XJ Gauge cluster swap

Article by Matt Spiece.

Many of the base model XJs come with a dash that has a large speedometer, a large gas gauge, and warning lights that are supposed to let you know if something is wrong. These lights are not very reliable. In this article I will cover how to swap in a gauge cluster in place of the “idiot lights”, so that you can better see if something is not right under your hood. You also get the addition of a tachometer and a trip counter.

Specifically, I will cover the install on my ’96 Cherokee SE. There are many changes that happened to the XJ’s gauge package over the years. I will try to cover differences so this article will be useful with any year.

What you need:
For my ’96, I needed a package from a ’91–’96 XJ, which are completely electronic. ’84–’90 packages are also interchangeable. They are electronic except for a speedometer cable connection. ’84–’86 and ’87–’90 use two different speedometer cables, so you will need the upper cable from the donor vehicle if you want to swap these years. You can also get it from Mopar, only $10. The ’97–’01 XJs also use an electronic setup, however it is a completely different style from the previous years. I got my gauges from a local scrap yard for $50. This is a pretty good price; they usually go for $75-$100. You can buy them new, however they are rather expensive.

For mine, I also needed a new oil pressure sending unit, and a new coolant temperature sending unit. This is necessary for all ’84-’96 XJs. ’97+ will work with the original senders. You can go to a Jeep dealership and get Mopar original replacements (what I did), or go to your local auto parts store for aftermarket replacements.

Installation: NOTE: this applies for ’84–’96 models with the 4.0L engine. 97+ models or other motors may be different.

1. Remove the dash. There are four Phillips head screws, all facing up. There are also some clips around the dash, including by the radio, and the heater vent on the right. Go around and pull straight out. If you have a ’95 or newer, you also need to remove the steering column cover to remove the dash bezel. To do that you need a T15 Torx driver.

2. Remove the gauges. There are 6 Phillips head screws holding it down, all easily visible. After you pull it away, unhook the 2 connectors, and the speedometer cable (if applicable).

3. Install new gauges. Do exactly what you did to take the old one out in reverse order.

4. Install new senders. The oil pressure sender is located above the oil filter. Just unhook the wire, unscrew the sender, and install the new sender. NOTE: several people who have done this have had problems with the old sender breaking off. It would be a good idea to have an extractor handy.
5. The temperature sender you need to change is located in the back of the engine block, beside the valve cover, to the driver’s side. Just remove the connector, unscrew it, and install the new one. It is not necessary to change the sender on the front of the engine, because this one is for the computer, and does not affect the gauges.

After you’ve done all that, your new gauges should work.

Since you are installing a new odometer with your gauge package, you should find a local speedometer shop to change your new one to match your old one. The shop I went to changed it in 5 min (I removed it for him), and only charged me $10. Some other places charge more, and do the legal paper work stating that there was a change. I was not concerned about that, since I will probably run this Jeep until it is dead.

The only other problem I had was after I put in the new gauges, I realized the plastic panel that covers the gauge mechanics was gray, while my dash was black. I didn’t like the difference, so I took the plastic cover off the old package, and placed it in the new one. I had to drill a hole for the trip meter reset switch; otherwise they are exactly the same.

Good Luck and enjoy your new dash!

39 comments

39 Comments so far

  1. DJ March 23rd, 2010 12:45 am

    i have a 1990 jeep cherokee, so can i only get one from a 84-90 or can i go all the way through 96?

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  3. Jared August 2nd, 2010 8:18 pm

    hey man, thanks for posting this. i bought my 95 a few months ago and didnt think i could do the swap cuz it came with idiot lights which was my only regret for getting rid of my 2wd comanche. now that i got the new gauges in its awesome and i didnt think it would be so easy. thanks a lot, i hope other people respond to this and use this info well!!

    – Jared Peabody, MA

  4. New guy from southern New Jersey August 17th, 2010 9:37 pm

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  7. charles March 24th, 2011 4:51 pm

    Thanx for this,but I still need to know where to find one. I’ve been searching all over.

  8. Mike June 29th, 2011 10:27 pm

    ebay, got one today for 30 bucks with a wood grain bezel included very nice, Mileage is very close to mine

  9. austin July 17th, 2011 5:24 pm

    which years can i swap a 95 idiot light gauge panel with??

  10. Miha Vovk July 23rd, 2011 12:37 am

    Does anyone have part numbers for senders I need for swap to work? Since I am from Italy my only option is to go to the dealer and tell him part numbers, otherwise is a no go to tell them what I want. Thank you in advance.

  11. Rob Lonbeck August 28th, 2011 10:43 am

    I did the same swap on my ’94 XJ… First off the temperature sending unit will require a a crows foot type socket and small hands… The oil pressure switch I purchased was from http://www.rockauto.com and it was part#WMA1S6646 (Airtex/Wells). The temperature sender is part#430TS334 (Standard Motor Products)… Rock Auto had a fairly detailed description of there parts… Just make sure you pick the part with gauge in the description rather than light… After you make the switch give the oil pressure unit some time to adjust. It took a drive up and down my street before the gauge stopped bouncing and remained at a steady pressure reading… Good Luck

  12. Olystretch October 9th, 2011 4:26 pm

    I have an 86 Cherokee Pioneer 2.5 gas engine. I have the cluster with a tach. I think my tach may be incorrect. Is it a possibility that a previous owner did this swap, but got the cluster from a 6 cylinder vehicle and that is why my tach reads incorrecly? or maybe there is a switch somewhere to change it to 4 cyl? any information is appreciated.

    thanks,
    Kurt

  13. chris November 7th, 2011 2:07 am

    I replaced the gauges, purchased brand new senders. But I have an issue, The oil Gauge is pegged at 80, it is 0 when in the on position, but after starting it, it pegs to 80. what went wrong? My jeep is the 1996 Jeep CHerokee Sport 4.0 Straight 6.

  14. Drue November 20th, 2011 10:22 pm

    Chris You may have the wrong sending unit. The idiot light sending unit is just a open/closed switch. The gauge sending unit is a variable unit. Either get one from the junkyard or go to the monatary rape depot (dealership) and make sure they give you the right unit.

  15. jim clark January 11th, 2012 12:05 am

    Look up the part numbers for a 95 cherokee and it will have the option for either dummy light or guage !! if they look up 1996 it only shows dummy light no idea why but this is how it is on autozones part lookup tool!

  16. jim clark January 11th, 2012 12:14 am

    oil pressure = Part Number: PS233
    temp sender = Part Number: TU236

    those are for autozone. i did a gauge swap on my 1996 2 door cherokee.

  17. STL Jonny May 21st, 2012 1:30 pm

    I have a 96 as well, but would just rather swap the whole cluster than replacing the individual gauges. Would I still need the sending units, or are those because the sending units are different on the warning light units vs the gauge units?

  18. ryan January 27th, 2013 8:31 am

    Will thw swap work on my 93 jeep cherokee 2.5 5 speed

  19. Tim C. February 27th, 2013 10:26 pm

    We just replaced the gauges in my sons 96 XJ. The swap was easy. However we encountered trouble with the replacement Temp sensor. The thread size was the same but it had a 9/16 head on it, instead of a 13mm making it hit the valve cover. We ended up filing the edge of the valve cover and using a crow foot socket to drive it in place due to the limited clearance. So far it works well.

  20. Zach April 21st, 2013 8:01 pm

    Hey guys, I replaced my gauges from my ’93 to a panel i pulled from a ’94. the tach, fuel, odometer and tripometer seem great (it’s a manual, so the tach is really useful.) I suppose i need new temp and oil pressure sensors since they don’t seem to be working. But, more worryingly, My speedometer isn’t working. when I tested it after I swapped it, the needle, after a minute of driving, jumped to around 20mph and jiggled around, even though my speed was constant, then when i turned on to a road with a 55mph speed limit it jumped up to ~80 and wiggled. it then swung all the way around to the bottom of the peg and didn’t move. the speedo worked fine on my old one. do you guys think I have a faulty unit?

  21. Elliott August 2nd, 2013 6:54 pm

    I am looking to do this swap in my ’96 and the previous owner installed a temp gauge. so would that sender already have been replaced?

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  23. kev March 6th, 2014 9:08 pm

    i have a 88 cherokee that im trying to do the same thing with. my cluster is the same but has a speed cable coming in the back. i am trying to use a 90 comanche cluster with speed cable in the back. i did find an 88 cherokee cluster that has all the dials to it but im being told by the dealership that i need 2 change all the wiring in the engine an under the dash to accomidate the new cluster. any if this true. any1 got any advise or step by step instructions? your help is much apperciated.

    aloha

    kev

  24. Shawn Mccormack March 20th, 2014 12:12 pm

    I have a 87 xj and cannot find a speedometer cable thats right anywhere?

  25. Shawn Mccormack March 20th, 2014 12:18 pm

    Matt do you know where i can get the right speedo cable for my 87 XJ?

  26. mike October 2nd, 2014 12:20 pm

    I have a 2000 grand Cherokee has what seems to be electrically controlled tack and Speedo but the mileage is digital and the teach work s on and off the Speedo if it stop s you tap on it but mileage is digital and does not work help

  27. Ken May 2nd, 2015 8:43 pm

    Wow what a great write up. EVERY question asked on what fits what IS answered in the write up. AWESOME JOB DUDE
    Thanks a bunch.

  28. Michael August 10th, 2015 7:49 pm

    I have had a 96 XJ for about 10 years now and wanted to do this switch since I found out you could. I finally did the switch and cant be happier. I was skeptical about doing it because I only had 104,000 miles and couldnt find anything close to that. I finally decided to pull the trigger and buy one though. I live in VA and couldnt find anyone that could switch the odometer. I noticed when looking at the new cluster that the odometer was only held on by 3 screws. I took off my original odometer and switch it to the new cluster and saved my milage. The only thing is that I have no trip odometer but im used to that. I plan on covering up the trip odometer hole to make it look cleaner. Also, instead of buying a crows foot wrench just cut a wrench in half and use that for the collent temperture sender. Works a lot easier and cheaper.

  29. Rez August 15th, 2015 7:57 pm

    I don’t find anything in this article about the tach. Even though the old cluster didn’t have a tach with the new work after installation or will something need to be added? I installed an aftermarket tach on my steering column so I have the wiring but was wondering if it was included from the factory . . .

    Tnx . .

  30. Michael August 19th, 2015 8:42 pm

    Rez, it will work with the original harness. You will not need to do anything else but I would compare the aftermarket tach to the one with the new cluster before getting rid or the aftermarket one.

  31. Rez August 20th, 2015 11:16 pm

    Thanks, Michael! Just got the new cluster in today. Need to pick up the new sending units and I’ll be ready to install. Hoping the tach works cause I’d like to get rid of the one hanging on my column. Stoked about the change. Hate those dummy lights!

  32. Rez August 21st, 2015 4:41 pm

    Got ‘er done today! Easy change out. Replaced the sending units but both connectors are in bad shape. Temp gauge doesn’t work at all, never had apparently (thanks, idiot lights.) And the oil pressure sending unit works . . . most of the time. Have to wiggle the connection when it acts up. Simply replace the connectors and I’m good. Lovin’ my gauges!

  33. Jestin August 24th, 2015 12:43 am

    I have a 96 with the basic cluster. Do I need new 97+ oil and temp senders or do I just get new 96 ones?

  34. Jestin August 24th, 2015 12:45 am

    Also since i have the 96 idiot light cluster,i need to get the cluster from another 96 that has the upgraded cluster right?

  35. Kerry November 30th, 2015 2:42 pm

    Will this also work going from a metric to US cluster? Because the metric cluster goes too 200kmh which is roughly 125 mph.

  36. Ray February 26th, 2016 1:19 pm

    Can I swap lights with gauge on the old cluster. I have a 88 Comanche/auto Any changes to the wire harness.

    THX

  37. Ray February 26th, 2016 1:25 pm

    Anybody on this site live in Nova Scotia, Canada ????

  38. Joshua13 February 28th, 2016 12:51 pm

    So on my cluster swap im having issues with my temp sensor. Its an 88 xj and the existing sensor has only one wire and no quick dissconect that the new one with two wires could plug into.

  39. Kry March 17th, 2016 10:08 pm

    Does anyone have the part number needed for the speedometer cable and a write-up on how to install the speedo cable?

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