Mark has a 1996 Mustang Cobra. He started studying the cluster in his car and then expanded it to '94-'04 clusters and beyond. From that base, he developed services, products and lots of good information for Mustang owners. Much of this also applies to other Ford vehicles of this era, especially F150 trucks.
In general, 94-04 Ford gauges do not require much work unless a gauge fails or the needles are removed and replaced, typically done for the installation of new gauge faces.
Accutach provides repair and calibration services for these instrument clusters. We also can modify and calibrate clusters for those who want a cluster swap between V6 & V8 cars.
Contact us if you would like to discuss such service.
If your cluster is experiencing some problems, read this write-up for the things to check before sending your cluster in for service.
If you would like to convert the minor gauges in your 99-04 Ford instrument cluster from an idiot light in gauge form to a real working gauge, check out our gauge upgrade products.
FYI, Black Cat Customs ( www.blackcatcustom.com ) has told me that they can do custom gauge faces with oil pressures marked on them. But, their faces don't match the OEM Ford faces, so you will need to have them make faces for all of the instruments in your cluster.
The information provided below is based on Ford Mustang instrument clusters. Other Ford makes and models will be similar, but may vary somewhat, especially regarding the dates when cluster changes went into production.
Ford made major changes to their instrument clusters around 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2005. Accutach provides calibration tools and instructions for ensuring that the 94-04 gauge needles are properly calibrated after gauge or gauge face replacement.
1994 through 1996 Ford speedometers are electronic, driven by a signal from a Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) on the tail of the transmission. The VSS consists of a magnetic pick-up near a gear driven by the tailshaft of the transmission. Most Ford VSS models provide an AC signal calibrated to deliver 8000 pulses per mile, which the electronic speedometer uses to drive the odometer motor and the speedometer needle. The electronic tachometer receives a DC digital pulse for each ignition event, which drives the tach needle to the correct position on the gauge. The voltage gauge is an analog air core voltmeter movement. The fuel gauge, coolant temperature gauge and oil pressure gauges are analog air core ammeter movements that use current to deflect the needle. The fuel gauge uses a variable resistor-style sender where the sender changes resistance with changing fuel levels. The coolant temperature gauge also uses a variable resistor style sender where the sender changes resistance as the engine coolant temperature changes. Somewhere around 1990, Ford changed the oil pressure sender from an analog sender to a pressure switch that closes at 6PSI, shorting the oil pressure signal to ground above 6PSI of oil pressure. They added a 20 ohm resistor in series with the gauge to limit the meter movement to high-normal when the pressure switch is closed. For Mustangs, these instrument clusters were used until very close to the end of the 1996 production year. Between 1995 and 1996, for swapped the positions of the Seat Belt and Low Coolant idiot lights.
1997 through 1998 Ford instrument clusters are identical to the 1994 through 1996 clusters with the exception of the oil pressure gauge and temperature gauge, and the pinouts. In 1997, the 20 ohm resistor in the oil pressure signal circuit was removed and the meter movement was replaced by one that has a maximum movement to high-normal when the oil pressure signal is shorted to ground. Ford changed the temperature gauge circuit in 1998, so 98 temperature guages cannot be swapped into 94-97 clusters nor can 94-97 temperature gauges be swapped into 98 clusters.
Click here for a VSS calculator that lets you figure out the impact of tire size, differential gear ratios and speedometer gears on the VSS signal for 94-98 Mustangs.
1999 through 2004 Ford instrument clusters use microprocessor controlled air-core gauges. Air-core movements use two orthogonal magnetic fields to move the permanent magnet movement so there is no spring to age. The only effect of permanent magnet aging is a slight slowing of the speed of needlt movement. These gauge needles do not need to be recalibrated due to age, but they do need to be recalibrated if the needles have been removed for gauge or gauge face replacement.
Click here to read how to calibrate the needles in air core clusters from Fords from 1999-2004.
2005 and up Ford instrument clusters use microprocessor controlled stepper motor gauge movements. Accutach does not provide calibration tools or services for these clusters.
I have clusters from a 94 V6, a 95 V6 and a 97 Cobra with which I have verified this information. I could use help in filling out the information for other models and years.
Cluster bezels are interchangeable across all years and models from 94-04.Cluster front covers from 94 through 98 are interchangeable. Cluster front covers are interchangeable from 99-04. 94-98 cluster front covers’ odometer reset buttons are flush with the back of the cover, while the back of the buttons on the 99-04 cluster covers sticks out a bit. As a result, the 99-04 cluster covers are always pushing a bit on the trip odometer reset rod on a 94-98 cluster. This is probably a bad swap. However a 94-98 cluster cover will work fine on a 99-04 cluster.
Cluster connectors are interchangeable across all years and models from 94-98, although the cluster pinouts are different. 94 & 95 clusters have the same pinouts, but they are different from the newer clusters. 96 and 97 clusters have the same cluster pinouts as each other, but different from the 94/95 clusters. The 98 cluster pinouts are the same as the 96/97 clusters, except the temperature gauge signal and ground pins are swapped. The ground pin also supplies ground to the fuel gauge, so neither the temperature gauge nor the fuel gauge will be properly wired with a cluster swap unless the connector wires are swapped. In addition, the 98 cars have no low oil sender, so that signal is not used in the 98 cluster. But the low oil light and wiring exist in the 98 cluster, so that function will work if you swap a 98 cluster into a 96 or 97 car.
You can see a comparison of the different 94-98 cluster pinouts here. That page shows the pins that need to be swapped to use newer clusters in older cars and vice versa.
99-04 clusters are microprocessor controlled and are completely different from the 94-98 clusters. See below for those pinouts.
You can read how to de-pin and re-pin 94-98 cluster connectors here.
94-98 V6 and GT gauge faces are black with white lettering while the Cobras all have white faces with black lettering.
The speedometers and odometers for all years and models from 94-98 are interchangeable because they use the same 8000 pulse-per-mile VSS signal and they have the same connector to the cluster circuit.
The speedometers in V6 cars go from 0-120MPH, GTs from 0-150 and Cobras from 0-160MPH.The odometers are interchangeable from 94-98 clusters.
The tachometers for 94-98 clusters are driven by one pulse per ignition event. That means that the 8 cylinder tachometers have 4 pulses per crankshaft revolution and 6 cylinder tachometers have 3 pulses per revolution. As a result, the tachometers are interchangeable between the GT and Cobra, but not between the V6 and either the GT or the Cobra. There is a potentiometer on the tach that can be used to calibrate the tach, but the range of adjustability is not enough to allow an 8 cylinder tach to be used on a 6 cylinder tach or vice versa without cluster modification. It is possible to modify a V8 cluster to work in a V6 car.
The 94-98 speedometer, odometer and tachometer are packaged as a single unit that has one plastic frame and one gauge face sheet. It is possible to remove and replace needles, gauge face sheets and the individual gauges within a cluster. However, between 1995 and 1996, Ford swapped the positions of the Seat Belt and Low Coolant idiot light symbols. If you swap a 96-98 speedometer/tachometer face into a 94/95 case or vice versa, the Seat Belt and Low Coolant idiot lights will be swapped. You will see the Seat Belt light it will mean that you have low coolant and if you see the Low Coolant light it will mean that your seat belts are not fastened. Unfortunately, you can't just swap the signal pins since the Low Coolant signal ground the bulb while the Seat Belt signal provides power to the bulb so a pin swap won't work.
The 94-98 fuel gauges are all interchangeable across all models. The anti-slosh module is calibrated with the fuel gauge, so they should be swapped as a pair. Temperature gauges are all interchangeable across 94-97 clusters, but 98 temperature gauges are not interchangeable with any other year. If you need to replace a 98 temperature gauge, only use one from a 98 donor cluster. Never use a 98 temperature gauge in a 94-97 cluster. The fuel gauge and temperature gauges are packaged as a single unit that has one plastic frame and one gauge face sheet. It is possible to remove and replace needles, gauge face sheets and the individual gauges within a unit. The 94-98 voltage gauges are all interchangeable across all models. The oil pressure gauges are interchangeable between 94 and 96, and between 97 & 98.Once caveat, I have heard that some 96s came with the later oil pressure gauges, but I have not seen one yet. FYI, the oil pressure sender is a 6 PSI pressure switch that is open below 6PSI and closed above 6PSI. The 94-96 gauges are lower impedance, so there is a 20 ohm resistor in series with the gauge on the back of the cluster that limits the needle movement to “high normal” when the pressure switch is closed. In 97 & 98 clusters, that 20 ohm resistor is gone, and the gauge is a high impedance gauge that self limits the needle travel to “high-normal” when the pressure switch is closed. You can use a 97 or 98 oil pressure gauge in a 94-96 cluster, but you will have to short out the 20 ohm resistor on the back of the cluster to make it work properly. There are a pair of empty solder pads with a shorting trace between them on the back of the 97 & 98 clusters. Should you choose to use a 94-86 oil pressure gauge in a 97 or 98 cluster, you will need to cut the trace between those two pads and then solder a 20 ohm, 1/4W resistor to the two pads. If you want your oil pressure gauge to work as a real analog oil pressure gauge, download the How-to document.
The 94-98 voltage gauge and oil pressure gauge are packaged as a single unit that has one plastic frame and one gauge face sheet. It is possible to remove and replace needles, gauge face sheets and the individual gauges within a unit.
If any of the cluster needles are removed for any reason, you will need to calibrate the needles when they are put back on the gauges. We offer affordable needle calibration services. Contact us if you are interested in this service.
In 1999, Ford went to microprocessor controlled instrument clusters. Most of the information displayed by the cluster comes from the PCM or other modules in digital form via the CAN bus. The information that comes to the cluster directly is generally read via an input to and is displayed by an output from the the microprocessor. Part of the PATS function was integrated into the instrument cluster as well. All of this makes it virtually impossible to swap these newer clusters into 98 or older cars without a nearly complete electrical system swap. Whenever swapping clusters between 1999 to 2004 cars, the PATS system will need to be reprogrammed by a Ford dealer or disabled by a custom tune.
The 1999 and 2000 clusters pinouts are identical, and can be swapped between cars with no wiring changes.
The 2001-2004 cluster pinouts are also identical (I have not verified 2001 or 2004, but am very sure they are the same.) These clusters do not have the low coolant indicator, and have the rear window defroster timer function added to them. These clusters can also be swapped between cars with no wiring changes. Remember that 2003 and 2004 Cobra clusters have a mechanical boost gauge where the voltage gauge is on the other models.If you want to swap a 2001-2004 cluster into a 1999-2000 car, you can simply swap the cluster into the car.
03/04 Cobra Clusters use electroluminescent gauge illumination which is driven by an inverter that can fail. At this point in time, I don't have any information about repair of the inverters. If you want to help me reverse engineer the inverter and you have a spare, please let contact us.
To test the illumination bulbs in your 99-04 GT or V6 instrument clusters, just put ground on Pin 1 of connector C251 (99-00), C220a (01-04) and battery voltage on Pin 4 of the same connector. If the bulbs light up, your cluster is good. If not, check the bulbs and the traces on the PCB. Also, if you have converted to LED bulbs, some may be polarized, so turn the non-working bulbs 180 degrees in their sockets to see if that solves the problem.
If you want to swap a 1999-2000 cluster into a 2001-2004 car, you should cut or de-pin the rear window defroster wires going to the instrument cluster (Pins 9 (BK/YE) & 10 (YE/BK) on the smaller cluster connector. You will need to rewire the rear window defroster circuit using the 1999-2000 rear wndow defroster switch and cluster bezel if you wish to retain the rear window defroster functionality. It is theoretically possible to hack up a 99-00 defroster switch to make it replace the 01-04 cluster delay circuit and the 01-04 defroster relay. Contact us if you are interested in trying this hack.
Click here to see a comparison of the pinouts of a 1999 cluster compared to the pinouts of a 2003 cluster.
Click here if you are interested in reading how to swap a 99-00 cluster into an 01-04 car.
If you are interested in the instrument cluster implications of later model or non-Ford engine swaps into 99-04 Mustangs, read the next section.
If you intend to swap an S197 engine or a non-Ford engine into a 99-04 Mustang, you will typically run into an issue with the tachometer. This document can also be used as a guide for engine swaps into other 99-04 Ford vehicles, but the details may vary.
Normally when you swap a new motor into your vehicle, you leave the stock PCM in place and powered. The gauges that are driven by data from sensors monitored by the stock PCM (such as coolant temperature, vehicle speed and the fuel gauge) can still be used. The stock oil pressure sensor will need to be installed in the new engine, unless the new engine also uses a 6 PSI pressure switch or you want to upgrade your oil pressure gauge with the Accutach 1999-2004 Oil Pressure Gauge Upgrade Unit (See above). The fuel gauge should be just fine as it is.
Speedometer Considerations: If a 99-04 Mustang transmission is used, no change needs to be made to the speed signal. Other transmissions may require a unit to scale the speed signal frequency and in some cases the signal type may need to be changed to be compatible with the stock reluctor style signal. If only the frequency needs to change, a Dallas Mustang Speedcal or an FRPP Recalibrator will do the job nicely, but if the swap transmission has a Hall effect sensor, you will need to use a Dakota Digital SGI-5 which can convert a Hall effect speed signal to a reluctor style signal. It can also scale the signal frequency which may be needed to make the speedometer accurate. 2020 Edit: The Speedcal, Recalibrator and SGI-5 are no longer being sold. The only currently solutions I am aware of are the Dakota Digital SGI100-BT and the Abbot Industries ERA.
99-04 Fords have 3 parameters regarding vehicle speed in the PCM's tune, Tire Revs Per Mile, Axle Ratio and Number of Holes in the output shaft Reluctor Wheel. Manual transmissions typically have 12 holes and automatics typically have 6 holes. If you are using a different transmission, it is useful to know what the stock settings in the PCM are when it comes time to scale the signal from another transmission/axle/tire setup. You should also know those values for the new transmission/rear end setup after the swap. With that information, you can calculate the scaling factor you will need to use with the recalibrator.
Tachometer Considerations: Since the stock PCM is no longer controlling the vehicle's engine, the data the instrument cluster needs to display the RPMs will not be available from the PCM unless you can fool the PCM into thinking the stock engine is turning. Here's how that trick was figured out.
I was contacted by Jayem from a shop in the Phillipines. He had swapped a Toyota diesel drive train into a 2003 Ford Expedition and wanted to get the stock cluster to work with the Toyota diesel engine, with no spark plugs. After discussing how the PCM and cluster work together, Jayem pulled the stock Ford Crank Position Sensor and 36-1 trigger wheel. He plugged the CPS into the Ford harness, powered up the PCM and cluster and then spun the trigger wheel on a drill. The tachometer registered up to 2000 RPM. So he proved that the Ford PCM only needs a Crank Position Sensor trigger wheel signal to drive the tachometer. He welded the Ford trigger wheel to the Toyota crank pulley, and fabbed a mount near the trigger wheel for the stock crank position sensor. The tachometer worked perfectly. Here is a photo of his setup:
Crank Position Sensor Trigger Wheel
Since the engine you are swapping into your Ford will probably have its own trigger wheel, you can probably use the new engine's crank position sensor signal to drive the stock PCM and get the tachometer to work. But the new engine has to have a trigger wheel with the same number of teeth as your original engine. It also has to use the same reluctor type of crank position sensor. If it uses a Hall effect type sensor, you will need to use something like a Dakota Digital SGI-100BT speedometer adapter to convert the signal from Hall effect style to reluctor style.
I have done some research and have learned that all of Ford's 4.6, 5.4 and the new 5.0 Coyote engines use a 36-1 trigger wheel and a reluctor style sensor:
36-1 Trigger Wheel
To get the tachometer to work in a 99-04 Mustang with a 5.0 Coyote swap, all you need to do is splice the stock 99-04 PCM's Dark Blue Crank Position Sensor wire to the Coyote motor's Yellow/Purple Crank Position Sensor signal wire. Do not splice the 00-04 PCM's Gray CPS return wire to the Coyote motor's Green/Brown return wire. If you need to extent the wire to get to the splice, I strongly recommend you salvage a length of Ford Crank position sensor wire for the splice from a junkyard car or your 99-04 engine harness. It is a shielded wire and may be twisted pair for EMI noise immunity. If you get ElectroMagnetic Interference (EMI) on that signal, it could play havoc with its operation. Be sure to also splice the shielded extension wire shield to the shield on the 99-04 wire as well, but not to the Coyote harness side. I would recommend that you make the splice at the sensor connector if you are putting the Coyote PCM near the front of the engine, at the engine harness connector if you are putting the Coyote PCM near the rear of the engine or at the stock PCM harness connector if you are putting the Coyote PCM in the interior of the vehicle.
Joel at Warrior Racing has done this swap and has confirmed that it does work. He also confirmed that connecting the 99-04 return signal to the Coyote PCM's return signal will cause it to not work. He added a 100 Ohm resistor between the splice and the 99-04 CPS wire to better isolate the 99-04 electrical load on the Coyote signal. He also told me that this mod is required in order to get the AC to work with this swap. Many thanks to Joel for confirming this.
Swerve on Modfords has installed a Holley Dominator into his Mustang. He left his stock AMZ2 Ford ECU in place to drive the gauges. He used the Holley Hall effect CPS sensor driven by a 12V reference signal. He was able to make the stock tachometer work by coupling the Hall effect sensor signal to the stock ECU through a 4.7uF, 25V capacitor. Make sure you put the negative side of the cap towards the stock ECU.
If you are doing other swaps, such as a Chevy LS motor (yes, people do this swap), you will need to get a bit more creative. Chevy LS motors use a reluctor style sensor for their Crank Position Sensors, so you do not have to worry about converting from a Hall effect signal to a reluctor style signal. (FYI, the Chevy LS cam position sensor are Hall effect sensors. Go figure.) Chevy LS motors up to sometime in 2006 used a 24 tooth trigger wheel, but late 2006 and up LS motors use a 58 tooth trigger wheel.
You will need to use a recalibrator to scale the LS Crank Position Sensor signal frequency to the frequency that the 99-4 Ford PCM expects. Since the signals in both systems are reluctor style, a speedometer recalibrator does not need to be used. I recommend that the FRPP Recalibrator be used in this application. It is not clear if the recalibrator you use will pass the missing tooth information through to the PCM. I don't know if the PCM needs the missing tooth signal to work. This could be a reason this will not work for this swap.
If you are willing to experiment, connect the input to the FRPP Recalibrator to the LS Crank Position sensor signal and connect the output of the recalibrator to the Crank Position Sensor signal input to the 99-04 PCM. You should also use shielded wire, especially between the sensor and the Recalibrator.
CAVEAT: Ford does a really good job of protecting the inputs to its PCMs. This connection is very unlikely to damage your 99-04 Ford PCM. But until someone verifies that this will work, you do this at your own risk.
As an aside, Jayem also cut 6 slots in the Toyota output shaft and mounted the stock OSS sensor on a fabricated bracket near the output shaft, and his speedometer also worked correctly:
DIY Output Shaft Sensor
Swap in an older cluster: One way I can think of that will allow you to have a working tachometer in a 99-04 Mustang is if you swap in an older 94-98 Mustang cluster. You will need a set of connector pigtails for the swapped cluster as well. You will need the coolant temperature gauge sensor and connector from the same year car as the cluster as well.
The tachometer output from the new PCM should be able to drive the older tachometer. If the PCM does not have a tach output signal, you can use a tach adapter from a company such as Autometer. If you are swapping from V8 to V6 or vice versa, be sure to ground or unground the cylinder select signal and recalibrate the tach as described here.
The speedometer may need a speedometer recalibrator such as the Dakota Digital SGI-100BT to scale the new drivetrain's speed signal to the 8000 pulse per mile signal the old cluster expects. If the new drive train has a Hall effect style speed sensor, be sure to set the Dakota Digital SGI-100BT to convert the digital speed signal to an analog speed signal out to the car's electronics.
The fuel gauge and fuel level sensor are close enough that there will be no problem with them.
The oil pressure gauge works from a 6PSI pressure switch which most new drivetrains also has, so it should work. However, if you want to upgrade your oil pressure gauge to be a real gauge, you can use the MeterMatch upgrade .
The volt gauge reads the power to the cluster, so no change is require for it to function properly.
The PATS system for your new drivetrain will not work. I recommend you install a hidden kill switch.
I am not sure if the charge indicator lamp will work, but it should.
If the new drivetrain PCM has a CEL output, it should work with the older cluster.
The newer drivetrain will probably not have a low oil level sensor, so that will probably not work.
The ABS light should work the same.
The turn signal and high beam indicators should work the same.
The cluster illumination should also work the same.
The 99-04 cars do not have the brake indicator lamp that the older cars do, to the brake indicator will not work unless you add the wiring per a 94-98 car.
Since I have not actually done this type of swap, I may have made an error or two. All of this was worked out with the EVTMs. If you do this swap and find there are errors or misleading information here, please contact us to let us know how to fix this page.