Mustang Gauges
Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 20, 2014

Gauge Gremlins

My '05 GT convertible, with about 60K on the clock, has a gauge cluster that is possessed! Over the last year the gas gauge began to read erratically. Sometimes it was correct in position and accuracy, other times it would point down or right or whatever it wished. This would change over time for no apparent reason other than turning the car on and off. My Ford dealer first thought the sending unit was the issue, then a computer module. However there was no guarantee of a fix. A few months later the tachometer went crazy and now it is all over the place, sometimes frozen, other times moving, but in totally the wrong position. The dealer now wants to replace the entire instrument cluster, but again, no guarantee of a fix. As you know, the cluster, plus installation, is a bit pricey. I'd pay if we were sure about it. Any thoughts?

Mike Blankenship
Mebane, NC

You no doubt have some serious gauge issues, but it is not from demonic possession. Apparently Ford's early S197 gauge clusters have several issues, mainly faulty fuel gauges, but often you get the whole enchilada like yours. You have a few options here. You can replace the cluster with a new/reman one from your Ford dealer, or you can have your original gauge cluster repaired through several online sources. Repairing the cluster is going to be the lowest cost option, but you'll be without your Mustang for a couple of days. If you decide you want to purchase another cluster outright, you may be able to upgrade to the optional six-gauge cluster with MyColor accents, provided your dealer is willing to go through the extra programming steps. Simply perform an Internet search for “Mustang MyColor Upgrade” and you'll find plenty of info on how to do it and if your Mustang is pre-wired for it. Good luck!

Drop-Top Safety

I have an '02 Mustang GT convertible and would like to know how to disable the safety switch that prevents the top from operating unless the parking brake is engaged. Is it as simple as disconnecting a wire? Will my parking brake light still work if disconnected? Thanks for any help you can give.

Paul Bertillo
Via the Internet

Ford utilizes the parking brake assembly as a safety measure to prevent top and top frame damage from users raising or lowering the top while the car is moving (we hazard a guess this was implemented from one too many Mustang convertible rental cars coming back to the lot with top “sprung”). We know it might be considered a bit of a pain to stop and engage the parking brake, but it is there for a reason. That said, if you really want to bypass it you'll most likely have to dig into the convertible top wiring behind the back seat and reroute the raise and lower relay ground wires that normally go to the parking brake switch. The wires are violet with a white stripe and they will need to be cut from the harness and grounded separately from the main body harness. Doing so should allow the top to raise and lower without requiring the parking brake engaged, yet will still allow your brake warning light on the dash to illuminate when the parking brake is used.

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