not designed to be moved around a lot. Additionally, pick a wire gauge that will fit through the holes in the PCB.*
Setting up the voltage regulator on the PCB
If you're not good at soldering tiny wires, pick a PCB with larger spaces between each hole or spread the pins, being careful not to break them so you have a hole in between each pin. That should be plenty of room to solder comfortably.
- Place the voltage regulator on the PCB, bend it so it lays flat against the PCB and solder all three pins.
- Place the red wire in the hole in front of the power input pin (far left) and solder it.
- Place the black wire in the common ground pin (center) and solder it.
- Place the 3rd color wire in the voltage output pin (far right) and solder it.
- Connect the power and ground pins
- Test the output power pin with a multimeter to confirm ~9v.
- Hook up output power to your gauges.
- Have a beer.
That's it. Easy right?
Finishing touches / final thoughts
- Placing this into a project box would be a good idea to keep wires from being broken/bent
- If you cut down a PCB to a smaller size, sanding the edges will make it look nicer
- Score both sides of the PCB with an exacto and you will be able to snap it like a cracker
Checked the battery for static test
Third hand tool is nice for soldering PCBs with tiny holes.
This is an idea of how small the VR is compared to the old school one.
Didn't want to fry my gauges so I checked the output before hooking anything up
Testing my gauge... SUCCESS!!!!
So tiny I'm so glad I can now finish putting together my gauge cluster.