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Old 05-29-2015, 09:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default DIY: 88-91 Civic/CRX Gauge Cluster R&R

All Honda Civics from these years are wired the same for the gauges, so if yours originally came with no tach like mine did, you can swap in one from a different model of the same year. its really that easy, you dont have to rewire anything! a true plug-n-play conversion.

NOTE: I'm not kidding when I say that this was really easy. its was so easy I almost didn't do this write up. it took me less than 15min and the only tool I needed was a medium sized screw driver.


Before you get started, you have to make sure that you get the correct gauge cluster for your year model car. there is an early and late style. you can interchange them, but it requires a little bit of wiring and get a matching gauge hood. we wont be covering anything like that here since its easy to find either style and they cost the same. you're better off getting the right one for your car and saving yourself the headache.


this is the original gauge cluster in my 1989 civic. the fuel gauge kinda doesn't work, the lense has a crack in it, and worst of all... no tach! I HATE driving a stick shift car with no tach, even if the car is very very slow (like mine is). its just more fun to have one!


first you have to take off four phillips head screws to remove the "hood" that surrounds your gauge cluster. you pop these little covers open with your fingernail or a small flathead screw driver to get to the first two.


the next two bolts that hold the hood on are easily accessible but hidden underneath on each side of your steering column.


you can now start to pull the gauge hood off. BUT you still need to disconnect the dimmer and defrost switches that are mounted in the gauge hood. the wiring connectors for the switches easily unclip by hand... but it's a tight squeeze to get you hand in there, so go slow. remember: you're dealing with old plastic, its can easily crack or break. so don't force anything or pry on anything.


now that those four bolts are removed and the switches are disconnected, you can pull the gauge hood off nice and easy. here you can see the bolts that you'll need to remove to pull the cluster assembly out, they're are two black ones on each side of the cluster. BUT don't remove them yet! you'll want to disconnect the wiring and speedo cable cables on the back before you do.


there are two connectors and a speedo cable that plug into the back. these are also easily removed by hand just like the switches from earlier. they may be a little stubborn, but unclip the same way.


now you can remove those four screws (two on each side) and remove the cluster.
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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here you can see my old cluster next to the new one I got. it came out of an 89 CRX Si. its in much better shape and has a tach. now its time to install your new cluster. it goes on just like the old one came off, with those four black bolts. the bolts only need to be tightened 'hand-snug', it just needs to be held on firm without movement but not tight enough to break or crack the plastic. remember, this is a 25+ year old plastic car.


once you have the cluster mounted, reconnect the two big connectors on the back and the speedo cable. they 'snap' back in just like they came out, nice and easy. BUT BEFORE YOU REINSTALL THE HOOD, turn your key on and check that all the lights and gauges work, you can even take a small test drive to make sure everything is working properly. check you high beam indicator, your turn signals, and all the idiot lights that should come on for a few seconds when you first turn the key. start the car and see if the coolant temp, fuel gauge and tach work. and like I said, you can also take it for a quick test drive to make sure the speedo works too.

i'm glad I did, turns out the previous owner that had this cluster decided to install some LED bulbs... but only two which is odd because it looks very mismatched.


the good news is, the bulbs and bulb holder are the same for these clusters and the ones out of my old one were still good. so it was a simple as pirating some from my original cluster. you can see they are the bigger brown ones in the back, they twist and pull out easily and reinstall just as easy.


here's the aftermarket LED bulb on the left and the OEM one on the right. don't ask me what those little blue plastic covers are on the original bulbs, all of mine had them and they defiantly don't shine "blue" when on. I just left them on, they must've put them on for a reason.


I installed the correct matching bulbs and everything looks great! now I can finally reinstall the cluster hood. it goes back on in reverse of how you took it off. again, a reminder: the screws that hold it on only need to be hand-snug, enough to keep it from moving around but not too tight so you don't crack or break the plastic.


and now you can enjoy your new/better gauge cluster! YAY!


side note: wow does my car turn a LOT of RPM going down the highway... the one down side of running a short geared Si transmission.
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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That is about where my tach sits at 70 mph, my trans is a dx from a b7.

Maybe a bit lower, I will check at lunch.

Looks good btw.
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Old 06-01-2015, 05:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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That is about where my tach sits at 70 mph, my trans is a dx from a b7.

Maybe a bit lower, I will check at lunch.

Looks good btw.
Thanks!
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If you take the specs from this site, and plug it into this calculator, at 3500rpm in 5th it shows DX trans doing 79mph and SI trans doing 72mph.

i'd really like to do the HF 5th gear swap, but it would only drop the revs to 3150 at 72mph... not sure if it'd be worth the trouble.
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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What is the reason for wanting to drop the RPM? You will lose MPG with longer gearing if that is the concern.

Honda hasn't changed much over the years. My 05 EX manual




EDIT: Did you not want to keep the mileage???
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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What is the reason for wanting to drop the RPM? You will lose MPG with longer gearing if that is the concern.

EDIT: Did you not want to keep the mileage???
I want to keep my 1st through 4th gears but swap out just 5th gear from the HF trans so the rpms drop going down the highway. how is turning 3500 rpms going to get better mpg than turning 3150rpms?
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Rpm isnt all that clounts in gas milage. Its the least of your worries. You want it to rev high. Get it close to peak VE and you will get the best milage. Do you honda doesnt know how to get good milage. You idea will diff give you worse ggas milage. Lower rpm means more load and that adds up to more gas being burn. Your moving farther and farther away from peak VE. My head hurts. Why not add five hundred pounds to your car to help gas milage. Or u plug one spark plug and injector. ...... i cant get over this thought of lugging the engine will make it get better gas milage... peak torque is where you want to cruse man. Why would you want to run you engine at like 60% ve thats shitter then any engine made in the last 50 years. You have tooo much to learn.
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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So you think you know more then honda about transmissions and gearing and gas milage. I think not. They wrote the book on it. As in world leaders in tranny building and matching an engines ve charictoristics to a transmission.
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Old 06-01-2015, 09:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Rpm isnt all that clounts in gas milage. Its the least of your worries. You want it to rev high. Get it close to peak VE and you will get the best milage. Do you honda doesnt know how to get good milage. You idea will diff give you worse ggas milage. Lower rpm means more load and that adds up to more gas being burn. Your moving farther and farther away from peak VE. My head hurts. Why not add five hundred pounds to your car to help gas milage. Or u plug one spark plug and injector. ...... i cant get over this thought of lugging the engine will make it get better gas milage... peak torque is where you want to cruse man. Why would you want to run you engine at like 60% ve thats shitter then any engine made in the last 50 years. You have tooo much to learn.
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So you think you know more then honda about transmissions and gearing and gas milage. I think not. They wrote the book on it. As in world leaders in tranny building and matching an engines ve charictoristics to a transmission.
Easy killer, just bringing up simple questions.

i'm aware that rpm isn't the whole story and lugging an engine can get worse milage than letting it rev a little more. I have a truck that likes to be at 2500 on the highway vs 2000. but over 3200 rpm at 75mph isn't luggin it in a lil Honda is it? no.

would swapping the HF 5th gear AND final drive into my trans be a horrible idea? without a doubt. I've driven those and the gear spacing is WAY too long.

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Old 06-01-2015, 09:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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3400 is a good cruse rpm for a dseries. Throttle angle is whatburns gas the less angle the less gas.. you want to rev high. Look at a dyno chart, as rpm goes up so does hp and tq. So at 2200 rpm your motor makes 45hp thats not enough power tomove a civix very well so it loads the motor up and it burn gas. 3500 rpm you make near peak tq and like 80hp. The motor can easily move a civic eithout much work. So it burns less gas since its not even trying. .. there becomes a point of live of motor vs gasmilage. 6000 rpm at 2% throttle will burn no gas but might not last long. So 3% angle at 3500 is a compermise that works.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:41 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I appreciate your response.

when I rebuilt this trans before I installed it, I did a lot of searching for people who'd done the same and their results and experiences. most reported back with no real increase in highway MPG, a small handful said they gained 1-2mpg, but no one said they lost MPG. but I also liked the idea of turning less rpm on road trips to help with some wear and tear, if worse case I don't gain any MPG but the car runs quieter and a little less wear, still wouldn't be a BAD idea.

but you can see the result of all my searching, I still didn't do it. LOL

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Old 06-01-2015, 10:43 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Generally engines are most efficient near their torque peaks. Most stock D series are still climbing to the plateau at 3500, and are firmly on it around 4k.

All B series trannys are pretty deep, even my cable LS tranny revs slightly higher then that in 5th, I am around 3500 @ 68MPH. A B16 or ITR tranny would he more like 4000 @ 70MPH.

I personally do like to let things ease off a bit though, my tranny attached to my b18c1 is doing [email protected], ~3500 @80mpg, and [email protected], although I feel that any vtec engine really has 2 peak efficency zones, so 3100 is fairly good for gas mileage with a light car on flat ground.
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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All B series trannys are pretty deep, even my cable LS tranny revs slightly higher then that in 5th, I am around 3500 @ 68MPH. A B16 or ITR tranny would he more like 4000 @ 70MPH.
forgot about the b-series gearing, those are pretty high too. bet it runs good though, as long as your midrange aint shitty I bet it has enough pep to not require downshifts to pass.

mine turns almost 4k at 80mph (speed limit out here in 75 and I usually go a lil over), still gets 42mpg at that speed.
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:16 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Yea, a b18a1 is basically like driving a d16a6 with 25% more power everywhere and a shitty ass valvetrain.
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Joel had me covered while I had to go be an adult for a few hours. A few things to think of about this:

4th to 5th gear drop would be not horrid but certainly not as even as the 1-4 set would be


You would get better mileage (with HF 5th) on flat ground "IF" you keep the throttle constant and don't "blip" the pedal

The people claiming increased mileage may have done this swap with anticipation of an increase and have a somewhat biased outcome they may also be driving conservatively thinking of mileage.


I honestly think with how heavy my car is that a slightly shorter gear would help me out in mileage and acceleration.
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:40 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I did test my rpms, in 5th at 70 mph I was around 2700 rpms. I could be off, as I have an ex tach, it seems to be off a few hundred either way from my old sunpro.

This is a Y8 in a 92 sedan with b7 (P20-a000) trans.
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:42 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I did test my rpms, in 5th at 70 mph I was around 2700 rpms. I could be off, as I have an ex tach, it seems to be off a few hundred either way from my old sunpro.

This is a Y8 in a 92 sedan with b7 (P20-a000) trans.
hmmmmmm, 2700rpm sure is low at 70mph. does it drive good at that rpm?
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Might have an issue with my tach from the JY....

I will do it again on my way home in a couple hours, I think either my tach is way off, I need to get an after market to test, or I was closer to 3000 then I remember.

It runs out of steam at 5000 on this tach, where as I could get up nearer to 6500 before my car would scream at me to shift or die. Never got closer to 7200 then that. The speedo was dead on at 45, 55 and 65 based on a radar stand near here.

I will take a pic. Any way enough about me...

Back to you.
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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My 98 Dx trans was like that, when I slapped a y8 head on the y7 block, wasnt uncommon to get up to 65 in second gear when merging on the freeway, looking at the gear calc says 76 mph was top speed in second at 8k, which sounds about right.

That car didnt get great gas mileage, maybe 32 average around town and on the freeway back and forth to Houston. My wife drove it to Louisiana a couple times where she was maintaining 80-85 constant on flat ground and was seeing more like 45 mpg.

So a bunch of things to consider: car weight, speed changes, hills, etc. Steady state driving a much higher geared cruising 5th might get some more mileage. But if you are constantly having to change throttle due to speed changes or hill climbs, that advantage can disappear real fast. Especially if yor gears are so high you are bogging it a bit around town like my 98 DX sedan was.
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Give a man a match, you will keep him warm for a minute. Light him on fire, however, and he will be warm the rest of his life....

Last edited by JoelEspinoza; 06-01-2015 at 01:00 PM.
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