Tips to Repair Your Toyota Tacoma Temperature and Compass Display – Overhead Console

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Toyota makes excellent, dependable vehicles despite what the mainstream media would have you believe. However, occasionally even the best designs have problems, and such is the case with the Tacoma overhead console. (Actually, the ambient temp and compass display is officially called the ‘accessory meter’ by Toyota.)

The display is designed to provide outside temperature readings, and also displays a digital compass heading. Unfortunately, the Mexican manufacturer of the part used both low quality solder and inadequate resistors, resulting in component separation from the circuit board. The result? A dead display.

You have a couple choices when this happens…if you are under warranty the dealership will repair it (actually, they replace it) for free…and word is that people are getting better quality units as compared to the originals. If you are no longer under the 3 year/ 36k warranty the news is pretty grim though…the new part and installation cost is well over $300! (There is absolutely no legitimate reason for this price…the hardware probably cost $75 to make, and the installation is very simple.)

Anyway, on to the recommendations for the do it yourselfer:

  • Removing the clear plastic cover:
  • -use a small flathead to carefully pry up each clip, bumping each one slightly over the edge until all are released. Don’t try to pull the cover off until ALL four clips are released, otherwise they break.
  • Soldering tips (get it?):

-Don’t use a gun style iron w/ trigger. These are too powerful, bulky, and generally don’t have a suitable tip. Get an inexpensive pencil style. I have a $400 digital station, but still use an el cheapo iron for day to day tasks.

-Stands are nice, and usually have built in sponges.

-Always keep the tip shiny with no hanging solder drops. Use tip cleaner and/or damp sponge to keep it that way…do this often.

-Don’t use lead-free (RoHS) solder, use 60/40.

-Take lots of breaks, and look up frequently to focus your eyes on faraway objects. It is likely that you aren’t used to working with small parts up close, and it can be frustrating. Take a break and come back later.

-If your hands are shaky, go drink a beer or two. It will help. Caffeine and sugar won’t.

-Don’t put solder on the iron to transfer to the work. The iron’s purpose is the heat up the *part* so that solder will flow.

-Your work should be bright and shiny when done, like a little bit of the liquid metal bad guy from Terminator II is holding your resistors on the board.

-Be aware of your iron. Don’t melt the plastic on your power button or cover clips. Don’t drop solder onto the board in random places.

-Put some solder on the resistor pads before installing new components. You should then have 4 shiny little bumps. You can use these to ‘tack’ the lead wires to by heating up the pad/wire with your iron. Once one lead is tacked, fully solder the other end, then come back and finish the job.

  • General tips and recommendations:

-Use new components! Go to Radio Shack (assuming they carry actual electronic parts these days) and get a couple 51 ohm lead wire resistors. 47 ohm will work, too. They are in parallel, so you can lay the leads against each other and solder to the board.

-If you use your old original SMT resistors, they WILL fail again. The ends will have oxidized and solder won’t stick well. Unfortunately cleaning/sanding won’t work, the layer of metal is too thin. Remember, time is money…just do it right the first time.

Good luck with your repair!

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