The Continental Electronic Instrument Cluster has a series of warning
messages and beeps to inform you of potential problems. Yet when the
system gives false alarms, it can drive you nuts in a very short period
of time. Believe it or not, this is a simple problem with a simple solution.
The problem is that the connections on the back of the instrument cluster
are weak, and need to be cleaned to work properly. There are three parts
of the cluster we will work with:
What Has To be Done?
- Instrument Cluster Unit
- Data Control Link (DCL message center)
- Light bulbs
All we are doing is using isopropyl alcohol or a pink eraser (whichever
is easier to use for your needs) on the copper contacts on the back
of the cluster. Cleaning these contacts removes oxidation will cause
weak connections, incorrect oil pressure readings, unreliable lighting,
and loss of DCL functionality.
Removal of the instrument cluster is relatively easy, requiring basic
tools and a little patience. NOTE: Cluster removal information is specific
to 1990-1994 dashboards; older Continentals will follow a similar procedure
for interior trim removal.
- Disconnect the battery
- Pry up the vinyl strips on the bottom shelf of the dashboard:
one is about 8" long and 3" wide, the runs along
the bottom of the instrument cluster to the passenger door.
Use a small blade screwdriver and cover with a thin rag to
- Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the 4 or 5 screws now visible. These
screws attach the instrument cluster finish panel to the dashboard.
- Pull out the headlight knob. With a blade screwdriver, GENTLY pry the
finish panel from above and the sides. This is connected by clips, like
the vinyl strip in step 1.
- There are four connectors to remove from the back of the bezel. Twist
and pull out the light connected next to the light switch.
- The white connector for the gear indicator can be pulled straight
out. The indicator should have a tag with arrows that point to two
tabs. Pull or push the two tabs toward the rear of the cluster to
release the indicator. At the same time pull up with your other hand
and it should be free.
- The other two light connectors can be pulled out by slightly indenting
the sides inwards.
- With the finish panel out, use a 7mm socket wrench to remove the screws
holding the instrument cluster in.
- Remove three connectors to free up the instrument cluster. One is the
biggest, and connects the light strip, DCL, and oil pressure indicator.
Remove this by pinching the sides and pulling it out. The other two are
on top of each other and can be easily pulled out by also pinching the
- With the instrument cluster out, thoroughly clean the ribbons and connectors.
Pay special attention to the copper ribbon connectors that were detached
from the male connector.
- Change out all the bulbs in the instrument cluster and clean their copper
contacts too. Twist the bulbs and then pull them out. The copper is now
exposed and can be easily cleaned from here.
- Carefully replace the cables and the clips. It may take some force to
install the clips, but don't overdo it or you could damage the boards or
cables. Put everything back in reverse order.
After reconnecting the battery, see if the alarms clear after you start
the motor. The computer might need to reset to clear the codes with
the engine running. If the problem(s) still occur you have two options:
- Put a piece of tape over the 3rd contact
counting from the left to hold it down
tighter. This may not stop the components
from beeping, but it is worth a try.
Usually the connection is the only problem.
- Replace the DCL using another DCL from
a working unit. The DCL is a separate
unit. Replace the DCL in your "old" cluster
with the one from the "new" cluster.