Can the faded digital Dash of the 1985 ELAN be replaced with GAUGES?
Your digital dash is dark because the bulbs back-lighting the display have burned out. Ford made a good effort with that cluster to use Halogen Bulbs but the reality is that they never lasted very long. It's a lot of delicate work for a Rookie but not difficult. I say delicate because plastic is easy to break and fingerprints in the inside of your cluster suck. - OK - You'll need to drop your steering wheel into the front seat (disconnect the PRNDL indicator - easy to break). Remove the instrument Bezel (the trim around the cluster) and remove the cluster. There should be 3 electrical connections on the back of the cluster (2 on some models). Count the number of light bulbs and pick up enough good ol' 194 bulbs to replace them all. You don't want to do this twice. Not as bright as Halogen bulbs but they work well and do not cost $4-$6 each. More like $6 for 10 bulbs.
What would make the bulbs suddenly burn out all at once? have seen this condition on an old bronco II where voltage regulation was inoperative and simply burned ALL bulbs with 17 volts or more...so before you go replacing ALL the bulbs, measure the voltages to make sure the regulator is working properly~..thank you~
Usually a bad ground causes a system-wide failure. Honestly, I wouldn't doubt that you've only been running on a couple of bulbs till now. As I recall (without looking it up) there aren't that many bulbs anyway. Question: Does everything else work on the cluster? If you use a flashlight, you should be able to see the speed. How about the Turn Signals, High beam Indicator and Engine or Oil Pressure lights. If everything else works, it's the bulbs. If they don't then I'd look for a bad ground (possible but unlikely). There is no regulator for the dash except for the fuel level. While the Voltage Regulator on the Alternator can fail, it's easy to check at the battery with the engine running. 17V is high...I saw an early model Probe GT put out 24V once - made the electronic cluster do all kinds of weird stuff!
Looking for a Used Thunderbird in your area?
CarGurus has 1,038 nationwide Thunderbird listings starting at $6,498.
Search Ford Thunderbird Questions
Ford Thunderbird Experts
Related Models For Sale
Used Cars For Sale