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bald biker

Dash going hay wire

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As a passing comment this morning my wife says " something came up on the dash about engine ecu and the fuel gauge showed empty when it was full" apparently messages have been coming up for a while but the car runs ok. Any ideas on this one? 

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try disconnecting battery for 10mins should reset it hopefully may be wrong but cant to any harm, make sure you have radio code will wipe it off

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Check the cable connector blocks on the passenger footwell fuse box.

The connectors can get knocked/kicked out of place causing random problems.

Sent from my SM-G930F

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Makes it more likely to be a loose fusebox connector then.

Go through them and make sure they are all seated firmly.

Sent from my SM-G930F

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Possibly a failing battery.  I had a few random dash messages pop up last month or so, and then the cold weather came and last night my battery failed on me.   All fixed now   

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I also ha a dash problem. I have a mk 1.5 2003 ford focus 1.6 zetec my dash goes nuts. To the point the spread and petrol light only work. All the warning lights come on correctly on start up then go out. Rev counter had recently stopped. Every now an then it starts flashing all warning lights and starts beeping. Even the Speedometer stops working. Athens after a while it all stops and just the Speedometer works. Any help much appreciated as this was my son's car who recently passed away and I want to keep it.

Hope someone can help me

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14 hours ago, Microhead said:

I have a mk 1.5 2003 ford focus 1.6 zetec my dash goes nuts.

That is a bit hard to diagnose. It could be the wiring to the cluster, the cluster itself, or even the battery.

All I can recommend is to check the battery voltage, then to hunt for likely connectors that carry signals to the cluster (A Haynes might help a little here, I do not have a Mk1.5 wiring diagram, only Mk2/2a).

Then remove the cluster, and check its connector, and what you can see of the electronics.on it. Look for corrosion or evidence of damp. Next step is either to dismantle the cluster, OR send it for test & repair. It is usually about £100 for this service.


has been recommended by others as a reliable company, and claims to do Mk1 clusters. (instrument Cluster is the full name of the unit.) A Ford dealer would charge the earth for a new unit, probably.

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In reply to Microhead 

Heres a step by step guide to fixing your or anyone else's dashboard problems on a  Mk 1 or Mk1.5 they are well known for dash problems but most people are scared of attempting to fix them but truly almost anyone can fix them by working through these steps 

its an easy job And it will most probably be the instrument cluster shorting out due to corrosion deposits on the rear of the PCB. But the good news is you can probably have it fixed in an About an hr for under ten quid in cleaner 

there are a few causes of disco dashboard symptoms 

so first check the following before pulling the cluster out ok 

Is the battery the correct  type?  if not. Other kinds of batteries can cause all sorts of electrical problems on mk1s and 1.5s including dash faults. Also check the battery terminals are clean and tight 

next check all fuses for corrosion and correct fit in holders eg they are a tight fit and not rattling loose and causing random shorts.

check the earths in engine bay for corrosion. two or three under battery box area, one at rear of the rocker cover and the one the instrument cluster uses on top of the offside chassis rail.

if in doubt remove them and clean with a wire brush, lubricate them and refit.

check the small black three pin output plug on the front of the alternator for a tight fit, any shorting wires and or any corrosion. Pull the plug apart and spray with contact cleaner and refit.

check alternator is not faulty and overcharging the system (a known common fault ) using a multimeter on the battery terminals with the engine running you should have somewhere around 13to 14.5 volts if car is charging correctly, depending on the electrical load at time of testing.

Faulty alternators have been known to overcharge at around 19.5 volts for a time just before they fail which will cause faults all over the car including the dashboard cluster, central locking faults and blown headlightbulbs etc etc. 

If and only IF all the above is good it WILL be the printed circuit board in instrument cluster 

It's an Easy job to check and fix yourself 


To pull the cluster out of car .

undo the Three Phillips screws on the upper dashboard trim surround. Pop steering wheel upper shroud and remove. Then unclip the dashboard trim working from the top and pull forwards. un plug the black multi pin plug for the boot release button and remove the trim. Taking care not to let the wires for boot button fall down behind the dashboard.

remove the four torx screws from the cluster fixings and pull it forwards. Locate the white multi pin plug on the rear of the cluster. Unclip the black hinged securing clip on the back of the plug by moving the tab sideways towards the near side of the car and pull the white plug out of back of the cluster and the cluster is out of the car.

spray contact cleaner into the loom end of white multi pin plug whilst the cluster is out of car and also spray the boot button plug connectors as well whilst you have access to them.

take the cluster to kitchen table and lay on an old towel or similar to prevent scratching the front plastic face whilst you are working on the unit.

 Undo the two torx screws in the black rear cluster cover and unclip the black rear cover. You now have access to the rear of printed circuit board.

you will find spots of rust coloured or black or white powdery deposits on the back of the PCB shorting the circuit boards parallel tracks out. Which cause your lights and dials to randomly short out and hence your flashing dashboard and dials going haywire.

 Spray the affected areas with a good quality solvent based electrical CONTACT CLEANER . Stocked by the likes of Maplins or other electrical suppliers and wipe with cotton buds or lint free cloth. Do NOT use WD40 on printed circuit boards !!!!!! It does not evaporate off the board and leaves a clear conductive film on the surface of the board which in its self can cause more problems with random shorting of the circuit tracks.

Gently remove all trace of deposits by repeatedly spraying and wiping until all traces of contamination have been removed.

The corrosion deposits on the tracks are caused by moisture getting to the back of the circuit board from the car interior through the black covers vents often aided by the heating system blowing up damp water laden air behind the dashboard from an aging "damp" car with say for instance a leaking door /hatchback / window seal etc  and fundamentally by a distinct lack of proper lacquer on the PCB at time of manufacturer. 

If the deposits are stubborn use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the tracks clean 

take care not to damage any of the circuit boards tracks by being too harsh. It is better to take your time and go carefully spraying and wiping until the tracks are bright silver and there is no trace of contamination on the circuit board tracks 

when all tracks on the PCB are spotlessly clean spray the whole board liberally with contact cleaner and leave for half an Hour somewhere warm and dry. eg above a radiator or in the airing cupboard for the circuit board to dry out and the contact cleaner to evaporate off of the PCB.

Re assemble the cluster cover to the back of the board then refit the cluster to the car and test without refitting the trim just hold the cluster in with a couple of screws to test it out In case you need to pull it out again 

 Nine times out of ten the problem is now fixed. And after testing you can refit trim and you are Good to go on your merry way without a disco flashing in front of you.

if Not

 the last step is a little more complicated as you need to remove the cluster again and strip down the front of the cluster. Because sometimes the front of the board can suffer from dry or cracked solder joints at the Point where the pins from the multi pin plug attach to the board.

You need to be handy with a soldering iron and confident soldering on small boards to do this last step. You also need to pull the dial needles, the dials and the White front cover of the board to gain access to the plug pins which go right through to the front of the PCB then re solder the plug pin joints 

If you are capable of handling a fine tipped soldering iron well and are confident enough to go into the front of board. Make sure you mark the resting positions of the dial needles with masking tape   BEFORE  you pull them off to ensure you can refit in them in the correct position. On re assembly

If you don't trust yourself with a hot iron on a small circuit board then send out the board to a local auto Electrican or to someone else who can re solder the pin joints up for you 

it really is that easy I've done multiple boards for myself over the years and for friends 

hope that helps you out 

drop me a line if you need to and I'll help you get into the front of the board. but I'll put money on it being the back shorting out through moisture it was a ***** design by ford to vent the back of the board to the damp air in a car known for leaky seals and most of them go eventually.


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2 hours ago, Microhead said:

WILL DEFINITELY Try to clean it myself.

I have repaired my Mk2 cluster. It is a bit different to the Mk1, but I expect there are some similarities. I did a pdf about it, including removing the pointers. See:


But Kalbo's guide looks pretty good.

Have a good look at the tracks & joints using a magnifier under a good, strong light. I prefer IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol, not India Pale Ale!) for cleaning pcbs, though contact cleaner will probably do the job ok.

IPA (of the Ale variety) might be useful after doing the job.biggrin.png

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On 11/11/2016 at 10:38 PM, greggp said:

Possibly a failing battery.  I had a few random dash messages pop up last month or so, and then the cold weather came and last night my battery failed on me.   All fixed now   

This happened to me last year just before the battery failed - I got random ABS, ESP  lights coming up while driving..........stopped the car.  Turned off.  Wouldn't restart.  Battery & Alternator had gone!  I did get a whining sound from the car just prior to this too.

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