1999+ Super Duty Gauge Installation
By Kirk Space
The following article is about the installation of an instrument
cluster bezel with water temp and oil pressure gauges for 1999.5-2003
Ford Super Dutys. I’ve composed this article in
hopes that it might assist other novice enthusiasts who might want
to do a similar installation. I do not make any claim that this is
the best way, or even the correct way to perform this installation,
nor will I be responsible for any damage that you may incur to
yourself and or your vehicle by following this installation
article. I can tell you that the installation worked well on my
Components are made by Autometer. The
bezel is catalogued under Gaugeworks part #15003. The gauges I
installed are the Z-series 2 1/16" electrical gauges. The
electrical gauges are equally as accurate as mechanical gauges,
according to Autometer, and you won’t have tubing running into the
cab. The water temp gauge is part #2635 and the oil pressure gauge
is part #2634. Both the gauges and bezel are black in color and
blend nicely with the stock dash. The gauges and bezel came at a
cost of approximately 167.00. You will also be able to still view
your stock gauges after this install as they are not totally blocked
from view by the new installation.
One comment on the attachment of the bezel. Autometer provides
double sticky tape to attach it to the dash. It didn’t work for me
and I doubt that it will work for you either. Plan on installing
the bezel with four small, black, flathead sheet metal screws, one
on each side at the top of the bezel and one on each side of the
bottom portion of the bezel. This makes for a nice solid
installation. You’ll need to use a stubby screwdriver on the top so
position the screws where you can get at them with the stubby.
You’ll need to purchase a small tube of Permatex Teflon Thread
Sealer to be used on all the threads of the adapter bushings and
senders, a couple of mini-fuse taps to tap onto a fuse to power the
gauges, two trailer tap connectors, a bunch of round terminal
connectors and one or two female stab type connectors that will be
used to make connections. You will also need a roll of 18 ga wire.
And you’re ready to get started!
The first thing to do is remove the light fixture from the
gauges and install one of the little rubber boots over the light
bulb to give your gauge face color when the lights are on.
Depending on your preference Autometer provides a red one and a
green one. They simply slide over the bulb, carefully. Then
re-install the light fixtures back into the gauges.
The next thing you’ll want to do is cut lengths of wire to make
your connections on the gauges. Be sure to cut them long enough to
get to their connection points on the vehicle. Two of these wires
(to the senders) need to go through the firewall so make these two
approximately 5′ long so you’re sure to have enough. Cut the rest
about 3-4′ long. You’re gonna have to trim them but better to be
too long than too short. Once you have cut your lengths of wire you
can attach each one to the gauges using round terminal connectors.
Don’t forget, the longest wire goes to the sender. Also be sure to
label each wire so that you know what it should attach to after the
gauges are mounted in the dash. Each gauge will have five wires
coming off of it.
Now, you’re ready to places the gauges into the bezel. They fit
nice and snug so you won’t need any mounting hardware to hold them
in place. Carefully press them into the bezel. Got it? OK you’re
now holding the bezel with the gauges installed and a lot of long
wire hangin from it.
Take the assembly to your truck and place the bezel in the instrument
panel of the dash, keeping each gauge’s wires to it’s respective
side of the steering column. Tuck the wires on each side, as neatly
as possible, down behind the plastic around the steering column.
While holding the bezel in it’s proper position, visualize the
location on the bezel near the top where it will be most accessable
to locate two screws. The bottom two screws are no problem as there
is plenty of room to access those. OK remove the bezel and put in
four small holes, two in the top and two in the bottom. I used a
small ice pick like instrument to accomplish this. Just be careful.
You don’t need much of a hole, just enough to start the screw.
Now that the holes are in, re-install the bezel and again using
a sharp instrument such as an ice pick or a sharp punch or scribe,
pop a small hole into the the factory dash so that you can get the
screws in. Once this is done install your screws and you should
have a nice solid installation. OK, take a break and give yourself
a pat on the back.
Alright, all rested? Good, let’s proceed. Next thing we’re
going to do is install the senders that come with your new gauges.
But first a couple of points on senders. Do not try to hook up your
new gauges to the FORD factory senders. It won’t work and it may
screw up your pcm. The pcm receives critical information from the
senders and the senders are gauge specific. What we want to
accomplish with the new gauges is to have a more accurate reading of
the wtr temp and oil pressure while at the same time preserving the
factory equipment and it’s functions. Hopefully we’ll never get an
idiot light signal but it’s at least nice to know it’s there. One
other thing. Autometer suggests that it may be possible to plumb a
"T" into the factory oil sending port to install the new
sender along side of the factory one. Forget that because there’s
not enough room on the V-10 to accomplish this.
Alright we need to install the new senders on the engine. We’ll
do the easy one first. That would be the wtr temp sensor. Do this
when your engine is COOL! Take the cap off of your auxilary coolant
resevoir to relieve any pressure in the system. If your engine is
cool there should be very little. At the top front side of the
upper intake manifold you’ll see a pipe plug. This is an access to
the water stream and this is where I located the new wtr temp
Get your sender set up with the bushing adapter, applying teflon
thread sealer to all of the threads and have it ready to install
when you remove the plug. When you remove the plug you’re going to
lose a few ounces of coolant so before you remove it place some rags
down below the plug between the upper and lower intake manifold to
catch the spill. OK install the new sender. Do not overtighten.
The intake appears to be of a cast nature and you don’t want to
crack it. One down and one to go!
Next is the oil sender. From underneath your vehicle look at
the back side of the driver’s side cylinder head. You’ll see a pipe
plug similar to the one we removed from the intake. This is where
we will install the new oil sender. It’s a little bit tight but
don’t worry, there is enough room. Again, you’re gonna lose a few
ounces of fluid (oil) when you remove this plug so be prepared with
rags. You’ll also need to use the brass bushing adapter here so go
ahead and install this onto the sender, using your teflon thread
sealer. Make sure you don’t crossthread the sender in the head.
The head is aluminum and delicate, not to mention very expensive.
Do not overtighten! Once you’ve got that installed the hardest part
is over ladies and gentlemen. Now all we need to do is hook up the
wiring. You may want to re-add a bit of coolant and oil to your
vehicle to make up what you think you may have lost.
As stated earlier, we need to run two wires through the firewall
from the gauges to the senders. To accomplish this you can either
drill a new hole through the wall or go through an existing boot. I
chose not to drill. It’s up to you. Autometer provides a grommett
for this purpose. Autometer also recommends that you connect the
grounds from the gauges to an engine ground. This would mean two
more wires through the firewall. There are some nice ground points
on the structural work under the dash that I chose to use for these
grounds as opposed to grounding in the engine compartment. These
worked well for me but you can decide for yourself.
Run your wires through the firewall and attach them to each of
the senders, again using terminal connectors. Be sure to route the
wiring out of the way of any moving or hot items. Heat resistant
conduit wouldn’t hurt. As you route the wires and determine the
necessary length you can trim them as needed.
At this point remove the ground cable from your battery until
you’re done with the wiring connections.
The next thing to hook up is ignition power to the gauges. You
want a power source that is activated only when the ignition switch
is turned on. This is where the mini-fuse tap comes in handy. At
location #29 in your terminal/fuse panel there is a 10 amp customer
access fuse which serves our purpose well. Pull that fuse and clip
on a mini-fuse tap and then re-install the fuse. You now have a
good solid connection point where you can attach a female terminal
connector. Go ahead and route the two power wires from the gauges
to see how long you’ll need them, trim them and install both of the
wires into one terminal connector. This can then be connected to
the fuse tap. OK, we’re making progress. We’ve connected the
senders and power to the gauges.
Below the radio in the structural steel you’ll notice a couple
of ground points with ground wires attached. This is where I
attached my ground wires. Note that you have four ground wires
left, two for the gauges and two for the gauge lights. I installed
the gauge grounds first. The order makes no difference though.
Again, route the wires, trim them to length and then install both
wires in one round terminal connector and then connect it to one of
the ground bolts below the radio.
All we have left to connect are the power lines for the gauge
lights and their grounds. We want the gauge lighting to brighten
and dim in unison with the rest of the instrument lighting. To
accomplish this we need to tap onto the power feed to the dimmer for
the dash lighting. To locate the appropriate wire we need to remove
the headlight/dash dimmer switches ass’y from the dash. Don’t
worry, it’s real easy. Look at the bottom of the switch ass’y.
There is a small notch at the bottom. Put a small screwdriver in
that slot and pry up and outward gently. The switch ass’y is only
held in by a few spring clips and it will pop right out. Got it?
Great. On the dimmer switch you’ll see a light blue wire that has a
pink stripe on it. This is the wire we want to tap for power.
Route one of the wires from a gauge to that wire and using a trailer
tap connector, attach it to the blue wire. You can then use another
trailer tap connector to tap onto the power line from the first
gauge that you tapped onto the blue wire. This works well as it’s a
bit tight to work inside the compartment containing the wires to the
dimmer unless you remove your fuse panel.
Only two more wires to connect! These are the grounds for the
gauge lighting. Again I used one of the ground connections on the
structural steel below the radio. Route your wires, trim them to
length and put both of them into one round terminal connector and
attach it to a ground bolt. That’s it, you’re done!! Good job!
Now, re-connect your battery ground and fire up the engine to
see if everything works. Now you can button up your dash. Leave
the engine run for a few moments and check to make sure you have no
leaks at the senders.
Congratulations and enjoy your new gauges!