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'92 Century odometer oddities

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    '92 Century odometer oddities

    I recently acquired a 1992 Buick Century wagon that had been in storage for 4 years. It was in mostly good condition, but mice had taken up residence in the dash area, including the heating ducts. I've evicted them, and painstakingly removed their nests. I don't know what kind of mischief they may have gotten into during their residence, but most things work fine.

    One oddity remains. The odometer & trip meter only seem to work intermittently -- and they occasionally go backward! Having unnaturally low miles on the odometer might to some people be useful, but since I plan to own this wagon 'til it dies, I'd really like an odometer that is accurate.

    I have an instrument cluster from another 1992 Century wagon with all the same features, and it was working well when that car was last driven. If I swap in this cluster, will my odometer start working properly, or is the real problem a sensor of some kind in the mousemobile? I wondered if perhaps the speed sensor had something to do with the odometer reading. Or maybe some other sensor?

    I'm pretty good at fixing these old wagons, but I've never encountered this problem before, and my various repair manuals have little to say about the odometer. If you can shed any light on this problem, I'd be eternally grateful. I'd hate to swap in a different cluster and still have the problem remain.

    #2
    I would suspect the rodents got into the wiring. I'd start there with some continuity checks.

    Ken T.

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      #3
      The odometer is comprised of a driver board, and a stepper motor. The speed signal going to the instrument is used for the speedometer and odometer.

      If the odometer ever runs backwards, this indicates the driver board is sending garbled signals to the stepper motor. I would exchange the driver or the entire instrument cluster and the problem should be fixed.

      Look me up on Facebook

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        #4
        Thanks for that info, Turbokinetic! The odometer in my '92 mousemobile definitely goes backward at least once a day, for about a half mile or so (Sometimes it'll do this several times a day). At other times it fails to move forward at all for several miles. Then other times it'll drive for miles working normally. Nothing predictable about when it'll work properly, stop working, or go backward.
        The speedometer seems to work normally/accurately at all times. The 4 other gauges in the cluster also seem to work fine. Only the odometer & trip meter are misbehaving. If the speedometer's working fine, I'm guessing (based on your info) that the speed sensor's fine, and that if I just swap in a donor cluster that was known to be working, the odometer should begin working properly.
        Originally posted by turbokinetic View Post
        The odometer is comprised of a driver board, and a stepper motor. The speed signal going to the instrument is used for the speedometer and odometer.

        If the odometer ever runs backwards, this indicates the driver board is sending garbled signals to the stepper motor. I would exchange the driver or the entire instrument cluster and the problem should be fixed.

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          #5
          In case anyone stumbles across this old thread because they're experiencing the same backward odometer issues, please be advised that swapping out the instrument cluster did solve the problem. The replacement odometer (also from a 1992 Century wagon) worked perfectly.

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            #6
            Thanks for the advisory!

            Ken T.

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              #7
              Good to know. My Celebrity odometer occasionally runs backwards too, has for quite a few years. But only seems to happen once every few months (that I've noticed anyway).
              1989 Celebrity CL 4 door, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, summer daily driver
              1989 Cutlass Cruiser wagon, 3.1 MPFI, 4 speed auto, special summer ride
              1996 Cherokee XJ 4 door, 4.0, 5 speed, winter daily driver & towing vehicle
              1991 Tracker 2 door, 1.6, 5 speed, needs work
              Previously several Celebritys, 6000s, & 2 U-vans

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                #8
                Originally posted by tlc1976 View Post
                Good to know. My Celebrity odometer occasionally runs backwards too, has for quite a few years. But only seems to happen once every few months (that I've noticed anyway).
                Too bad the car doesn't repair itself and unwaear it's parts when the odd goes backwards! "Look how clean my air filter is! I last changed it a year ago!"

                Ken T.

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