Replacing the Gauge Cluster

The Monte Carlo and Impala are built on the same platform and share quite a number of parts.  The Monte Carlo SS gauge cluster includes Oil Pressure and Volt Meter.  I've always wanted to replace my cluster with a MC SS one to get these extra gauges.

Benjamin owns a 2001 LS Impala that he is converting to a SS.  He found out the part number for the SS cluster is 10306213 and sells it for $174 + S/H.  It sounds like he will be trying out the swap pretty soon.  Hopefully he'll send in more information about his project.

 Ben updated me on the installation:
"I got the gage cluster installed.  I didn't have any trouble at all with it.  Everything works:  oil pressure, water temp, volt gage, fuel pressure, tach, speedo, all bells and whistles work.

"The only thing is that when you change out the cluster you lose your mileage, but it picks up where the other cluster is.  I got my cluster from a recycle yard for 65.00.  I asked for a cluster set from a 2001 Monte Carlo SS for 2 reasons.  First I could get one with as close as millage as mine and second i was told that if they change any of the wiring between model years it may not work.  So if you follow the how to remove the radio then just four screws in the cluster and one connector you will be in business."

If I am not mistaken, the dealer should be able to program the new gauge from the old one.  Contact your dealer first before you attempt this swap to see if they will.

However, this swap may only work on LS models.  Jim installed the gauge cluster from a MC SS into a MC with the 3.4L engine:

"Anyhow, it was quite a struggle to get the oil pressure gage functioning. Everything else worked exactly as it was supposed to, however.  You will have to take the car to a certified instrument panel cluster place to have the mileage moved from the old cluster to the new cluster (this cost about $80).  I can't say for sure, but I would think that an Impala/Monte Carlo with a 3.8L engine should be able to plug and play with that dash cluster.  It's the 3.4L engine that is definitely different.

"The first thing that I was guided to check when I asked for assistance was to change the oil pressure switch with an oil pressure sender.  My shop manual has a different call out for the 3.8L oil pressure switch (dual lead - one to PCM and one to ground) and the 3.4L oil pressure switch (single lead going to PCM).  Well, I got this installed along with a new pigtail (cost about $40) and it still did not make that oil pressure gage even wiggle.  I took it to the dealer and spoke with the service manager.  He put me in touch with his head tech guy who played around with it for a few hours (with his Tech tool), but could not get it to work.  We concluded (even though this may be incorrect) that the PCM in the 3.4L engine does not have the hardware in it that is required to send the digital oil pressure signal from the PCM to the IP cluster.

"Via e-mail, I was working with an expert named Doug from a forum and we were hashing ideas back an fourth and finally came up with a [very labor intensive] solution.

Step 1, replace the oil pressure switch that comes stock on the 3.4L engine with the stock oil pressure switch that comes on the 3.8L engine.  You will need to order the dual leader pigtail for this to make it work (since the one with the 3.4L engine only has one lead).  One lead goes to the PCM (brn/blk wire) - this is the same one that already went to the PCM.  The other wire (the additional one) goes to an engine ground (pick one, any one).

Step 2, pick up an old oil pressure gage out of a car from a junkyard, such as out of a 1992 Cavalier (with gage package) - this is what I used.  In order to get this gage working, all you need is a ground, ignition positive, and signal from the oil pressure sensor (a direct signal!).  I tested it on the Monte and everything checked out.

Step 3, unsolder the motor at location M5 - there are 4 pins where you need to remove the solder, straighten the pins and then pull out the motor.  Next, drill holes in the IC board where the new gage will be installed.  This was the hardest part of the job as there are circuits on both the top and bottom of the printed circuit board.  Fortunately, I only needed three of the pins from the gage I pulled from the Cavalier because the fourth hole would have had to have gone through a circuit.  Once you locate where the center of the pin is to go, then you can scribe a circle about that center (about 0.84" diameter?) and then line up the gage pins to figure out where you are going to drill.  Drill and then install the gage (I removed the metal housing from the gage and some of the remaining plastic to make it fit nicely.  Go to town on this.  If you mess it up, then just go back to the junkyard and get another one!

Step 4, once I mounted this gage, I ran the ground wire and the ignition-positive wire to the appropriate leads coming off of the IP cluster connector and the oil pressure sensor lead has its own (new) connector that runs outside of the IP cluster, up to the oil pressure gage.  This lead is then connected to the main line (brn/blk) from the switch to the PCM that comes out of the oil sensor switch (this one has to go through the fire wall - that was not fun).

Step 5, making a new needle that has the right look, length and pin diameter.  Make sure that you grab the needle off the gage when you pull it at the junkyard.  This pin has a very short shaft length, but the needle is yellow instead of orange (the color of all of the needles on the Monte SS Pace Car cluster).  Both the Cavalier and Monte needles are made up of a couple of parts which are plastic welded together.  They can be disassembled by gently drilling the welds out.  Then join the shaft (short) from the Cav needle with the needle portion (orange) from the Monte. I used epoxy, but super glue should work as well.  This is necessary because when you install the gage from the Cavalier, the needle almost sticks though the cover plate of the cluster (this is the part you look at when you are trying to see how fast you are going).  The other needles are much lower, hence, the longer shaft on those needles.

Step 6, put it back together and things should look stock.  Be sure that you have your mileage transferred from the original cluster to the new one.  The only difference is that this gage does not reset (when starting the car) like all of the other gages.  It does its own thing (as this type of gage does) when starting the car, but works great and the message center still alerts you if the oil pressure is low.  Be sure that you have your mileage transferred from the original cluster to the new one.

Doug sent me a link where this project is discussed