The days won’t be getting much longer – no, they’re almost as long as they’re going to be. Summer solstice is just around the corner and then it won’t be long till the fall. WHAAAAAT?!?? Something we drivers don’t normally notice at this wonderfully colorful summertime is the burnt out lamps on the dashboard, in other words the instrument cluster.  Surely some of them are broken; just think back to last winter. To the small, dark places in which you could only guess where the hands of the instruments were. Ahh, yes. Now that it’s warm and light it’s easy to forget. But soon it’ll be cold and dark again and nobody particularly fancies changing these lamps with numb fingers. So why not do it now, and let’s also check whether we can replace them with Osram RetroFits.

In my case, two places that used to be light are now dark. The water temperature display and the left side of the rev counter in my old faithful Mercedes T-Model have been reduced to a mere glimmer, so I’m gently forcing the whole unit out of its mounting. In this car this works with a small tool, in others a bit of screwing and pushing or pulling is required. The cable harnesses and their plugs can be carefully loosened from the holders and pulled out; it’s all very user-friendly. What’s more, plastic is soft and flexible in the summer which reduces the chance of parts of the plugs or cladding breaking off. Once ambitious lamp replacers have the instrument on their lap face down, they’ll be delighted to see that the bases of almost all the lamps and the lamps themselves are from Osram. They’re still the original ones and the car was manufactured in 2001. For 5 years, I’ve also been driving all the time with dipped beam (so basically with an illuminated instrument cluster). Now if that’s not a great long-term survey, I don’t know what is.

The two broken lamps are easy to locate even though their bases are not always in the same place where the lamps actually shed their light. I think it’s time for them to retire after 16 years, so out you go. While I’m at it, I’m also replacing the adjacent lamps. They probably won’t last too long anymore either and that way I won’t have to bother for the next 16 years. Osram offers a large number of LEDs with and without a base as replacements for your old filament lamps. Why don’t you have a look on the website and see whether there are any new, bright, energy-saving RetroFits for your little darling? They don’t get as hot, last a lot longer and use only a fraction of the energy. However, this could confuse some new vehicles if the low energy consumption is interpreted in the wrong way by some control unit. The Vehicle Lamp Finder brings clarity, and the manufacturers are happy to answer any other questions you may have.

I’m ready for the dark days of winter; my instrument cluster is once again fully functional – a good feeling in so many ways. Somehow failed lamps disrupt my enjoyment of night-time drives. And somehow it’s a good feeling to have looked “behind the scenes” of my car. It’s all looking healthy and tidy behind there – and now bright once again. It’s quite astonishing really just how many lights there are in a car, and where. With LEDs you’ll take a big step toward high efficiency and low maintenance. Why not have a go yourself? As long as it’s still warm outside.

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