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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi Toyota Nation,

This is my first ever post so I'm extremely new around here and I just recently got my first car so I'd appreciate extra-clear explanations. Just by looking around I know this is a great forum and I will definitely be sticking around!

Anyways, I have a couple of questions.

1. I have a 4th Gen (1999) Camry CE and I was looking on the forums because I was interested in doing a DIY instrument panel gauge light LED replacement. All of the threads that I've found are pretty helpful and straight forward. I know exactly what to do but for some reason I'm getting stuck on a simple step of removing the instrument panel trim that sits around/in front of the actual instrument panel (pictures below).

I'm following this DIY: http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/107-camry-solara-lounge/88355-diy-needle-color-change-56k-beware.html

I know this might be quite sad but I'm getting stuck on Step 2 of the DIY. I have already unscrewed the screws holding the trim (Step 1). My trim piece is identical to the trim piece in the DIY link as far as I can see. I'm able to wedge the bottom edge out a bit but it seems that the top is hard to pull out while the 2 extra side wings (with what seems like a vent and the outer edge of the clock) won't budge. Are there any clips that I'm not seeing behind the trim? Where should I grip the trim to pull?

2. Once I eventually get the instrument panel out and detach the wires, I plan on switching out the standard bulbs with LEDs. I know the main bulbs for the big gauges are 194 bulbs, but I wanted to double check which bulbs the smaller lights for the alerts (check engine, oil, door open, turn signals, etc.) needed. I'm pretty sure they are 74 bulbs?

3. As for switching out the regular bulbs for LEDs, is there a physical limit to how big the LEDs can be? I see some 5-SMD LEDs, 12-SMD LEDs, 20-SMD LEDs, etc. Will any of them fit as long as they are 194 or 74? If not, which type would be best in this case?

4. LED Quality. I see that many websites sell the LEDs that I am looking for but many of them seem pretty expensive ($5-10 per bulb). I'm really interested in spending a fortune to make a small mod. I understand my budget is pretty low ($20 or less), that's why I've searched on eBay and have found sets of 10 LEDs for around $10. My question is if the eBay wholesale LEDs are that much worse than online retail LEDs or will they still do the job.

I know this is a long post. Thanks in advance for everyone's input. Like I said, I'm new around here so a little bit of extra explanation and help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
 

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Speedkar99 on YouTube
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fhofmann29 said:
I'm able to wedge the bottom edge out a bit but it seems that the top is hard to pull out while the 2 extra side wings (with what seems like a vent and the outer edge of the clock) won't budge. Are there any clips that I'm not seeing behind the trim? Where should I grip the trim to pull?
That trim piece takes will take some wriggling to get off.

There is a clip right near the clock visible in the second picture.



As for the LEDs, eBay stuff is fine. I haven't had any issues with their SMD LEDs. When buy in bulk you save a lot.

Your looking for 194 SMD LEDs for the gauge back lighting with 5050 SMD LEDs. The 3528 SMD's are not as bright. I had bulbs with 5 SMD leds on it, I don't think the 9 SMD LED bulbs will fit because of the clear plastic diffuser.

Remember that there will still be a green tinge to the cluster that you can't remove even if you put in white LEDs.

Here's how I did it on my Solara, the procedure is the same as the Camry:

The indicator/ warning bulbs are type 74. Get one with a single 5050 SMD LED facing upward (anything bigger will be a waste). With white LEDs, red indicators show up pinkish.

Alternatively, you can go all out and and put in an electroluminescent ES300 cluster.

DIY here:

http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...exus-es300-instrument-cluster-conversion.html

 

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+1 on the trim and clips.

But I've had horrible luck with eBay LED's. I bought enough to do mine + a few... now mind you at the price, you can afford to have some fail, but who likes taking you're cluster out once a week? I had 4 or 5 bulbs fail before I bought from superbrightleds. Also note, when they fail they don't just get dim or quit like a normal bulb.... Nah, they'll flicker for days/weeks worth of driving before they fail 100%. That is annoying.

And no, not all will fit. I have the 5 led ones like this



And they work well, before that I had the eBay 7 led like this



And yeah, they were brighter, but since all the LED's are aimed forward, it made "hot spots", the 5 LED ones are aimed all directions, so no hot-spots.

I haven't had even one from superbright go bad.
 

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Speedkar99 on YouTube
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And no, not all will fit. I have the 5 led ones like this



And they work well, before that I had the eBay 7 led like this

Have you tried SMD LEDs? The little surface mounted LEDs with 3 small LEDs in them.



The oldschool type with individual "bulb" LEDs are much more prone to failure. I've had them, and they flicker after a few months.
 

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It's not the individual bulbs that fail... well, it is. But it's in how they were designed. For example, the eBay LED's I got were built with resistors in such a way that they were only good for 12 volts. Now, you can over run a LED to a certain extent, and it'll be brighter. The downside is, it burns up quicker. With the eBay ones I got, 12 volt. Now we all know that car's run more than 12 volt.

Likewise, the ones I got from superbright were built (I took one apart and checked the resistor color bands) to take around 15 and be safe.

This is, in my opinion why some bulbs last and others don't

As far as I know, the only real difference between SMD's and normal is brightness and light output angle. They still have to be built right with the right setup (series, parallel, the right resistors, ect).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That trim piece takes will take some wriggling to get off.

There is a clip right near the clock visible in the second picture.

Remember that there will still be a green tinge to the cluster that you can't remove even if you put in white LEDs.
Thanks so much for everyone's reply. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for pointing out the other clip, for some reason I never saw it. I'll try to take the trim piece out once I have time.

As for the green tinge that can be seen with white LEDs, is there a picture in which I can see the final result? Also if I use a different color LED will the green tinge show?

You mentioned the indicator lights will look pink if white LEDs are put in. Will the hint of pink still show if other colors are used?

Thanks again!
 

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Speedkar99 on YouTube
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As for the green tinge that can be seen with white LEDs, is there a picture in which I can see the final result? Also if I use a different color LED will the green tinge show?
Here's a pic of mine, it shows up greener in the photo than it actually is:



Also if you scroll over to 2:29 in my video, you can see the lights turning on.


If you put in colored LEDs, it will mix with the green and produce a slightly different colored light than the bulb. So blue lights might give it an aqua color. But then your red needles won't show up.

You mentioned the indicator lights will look pink if white LEDs are put in. Will the hint of pink still show if other colors are used?
White light + red housing = pinkish light.
Red light + red housing = red light.

I've used all white LEDs behind the warning lights, and they look fine. They aren't on for long so its not noticeable anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If you put in colored LEDs, it will mix with the green and produce a slightly different colored light than the bulb. So blue lights might give it an aqua color. But then your red needles won't show up.
Now that I think about it I think an aqua color would look pretty nice. Might go for a blue just to be on the safe side since I wouldn't mind a blue or an aqua color.

But you mentioned that the red needles wouldn't show if another color was used? Why is that?

So to double check: 194 5-SMD 5050 LEDs on the big gauges, and 74 single SMD 5050 LEDs for the indicator lights (does this include the turn signal lights?).

I know there are 4 194 bulbs, but do you know how many 74 bulbs are needed?

Also is there a possible difference in quality between the various LED colors? I doubt that there would be but I want to be sure.

Thanks so much for your help.
 

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Speedkar99 on YouTube
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But you mentioned that the red needles wouldn't show if another color was used? Why is that?
The needles are painted red and will reflect the red portion of the spectrum of the back light. If you use a blue back-light, there is no red in that spectrum, thus it won't show up.

If you search on here there were some posts where people used nail polish to remove the red paint from the needles and paint them something else. I've done it when I had my Gen 5 Camry, and I can say, it won't look as good or bright as the stock needles.
I know there are 4 194 bulbs, but do you know how many 74 bulbs are needed?
See below for a pic of a Solara's cluster. I thought it was the same as the Camry's... but I have five 194 bulbs for the back lighting. I'd order more 194 bulbs anyway, there are many more places on the car you can use them, like the license plate lights.



Looks like there's about 25 type 74 bulbs on the back. You don't have to replace all of them with LED, since they won't all be on for very long for you to admire anyways. I'd say get a 10 pack, do the PRND2L, turn signals, door light, cruise and maybe seat-belt light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The needles are painted red and will reflect the red portion of the spectrum of the back light. If you use a blue back-light, there is no red in that spectrum, thus it won't show up.
I just noticed that the needles on my gauges aren't painted red, instead they are the same color as the rest of the gauge.

As for buying the LEDs, I don't need to buy the base of the twist and lock method as well right? Just the LED bulb and then replace the stock bulb with the LED using the original twist and lock base?
 

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Does anyone have a picture of the back of the cluster? How are the clear plastic light guides setup?
Would a side facing SMD LED 194 bulb works better/reduce hot spots?

Example:

These would result with 4 SMDs firing upward and 4 SMDs firing downward
 

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I have some of those bulbs. I am not sure if they would be any better. I am not sure they would even point the same way.

Another idea is to place led strips behind the gauges and wire them directly into the 194 sockets. You can get strips in more colors than the 194 bulbs.

By the way, all gen 4 Camry sedans and gen 1 solaras have 5 194s.
 

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Yeah, I took my cluster apart (to only discover the photos i'm looking for afterward) and the reflector and light guides seems to be really designed for an incadescent bulb.

At least I found out that I had 2 indicators burnt out and one main gauge one lol

LED replacement ordered... (5x warm white and 5 white 194 5xSMD to experiment + 10x 74 SMD 5050 of the corresponding colors of the indicators except the warning/yellow colored ones)
 

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Let us know via pics how it ends up. If you really want them bright, I have bulbs that will do that. You just have to cut part of the plastic channel.
 

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ive been wanting to change out the lights but with all the warnings about messing up needles and such i havent dabbled with it yet. post those picts!
 

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Looks like it's the low fuel indicator light.

Toyota part# 83119-32010

The dealer did not know what bulb size it is. Anyone have any idea?
 
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