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Old 02-18-2009, 09:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How To Replace Bulbs Behind HVAC Controls in Dash Center

Not sure exactly what best keywords to use in this post. I recently got tired of having my 2001 MDX's center dash console working in Stealth mode. The lights behind the HVAC controls (Auto/Off, Temp Display, Temperature Up/Down buttons, etc.) had all burned out over time and it was time to replace them since in the winter is when I need to control temp and when light is in short supply. I went and dug out the old thread about removing the plood and decided to do it myself.

It took me two takes since I'm an idiot and I tried to replace the bulbs without removing the three control interfaces. Instead I thought I could do it while it was still wired up (as in photo below). See below for more details on this fail.

So here are the steps. Removing the Plood was way easier than I expected. I used the coathangar method. The only thing to be careful of is that it pulls out evenly. It snagged a little next to where the CD slot is.



Just insert the hangar in the top of the vent tab with the short end facing up. Find the back of the frame and tug gently.



Next up is an important step that I tried to bypass. Remove the three clips from the back of the Plood (for those reading and wondering as I once did, Plood = Plastic+Wood, not some exotic term for a car part). One is attached to the back of the Hazard switch. One goes to the Interior light switch (once removed, your inside lights will not work until you reconnect) and the third goes to the HVAC controls pictured below.



Unlike some of the connectors in the MDX, these are easy to disconnect with your fingers.

Once you have it all taken apart, the last part is pretty easy. Find a flat-head screwdriver to remove the three bulbs. They turn a 1/4 or so counter-clockwise to remove them. Then just hold your hand under them and turn the thing over - they should fall out into your hand.

Here are the parts you'll need. If you are going to do all three lights, you'll need two of the parts on the right and one of the bulbs on the left. The green plug on the top in the image above is the tiny one and came from the bag on the left. The two gray ones are longer (about 1").

You need two of the bulb on the right and one of the bulb on the left. Part numbers should be legible. About $5ea.



Careful, the small ones are very easy to drop. This was my problem. I'd tried to replace w/out disconnecting the wire harnesses as i just described. I dropped the tiny bulb never to find it again. I have no idea where it went. I looked for 1/2 hour. $@#%^ Back to the dealer to order another one and wait for it to come in. They cost ~$5ea so it didn't break the bank, but it sure pissed me off.

Another suggestion - find a screwdriver that fits well into the slot in the back of the bulb. Taking them out is easy, but I found i really needed to push and turn firmly when putting them back in (hence my dropsies problem). I finally found one on my multi-tool that fit better than the screwdriver I'd been using and it all went back together much more easily.

Tools you need:

Coat Hangar
Small Flat-Head Screwdriver
Fingers

Parts:
35851-SM4-003 1ea
79629-S3V-A01 2ea

Total cost for most that have now read this how-to: $18 with tax
Total cost for me: $23 - although I may eventually find the bulb and get to use it somewhere else.
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice Job! Added to the FAQ.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Just wanted to specify that one bulb lights up the four left buttons, one bulb lights up the four right buttons and the other one is the backlighting to the temp display, just in case people only have one bulb burned out and they want to know which one to replace.

Good thread, explanation and pics. This will be helpful to future owners.
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Old 02-19-2009, 04:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Maveri9720
Just wanted to specify that one bulb lights up the four left buttons, one bulb lights up the four right buttons and the other one is the backlighting to the temp display, just in case people only have one bulb burned out and they want to know which one to replace.

Good thread, explanation and pics. This will be helpful to future owners.
I just had to replace *all* of the light bulbs back there and this is definitely a good how-to. My wife told me the backlight for the hazard switch was out so I got the bulb for replacing that. Pulled out the trim, replaced the hazard light bulb and then when I put it all back together, I noticed that now the right four buttons had no backlight!! So I go get the bulb for that, and pull the trim off for the second time, replace the bulb, put it back together and now I notice that the *left* four buttons AND the passenger airbag off backlights aren't working. ARRRRRRRGH!!!!

So I order those two bulbs (plus a spare for the climate control ) and pull the trim off for a THIRD time and replace those two bulbs. Now everything is working like new. I don't know if it was just coincidence or the vibration of pulling the trim off that made the others go out (although I was very careful when doing it each time so as to avoid that very problem), but I found it odd that they all went out within days of each other.

The good news is I can now disassemble the center console in about 20 seconds.
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Old 02-19-2009, 06:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Great write-up Sinecure!!
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Old 06-15-2009, 10:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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sometimes on sometimes off

wondering if anyone has any thoughts about my issue. my auto, off, recirculate and defrost ones are off most of the time when I have my lights on and the temp and the other four on the right are working, but some times the four on the left as mentioned earlier the auto, off, recirc and defrost sometimes will be on. I am wondering if it is possible that it may just be loose? What do you guys think? Also, is it just as easy as sticking a hanger into the top vent and gently pulling on the Plood? Thanks for this helpful post.
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Old 06-16-2009, 01:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I followed this procedure on my 2005. It worked, but it wasn't as easy as Sinecure described. It took a really hard pull with the coat hanger (hard enough for the hook to straighten out and the coat hanger to come flying out a number of times before I finally got it). Then the bottom part of the plood by the radio was really tight and I was worried I'd crack it when trying to work it loose, although I didn't. Finally, the connectors were very tight, so I had to use a screwdriver to pry them loose, and I managed to break the back of the hazard switch in the process.
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Old 06-16-2009, 01:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: sometimes on sometimes off

Quote:
Originally posted by junkmanacura
wondering if anyone has any thoughts about my issue. my auto, off, recirculate and defrost ones are off most of the time when I have my lights on and the temp and the other four on the right are working, but some times the four on the left as mentioned earlier the auto, off, recirc and defrost sometimes will be on. I am wondering if it is possible that it may just be loose? What do you guys think? Also, is it just as easy as sticking a hanger into the top vent and gently pulling on the Plood? Thanks for this helpful post.
Mine did the same thing.... for about 3 days, then it was out for good. Sometimes the filament in the bulb is disconnected, but is close enough to catch once in a while and produce light. Ultimately, the bulb is toast. Just replace it. Is it really worth taking the whole thing apart just to "see" if the bulb is loose? The bulbs are only a few dollars, so I elected to replace both at the same time. Hopefully I won't have to do it again for quite a while.

For me, it really was just as easy as the write up. One light pull and the plood poped out. I did not have any of the problems lion9mdx had. Everything came out easily, and the only thing that took some time was repairing the metal mesh in the back of the vent before puting it back together.
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I seem to recall that mine did the intermittent on-off thing for a while too.

Sorry yours was tough to get off. Mine came off pretty easily.
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have the 4 on 4 off situation on my 04 MDX. I can get the trim off and get the passenger airbag and hazard connectors off. Is there any trick in disconnecting the green connector to the AC unit t the top? I tried for a bit tonight to see how bad it was and I wasn't having much luck. Is there a trick to this?
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Old 01-19-2010, 10:17 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Most importantly press the connector back into the plug so it removes pressure from the locking clip.
Then using a phillips screwdriver, depress the actual part that needs to be moved in order for the connector to be removed from the plug. I have found that if you press with your thumb where they intend for you to press, the lever bends slightly and does not allow the detent to move enough to get the plug out.
While pressing with screwdriver I usually try and slide it out enough that it will come out just by pulling.

Definitely replace both bulbs in there because the other one will be out as soon as you put it all back together.
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Not to reopen an old thread - but since these cars are getting older, I figure more people will need this.

Just did the procedure on my 2004 MDX - instructions above were great. However, I did NOT need the bulb behind the temperature display - it's just not there. I assume they did away with it and just use the light from the other two bulbs. My assumption is this bulb is needed for 2001 and 2002 MDXs.

Bulb I did NOT need - 35851-SM4-003
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:38 AM   #13 (permalink)
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And just to make it easier for those that need these instructions - reposted with updated image URLs -

--------

Not sure exactly what best keywords to use in this post. I recently got tired of having my 2001 MDX's center dash console working in Stealth mode. The lights behind the HVAC controls (Auto/Off, Temp Display, Temperature Up/Down buttons, etc.) had all burned out over time and it was time to replace them since in the winter is when I need to control temp and when light is in short supply. I went and dug out the old thread about removing the plood and decided to do it myself.

It took me two takes since I'm an idiot and I tried to replace the bulbs without removing the three control interfaces. Instead I thought I could do it while it was still wired up (as in photo below). See below for more details on this fail.

So here are the steps. Removing the Plood was way easier than I expected. I used the coathangar method. The only thing to be careful of is that it pulls out evenly. It snagged a little next to where the CD slot is.



Just insert the hangar in the top of the vent tab with the short end facing up. Find the back of the frame and tug gently.



Next up is an important step that I tried to bypass. Remove the three clips from the back of the Plood (for those reading and wondering as I once did, Plood = Plastic+Wood, not some exotic term for a car part). One is attached to the back of the Hazard switch. One goes to the Interior light switch (once removed, your inside lights will not work until you reconnect) and the third goes to the HVAC controls pictured below.



Unlike some of the connectors in the MDX, these are easy to disconnect with your fingers.

Once you have it all taken apart, the last part is pretty easy. Find a flat-head screwdriver to remove the three bulbs. They turn a 1/4 or so counter-clockwise to remove them. Then just hold your hand under them and turn the thing over - they should fall out into your hand.

Here are the parts you'll need. If you are going to do all three lights, you'll need two of the parts on the right and one of the bulbs on the left. The green plug on the top in the image above is the tiny one and came from the bag on the left. The two gray ones are longer (about 1").

You need two of the bulb on the right and one of the bulb on the left. Part numbers should be legible. About $5ea.



Careful, the small ones are very easy to drop. This was my problem. I'd tried to replace w/out disconnecting the wire harnesses as i just described. I dropped the tiny bulb never to find it again. I have no idea where it went. I looked for 1/2 hour. $@#%^ Back to the dealer to order another one and wait for it to come in. They cost ~$5ea so it didn't break the bank, but it sure pissed me off.

Another suggestion - find a screwdriver that fits well into the slot in the back of the bulb. Taking them out is easy, but I found i really needed to push and turn firmly when putting them back in (hence my dropsies problem). I finally found one on my multi-tool that fit better than the screwdriver I'd been using and it all went back together much more easily.

Tools you need:

Coat Hangar
Small Flat-Head Screwdriver
Fingers

Parts:
35851-SM4-003 1ea (Possibly only needed in 2001-2002)
79629-S3V-A01 2ea

Total cost for most that have now read this how-to: $18 with tax
Total cost for me: $23 - although I may eventually find the bulb and get to use it somewhere else.
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for posting this. The link was already added to the FAQ, didnt know the original pics were expired.
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:12 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm assuming that the bulbs used for the HVAC, are the same used for the hazard, and interior light switch buttons?

All 3(4?, since the HVAC uses 2?) of mine are out!
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