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It's fairly easy and you'll spend about 30 minutes if you're handy with screwdriver. Read the entire instructions first, so you'll have everything you'll need on hand.

Place the vehicle on a flat area and set the parking brake. Chock the wheels. Use the tilt steering wheel control to move the steering wheel to it's lowest position and lock there. Insert your key and turn far enough to be able to shift gearshift to 1st gear (the lowest position). Use a short #2 Phillips screwdriver to remove the 2 screws located above the instrument panel. On the left side of the dashboard, remove the small panel with the headlight and dimmer control. I could do mine with my fingertips and some moderate pressure. You can unplug the wires to this control with minimal effort. Find the release tab on each, depress it and firmly remove each connector without putting too much strain on the wires. Make a note where each connector went. Remove the 3rd screw holding the trim piece in place. Carefully remove the trim, it's plastic, and you may also have to pull out the center trim piece overlapping the right side of the instrument panel trim to get it to come out. There are 4 electrical connectors on the right side of the instrument trim, find the release tab on each and remove. These are also keyed to only fit the proper connector, but you might want to label them to avoid trial and error later on.. You can now completely remove the instrument panel trim piece.

There will be 4 black #2 Phillips screws holding in the instrument cluster. Remove those with a magnetic tipped screwdriver to avoid dropping the screws into the nether regions of the dashboard. Once those are removed, you can carefully manipulate the cluster forward and lean it forward. If all you are doing is replacing light bulbs, you don't have to disconnect the connectors and remove the cluster completely. There are typically 6 larger black "twist-off" bulb holders that need a #194 bulb (very common, available at stores everywhere, including Wal-Mart). A quarter turn in a counter-clockwise direction will release the holder. The bulbs pull straight out and the new ones push straight in. Only do one at a time. Place the bulb holder in the appropriate hole and turn 1/4 turn clockwise. Repeat for the remainder of the bulbs with the black holders.

There will be approximately 12 much smaller bulb holders with a type 37 bulb. I've found that only my local Napa parts store sells these, so get a dozen of them ahead of time. Replace each bulb one at a time like the larger ones. There are typically 2 bulb holders that contain LEDs which you won't need to remove or replace. Once all the bulbs are replaced, you're ready to test and reassemble.

Position the instrument cluster back onto the mounting posts, but don't replace the screws yet. Shift the gear shirt to the "P" (park) position, put your foot on the brake, and turn the key off and then on to the light test position (do not start the vehicle!). Ensure your instrument panel lights all work. If so, drop the shifter back to 1st gear and replace the 4 screws holding the cluster in place. Here's where a magnetic tip screwdriver will really come in handy.

Maneuver the instrument cluster trim piece back into position and reconnect the connectors on the right side of the trim piece, holding the front of each connector with the palm of your hand for counterpressure. Don't force the plugs. They should go back in easily and you will feel a "click" when each is seated properly. Pull the lighting connectors through from the left side, then put the trim piece in it's final position. You will have to overlap the center console trim price to get the trim to fit perfectly. There will also be some rubber flaps over the steering column that will need to all align properly. Replace the 3 screws holding the trim piece in place. Reconnect the lighting panel connectors on the left of the trim piece and snap it back in place with only moder pressure.

Return your shift lever to Park "P" and reposition your tilt steering wheel to where it is comfortable for you.

Start the vehicle and ensure that every switch that you disconnected and reconnected is functional (typically headlights, dimmer, hazard flashers, rear wiper, rear wiper wash, rear defroster, security indicator). Turn off the vehicle, remove the wheel chocks, release the parking brake and perform a test drive to ensure that the instrument cluster gauges still function (tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature sensor, batter voltage, etc.). If any of them do not function, you'll need to perform the maintenance function again to find any plugs not properly seated. However, if everything works well, you've just saved yourself about $100 in labor charges from your local mechanic.

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Q: How do you replace the dashboard lamps on a 1999 Mercury Villager?
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