cars: replacing the dash lights in a Honda Odyssey

I have a 2000 Honda Odyssey, and although it has been a wonderful vehicle, it is at the age where the dash lights are starting to burn out. So my clock backlight has failed, along with the lighting of several buttons on the dash. When I went to get parts at the dealer to replace the clock backlight, it turns out that the person in front of me in line at the parts department was there for exactly the same reason for the same model. It’s relatively easy to do, if you know where to start. That’s what I’ll explain here. I started taking the dash apart to access the clock backlight, but you’ll get to the other lights along the way (except the instrument cluster).

First, the bad news. The clock doesn’t pop out forward from the dash. It pops out backwards behind the dash. So don’t try to pop out the clock from the front of the dash, you’ll just end up damaging the dash. This means to access the clock you need to take out 3 large pieces of the dash. The good news is that most everything just pops out. What doesn’t pop out is held in only with standard screws. Once you understand how it works, you’ll say “ah, that wasn’t so bad.”

wedge

The first two major parts of the dash just pop off. It’s not difficult, but it’s not obvious what to do. I started prying next to the steering column and gently worked my way across. I started at similar points on both sides. Then you can slip your fingers behind and gently work it until it pops completely loose. For the prying I used a plastic/vinyl flat tool that happened to come from my kitchen. I would recommend against a hard tool like a screwdriver because you’ll leave marks. The plastic kitchen tool I used left no marks.

right_cables

Once you’ve popped it loose, don’t try pulling on the fascia to get it completely away from the dash. Each piece of fascia has switches with wiring that goes behind the dash – those wires are still connected. The wiring for each of these switches can be disconnected from the switch, and once that is done then you can move the fascia all the way away from the dash. Each wiring connector has a tab that locks it onto the switch, so don’t try disconnecting the wiring by force. Instead you’ll need to find the tab for each connector, depress the tab (they do take a bit of effort), and then the connector should slide off with an unforced pull or a little bit of wiggling. DO NOT pull by the wires; instead you should be pulling by the block connector while depressing the tab. Some wires have more slack than others, so you may find that a certain order of disconnecting/reconnecting is needed.

For the right fascia around the stereo, the shortest wires are for the interior light switch and the fog lights (if installed) – do those two first. Then you’ll have more slack for disconnecting the three wire groups for the climate controls. My van does not have the satellite navigation.

Here is a picture that shows the back of the right fascia, so you can see where the wires connect to.

facia

For the left fascia around the sliding door buttons, the wires were about equal length so just do them in the order that you can reach.

Now the bottom half of the dash on both sides is removed.

left_screws

right_screws

Next comes the top half of the dash. This is all one piece. It is held in by screws along the bottom, and tabs across the top. Get a phillips screwdriver and remove the screws (don’t lose them). Then gently work the top half of the dash out. It is not connected to the instrument cluster (speedometer, etc.), just the border.

clock_cables

Again, be careful of the wires for the clock and hazard blinkers – you must disconnect the wires using the tabs before pulling the fascia all the way away from the dash. Once you’ve gotten this far then you have completed disassembly.

clock_rear

Now that you can access the rear of the clock, the bulb comes out with a quarter turn of a screwdriver. It looks to be the size of an LED, but I think it is a regular but very small bulb. You can also verify it is burned out by using a multimeter to test for continuity. Put the new bulb in (should cost about $3 at the dealer). While you are there, check the rest of the bulbs in the switches and the climate controls. I think there are two different kinds of bulbs: the common one is for backlighting, and the other is for “on” indicators such as the cruise control and fog lights.

For the top half of the dash, position it in the correct place, reconnect the wires, pop it in, and replace the screws. Do the same thing for the left and right fascia, except that there aren’t any screws. Just remember to reconnect all the wires, or some things will stop functioning.

You’re all done! See, that wasn’t so bad. Don’t you feel proud that you didn’t pay the dealer $90 in labor?

20 thoughts on “cars: replacing the dash lights in a Honda Odyssey

  1. Hey, you’ve probably forgotten you posted this. Just wanted to say thankyou — I was looking for how to pop the dash open on my 99 Odyssey and this helped out immensely 🙂

    JBP

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  2. My pleasure. I was apprehensive about doing it until I did it once. Since then I’ve done it a couple more times for more bulbs and a new stereo. I say “everything is intuitively obvious once you get it figured out.”

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  3. Thanks for your information. I have ’03 Odyssey having same problem. Among your instruction, I tried to disconnect the hazard light connector, so I press the tab on the harness, but the wires didn’t come out. I struggled for over half an hour, but it was stuck. Do you have an idea where exactly I have to press the tabs? I would appreciate your advice greatly.

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  4. Don’t assume the dealers has the bulbs you need are in stock. Make a detailed drawing of what doesn’t work, then call/see your dealer. Using your owners manual as a reference, check each idiot light to make sure it works. They will ask! Should be fine, but why take the chance! Check your sliding door, A/C controls and interior light switch bulbs also. If not, there is a good chance you’ll be pulling the dash out a second time or leaving your van sit for days waiting on the right bulbs to come in. Its your choice! Above all, be patient with the parts department. This is not a one bulb fit-all solution. 2002 Odyssey 166k miles

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  5. A second source for the bulb for the clock is Radio Shack of all places. They get $2 for a 2 pack. Part number 272-1092. All you have to do is remove the old bulb from the old blue mount/socket and insert the new bulb. Many are reporting on the forums that some dealers are charging $8-10 for one bulb.

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  6. Randy, true indeed. I recently made another pass at more bulbs in the dash, specifically in the climate control section. There were 2 different kinds of bulbs, one kind was in stock, the other wasn’t. Lucky for me the climate controls are the first section to come out of the dash, so it was easy to temporarily put it back together while waiting for the backorder to arrive.

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  7. handyman john, yes, the 3 bulbs I just got from the dealer were about $8 each. I feel gouged, but not as much as replacing a transmission.

    Do be aware that there are multiple types of bulbs. The climate control section has at least 2 different kinds (white base vs black base), I don’t remember if those are different that the others (clock, rocker switches, etc).

    When I went to the dealer to get replacement parts, the parts diagram on their computer was pretty useless. So telling the parts guy where they came from didn’t help much. Bringing in the faulty bulbs is the best way to find the matching replacement parts.

    Another tip I discovered: use a multimeter to test for continuity of the bulb before replacing it. One of the bulbs I was working on just needed to be reseated in the socket. If the bulb doesn’t have continuity, then it does need to be replaced.

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    1. I believe it was around $3500 for everything. We used a general shop we trust a lot, they do good work, but their labor rates are pretty high and they use good quality parts. I believe the shop got a rebuilt transmission from the dealer.

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  8. Thanks for reminding me. Yes, I do still have the pictures, the web site mangled a file that prevented the pictures from appearing, I just fixed it.

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  9. There are several bulbs out on my 2002 Odessey. Now that the speedometer light is out and not safe to drive at night since I can’t tell how fast I’m going (tip: use a Garmin or TomTom til it gets fixed-they both tell your speed), the bulbs must be replaced!!
    My dealer was going to charge $520 to take the dash off ($140 to remove dash) and replace all the bulbs. (He said the bulbs are $22 each and suggested replacing all of them – I will if I can find them for $2.00 for two at Radio Shack and disassemble that dash as you’ve posted!)
    Thanks again for a great, detailed post.

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  10. My 99 honda odyssey has the main lights on the panel off speedometer,gas,oil,etc.we check the fuses all are ok ,we change the lights also but its still the same ,i know is not safe drive at nite like this but what i can do I’m spending my money in parts that probably are not the problem, please help

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  11. Does anyone have the hook up or a link to a master list of all the size bulbs I would need for the dash lights on a 1999-2004 Honda Odyssey?? Not for the outside or map lights, but for the just for the dash lights, clock, all the small cluster lights etc. I know there is the main dash cluster, clock, ac control, fan blower switch, rear ac/heat switch, rear doors, CC, etc… Are they all different sizes?? How many bulbs total?

    lowdown187@hotmail.com

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  12. Oh, and in my experience without the speedo cluster, there were at least 2 different kinds of bulbs in the center console section of the dash, out of the 7 or so that I replaced.

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  13. Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I have had my buddy that works at the Honda dealership and his co-worker try to find out, it will show the dash and the bulbs, but not the bulb type/size.. It just says on all the bulbs.. 14V 100ma. which is what volts they use etc. I might just have to take them all out one by one and make notes where they go.

    🙂

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  14. My 2004 Odyssey EX with rear entertainment system has 190K miles on it and the instrument panel and switch bulbs began burning out at about 160K. I finally had the time and replaced them this weekend. Marcelk’s post was a great help. Thank you for posting it.

    I wanted to offer a little more information to help others who may be going through this.

    1) Be prepared to order the bulbs you need. My dealer only stocked the bulb for the automatic climate control cluster and the clock.
    2) Be careful when removing the panels. The metal clips that hold the panels in can pop off and can fly behind the dash, making them impossible to find. Two of them popped off for me and one was irretrievable. So be prepared to order a couple clips, because the clips don’t seem to be stocked either.
    3) Be careful removing the center trim piece. Most of it is wide and fairly durable. But the corners near the radio get thin and can break. It didn’t happen to me. But I could see them stressing as I pryed the trim piece out.
    4) There are quite a few different bulbs in the dash. Here are 2 links to pages where you can find all the bulbs for the instrument panel and switches for my model “2004 Odyssey EX, Rear Entertainment System, Automatice Climate Control”. If you search the Real Honda Parts site you can find whatever model you need.

    I hope this post is helpful for someone.

    http://www.realhondaparts.com/rwhonda/jsp/prddisplay.jsp?inputstate=5&catcgry1=ODYSSEY&catcgry2=2004&catcgry3=5DR+EX+(RES)&catcgry4=KA5AT&catcgry5=SWITCH&ListAll=All&vinsrch=no&systemcomp=&vinnoT=&trim=&trans=&view=normal

    http://www.realhondaparts.com/rwhonda/jsp/prddisplay.jsp?inputstate=5&catcgry1=ODYSSEY&catcgry2=2004&catcgry3=5DR+EX+(RES)&catcgry4=KA5AT&catcgry5=HEATER+CONTROL+(AUTO)&ListAll=All&vinsrch=no&systemcomp=&vinnoT=&trim=&trans=&view=normal

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  15. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the
    same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thank you!

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  16. Hi. I have a 2003 ody. All of sudden all my my dash lights went out. Ok I thought just a fuse. Not so. I changed out the fuse and nothing changed. Reverse lights still work. Kinda drawing a blank. I don’t think all the bulbs went at once.

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