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How to install a shift light

Posted 07-16-2002 at 12:00 AM by StyleTEG

A shift light can be a valuable item for almost any driver. Whether you want to have pinpoint shifting while concentrating on a curve while AutoCrossing, or you just want to remind yourself to shift at 5,000 to save gas, there are many reasons to have a shift light.

What is a shift light?
A shiftlight is a very simple device. All it does is monitor your engine RPM, and light up at a predetermined point. That way you can concentrate on driving, instead of staring at the tach. Many people believe you don't need a shiftlight because you can listen to the engine and shift based on the sound. While this does work to some extent, how many people do you know that can tell the difference between 6,800 rpm at 7,000rpm?

Where to get one?

Many different companies sell different brands of shift lights. Often times they are generic shift lights that will work with almost any engine. Most import performance shops sell different varieties of shapes, sizes, and applications. Which shiftlight you choose should be based on where you want to mount it, and what type of car you have.

Installation

Tools:
(1) fork cable terminals (1) .250" female slide on connector
Wire tap / Quick Splice

Various size screwdrivers
Razor

The first step in the installation is finding a place to mount it. This is an important first step, because you have to run your wires accordingly.


A few ideas for mounting areas:
- On the dash, above the gauge bezel.
- On the steering wheel column
- In the tray below the stereo

Most shift lights are supposed to be mounted via screws. Since I didn't want to particularly drill holes in my dash, I screwed it on to an easily replaceable part. The panel that covers the interior fuse box. Since the light I installed is so large and bright, I have no problem seeing it when it goes off. You can also attach it with Velcro, for a non-perminant method.
Once you have found where you are going to mount it, its time to start running the wires. Black duck tape works well for hiding wires under the dash. First we will wire the power cable, which is red. We want a power source that comes on and off with the car. A good spot for this is the "ACC" fuse socket in the interior fuse box. Since it isn't used, you don't have to worry about it cutting out a function of the car.
To attach the cable, use the .250" female slide connector on the end of the power wire, as shown here. After you have attached the fork terminal, it should plug into the slot above the ACC fuse socket. Then simply put a 15volt fuse in the ACC socket. The next step is the ground cable. The ground cable needs to attach to some bare metal of the chassis. Luckily there are several bolts underneath the drivers seat perfect for this.


Attach a fork terminal to the end of the ground wire (black wire). This will make it easier to mount and secure. I used a bolt located behind the clutch. Just loosen the bolt enough where you can slide the fork terminal underneath then tighten. At this point the light should have power when the ignition is turned. Some lights will flash briefly when they initially receive power. Try turning the ignition to give power to the accessories and see if it flashes. If it doesn't, don't worry it doesn't mean their is a problem.

Finally its time to wire the RPM signal wire. There are two good places to attach the wire too. Behind the gauge clusters themselves, and in the engine bay by the master cylinder reservoir Which you choose is a personal preference. The advantage to the engine bay wire, is it is terminated by an empty plug, so you won't have to tap into the wire like the gauge cluster. GAUGE CLUSTER WIRE

If you want to tap into the gauge cluster wire, you will first need to get access.





Under the outerplastic of the gauge cluster, there are two screws. Remove them, and then pull the plastic up and out. It might be difficult at first, but it will come out. From there you have three screws to remove, pictured below.


Once you have the screws removed, you can pull the gauge cluster itself out. Rotate it slightly so you can see the wire harnesses in back
. Look specifically at the one that plugs into the RPM gauge area. On that plug there is a blue wire with silver dots on it. That is the RPM signal. That is the wire you are going to tap into with a wire tap. The wire tap is pretty straight forward, put the shift light wire in the shorter of the two tunnels, and the blue RPM wire in the longer of the tunnel. Then close the wire tap, and tighten it shut with a pair of pliers. Reinstall the gauge cluster and its housing and you are done.

ENGINE BAY WIRE





In order to reach the engine bay, you are going to have to cut a small slit in the rubber grommet under the dash, and feed the wire through. The easiest way to do this, is cut a small slit from the engine bay. Then straighten out a clothes hanger and feed it through. Then attach the shift light wire on the inside with tape. Pull the hanger out and the wire with come with it. Luckily the wire will come out right next to the RPM signal wire we are going to use. Once you have cut a slit, and run the wire through, identify the rpm signal wire. It is blue terminated wire, and it will be taped to the harness. Connect the two wires, and you are done.

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