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Replacement Dash Lights (or, How To Go Crazy In Just a Few Hours)

NOTE: First of all I'd like to let you know that if you are the type of person that talks better with pictures, you can go here for dash/instrument lights, here for heater panel light, or here for automatic transmission console lighting, to see snaps of the actual location of each of the dash and console light bulbs. It might help you understand the information provided herein.

NOTE 2: Amazingly, VW placed disposable bulb socket combinations in place in the Vanagon in several locations. What I mean is that they soldered the bulb leads to the socket, making it very difficult (at least for me) to replace the bulb. So, if it has not already been done on your Vanagon, in order to change a burnt out bulb in the fog light switch, the vent control panel, or the automatic transmission console, you have to remove the existing fixture, throw it away, and replace it with a socket that will allow you to just plug in a new bulb (no soldering involved). If you ask me, that's shortsighted on the part of VW Engineers.

NOTE 3: If you are anywhere near as cheap as I am, you will likely try to keep using the original socket by using a new bulb and soldering iron to remove the old and solder in the new bulb. I am challenged when it comes to soldering but my Lutheran upbringing (meaning that I try to reuse anything and everything so I don't have to pay for a replacement) forced me to at least try this. After wasting a perfectly good 4 hours I can now say that I firmly believe that the absurd cost of around $4 per socket is worth it instead of resoldering. Spring for the sockets this once and when the bulbs burn out in another fifteen years all you have to do is pop out the old one and slide in the new one. Too easy.

There are two types of light BULBs that illuminate the vanagon console/dash. They are as follows:
  1. Bulb/Socket For Instrument Lights
  2. Bulb For Dash Vent Control, Automatic Shifter, And Fog Light Switch Illumination
There, now you are smarter in about the time it took you to read that than I was in about four hours of work and a lot of cussing!

Now, here's a tricky part....There are three types of SOCKETS for the lights that illuminate the vanagon console/dash. They are as follows:
  1. Socket/Bulb Combination For Instrument Lights
  2. Socket for Bulb for Dash Vent Control
  3. Socket for Bulb for Automatic Shifter, And Fog Light Switch Illumination
Here are some pictures of these parts to further educate you (click the image to enlarge):
desc / notes count pic sources/cost
Instrument Bulb/Socket Combination

Note: These are the tidy little bulb and socket combinations that you easily insert into the socket and give a quarter turn to lock in place. Beware, there are models that look exactly like these but have a white base/socket. They are 2.0 watt and although they put out more light, I've been warned that they also draw more current (makes sense) and could cause problems.
(4) Click To Zoom drivewerks.com
12v - Black Base (1.2w) Osram/Sylvania PPE-4B300-24272

**** www.gowesty.com
Item 431-919-040
Vanagon black,1.2w,att
Price $1.95

**** www.vanagain.com
Part Number : 431919040**
Price: $1.50
Bulb For Dash Vent Control, Automatic Shifter, And Fog Light Switch Illumination

Note: With a stock installation, the bulbs are soldered into the socket. It's very difficult to remove and replace the bulb without also replacing the socket. I was unable to find the socket anywhere but gowesty. If you choose to replace the bulbs only, you'll need to unsolder to remove the existing and resolder to add the new one. I'm a bit ham fisted and had a very hard time doing this and ended up purchasing the sockets.
(1) for vent control
(2) for auto shifter
(1) for fog light illumination
Replacement Bulb Only, No Socket
Item N-17-7512
Price $1.95

Replacement Bulb Only, No Socket!!!
Part Number : N0177512***
Instrument Light Bulb for 86-92 2.1l Vanagon (see Osram/Sylvan 2721)
Price: $1.00

Replacement Bulb Only, No Socket!!!
Product Number C2721
Energy Used 1.2 Watts
Volts 12 Volts
Bulb Shape T-1 3/4
Diameter (in) 7/32
Length (in) .80
Price: $0.88
Socket For Dash Vent Control Illumination

You can't see it in the picture here but this socket has two male spade tabs which connect directly to a pair of spade connectors from the dash.

The socket slides into the vent control where it is held in place. Too easy.
(1) for vent control
(1) for fog light illumination
Click To Zoom Bulb Socket for Dash Vent Control
gowesty.com Item 321-919-039
Price $3.95
Socket For Automatic Shifter, And Fog Light Switch Illumination

This socket, much in the same way as the instrument light sockets, are placed in a slot and turned 1/2 turn to secure them in place.
(2) for auto shifter Click To Zoom gowesty.com
Item 437-919-039
Price $3.95