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Volkswagen Jetta Instrument Cluster Speedometer Tachometer Repair:

I have a 1995 VW Jetta III. The instrument cluster tachometer and speedometer stopped working in a fairly classic way. One or both needles just vibrate during operation. I took the cluster apart and checked all the electrical connections and found no problems. I disassembled both stepper motors that drive the needles. I found no real problem except maybe a little looseness in the gears and motor shafts. I actually believe this wear or looseness is what causes this problem. I put it all back together (but without the clear front) and plugged the cluster into the car to observe the problem. As I turned the key on and off and the engine on and off the needles would vibrate but not move around as they should. At one point I decided to put my finger on one of the vibrating needles. I discovered that if I stopped the vibrating with my finger, the tachometer would start working with the engine running.

It suddenly occurred to me that a stop on the face of the dial might fix the problem. I decided to fashion a simple stop from 0.001 inch thick brass shim stock. Local hardware or craft stores should have this. It cuts easily with small scissors. I cut a piece of brass about 0.25 inches wide by about 0.75 inches long. You can see from the photos below the basic shape that I cut. I folded this metal to form an upside down "T". I used super glue on the cross of the "T" as the surface to adhere the stop to the face of the cluster. I put one on the tachometer and one on the speedometer. I positioned them down from zero about 0.25 inch. See the photos below. Once the glue dried, I painted the stops with black acrylic paint that I bought at WalMart. The  dial needles were then rotated on the motor shaft a little past the stop (counter clockwise) by lifting them up and turning slightly.  Once they were turned to the desired position, I put them back on the correct side of the stops. I put it all back together and tested the modified cluster. It has worked perfectly since the repair without exception.

I realize this is a bit of a kludge. It does nothing for calibration. However, it is easy to do and is inexpensive. The black stops blend in well with the dial and are fairly discrete. If you want a quick easy fix for this common problem, these simple stops will work. Take a look at the photos below and let me know what you think. You need to be a little crafty for this, but it is quite doable.

Here are the tools and parts I used for this repair

Here the stops are glued on but not painted. Notice how they are down from zero about 0.25 inch.

Here are the finished and painted stops. They work great!