White Face Gauge Install
By Bryant Woo
During the southern California SE-R meet, Mike Kojima and Searl Tate helped me install black on white gauges in my 200SX SE-R. (Thanks again guys.) Since there's been some talk of late regarding the black on white gauges, I thought I would post some install instructions for the 200SX SE-R.
Don't buy the STILLEN version (unless you don't mind advertising). They are exactly the same ones that NR sells, but on the tach there's the STILLEN emblem printed on it. I found it irritating, and covered it with black electrical tape. The ones that NR sells does not have the emblem. A plus note on the STILLEN version is that Adam will sell it to you for less than the NR version.
If done correctly, there aren't any. My speedo, fuel, and temp needles are right on the money. The tach needle displays 300 rpm too high at 7500 (ie. shows 7500 when its actually 7200), but I think that (might) do that anyways to help avoid hitting the redline.
If done incorrectly, things can get expensive. See step #4.
1) (Skip if you have the CONSULT) Drive the car in first gear, and write down the vehicle speeds at 1K, 2K, 3K, 4K, and 5K rpm's. You'll need this to set your speedometer later. Fill your fuel tank all the way to the top, and note the needle's position. Also note the temp needle's position when your car is completely warmed up.
2) Disconnect the battery. Lower steering wheel. Remove the two screws on the frame that surrounds the "glass" in front of the gauges. Remove the frame (it's held by several clips along the bottom edge). Just carefully pull on the frame.
3) You should now see 4 screws that hold the instrument cluster in place. Remove the screws, lift out the instrument cluster partway. Reach behind the cluster, and remove the four electrical connectors. Remove the cluster. Pop off the "glass" on the cluster.
4) Here's the tough one. . . needle removal. Be sure to thoroughly read this step before proceeding.
The tachometer, fuel, and temp needles are relatively easy to remove. Those needles are mounted on thin metal shafts, which are inserted into black rubber bases. When you remove these 3 needles, it's O.K. to pull out the shafts so long as you don't pull out the rubber bases. If you can remove the needle, without removing the shafts, that's even better.
The speedo needle is the tough one. The metal shaft of the needle is connected to a coil spring. If you pull out the shaft when you're removing the needle, then your speedo is broken. That's $100 to replace the speedo, which will come with a black face (unless you get the 1998 one), and the odometer will read zero. If you've done any service on your vehicle at the dealership, or have called 1-800-nissan1, they keep track of your mileage.
Keep in mind that the 1998 speedo has a different lettering style than the ones that NR sells, so even if you did the swap, it wouldn't look quite right. The 1998 black on white gauges also don't have a pure white finish like the NR's do, so it still wouldn't look quite right. (I know this is nitpicky, but you are doing the gauges for looks right?)
TIPS ON NEEDLE REMOVAL (again, only Searl seems to have the magic touch):
5) If you've gotten this far, "YOU DA MAN!!!" Remove the screws holding the faces. Take off the faces, and remove the needle stops. Install the needle stops on the new faces, and install the new faces. Do not install the needles yet.
NOTES for Steps #6 and #7: When you install the needle, just push it in enough that the needle responds to the shaft, but not so far that you can't remove it if you didn't insert the needle in the right place.
6) Plug the 4 connectors back into the instrument cluster. Start the car and let it warm up. Insert the temp needle back in the same position. Insert the fuel needle where it's supposed to be. (You did remember step #1 right?) Connect your tachometer or CONSULT. Read your engine speed off the tach or CONSULT, and hold the engine speed at either at 3K or 4K. Insert the tach needle in the appropriate position.
7) Now drive the car in 1st gear. Install the speedo needle in the appropriate position based on your engine speed. For those of you with a CONSULT, just install the speedo needle in the appropriate position based on the speed the CONSULT says you're going. By the way, it's good to have a friend in the car with you while you're doing Step #7 to help keep an eye on the road for you.
8) Reinstall the "glass", the 4 screws, the frame, the 2 screws, and YOU'RE DONE! Enjoy!
1) Paint the screws holding the faces and the needle stops white. (Looks much nicer) Be careful though, because the needle can actually stick to the needle stop. If so, just scrape off the paint on the needle stop where the needle is actually touching it. (Nobody will notice if you don't scrape off too much)
2) A white needle on a white background has very little contrast, except at night when the white background darkens. (If you have a 1998 one, the needles are already red. If you actually have a 1998 one, then the only thing I might consider changing is the fuel and temp, but I don't know if NR sells these separately.) I took a very fine grit of sandpaper, and sanded off the white reflective paint on the back of the needle. I painted a very thin coat of Tamiya Clear Red model paint on the back of the needle. Use as thin of a coat as you can, and paint it as evenly as possible. The weight of the paint on the needle can actually throw off the gauge. Trust me. . . the red needles look great and show up pretty good at night. Just don't paint too much.
Enjoy the mod!