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1985 Cutlass Salon dash gauges not working


Guest MidTNDawg
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Suggestions for trouble shooting?

Given that you've provided insufficient information for us to help, the only suggestion I can make is for you to get a factory Chassis Service Manual and Electrical Troubleshooting Manual and start reading.

If you want a meaningful answer, help yourself by telling us the details - Is this a new problem? When did it start? Exactly which gauges do not work? Did you check the INST fuse?

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Guest MidTNDawg
Given that you've provided insufficient information for us to help, the only suggestion I can make is for you to get a factory Chassis Service Manual and Electrical Troubleshooting Manual and start reading.

If you want a meaningful answer, help yourself by telling us the details - Is this a new problem? When did it start? Exactly which gauges do not work? Did you check the INST fuse?

Joe, thanks. Good points obviously. I just acquired the car and this was / is, an existing problem. I will try to get a manual or schematic. The Temperature gauge does work. The gas level, oil pressure, and volt meter gauges do not work. Also the dash lights do not work. I tried grounding the cluster with no change. I am hoping this is a problem encountered by others as there is seldom anything new.

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  • 3 weeks later...

IF that cluster "wires" like my '77 Camaro, which also had sometimes-operating fuel/voltmeter issues, the fuel gauge and the volt meter have a common supply voltage, from the same connection. When the volt meter lost its "signal", the fuel gauge didn't read accurately. The oil pressure gauge might be in that loop somewhere, too. The wiring diagram will be in either a separate body wiring schematic book or in the body service manual.

Again, if it's like the other GM clusters, the dash light sockets screw into the base housing and "on top of" the printed circuit laid onto the back of the housing. That's where they get the power to run them, which is modulated by the light switch. They usually don't all go down at once, though, but individually, by observation . . . unless there's something wrong with THEIR feed circuit.

Check the fuses, first, and then the bulkhead connector, once you see the wiring schematic and color codes for the wires. The feed circuits should come from under the hood, but how they branch out in the passenger compartment is all "inside" the car. This makes the bulkhead connector connections important (regarding the circuit feeds).

I'm presuming this is an "analog" cluster rather than the "electronic cluster".

Regards,

NTX5467

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  • 1 month later...
Guest MidTNDawg

Thanks to Olds88_1956 I have manuals coming. A fuse was blown but only turned the dash lights on. Now with the manuals, I can (hopefully) do a better job of following NTX5467's suggestions.

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Guest MidTNDawg

Olds88_1956 WOW! Thank you. Well, I do not have a lot of experience with manuals (auto), but this is the most thorough set od manuals I have ever seen. I saw several posts getting down to this thread which these manuals would answer.

Again, thanks very much.

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That's why a set of factory service manuals should be among the first things you get after buying your old car! Not Chilton, Motor's, Glenn's or Haynes- get the FACTORY books for your car. All carmakers published them.

They also come in handy when you find something beyond your capacity and you can photocopy the appropriate pages for the mechanic- who odds are wasn't even born when your car was made and will have absolutely no experience working on a car that actually requires troubleshooting skills instead of hooking it to a computer and replacing what the computer says is the problem.

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  • 1 year later...
Guest MidTNDawg

Joe, thanks. Good points obviously. I just acquired the car and this was / is, an existing problem. I will try to get a manual or schematic. The Temperature gauge does work. The gas level, oil pressure, and volt meter gauges do not work. Also the dash lights do not work. I tried grounding the cluster with no change. I am hoping this is a problem encountered by others as there is seldom anything new.

I should report what was found.  It was simple but not obvious.  The fix was to brush the contacts with a brass brush as they had simply stopped making electrical connection.  Not sure of why and especially since no one else seems to have had the issue.

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I should report what was found.  It was simple but not obvious.  The fix was to brush the contacts with a brass brush as they had simply stopped making electrical connection.  Not sure of why and especially since no one else seems to have had the issue.

 

Thanks for the follow up. Actually, this is not uncommon on the 1980s GM cars.  The late 70s-early 80s were not GM's finest hours.  In particular, GM cut major corners in the wire harness, even to the point of eliminating needed relays on the power seat motors but not upgrading the switch contacts to carry the higher current now flowing through them. I've owned several 1980s Oldsmobiles and contact corrosion and resulting electrical problems are all too common.  Fortunately, as the 1980s progressed, GM switched over to the sealed Weatherpak connector system that solved a lot of these problems.

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