Cappuccino Gauge Face Install

Sunstorm gauge faces
Your Cappuccino cluster could look like this.

Your Shopping List

  • A set of genuine revlimiter Gauges. - You can buy them right here on this site! Check out the Store. Other gauges may be of lesser quality or not compatible with the steps below. Don't settle for anything but the best!
  • Powder-free gloves - These come with your gauges. Because you'll never be able to wipe off finger prints from most gauges, including your old stock ones.
  • Pry tools - These come with your gauges. This is to remove your gauge needles without damaging the old gauge faces.
  • Needle Stoppers - These come with your gauges.
  • Dry dust cloth - This comes with your gauges. It's normal for gauges to become a bit dusty while you work on them. This cloth gets them looking good before sealing up your cluster.
  • Microfiber cloth to cover your steering column and protect from scratches.
  • 2 Phillips screwdrivers, one fine (#0) and one regular (#2).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I have a Miata... you sell gauges for those right?
    Of course. Miata parts are 99.9% of my business. Please hit the Store.

  • How do I install the needles?
    Whoa whoa whoa. Getting a little ahead of things! That section is at the bottom of this document, under Setting the Needles.

  • Where can I get the gauges in these pix???
    I sell them here on this site! Check out the Store.

  • I got a smudge on my gauge. Can I wipe it off with water?
    The official answer: no. You shouldn't ever get the gauges wet.
    The unofficial answer: These gauges are VERY VERY tough and nearly impossible to destroy. Wiping them with a moist microfiber cloth shouldn't hurt them. The main thing that can damage them is pressure from the screws. That's why there's the tiny washers included.

  • How do I know the tach is accurate after doing this?
    These gauges are exact OEM replacements, just with a bit more style. So accuracy is quite possible. The best way to assure yourself of tachometer accuracy is to take some readings before you crack anything open. Mark on a sheet of paper what speed equals what rpm in a couple of gears. After you're finished with the gauge face install, check against your own notes.

  • Will this make my odometer read wrong? Can I roll it back while I'm in there?
    No. Popping out the cluster and opening up the gauges doesn't affect your odometer at all. And if you try to roll it back, you'll just end up breaking it. I know this from experience.

  • Some other shop sent me to this page. Is it cool if I use the info here?
    Well, sure! The thing I enjoy most is helping out my fellow Miata enthusiast. However, I'd greatly appreciate it if you would drop me a note and tell me about these other manufacturers who are ripping off my hard work.

Gauge Cluster Removal

To get access to the gauge cluster, you need to remove quite a few panels. If you have a quick release steering wheel, pop it off. If you can easily remove an aftermarket one... you might as well do that now.

While sitting in the drivers seat, release the lock on the steering column, pulling the steering wheel as far down, and toward you as possible.

There are four screws (2 under the cluster, and two going up into the dashboard top in front of the cluster). Remove and label which go to the bottom and which go to the top.

Gently pull the front fascia away from the gauge cluster to expose the screws holding it in place. There is one tab holding it in place (note the arrows). Remove the clip for the defroster.

Remove the two screws holding in the cluster shroud. Do not remove them all the way, just loosen them till you can remove the tabs they hold in place. Remove the 7 (seven!) long screws that hold the cluster in.

Lay a towel or microfiber down across the steering column to reduce the chance of scratching the clear plastic on the cluster.

Slide the cluster forward, and remove the clip on the top left of the cluster to free it from the first set of wires.

Tilt the cluster forward, there maybe some electrical tape holding the second wiring loom to a black metal bar. If you have this tape, I'd highly recommend cutting it and removing the tape. It will help a lot in the future while replacing the needles. Do NOT cut the wiring harness. Remove the clip on the top right.

Stock Gauge Face Removal

Take the cluster out of the car and to a comfortable, dust-free work area. Put on your gloves now. The gauges I make are not unique or more delicate than others. It's just much easier to keep them clean than to wipe off many fingerprints later.

Separating the cluster cover
Miata gauges shown - The Cappuccino cluster unsnaps in the same way.

To get at the gauges, you'll need to separate the front cluster cover (the glass) from the rest of the gauges. It is secured by a bunch of little tabs that run around the outside. They are easily popped free with just your fingers. Press down on one tab with your right thumb (I like to start on a top corner) and wedge the cluster glass free with your left hand. It will open up very slightly. DO NOT FORCE IT. Then move to the tab next door and pop it free with your thumb while opening up the glass even more with your left hand. After two tabs are free, you're most of the way there. The rest of the tabs will open easily.

needle removal tools
Miata gauges shown - The Cappuccino needles remove the same way.

Next, it's time to remove your needles. There are no better tools in the world for this than these small plastic pry tools. I include them with every set of gauges. Using the face mounting screws as a fulcrum, put one pry tool under either side of a needle...

needle removal
... then just lift up! The most stubborn needle will pop free with very little effort and no damage will come to your gauge face. If you rush, you might scratch the face slightly with the back of the pry tool, but any damage should be under the needle center itself.

Remove the screws
Miata gauges shown - The Cappuccino gauges unscrew the same way.

Next, remove the small screws holding the gauge faces in place. Be careful, since the metal is quite soft and the screws strip easily. Set the screws aside for re-installation in a moment. Hold the screw driver with both hands so that it doesn't hop off of the screw and scratch the gauge face. I've found a P1 driver to be perfect for these screws.

remove light condom
If you didn't order LED bulbs with your new revlimiter Gauges, you'll want to remove the OEM bulb covers. The ones on the Cappuccino are blue. Green Miata ones are shown here. They come off the same way.

If you ordered new bulb covers with your gauges, just slip them on now. They pressure fit on and don't require any tape or glue or anything. Usually you can install them easily with a twisting motion.

LED bulbs
If you ordered LEDs with your gauges, now is the time to install them. You'll have to remove your stock bulbs from the twist bases. This is pretty simple with a couple photos. Without the photos, it can be pretty confusing.

pull the bulb out
The green or black base and bulb come apart. Just pull! It's easiest with gloves on your hands and the stock green cover on the bulb. The two parts should come apart very easily. Yes, these are ALSO Miata pix, but the Cappuccino bulbs are identical.

insert the LED
Plug the LED bulb into the base. If the fit is loose, take a small screwdriver and pry the connections inside the base out away from the walls slightly. Just enough to give a good fit.

LED polarity
Lastly, you need to know that LED bulbs have a polarity. They can be installed backwards and not light up. This can be beyond annoying to find out after you've tightened the last screw on your gauge install. You should test-light your cluster before you button the car up. Any LEDs that don't light can just be unscrewed, rotated 180 degrees (no need to remove the bulb from the twist base) and reinstalled in the cluster. On the Cappuccino, the blue plug on the left side when viewed from the front is the one that controls the lighting.

Gauge Face Installation

PUT YOUR GLOVES ON. You should have them on already, but if you were a rebel and ignored the previous instruction, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PUT ON YOUR GLOVES NOW.

Poke through stopper
Hold your new revlimiter Gauge face by the edges. Hold the needle stopper with your free hand. Poke the stopper through the face.

Poke through stopper
If it's hard to get the stopper through the tiny hole, twist the stopper while you insert it. A drilling motion will let the stopper get through the face without much pressure.

Poke through stopper
The needle stopper should stay in place by friction. If it doesn't, apply a small piece of clear (Scotch) tape to the back of the needle stopper.

Remove the eight tiny rubber washers from the bag and install them over each gauge screw. These are VERY important. All photos below are of NA Miata gauges, but Cappuccino gauges install in exactly the same way.

Install your new gauge faces
Screw your new gauge faces into place. Do not over tighten the screws!!! Too much force can destroy the finish on the gauge face. Just get the screws barely tight.

Install your new gauge faces
The rubber washers not only allow the gauge face to expand, they also help you to know how much force to apply when screwing the face down. In the above photo, the washer is still round. This is the correct tightness.

Install your new gauge faces
The rubber washer will deform and poke out from the screw if you tighten/torque it down too much. If you see a washer poking out, unscrew the fastener until the washer is round again.

I will say that again as this is very important. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE SCREWS!!! You will destroy the finish on your gauge face if you do this. Just BARELY tighten the screws (1 inch lb) so that the screws barely touch the face.

Setting the Needles

There is no good way to photograph each step of this. Sorry, but this involves a lot of reading. I'll try to make it as easy to understand as possible.

Do not use a lot of force to press the needles into place. If the black needle center contacts the gauge face, it will not be able to spin. A little shove is all that you need.

Tachometer: With your engine on and warmed up enough to hear it idling normally, pop the tach needle in place with it pointing somewhere around 850 rpm. OR Wherever your car likes to idle at. Next, rev up to your rev limit. Verify that the needle points reaches your actual fuel cut. For stock cars, it is 8500.

Water Temp: Once you've finished messing around with the tach needle, your engine should be warm enough to put the water needle in place. The stock position is just under halfway. Put the needle in place and then press it down firmly.

Speedometer: Getting this one right will require a bit of work. Get a GPS app running on your phone and go out for a drive. Start by guessing that 0 = 0 and VERY gently pop your speedometer needle in place. Drive a bit at low speeds to see how close your guess was to the actual GPS speed. Having a co-driver report your GPS speed is EXTREMELY helpful and recommended. Tweak your speedometer needle until you're happy with the accuracy.

Fuel: Last but not least, the gas gauge. I like to leave this needle off and drive to the gas station near my house. Then I fill up. Then I drive back to my house and sit in the driveway and put the fuel needle a bit above the F mark. It takes a little over a mile for a full tank of gas to register, so keep that in mind.

Lastly, turn the car off. Keep the cluster glass off and verify that the needles fall to their correct zero zones. The two small gauges have internal needle stoppers that need to contact the gauge center in order to function. If the needle isn't on quite hard enough, it'll droop. Raise it up towards the halfway point, press it on a bit harder, and let it fall again.

And that's it. It sounds like a lot of work, but really the process is quite straightforward. With a little bit of care, it's very easy to swap out gauges and put everything together with that OEM fit and finish.

Cliff notes: Take everything out. Put on gloves. Put everything back in.

The After-Install FAQ

  • My (speedo/tach/etc) needle seems to get stuck. What's going on?
    99% of the time, the problem is too much force being used when you installed the gauges. If the black needle center comes into contact with the gauge face, it won't be able to spin. You don't need Hulk-levels of force to install the needles. Just place it on the needle boss (the metal pin) gently and verify that the gauge is reading right. After that, give it a small extra nudge to seat it. Then look at the gauge at an angle to verify there's space between the face and the needle center.

  • My water gauge needle is droopy after the install. How do I fix it?
    All of the 3 small gauges have an internal needle stopper at about 6:00 underneath the needle center. It's a small plastic thorn that pokes out of the clear gauge holder. Your water temp gauge needs to have the needle pressed on just slightly harder so that it can come in contact with this internal stopper. Raise the needle manually to about halfway and press it on slightly harder. Then let it drop. If it's still droopy, do this again. Just don't let the needle center touch the face or it won't be able to move at all.

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