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1988 Dakota 3.9L-TBI
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok so, my 1988 Dakota has one of the most horrible gauge clusters they offered; instead of a tach I have this huge gas gauge constantly reminding me how expensive gas is, the speed numbers are spaced horribly, the odometer shows the 1/10 mile...I don't want to watch the seconds on the clock if you know what I mean, I don't have a trip counter, I don't have a fuel door light, I have no variation in oil pressure just a light when it drops, I also have no variation in temperature again just a light when it goes up. Who knows how many other lights underneath are absent, when I turn on the ignition or start I only get an oil pressure light, brake and check engine...other vehicles use this as a bulb check and all lights turn on for a second like a pinball machine. My grandfather did swap the entire cluster from a junkyard and rolled it back to the correct mileage because the gas gauge stopped working so maybe some of the bulbs are blown.



Now I'm not sure, but this is the newest style cluster I have found in a junkyard (93') but does anyone know if there was anything added for the 95/96 years? I plan on doing white gauges with red illumination somehow, also replacing all the bulbs in the cluster with LEDs. I'll be changing the needles out to transparent red as well:



Here is the big question, will my harness accept it? Even if the pin-out is not the same are the terminals the same? I realize right now the tach won't work but what about the oil and temp gauges? Right now I would assume it is an on/off signal for a light bulb but a gauge runs on what a variable voltage?
 

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Trim Specialist
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71 Posts
bahahaha ohh the 80's what were they thinking thats the most useless cluster I've ever seen. Though sorry I have like no help on this.
 

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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The second pic you posted is the newest one with the most options. There was the same one for year 91-92 maybe i thought 93 too that has a 125mph Speedometer as well.

EDIT: Here's a Picture.
 

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1988 Dakota 3.9L-TBI
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797 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah that was the only thing I saw absent was the 125mph, so 91-93 have all options minus the "< Fuel Door" light? The rear of the cluster I posted is missing a light/socket along the bottom, second one in from the middle not sure what it is:
 

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408,R3,Indy Heads,Twin66s
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Probably a shift light? My 93 has 125mph speedo. It should plug in, you may need a newer oil pressure switch, not sure. Where is the speedo cable hook up on that one? I am not sure what year they went to electronic speedo, it may have been 94.
 

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1988 Dakota 3.9L-TBI
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797 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
They had a shift light!? That is awesome. Yeah the oil pressure switch would make sense, maybe even a temp switch as well. I have a mechanical speedometer cable driven off the transmission right now, when I put a 5-speed in I might be without a speedometer for a little while.
 

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1988 Dakota 3.9L-TBI
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797 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
On the other side of this thread I said I wanted to modify this cluster before I install it with LEDs and re-facing it. The white makes for great contrast and they have it in the 125mph version but it does seem to lack the fuel door light, I see an anti-lock light...looks like I should install an ABS system on my 88' then if it's an update. This goes OVER your stock face so I would still have the factory greenish back light color, I would need to find a way to remove the factory face somehow? If I could do that I would use red LEDs in the entire cluster!


The website did have this night picture on the advertisement (looks like the pre-91 GenI cluster)...but the text said it goes over your factory face so how are they getting the illumination colors with the stock face? There was an option to what color the face is and they have red but I think that means the white would be red not the back light color?


Now here is my other option...wish I could find the website again! It actually has a powered illumination in a multitude of colors without ordering a specific color so I can even have it roll though the colors after installed if I want, it would be distracting while driving but good for show. Lucky it has red but the image only shows the standard night vision glow not the red:
 

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Everything should work I have a cluster from an 89 truck in my 91 truck with a 93 Magnum Engine and a 94 NV3500 transmission (converted to cable drive) 94-96 are electronic speedo with the 96 being OBDII. I would wager to say you could use a 93 older cluster on a 94-96 truck but not the other way around, and that's assuming you can still give the PCM the correct speed signal since it runs weird with out it. The stock cluster is tinted green but i think if you want you can change the lights and still get different colors. You may need to add an extra temp sender since the gauge trucks have 2 one for PCM one for gauge display. Oil sender should be the same.

In my honest opinion white overlays look bad on our trucks since they never came with a white option ever, just doesn't jive well with the original design imo. Last one looks like something I'd expect to see in a need for speed game, honestly just tasteless imo. You could go red LED back lighting and get a sort of euro style look out of it.
 

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1988 Dakota 3.9L-TBI
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797 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I would be using a 94-96 in my 88' maybe I should look for a 93' or is the only difference the cable driven speedo and tach in 94-96?

The lights would be off in color if I did not remove the stock face though. So where is the extra coolant temp sensor located?

I'm going for a unique different look anyway if you can't tell by the look of my truck already, and more of a sporty feel with a hand brake in the center console etc. so the need for speed one would look cool in red imo. But I will probably end up getting just an oem appearing white face since it looks kind of retro....black is not bad though, I think they sell a black face with clear punch-outs.
 

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Well I would be using a 94-96 in my 88' maybe I should look for a 93' or is the only difference the cable driven speedo and tach in 94-96?

The lights would be off in color if I did not remove the stock face though. So where is the extra coolant temp sensor located?

I'm going for a unique different look anyway if you can't tell by the look of my truck already, and more of a sporty feel with a hand brake in the center console etc. so the need for speed one would look cool in red imo. But I will probably end up getting just an oem appearing white face since it looks kind of retro....black is not bad though, I think they sell a black face with clear punch-outs.
I don't think you can use the 94-96 clusters in your truck. So yeah just get a '93 125mph cluster. You can change the gauge color without ever changing the overlay, people do that all the time. I'm sure if you put blue bulbs behind a stock overlay you will get blue light. the filters aren't that great. I don't necessarily think that's sporty honestly but to each their own. I've got a stock cluster and some aftermarket gauges on the side, no one would ever consider my truck not sporty because of the cluster or lack of center brake.
 

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Also forgot to add the additional temp sensor will likely be by your thermostat on the intake manifold but you have an LA engined truck so its gonna be a bit different than most of the Dakotas with Magnum engines.
 

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1988 Dakota 3.9L-TBI
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797 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You can change the gauge color without ever changing the overlay, people do that all the time. I'm sure if you put blue bulbs behind a stock overlay you will get blue light. the filters aren't that great. I don't necessarily think that's sporty honestly but to each their own. I've got a stock cluster and some aftermarket gauges on the side, no one would ever consider my truck not sporty because of the cluster or lack of center brake.
Red can be funny, I will try it.

No but those things ADD to the whole direction I'm going for.

Also forgot to add the additional temp sensor will likely be by your thermostat on the intake manifold but you have an LA engined truck so its gonna be a bit different than most of the Dakotas with Magnum engines.
Wouldn't I need a Magnum intake then? The LA's probably did not have a second temp sensor?
 

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They should be the same setup i used to have the awful 3.9L TBI LA engine in my truck and had a factory temp gauge, I'd say i could check the engine for you to see but its at my dads and I'm going to be lazy lol. Also you cannot put a Magnum intake on an LA engine, its not possible, not without re-drilling the cylinder heads and retrofitting the MPI injection to an LA engine but that would be insanely pointless. Pro tip get rid of the TBI 3.9L as soon as possible its junk compared to a Magnum, even more so to a V8 Magnum. This is from someone who did have an LA 3.9L and switched to a Magnum way more power, its plug and play with the full engine bay harness, pcm, and magnum drivetrain.
 

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1988 Dakota 3.9L-TBI
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797 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So I will just have a spot for one without one being there?

I know I have a 5.9L Magnum engine but I'm trying to rack up the miles first on my LA it only has 76k, then the swap begins which is pretty straight forward I just need to gather a few more ends and odds.
 

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Now here is my other option...wish I could find the website again! It actually has a powered illumination in a multitude of colors without ordering a specific color so I can even have it roll though the colors after installed if I want, it would be distracting while driving but good for show. Lucky it has red but the image only shows the standard night vision glow not the red:
You mean these?
http://www.procarparts.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=29973
 
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