My 98 TJ was having problems with the gauges,mainly the tach and speedo, intermittently shutting off whiledriving. One solid whack on top of the dash would temporarily fixit. According to all you cool people out there in Usenet land itwas a loose wiring problem in one of the harnesses in the dash.
I didn't want to take my TJ to the dealer unless it wasabsolutely necessary. Dealers are a pain to deal with. They actlike they don't have time for you and then take forever to doanything. So I decided that I'd take a look at it first, thentake it to the dealer if the problem warranted it.
Here's the scoop on the gauge problem I was having on my '98 TJ
Problem: While driving, the speedo and tach would go deadand the airbag light would come on. The shift light would alsostop working.
Temporary Solution: One good solid whack on top of theinstrument panel would temporarily fix the problem.
Permanent Solution: This ismuch easier than I ever imagined. I fixed the problem myself inabout 45 minutes. I could have done it in 10 minutes, if I hadalready known how to take the dash apart.
Here's how it works. The instrument cluster is a modulethat plugs into the dash/frame. When removed, the instrumentcluster pulls right out, there is no wiring hanging off the backor anything. There are connectors built into the back of theinstrument cluster, the other half of the connectors are builtonto the frame that the instrument cluster plugs into. This isthe connection that was causing the problem. Once the instrumentcluster is removed, you can see the small silver blade typeconnectors protruding from the rear of the instrument cluster in2 different groups, one on the left and one on the right. All youhave to do to fix the connection problem is this. Take a smallpair of needle-nose pliers, grab the end of each one of thesilver blade type connectors and give it a 10-15 degree twist inone direction. This will bend the connector enough to make asolid connection once the unit is put back together. Be carefulnot to twist it too much so it doesn't break and/or not go back
together. Do this to all of the connectors, there are about 20 orso. It works great, I haven't had a problem with it since.Oh, ok,so you wanna know how to get the dash apart.
1. Locate the long thin grill cover on top of the dash thatcovers the windshield defroster. It runs almost the entire lengthof the dash.
2. Work your fingers behind it between the windshield and thecover itself and gently but firmly pull up and toward you. Itwill pop right out. No screws.
3. Locate the cover that covers the lower half of the steeringwheel column down by your knees and remove it. 2 screws.
4. Next you will see a steel cover plate behind the cover youjust removed. It has 4 screws. I took it off anyway but it maynot be necessary.
5. With these covers removed you will be able to Identify 5screws that hold the black Instrument panel cover in place.
There are 3 across the top next to the windshield and 2 on thelower side. Remove them and the black cover.
6. You will then be able to see 4 screws that hold the instrumentcluster in place. Remove them.
7. The instrument cluster lifts right out.
You can perform this entire procedure, repair the connection, andreassemble your cool jeep in about 15 minutes. All that's neededis a Phillips screwdriver.
Hope this helps, it certainly saved me one of those gruelingtrips to the dealer.