How to Repair a Volvo 850 Odometer

Written by ken hamilton
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Many Volvo 850 owners experience odometer and trip counter failure. These two components should work in sync but oftentimes the speedometer works, but not the trip counter. If you take a close look at the 850's instrument cluster you will find the usual culprit: two small, 15- and 12-tooth gears in the odometer assembly that tend to break easily due to faulty design. Having it repaired at a Volvo dealership could set you back a few hundred dollars. You could instead procure an aftermarket replacement that is better and less costly than OEM. With a little care and patience, you can perform this task.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Remove the vent on the driver side to gain access on the dash pad's retaining clip. Unscrew all the nuts just under the edge of the dash pads. You should now be able to lift the top of the dash by slightly wiggling it until it comes up.

  2. 2

    Pull the two plug wires at the back of the instrument panel. Mark the plug wires so you can easily remember which one goes where. Flip the two retaining clips that hold the instrument panel in place. Yank it and pull it up gently with an upward force until it's free. Unscrew the attached speed cable.

  3. 3

    Remove all the screws around the edge of the back panel. Flip it over and slowly remove the front panel. Remove the instrument needles one by one by gently prying under the round centre plate that holds the needle, using a small flathead screwdriver. Loosen all the screws that hold the face plate. Lift it up by prying the edges with a screwdriver as if you were opening a can of paint. You now have access to the gears. Place the faceplate with the front facing downward to prevent the pins from bending.

  4. 4

    Remove the plug that connects the gear assembly to its base. Remove the end cap on the right side of the gear assembly. Locate the two small gears inside. One of those gears is the culprit. Replace both gears with new ones, even if the other still looks fine. Chances are you will be back doing the same repairs again soon if you don't replace them both. Check your work by turning the gears.

  5. 5

    Screw the end cap back to the gear assembly. Put everything back in reverse order. Take your car to a dealer to have the odometer calibrated to its correct mileage.

Tips and warnings

  • Doing self-repairs on your odometer is not illegal. It is illegal to tamper with your odometer to misrepresent the real mileage of the vehicle.

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