Gauge Panel Bulb Suggestions Wanted

Jonnyuma

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I'm about to pull the dash apart on my 79 Lebaron and wanted to replace a few (or maybe all) of the bulbs.

I want to stay w the OEM type bulb/cover setup, but there's a preponderance of Chinese-made crap on the market and I'm just wondering if theres any particular brand you like to stay away from.

Normally I'd just buy Sylvania, GE, or whatever is cheapest, but with these older cars and their old electronics, sometimes that's not the best choice for circuit protection and/or longevity.
 

80mirada

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I would go with Sylvania, GE, Phillips or any other decent standard replacement bulbs. The lighting is a standard 12volt circuit unlike the gauges which are regulated down to like 5 volts (IIRC) I would avoid any higher wattage than stock bulbs since the added heat can be hard on the housing.
 

Aspen500

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I'm with you on Chinese made CRAP. Some stuff is fine (Gearwrench tools for example) but the majority of stuff from China is plain junk. Chinese motto "Almost fits, good enough" and "Doesn't work right out of the box, so what?" Dorman, are you listening?

Anyways, now that my rant is over, about all you can do is go to the store and see which (if any) of the bulbs say "Made in USA" on the package. Otherwise, you usually are better off paying extra for a higher priced product. Chances are, it's higher priced for a reason and in most cases, it's because it's a better product that cost more to manufacture. Cheap bulbs may work but how often do you want to replace them? Plus, they may not be as bright as better bulbs.
 

Oldiron440

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I tend to replace all the bulbs when one burns out.
Tail lite go out I replace all the bulbs in the housing on both tail lamps. I never fails the your continuity replacing bulbs after the first one goes.
 

Jonnyuma

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I think we're all in agreement when it comes to "buy once, cry once"... "penny wise, pound foolish"... etc.

I was going to just order the gauge bulbs online and save a trip to the parts store w the dash torn apart. Anyone know the MY bracket for the 5V gauge cluster? With these kinds of vehicles (older, note quite "mainstream", not GM) I always like to have a cross-reference if possible... most modern day counter jockeys wouldn't know a LeBaron from a LeCar.
 
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Poly

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Anyone know the MY bracket for the 5V

What does "MY" refer to ?

If you need any guidance from the factory books let me know. Just completed this on the gauge section of the dash last week in pontiac red...from the front...because I couldn't get the headlight shaft to unlock and release.
 

4speedjim

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MY is Model Year. I did my dash last year and used LEDs. In theory they will outlive me. They are very bright if you desire them to be. You need special flashers for brake and TS lights if you want to swap them in. There rated for 100,000 hours.
 

Jonnyuma

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What does "MY" refer to ?

MY is Model Year.
Correct... sorry 'bout that. When I went back and reread it it looked a little confusing even to me, and I wrote it!

I was just looking for some shorthand for what amounts to a convoluted and very self-serving question...

Put in long-form (and hoping to provide enough keywords to let this pop-up in a future search for someone else), my question is this:
I want to replace the gauge lights in my cluster. Gauges, HVAC controls, ALL of them... whatever I find inop when I have the cluster taken apart. Given the 5A resistor, what bulbs are appropriate for this application? I'm pretty noob-ish at "Let's do it right the first time"... trial and error has always been my method but in my old age I've found that there are better ways to get the right answer... at some point between my 20s and 50s, someone invented "Ask Someone Who Knows", and I've been sticking with that. I was too stubborn (and/or stupid) to ask questions before. I've recently come to realize that I'm much luckier than I am knowledgeable or smart.
 

MBDale

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MY is Model Year. I did my dash last year and used LEDs. In theory they will outlive me. They are very bright if you desire them to be. You need special flashers for brake and TS lights if you want to swap them in. There rated for 100,000 hours.
What’s the part number of LED bulbs for the dash?
 

Poly

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79 Lebaron...Normally I'd just buy Sylvania, GE, or whatever is cheapest, but with these older cars and their old electronics, sometimes that's not the best choice for circuit protection and/or longevity...

I guess I can post general stuff from experience(once). The T10 194 LED bulbs that were purchased did not have the "not polarity sensitive" feature. That translated into testing the polarity of each bulb + and - . And would have required power to the cluster to test the terminals of each bulb socket(J body gauge cluster 15 bulbs). Another point you may like is that the incandescent bulbs contain a loop of wire conductor for each terminal while the LED bubs simply had a single strand of wire dead-ended.

The "Wagner" 194R bulbs are incandesent and the box is fine printed "Made in China". Some live and learn info. But my factory books are 1983 MY and so may be of no use for any 1979 MY inquiries.
 

4speedjim

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Polarity? Huh. I might have dumb lucked out and installed them, most of them the right way or they had a tab to prevent them sliding in backwards or weren't polarity sensitive? I had a few if I recall correctly that I had to flip over or spread the wire away for better contact. They draw less and I believe they produce much less heat. A big + in a 40 yr old car fwiw. My PCB - Printed Circuit Board had folded over on itself probably during installation and several tracers where broken and rubbed through. The tracers went up and folded over about center top. T/S indicator tracers maybe on my J. I found electrical conductive paint and some 1980s 1/8" & 1/16" pin stripe and used that to mask off and paint the tracers back on. It carries current and works well! It wasn't much work. Oh, I bought red LEDs and I am very happy with the way the gauges light up and look in red with the red exterior and red white interior.
 

Raff

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Most of the bulbs on my wagon were burned out and I checked the owners manual for a bulb number. 158 I think. Went to NAPA and bought a bunch. They say 158 on them but nothing to identify the manufacturer. I think you need to be careful with the bulbs because you don’t want to overheat that old circuit board. Perhaps LED is a wise choice. Less heat.
 

Aspen500

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Just to add, if you go with LED bulbs, be sure to use the "COB" bulbs (see pic) where possible, at least in the cluster. They distribute the light nice. I tried the other type at first, and the cluster was blotchy with 3 bright spots and the rest was almost dark.

Some of the other pieces (HVAC, radio, etc) you have to use the "old" style, especially if it's a metal base type. The COB bulbs won't fit the opening, depending on the part and year/model of car.
led 194.jpg
 

greyghost

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I'm having an issue trying to convert my '79 Le Baron's dash lights from 194 incandescent bulbs to LED.

194-LED Comparison3.JPG


194-LED Comparison4.JPG
 

greyghost

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So the white LED (center) seems to work fine in all of the 194 sockets. The problem is that style's diameter is to big to fit into the metal tubular opening on the back of the headlight, wiper and possibly the ash tray light. This caused me to buy a different LED with a smaller diameter to fit into those particular locations. Here's the real head scratcher: When I inserted the newer LED (far right) into the socket for the headlight switch, connected a ground to the socket and put power to the LED, it blew the 3 amp fuse for that circuit! The 194 and the white LED (center) does NOT blow the fuse for the circuit. I bought a package of 10 of each LED. Thinking that perhaps the newer LED was defective, I tried another LED and blew the fuse once again! I replaced the fuse and tried another white LED (center) and it worked. I disconnected the power at the battery and installed a a 3rd newer LED and blew the fuse again! I removed what is called the "right hand circuit board" (the one behind the speedometer and fuel gauges) and rigged up a test to see if I could get the newer bulb(s) to light. I put a switch in the line and a fusible link with a 3 amp fuse. The lights work. Here's pics of my set-up.

Dash Light Test1.JPG


Dash Light Test2.JPG


Dash Light Test3.JPG


Dash Light Test4.JPG
 
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greyghost

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Why does the fuse only blow with the newer (far right) LED but not the other LED (center)?

when I'm saying far right and center I'm referring to first pics of the 3 different lights.
 
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Aspen500

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I had the same basic trouble on my Aspen. All was well until I put the switch panel LED in, then the fuse would blow. The original socket needed a non COB metal base bulb. Finally I modified the switch panel to take a twist in 194 socket and removed the metal tube in the panel so a COB bulb would fit. No more blown fuse. What the exact cause was, don't really know. I've got the same non cob bulbs.in the radio and console shifter with no issues.
 
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