Gauge Cluster Disassembly / VSS Swap


The Integra drivetrain and ECU being used in this project originally had a Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS). The VSS tells the ECU how fast the vehicle is moving. The VSS sensor is built into the speedometer, and basically just converts the mechanical signal from the transmission into a digital pulse for the ECU.  Unfortunately, the Integra gauge cluster does not fit in the Civic dashboard, so I continued to use the Civic gauge cluster, with some wiring modifications to fit the Integra's wring harness. The problem with this is that the Civic speedometer does not have the VSS pulser to tell the ECU how fast the car is going. The result is the PGM-FI light coming on while driving. The solution is to swap the VSS parts over to the Civic speedometer.

I have a few gauge clusters, and it dawned uppon me one day that i have clusters that have amber numbers with white needles, and one with white numbers and amber needles. I got the grat idea to not only swap over the VSS from the Integra gauge cluster, but also combine 2 of my Civic clusters to make one with white numbers and white needles, which would look much more modern than the original amber.

Now, there is an important detail here that I didn't find out until I had my gauges ripped apart. This is very important, trust me! There are 2 different manufacturers of the gauge clusters: Nippon Seiki and Denso (yes, they later combined to form 1 company, Nippon Denso, but back in the 80's they were separate). The clusters will be marked either on the back printed circuit board, and/or on the gauge faces themselves. The Nippon ones will be marked "Nippon Seiki", or just "NS". The Denso clusters will be marked with the whole word "Denso".  Now, this is very important: The parts from the two manufacturers are, for the most part, not compatible! The faces don't swap easily, the internals don't swap easily, and most important for this discussion, the VSS doesn't swap easily! So, if you want to make this as painless as possible, find an Integra cluster with VSS, and a Civic cluster to swap it into, that are made by the same manufacturer! The ones I used were Nippon Seiki.

VSS Swap

We start by removing the VSS from the Integra cluster, so put the Civic cluster aside.

1.) Start by removing the clear plastic cover on the front of the gauge cluster. It should just be held on by some plastic clips on the top and bottom. Pull off the clear cover. The fat part on the end of the trip odometer reset button will just pull off. You should now have full access to the front gauge faces.

2.) On the back of the Integra cluster, there is a plastic cover that is external to the main cluster, and has a plug on it. This plug is for the VSS signal and the Cruise Control light. Remove this plastic cover by prying open the sides of the clips holding it to the main cluster housing. This is easily done by sticking a small flat-head screwdriver in the slot and twisting it open, while pulling gently up on the plastic cover.

3.) A small circuit board will now be exposed. Unscrew / disconnect all the wires coming off of the circuit board, then remove the circuit board itself, and put it aside, we will need it later!

4.) Unscrew the two screws on either side of where the speedo cable connects. These two screws hold the speedometer in. Once unscrewed, push forward on the speedo cable jack, and the speedometer should come out of the front of the cluster. The way it is assembled, the gauge faces slightly overlap each other, so you may have to work it out from under the face of the fuel gauge. Just try not to break anything. :)

5.) Take a look at the back of the speedometer gauge. The VSS pulser is the cream colored plastic part. It is held on by 1 screw on each side of the speedometer body. You can see one sides screw in the picture... the screwdriver is right on it. Remove both screws, and pull the VSS pulser downwards. It should pretty much fall right out once unscrewed. You probably also need to unscrew and remove the odometer from the speedometer body, or else the VSS pulser may not have enough room to get out.

At this point, you are done with the Integra cluster. The only parts you will need to keep is the VSS pulser. I also recomend keeping that external circuit board that was on the back of the cluster, just so that you can plug into the VSS with the factory plug. Note that the VSS signal goes straight to the plug pins on the circuit board, so you could actually connect the wiring harness directly to the VSS pulser and ground if you loose that circuit board.

6.) To install the VSS pulser into the Civic cluster, just take it apart exactly the same as the Integra cluster.

7.) Screw the VSS pulser onto the Civic speedometer body, in the same place it was in the Integra cluster.

8.) You will need to cut a hole in the back of your gauge cluster so that you can connect the wired to the VSS pulser.

9.) Reassemble gauge cluster.

10.) If you saved the Integra external circuit board, attach its VSS and ground wires to the Civic cluster, and attach the circuit board to the back.

Look at that! You're done!

Some things to note: Though the original Civic cluster was not equiped with a VSS, it did have a signal that would turn on when the car was moving over 15mph. This is what the external plastic box on the back of the Civic cluster was for. The Integra ECU does not need this 15mph signal, and so you do not have to attach or in any way use the external box from the back of the Civic cluster. Also, note the final picture above has 2 wires and a bulb dangling. This was for the Cruise Control light. Do with it what you please. I just zip-tied mine up.


White on White: Swapping gauge faces

I have an '87 Civic Si gauge cluster that has amber numbering with white needles. I also have a Civic cluster from a carbureted model that had white numbering with amber needles. I had the great idea to swap the gauge faces around and have white numbers with white needles, giving me a more modern look. Well, this sounded good in theory, but this is how I found out that Denso and Nippon parts are not so interchangeable. My Si cluster is Denso, and my carb'd cluster is Nippon. I'm not going to get intot he details of the swap, but lets just say it look a lot of modification!

Now one of the things you need to do to remove the gauge faces is to remove the needles. They make a needle remover tool, but who wants to spend money on that! I removed all the needles from 2 clusters without breaking one by using a piece of wire and slipping it under the needle on each side, and pulling up on both sides. This photo will explain it better...

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