The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Opening the Instrument Panel/Changing the Speedo Overlay on a Fiat Ducato

Any new vehicle being registered in the UK has to (amongst other requirements) have a speedometer which is capable of displaying the speed in both MPH and KM/H. Vehicles supplied in Europe usually only give speed in KM/H. Therefore, if importing a European vehicle into the UK will likely be necessary to change the overlay on the speedo dial.

The main supplier of the overlays is Lockwoods International and I understand that if you buy a new overlay from them then they provide fitting instructions. However, I wanted to know how easy or difficult the job before buying the overlay (and, indeed, before we committed to going down the import route) and I whilst I found lots of ‘I changed the speedo overlay and it was quick and easy’ reports, I couldn’t find any details as to how to go about opening up the instrument panel.

As it happens, our dealer in Belgium offered to obtain the new overlay from Lockwoods and fit it for us, so my concern about how easy it would be to make the modification went away. Sure enough, upon delivery, in daylight, all looked good. It wasn’t until we were driving in the dark that we found that we had a problem – the speedo was not lighting up correctly. It didn’t take me long to realise that the problem was that the dealer had put the UK overlay on top of the original and thus the only places where light was getting through were where bits of the numbers happened to overlap. It clearly didn’t meet UK requirements like that.

With just a few hours to go until the vehicle inspection which was going to certify (amongst other things) that the speedo was UK-legal, I was faced with the need to redoing the job myself, without the benefit of any instructions. I’m sure I’m not the first person to have wanted to see in advance what the process is, so I’ve set out below details of what I did.

Changing speedo overlay on a Fiat Ducato

(This was on a 2016 Hymer based on a Fiat Ducato; all vehicles based on a Ducato should be the same and I doubt there is much, if any, difference from the previous Ducato model)

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

Look at the instrument panel head-on. The black plastic panel, which sits over the top of the instrument panel (Figure 1), is held on at the front by two Torx (i.e. star-shaped) screws (T25 size), one on the upper left of the instrument panel and one on the upper right (Figure 2). Start by unscrewing both of these (being careful not to fumble and drop either of them, or their washers, down behind the steering wheel!).

The black plastic panel that you have just unscrewed is now only held on by two plastic gripping lugs at the back. To unseat these, grip the very back (the side closest to the windscreen) of the plastic panel and pull it gently upwards. Once these lugs are unseated, you can pull the panel forwards and off.

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Figure 3

You now have access to two more T25 Torx screws that hold the instrument panel in place (see Figure 3). Undo both of these (being careful not to fumble them and drop them down inside the dashboard!).

The whole of the instrument panel unit will now lift out.

The Perspex front of the unit doesn’t come off separately. You need to remove the whole of the front casing of the unit. This is done via six plastic clips located around the outside of the instrument panel unit (sorry, didn’t take a photo of this bit). There are two on the top, two on the bottom and one on each side. Release each of these clips, one by one, and lift off the front casing.

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Figure 4

There’s now just a black plastic frame denying you access to the speedo overlay (see Figure 4). This simply pulls off. There are locating lugs which don’t provide any resistance in removing the plastic.

In the middle of the speedo, where the speedo needle connects to the unit, there is a round black plastic cap. Pull it gently and it will come off (you can see it in place in Figure 4 and missing in Figure 5).

I didn’t investigate whether the needle itself comes off, because with the black plastic cap off, it’s now possible to snip through the small piece of plastic which connects the existing speedo overlay to the rest of the instrument panel overlay (see Figure 5 below), and to slide that overlay off over the length of the speedo needle.

Reversing the process, you can then slide the new overlay on, over the length of the needle.

All that then needs to be done is to reverse the whole of the process above to put everything back together:

1 Press the round black plastic cap back over the speedo needle, in the middle of the speedo (there’s only one way it will fit).

2 Put the thin black plastic surround, which frames each of the instruments on the panel, back into place and gently press all around the edges so that it is fully relocated.

3 Put the front casing of the instrument panel back into place and press all around the edges to make sure all six of the clips have clicked back into place.

4 On the bottom of the instrument panel there are two round rubber locating lugs (see Figure 5, below). Replace the panel, locate those lugs into the corresponding holes on the dashboard.

5 The screw holes on the top of the unit should now be lined up with the corresponding holes on the dashboard. Replace the screws which hold the instrument panel onto the dashboard (being careful not to fumble and drop…).

6 The only part you should now have left to relocate is the black plastic dashboard panel. There are two gripping lugs at the back of this panel and two corresponding holes on the dashboard. Put the front of the panel in place, then press down on the back so that you feel/hear the lugs click into place. The holes at the front, where the screws go, should now be lined up with the holes behind. Replace these screws (cursing the steering wheel for being in the way, and being careful not to fumble and drop them…).

7 Sit back and admire your handy work, whilst thinking, ‘Gosh, that was easy’!

I didn’t time how long it took, but even going in and out of the house for various items and working it out as I went along, it can’t have taken more than 20 minutes.

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Figure 5.

Key to parts shown in Figure 5:

· A = black plastic dashboard panel, which comes off first.

· B = front casing of the Instrument Panel, which comes off next.

· C = instrument surround, which comes off third.

· D = inside of the instrument panel.

You can see in this photo that the round plastic cap has been taken off the middle of the speedo needle.

(Incidentally, I didn’t fumble or drop any of the screws, but I know from past experience that if there’s the smallest hole where they can fall and be lost forever, then if you drop them, that’s where they will go.)

2 comments:

  1. Well done Gayle. Excellent post. Hope Mick brewed up a lot.

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    Replies
    1. It was so quick that there wasn't time for brewing up!

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