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Trip Odometer Fix/Pics

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Old 07-07-2004, 02:33 PM   #1
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Trip Odometer Fix/Pics

The trip odometer is one of the most common engineering disasters on thirdgen cars (symptoms of failure are listed in post #25); however, the fix is both simple and inexpensive--my cost $.09 at the local hardware store.

To access the speedo, remove the black bezel. Once that's removed, look in the rectangles that house the e-brake light, check engine light, etc., and you'll note a, I believe, 10 mm nut on each side of the cluster housing. Move the seat back all the way. Drop the lower dash panel for access to the speedo cable and its clip (this clip holds the cable to the speedo head). A long-shanked, flat-bladded screw driver is perfect to trip the clip. A flash light/trouble light is indispensible. Once the cable is free, so is the cluster. Lowering the steering wheel, and/or dropping the steering column a fraction will help in the removal but is not necessary. To protect from scratches use a bit of masking tape on the steering column.

Note the speedo cable clip.

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Last edited by JamesC; 02-14-2011 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:35 PM   #2
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Removal of the speedo head is straightforward. Three screws. I'm pointing to two and the third is above my right finger.

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Old 07-07-2004, 02:39 PM   #3
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With the speedo removed, you'll probably find the infamous "J" clips that were designed to keep the odometer in place.

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Old 07-07-2004, 02:40 PM   #4
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Note the odometer 'axel.' There's an example of another J clip, two axels up.

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Old 07-07-2004, 02:46 PM   #5
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The fix is simple: Without taking the speedo head apart, turn it around to the backside and "wire up." I cut 5 inches of wire, made a noose at both ends (I bent the wire to form a "U", placed one jaw of a needle nose at the bottom of the "U" and used pliers to twist the wire around the needle jaw to form the nooses). I placed the nooses over the axels, then twisted the slack in the center of the 5 inches to tighten the whole business. Push in on the reset while you're doing this so that the axel will be seated--just makes things easier. The wire, of course, replaces the J clips and seats the axel so that it is stationary. By the way, I tried 22-guage wire first, but it was too heavy and difficult to work with. I also attempted cauter keys, but I couldn't get the axel to seat to my satisfaction. I ended up using a very flexible piece of solid core, $.09 a foot. The fix is not as neat looking as I would have prefered, but the odometer functions like new, and frankly I don't think I'll ever have further problems with it.

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Last edited by JamesC; 12-19-2006 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:48 PM   #6
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My like new 145.

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Last edited by JamesC; 09-21-2004 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:50 PM   #7
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FYI, if you attempt the fix, you might consider white-faced overlays and/or higher intensity xenon bulbs. The sockets are twist out.

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Old 07-07-2004, 02:51 PM   #8
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The bulbs pull out of their sockets. Here's an old link that might be useful:

https://www.thirdgen.org/techbb2/sho...hreadid=107995

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Old 07-07-2004, 02:52 PM   #9
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I want a 145 speedo. I pegged the speedo on my car the other day (120mph) and am guessing I was going about 123 by the time I was about done. If I were to get one..would I be able to somehow use my current odometer because I want to keep the mileage reading accurate.
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:59 PM   #10
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You can swap mileage rolls. There's a brown clip, just below my index finger, that holds the mileage roll in place. If you remove/loosen the two screws that keep the speedo face in place, push in the reset button, and let the face hang free, you can pull that clip and work the roll out between the face and the housing. I wouldn't advise removing the speedo needle. I accomplished this swap when I went from an 85 to 110.

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Last edited by JamesC; 07-07-2004 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 07-07-2004, 03:11 PM   #11
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I'll make this a sticky (and copy to FAQ forum). I ask that people not respond other than specifics about the trip odometer fix.

One question I have: Does reset still work "normally"? Not sure how it could, unless you're leaving some slack in there.

Another "fix" I recall hearing about is to make "J" hooks out of a paperclip, drill (small) holes in the plastic where the originals broke off, and Superglue the J's in the holes.
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Old 07-07-2004, 03:16 PM   #12
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Since the axel is seated as it was with the J clips in place, the reset works fine.

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Old 07-07-2004, 03:25 PM   #13
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But the axle has to move away from the drive gear in order for the trip OD to reset. If you wire it too tight, it won't be able to reset.

Wonder how long a rubber band would last?
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Old 07-07-2004, 05:40 PM   #14
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The axel is supposed to be stationary (as it would necessarily have to be with the original J clips in place--the trip odometer fails because those clips break and allow the axel to float). When pushed, the reset buttom not only disengages the drive gear, I assume, but also clears the mileage, then engages the drive gear again when released. It's the reset mechanism that moves, not the axel. At any rate, everything works smoothly and as it should. Maybe that's as clear as mud.

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Old 07-07-2004, 06:29 PM   #15
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Okay, it's been a few years since I had mine apart and played with it. As I remembered it, the J's existed so the axle could move during reset. But, you may be right (or mine is different...).
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Old 07-07-2004, 11:18 PM   #16
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Sorry if this question has already been answered, but what exactly is this supposed to fix? My trip odometer seems to be running fine even after 155,000 miles.
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Old 07-08-2004, 06:32 AM   #17
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I'm surprised to learn that a car with that many miles still has a functioning trip. I'd guess that the majority of cars with mechanical speedos have failed trip odometers: The inherent weakness of the J clips make them highly susceptable to breakage. For example, I first had an 85 speedo, whose trip was already broken. I replaced with a free 110 (the trip worked and though I used it infrequently and gently when I did use it, it still went south). Finally, the trip in the 145 I just purchased was gone. IROCZDAVE reguarly sells speedos, and most all are advertised with repaired trips.

Anyway, my general opinion, I guess, is that unless you never use the trip, eventually it will fail.

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Old 07-08-2004, 01:19 PM   #18
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Wow, I had no idea.

I haven't ever reset the trip odometer since I bought the car. I only use it to keep track of gas milage and oil changes.
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Old 07-08-2004, 04:05 PM   #19
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One more pic to demonstrate what occurs when one or both J clips break. Note the misalignment on the left, which is where the break is (Double that problem when both clips give up the ghost). The method I suggest simply reseats that lower axel into its proper position.

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Old 07-10-2004, 06:07 AM   #20
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The question may become this: Is this a problem on just Camaros? I have had a ton of chicken based cars and never had the problem. I've seen it on quite a few Camaros however. Is the unit the same between the cars, and if not would the chicken unit fit if it is more durable? (Or maybe I've been very lucky.)
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Old 07-10-2004, 04:42 PM   #21
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I have no idea if Camaro and Firebird speedo guts are identical or not--I'd find differences difficuilt to believe, but this is GM we're discussing. Interesting question. Anyone?

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Old 07-13-2004, 11:59 AM   #22
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I drilled two holes from the bottom and inserted screws to hold the shaft in place. Works good and should last a long time.
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Old 07-28-2004, 03:28 PM   #23
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I finally got to mine a couple of weeks ago. I had never seen one that wasn't broken, so I didn't understand the function of the "J's". Seeing they used the same thing on the main odometer axle (although a lot beefier) finally got the concept through to me.

The "J's" allow the odometer assembly to be slid into the slot and snapped into position. In other words, ease of assembly. Once I got that in my head, I finally figured out how to snug it up per the instructions above to get it to work.

Nice to have it working again.
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Old 08-09-2004, 01:29 AM   #24
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any better pics dont see in the pics what j clips...my trip odemoter resets but goes upto like 56miles or something and quits turning.....is this the problem on my 145 sped
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Old 08-09-2004, 06:12 AM   #25
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Check the fourth pic above. Almost straight up from the screwdriver tip, on the third axel (the one in line with my index finger), you'll see a "J" clip fixing the axel in place. The one you see there is much beefer than the ones on the lower axel that typically break. If your trip won't reset, partially resets, jumps, tics or pops, it's because the axel isn't seated, meaning one or both of the lower J clips is broken or substantially weakened, eventually leading to a break.

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Old 10-26-2004, 02:02 PM   #26
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hey jamesc let me ask ya something i'm not very good with eletrical part but i see u know some about speedo i got a 87 ta tpi for parts and most of the stuff will be going into my 84 el camino the elky has a t5 from my last 3rd gen (84 camaro) until i dont get the tpi in the eky is any way i can rum the speedo? the ta has a auto tranny and its eletronic speed sensor how do i wire it to the speedo ? is it possible? what whould i need? and how to do ?

thanx
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Old 10-26-2004, 02:59 PM   #27
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Sorry, I can't help with your question, Carlos. You might try posting your question on the electronics board.

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Old 01-23-2005, 09:58 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by DuronClocker
I want a 145 speedo. I pegged the speedo on my car the other day (120mph) and am guessing I was going about 123 by the time I was about done. If I were to get one..would I be able to somehow use my current odometer because I want to keep the mileage reading accurate.
actually, i know from experience, if you pull the guage cluster and undo the little computer attatched the speedo and swap that on to your current speedo it will then be a 140MPH speedo. you will of course also need to swap the faceplate/guage face. i broke my spiffy 145MPH speedo and tested this theory. mine works great.
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:49 PM   #29
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Some advice for those wishing to attmept this fix on an earlier (82-?) "dual needle" speedometer: you don't have j-clips. The speedo in my pace car is one of the silly old half-mph/half-kmph guages, with the trip lever in the upper-left hand part of the gauge, and the trip tumbler above the mileage tumbler.

I finally got around to pulling my cluster last weekend and was excited for the prospect of actually having a working trip odometer again.

Unfortunately, the trip in my speedo is of a different design than that described above for the 145s, and after a few hours of messing with it I couldn't get it fixed. Heck, I was lucky enough to get it put back together w/o breaking anything. I think that the problem was with the tumbler itself; as the actual assembly was held in place well, and the spring and lever were in relatively good condition. There is a fair amount of resistance when attempting to reset the trip, and the tenth roller never quite lined up correctly with all of the other digits. Oh well, save up for a 145 I guess.
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Old 03-09-2005, 03:26 PM   #30
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PaceCarChris,

Thanks for the heads-up. I believe this means that the above fix is for 85-89 cars: 85, 110, or 140 mph speedos.

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Old 08-04-2005, 08:39 PM   #31
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awesome thread. ive got mine fixed exactly how it reads above. only step i didnt follow......... i didnt pull the cluster, i just pulle dout the speedo from the front. u said not to remove the needle, but i had to. now im trying to get my cruise fixed so i can get the needle perfect.
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Old 09-02-2005, 01:53 PM   #32
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when replacing the speedo head into a new cluster what needs to go with it. i have a 145 speedo in a bad cluster, and an 85 in a good cluster. should i keep the three wires into that black thing on the cluster or with the speedo. how about the yellow thing? thanks a lot.
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Old 09-02-2005, 01:58 PM   #33
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The yellow box is the VSS (vehicle speed sensor). It must have functioned correctly on your old cluster, so leave it and its wiring and simply swap the speedo heads.

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Old 01-13-2006, 10:14 PM   #34
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Does this apply to the new style speedo's? I just got a new 145mph cluster for my 91' RS and the trip reset doesn't work. I am sending it to a speedo shop to be set to the current mileage on the car, do you think he would be able to fix it?
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Old 01-14-2006, 06:10 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally posted by JamesC
I believe this means that the above fix is for 85-89 cars: 85, 110, or 140 mph speedos.
I have no experience with electronic speedos, so I can be of no help. I'm sure that a qualified shop will be able to make the repair.

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Old 03-10-2006, 11:52 AM   #36
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A different way

Hello PPl, i know this threat is old, But i recently did this fix. However I didn't use the wire, i used 4 - 4" cable ties.. I tied one cable tie around each post in the "locked" position then i tied the two other together and tightened then all down and cut the exceess, hopefuly this helps someone who din't feel like buying the wire(i had the threaded, not solid core) wire or simply wants another way. Hope this helps!!!!
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Old 05-18-2006, 08:24 PM   #37
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I held it in place with something then used JB weld, it isn't 100%, and once in awhile it doesn't turn when it's supposed to, or reset properly. I reset it every time I fill it up(which is every time I buy gas) Seems to be working ok.
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Old 06-06-2006, 08:47 PM   #38
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Thanks, Those gauges look great! I'll look into mine for sure!
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Old 06-26-2006, 02:07 AM   #39
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Just for an FYI, i pulled the big old dual needle 'airplane' speedo from my car tonight to replace with a 145mph single needle unit.

Both speedos had the 'J' clips and both were broken.

So i believe this is still valaid for all model years!
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Old 06-26-2006, 05:47 AM   #40
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Some advice for those wishing to attmept this fix on an earlier (82-?) "dual needle" speedometer: you don't have j-clips.
Interesting.

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Old 10-04-2006, 05:28 PM   #41
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WOW it works, fixed my speedo today after reading all the post! finnaly i have a trip meter again!
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Old 10-08-2006, 02:39 PM   #42
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Hey guys,

My trip odometor post fall apart. You know the end of it that you actually twist, it fell off the other day and now I can't get it to stay on. Is there another part that I need? I seem to recall a very tiny piece that went into the center of it that may have helped to hold it in, but since I have never taken this off on purpose, I don't know for sure. Anyway, does anyone know more about these, or maybe where I can get one? I'll have to check the junk yards around town to see, but other than that, I wouldn't know where to start.
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Old 10-08-2006, 11:14 PM   #43
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my 85 has 170,000 miles on it and a functioning trip counter.
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Old 11-07-2006, 06:35 AM   #44
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ha. my 89 with 170XXX just broke last week. Ill try this. Thanks James!
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Old 12-19-2006, 07:54 AM   #45
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By the way, I tried 22-guage wire first, but it was too heavy and difficult to work with. I also attempted cauter keys, but I couldn't get the axel to seat to my satisfaction. I ended up with 18-guage solid core, $.09 a foot. The fix is not as neat looking as I would have prefered, but the odometer functions like new, and frankly I don't think I'll ever have further problems with it.

JamesC
That's for the write up. Just so you know 18 awg is heavier than 22 awg. The smaller the number the bigger the wire.
Kinda like sandpaper and golf.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:19 AM   #46
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Just so you know 18 awg is heavier than 22 awg.
True, of course. Note the edit above. At this late date, I can't be sure of exactly what I used (a single piece of 18, I think, would have been too difficult to work with, so perhaps it was a single piece of multi wire that equalled 18). At any rate, any piece of flexible solid core will work well.

JamesC

Last edited by JamesC; 12-19-2006 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:33 PM   #47
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Re: Trip Odometer Fix/Pics

ok so i fixed it like you said and now my trip goes 11111 to 22222 and then stops and i reset it and it does the same again what else could be wrong?
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Old 01-10-2008, 07:25 AM   #48
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Re: Trip Odometer Fix/Pics

Quote:
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The yellow box is the VSS (vehicle speed sensor). It must have functioned correctly on your old cluster, so leave it and its wiring and simply swap the speedo heads.

JamesC

JamesC,

you mentioned the yellow box being the VSS on the back of the cluster. Is this standard placement on all Camaros? Mine is an 89 IROC-Z LO3. My Speedo just failed on me and now I'm driving with the speedometer on my GPS! I was just wondering so I can test my VSS and speedo. The fact that the speedo was working that morning, and I get into my car that afternoon and now it don't work, leads me to thinking that the VSS just blew.

I a friend told me that it was on the side of the transmission. Is this another peice of the VSS system?

Thanks,
- Justin
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Old 01-10-2008, 08:09 AM   #49
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Re: Trip Odometer Fix/Pics

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a friend told me that it was on the side of the transmission. Is this another peice of the VSS system?
Should be on the back of the cluster 82-89. IIRC, the VSS for the electronic speedos, 90-92, is on the trans. I suspect your problem is cable related.

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Old 01-10-2008, 01:56 PM   #50
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Re: Trip Odometer Fix/Pics

Thanks, and one more thing. What is the best way to get my gauge cluster out. I tried to pull it out before, but something, like the cable or wire harness has no slack and I can't pull the cluster out because of this. And there's not much room to get my hand behind there and undo it.

Not only does my speedo not work anymore, my odometer quit turning, so I was going to try your quick fix with the wire on both my trip and odometer.

Thanks.

Justin
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