How to Repair a Digital Odometer That Is Not Lighting Up?

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The odometer is a device that keeps track of the miles traveled by a vehicle. It is mounted on the dashboard in the speedometer section (a window with a scale for better perception). The device on the board appears like a numbered window. It is against the law to drive a vehicle with the odometer disconnected, as this is punishable.

The only method to determine when your vehicle reaches a certain mile threshold is to have a functional odometer. However, plastic gears on vehicles may frequently break, making the odometer cease to spin. This makes the odometer not light up. You’ll need to remove the instrument cluster to access the gears, but it’s not difficult to repair if you have some skills on how to go about the process.

Table of Contents

How an Odometer works

The odometer on a car informs the driver of the number of kilometers driven, and it is closely tied to the speedometer. The Odometer and speedometer work in tandem to collect data from the vehicle’s BCM, which generates a signal that the odometer records. A vehicle speed sensor (VSS) is a device mounted within or bolted to the gearbox that detects the rotational speed of the final driving gear.

The odometer is fitted with a trip meter, referred to as a trip odometer, which enables the user to monitor the mileage for any specific distance covered.  Additionally, the odometer can be reset. The odometers could be mechanical or the newly introduced digital (computerized) odometers.

digital odometer

1. Mechanical odometers

 These odometers are powered by a spring-loaded flexible cord. Typically, the cable is enclosed within a protective piece of metal with a rubber covering. On a bicycle, the cable is turned by a small wheel spinning against the bicycle wheel.  The odometer’s gear ratio is set to the diameter of this little wheel.

On vehicles, a gear strikes the transmission’s output shaft, rotating the cable. The wire winds up to the panel, where it is attached to the odometer’s input shaft. This odometer achieves gear reduction by the use of a sequence of three worm gears. The input shaft powers the initial worm, which in turn powers a gear.

Each complete worm cycle only spins one tooth of the gear. This gear turns a further worm, which in turn turns another gear. The gear, in turn, turns the final worm, which in turn turns the final gear, which is connected to the tenth-of-a-mile indication.

2. Digital odometers

Most bicycles in the market today are designed with computers. These computerized bicycles use magnets attached to one of their wheels and a pickup mounted on the frame. The magnet passes through the pickup once on each wheel revolution, generating a signal in the pickup. The computer calculates the distance traveled by counting these pulses.

Each time the computer detects a pulse, it increases the overall distance by another wheel circumference and refreshes the digital display. A technology similar to this is used in many newer autos as well. Rather than a magnetic pickup installed on a wheel, they employ a toothed wheel and an electromagnetic sensor that detects the pulses generated by each tooth.

How to repair a defective Odometer

An odometer is critical if you own an automobile. There are numerous indicators that provide a general idea of your car’s mileage, but only a handful provide an accurate measurement, such as an odometer. Knowing your exact mileage is essential for a variety of purposes, including insurance, sales, and maintenance. A faulty odometer can thus complicate all of these.

When an odometer stops working, the majority of people feel they have to replace the machine, which can be rather costly. However, an odometer may be repaired pretty quickly. The odometer ceases to function when the gear inside the odometer wears out. You will not require any special tools to perform this task, but you must be aware of potential dangers or you risk permanently damaging the speedometer.

The speedometer is contained in the same panel as the odometer. You should not be concerned about altering the vehicle’s recorded mileage when repairing the odometer. It is impossible to interfere with the vehicle’s recorded mileage. Additionally, both the odometer and speedometer are combined into a single gauge known as the speedometer gauge.

Check both the speedometer and odometer to determine the source of the problem. If both types of equipment are malfunctioning, a problem with the speed sensors may exist. If, on the other hand, your odometer has ceased to increase, or in other words to light up, there may be a problem with the gears.

Analog odometers are prone to fail due to the fixed plastic gears that drive them. Fortunately, this is a rather simple remedy, unless the gears fail and cause harm to the vehicle. The guidelines below will help you fix an Odometer that does not light up;

Step 1

Remove the negative connection from the battery in your vehicle.

Step 2

Gently slide the sealing around the edges of the surface of the vehicle’s speedometer gauge off the dashboard. You can use a flat head screwdriver to remove the seal. Remove the complete speedometer gauge from the dash; take care not to disconnect any electrical wires in the process.

Once you’ve gained access behind the gauge, take note of how the wire is connected.  The next step is to then detach it by gripping it at the contact and drawing it free.

Step 3

Place the gauge to face down on your work area. Use a standard-size Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew the screws from the back panel of the device. After removing the screws, take the gauge from its housing and place it facing upwards on your working surface.

Step 4

Grip the reset post for the vehicle odometer and slowly pull it away from the gauge. Proceed cautiously, though it may not come out easily. If you encounter resistance when pulling, insert a finger beneath the gauge’s dial and press upward at the point where the post penetrates and connects to the motor housing.

The motor covering will resemble a little black plastic box connected to the opposite end of the dial. It is however different from the gauge’s metal housing that houses the speedometer.

Step 5

Remove the speedometer index by gripping the round shaft of the index and rotating it clockwise until it comes to a stop. Once you’ve grasped the base, carefully pull the index up while swaying it back and forth slightly. It is quite simple to bend the needle, though it is critical that you do not forcefully remove the needle at this stage.

Step 6

Locate some two screws on the surface of the gauge and remove them. This can be done by unscrewing and removing them with one of the tiny Phillips head screwdrivers included in your system repair kit. After removing the screws, pull the motor housing for the odometer away from the dial.

Step 7

Remove the gear pod from the motor casing’s top. The gear unit is mounted to the casing’s ‘lid’ and will detach as such. Using a tiny flathead screwdriver, remove the odometer rotational gear from its gearbox. Replace the gear with a new set and reinstall the entire gauge by reversing the above methods used to disassemble it.


The odometer is one of the most typical vehicle frauds. By reversing the mileage, a customer can be duped into believing that the vehicle has fewer kilometers than it actually does. It is therefore vital to confirm the effectiveness of the particular vehicle before buying it.

A faulty odometer on your vehicle may lead you to imprisonment. The guidelines above will help you fix your car audiometer for excellent performance. If you have no idea about vehicle odometers, a qualified technician can provide an in-depth analysis of the vehicle.

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