Stepper motors, gauge overlays and needle kits?

Discussion in 'Chevy Truck Accessories' started by SurrealOne, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I'm in need of a stepper motor, gauge overlay, and needle kit for my truck, as I'm going to try to add a transmission temp gauge to my existing gauge cluster. (@moogvo has indicated this is fairly simple, so why not give it a shot?) I am curious if anyone here has replaced stepper motors, the gauge overlay, and/or needles and has recommendations on where to buy/what to use. Tips/tricks are also appreciated...
  2. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Was an on dash transmission gauge ever an option?
    I know some of the later models have it through the DIC.
  3. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    See @99'HEARTBEAT's comments in this thread:

    Apparently our trucks are pre-wired for it.

    So, one option is to replace the cluster, outright ... which I'm trying to avoid as that has title impacts (plus I don't feel like paying a stealership). The other option, per discussion with @moogvo during our recent NC mini-meet, is to solder into place a stepper motor, change the gauge overlay, and add a needle. That's much more appealing to me as I'm decent enough with a soldering iron and tasks that require patience... plus I can customize the dash a little bit and learn something in the process.
  4. pmf608

    pmf608 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I've looked into just installing the stepper motor for the gauge because I'd like the trans temp gauge and don't want to have to replace my whole cluster. It has been done, but the people I found who isntalled the stepper motor still had to go to the dealer because the instrument cluster itself wasn't programmed for that gauge to be active and it wouldn't work until the instrument cluster was reprogrammed.
  5. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    There is a place near my home that will replace all the stepper motors and bulbs in the cluster for $210. I too have a bad stepper motor and may have them just do the entire thing. You could probably call them and ask them about adding a trans temp gauge. They seem to be very knowledgeable. The name is Specmo (248)307-2570 or (800)545-7910.
  6. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I've read there's about a 50/50 shot as to whether it will or won't work based on this very issue. There is, however, still benefit to doing it this way as the vehicle retains its factory cluster and, therefore, there's no title statement that has to be made with regard to mileage if the vehicle ownership is ever transferred for any reason.

    Thanks for the tip. I can solder, so adding or replacing a stepper motor is a cakewalk, as it's a measley 4 posts. You could likely do it, as well, even with no experience ... just practice your heat control with something you don't care about before trying. There are a number of youtube videos out there that show how simple it is to change a stepper motor -- they may help save you 175+ dollars, as you can buy a 6 or 7-pack of stepper motors on fleabay for 18-30 dollars.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  7. pmf608

    pmf608 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Definitely keep this thread up-to-date on how it goes. If it works for you without programming, I'll give it a shot too. I need a bit of hope first though, considering km/h gauge faces are a bit more difficult/expensive to get.

    Other than that, there are a bunch of different ways to install needles that people have used... I'm not sure which is best. For what parts to get though, If you're looking to go a bit custom while you're at it, I've heard US Speedo has some pretty good stuff. A lot of conversion companies use their products for gauges on their truck packages.
  8. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I'm actually looking to keep it very stock (if I customize it might be by replacing LEDs). I'm currently endeavoring to find a donor cluster from a 2500HD on the cheap. That's not proving to be easy; for the cost of what people are asking I could get a fully rebuilt one with all new stepper motors. :(
  9. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Ok, I'm committed. The parts breakdown was as follows:

    $25.00 - 7pk of MCR stepper motors (I avoided the swiftecs as they have known issues)
    $40.00 - 7pk of white gauge needles
    $80.00 - New OEM 2500HD Instrument Cluster Overlay (Gasser, MPH)
    $55.00 - New OEM 2500HD Instrument cluster Lens
    $200.00 - Total (including tax and S&H)

    I could have saved $25.00 by spending $15.00 on the standard orange OEM needle kit, but I wanted white needles as I may later choose to change the lights ... and white needles will carry whatever colour I elect to use.

    By comparison, I used a locator service to find salvage 2500HD instrument clusters and the cheapest was $179.00 + tax + S&H. Note that if I swapped it in I'd have to take it to the dealership and have them program the mileage ... and pay whatever fee they wanted. OR I'd have to send it to a shadetree programmer (via fleabay) and pay a fee there. (And in either case I'd also have to make a statement about the odometer being adjusted if I ever transferred the title.)

    Also note that I could have purchased a rebuilt cluster with programming (a la a shadetree programmer via ebay) for $240-$300 (depending on what I chose) ... conditional to coring my old cluster.

    So -- IF this works out, I'll save a minimum of the stealership programming fees or a minimum of $40.00 if I'd bought a rebuilt unit that'd be programmed by a shadetree programmer ... and I will have white needles as I wanted. If it doesn't work then I may have to take it to a stealership to have the cluster programmed/enabled for the tranny gauge (presuming they can/will) ... which will eat up my savings but still leave me with the white needles I wanted ... and also leave me with a cluster that I don't have to make any special title declarations on. (This is in addition to a few spare stepper motors.)

    I've already perused this guide (which is very thorough) in preparation for the work when the parts come in:

    Keep your fingers crossed, @pmf608!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012

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