The "Other Shop" Told This Lady She Needed A New Instrument Cluster...

South Main Auto LLC
10 May 202450:44

TLDRIn this automotive repair video, the mechanic addresses a 2012 RAV4 brought in by a customer who was told they needed a new instrument cluster by another shop. The mechanic, skeptical of the diagnosis, investigates the issue further. Upon testing, he discovers that the instrument cluster is not the problem. Instead, he finds evidence of rodent damage, specifically mice, which have chewed through critical wiring. Through a process of elimination and by using a wiring diagram, the mechanic identifies the broken wires and devises a plan to repair the damage. He then demonstrates how to splice and solder the wires back together, ensuring a proper connection. The mechanic also discusses the importance of having access to service information and a structured diagnostic approach, emphasizing that anyone can perform such repairs with the right resources and mindset.


  • 🚗 The customer was initially told by another shop that her 2012 RAV4 needed a new instrument cluster, but this was questioned due to the lack of programming services at the first shop.
  • 🔍 Upon inspection, all dashboard lights were on, the odometer was stuck, and only the fuel gauge was functioning, albeit uncertainly.
  • 🔧 The technician decided to perform a thorough diagnostic check using an Autel scan tool, which revealed no communication with the ECM or other modules, indicating a potential network issue.
  • 🐭 Signs of rodent damage were discovered under the hood, which redirected the investigation towards possible wire damage rather than a faulty instrument cluster.
  • 🔎 A manual inspection of the vehicle’s wiring and connectors was initiated, focusing on potential rodent damage and wire integrity.
  • ⚙️ The CAN network physical layer appeared open, showing 121 ohms instead of the expected 60 ohms, indicating a break in the network.
  • 🔬 Further examination of the wiring harness and network configuration was needed to locate the exact point of failure.
  • 🛠 The technician found and repaired the damaged wires caused by rodents, which were affecting network communication.
  • 🔌 After repairs, the vehicle’s network communication was restored, and the instrument cluster began to function correctly.
  • 💡 This case highlights the importance of not just relying on initial diagnostics but verifying the root cause, especially considering potential external factors like rodent damage.

Q & A

  • What was the initial issue with the 2012 RAV?

    -The initial issue was that the instrument cluster in the 2012 RAV was not functioning properly. The lady who brought the vehicle was told by another shop that she needed a new instrument cluster.

  • Why was the mechanic skeptical about replacing the instrument cluster?

    -The mechanic was skeptical because he had worked on these vehicles for a long time and had never seen a cluster go bad. He was also suspicious because the cluster was lit up, and only the fuel gauge seemed to be working.

  • What was the first step the mechanic took to diagnose the issue?

    -The first step was to manually input the VIN into the altel diagnostic tool since it didn't Auto ID, and then perform a scan to see what was wrong with the vehicle.

  • What did the mechanic find unusual about the vehicle's response to the diagnostic scan?

    -The mechanic found it unusual that there was no response from the ECM and other modules, and that no codes were flagged indicating a communication issue, which was very bizarre considering the vehicle started and ran.

  • What did the mechanic discover when he inspected the vehicle's physical condition?

    -The mechanic discovered a mouse nest under the hood, with the hood blanket torn up, and a strong smell of mouse or rat. This indicated that the issue might be due to rodent damage.

  • How did the mechanic confirm that the data network was open circuited?

    -The mechanic used an ohmmeter to check the resistance between pins 6 and 14 of the data link connector. They expected to see 60 ohms but found 121.2 ohms, indicating that the network was open circuited.

  • What was the final diagnosis of the issue?

    -The final diagnosis was that mice had chewed through some of the wires, specifically the white and purple wires that connect to the AC amplifier and the drive control ECU, causing the network to be open circuited.

  • How did the mechanic repair the broken wires?

    -The mechanic repaired the broken wires by soldering a piece of wire to the broken ends and then using rodent tape to cover and protect the repair.

  • What was the mechanic's approach to dealing with the broken connector?

    -The mechanic decided to bypass the need for a new connector by directly soldering the wires together and protecting them with rodent tape. This was a practical solution given the circumstances.

  • What precautions did the mechanic take to prevent future rodent damage?

    -The mechanic used rodent tape, which is infused with a spicy substance that deters mice, to wrap around the repaired area and protect it from future rodent damage.

  • What advice does the mechanic give to viewers about diagnosing similar issues?

    -The mechanic advises viewers to have a good understanding of the vehicle's systems, use service information available to everyone, and develop a diagnostic plan. He also emphasizes that anyone can do the repair work if they have the right information and approach.



🤔 Customer's Car with Suspected Instrument Cluster Issue

The video begins with the host addressing viewers about a customer's 2012 RAV4 that was brought in due to an alleged instrument cluster problem. The customer was told by another shop that the cluster needed replacement, but they didn't offer programming services. The host expresses skepticism about the cluster being faulty, as it's lit up with all lights on except the odometer, which hasn't changed. The fuel gauge is the only working feature, and its accuracy is in question. The host also notes that the vehicle doesn't auto-identify with the scan tool, prompting a manual VIN entry. The scan reveals no communication with various modules, which is unusual considering the vehicle starts and runs.


🔍 Investigating the Vehicle's Network and Physical Damage

The host proceeds to investigate the vehicle's network with a multimeter, discovering an open circuit. A visual inspection under the hood reveals a mouse nest and damage, suggesting that mice may have chewed through wires. The host decides to perform a network resistance check and consults a wiring diagram to understand the vehicle's network topology. The discovery of the e96 Junction connector and another connector, a44, are key in understanding the network's layout.


🕵️‍♂️ Pinpointing the Network Issue and Planning the Repair

The host identifies the e96 Junction connector's location and plans to check the network resistance across specific pins to isolate the issue. The use of an oscilloscope to analyze the network waveform reveals a corrupted signal, confirming the network's malfunction. The host decides to disconnect the e96 connector to further inspect the network's integrity and contemplates the possibility of a module failure or a physical break in the wiring.


🔧 Hands-On Repair: Solder and Tape to Fix the Network

The host decides on a repair strategy involving soldering a broken wire and securing the repair with rodent tape to prevent future damage. The process involves stripping the wire, soldering a new segment, and applying heat shrink tubing for protection. The host emphasizes the importance of having a clear diagnostic plan and analytical thinking in automotive repair, highlighting that the process is not a miracle but rather a systematic approach to problem-solving.


🏁 Wrapping Up the Repair and Addressing Viewer Comments

After completing the repair, the host clears the error codes and confirms that the vehicle's tachometer is functioning again. The host discusses the importance of having access to service information and the right to repair act, which allows access to factory service information. The host also addresses the viewers, inviting comments and questions, and encourages viewers to believe in their ability to perform similar repairs.



💡Instrument Cluster

An instrument cluster is a group of instruments in a vehicle that display various metrics such as speed, fuel level, and engine RPM. In the video, the lady was told she needed a new one, but the mechanic suspects it's not just a bad cluster causing the issue.


In the automotive context, programming refers to the process of setting or updating the software within a vehicle's electronic control units (ECUs). The mechanic mentions that the other shop did not do programming, which is often necessary when replacing certain electronic components like an instrument cluster.


VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number, a unique code used by the automotive industry to identify individual motor vehicles. In the script, the mechanic manually inputs the VIN into the diagnostic tool to aid in the vehicle's identification.

💡Scan Tool

A scan tool is a diagnostic device used to read data from a vehicle's ECUs. It can help identify issues by communicating with the vehicle's network. The mechanic uses a scan tool to check for any trouble codes and to analyze the vehicle's network.

💡Data Link Connector

A data link connector is a type of electrical connector that provides a physical link between the vehicle's data bus and the scan tool. It's crucial for the scan tool to communicate with the vehicle's systems. The mechanic finds issues with the vehicle's data link connector, which affects the communication with various modules.

💡Network Resistance

Network resistance is a measurement used to determine the integrity of a vehicle's data bus or network. It helps diagnose open circuits or short circuits. The mechanic checks the network resistance to identify breaks in the network caused by the mice.

💡Mouse Damage

Mouse damage refers to the harm caused by rodents, such as mice, that chew through wires or components in a vehicle. In the video, the mechanic discovers that mice have chewed through some of the vehicle's wires, leading to the network issues.

💡Open Circuit

An open circuit in electrical terms means a break or interruption in the path of an electrical circuit, which prevents current from flowing. The mechanic identifies an open circuit as the cause of the vehicle's network issues, which is later found to be due to mouse damage.


A resistor is a passive electrical component that opposes or limits the flow of current in a circuit. In the context of the video, the mechanic discusses the expected resistance values in the vehicle's network, which helps in diagnosing the problem.

💡Wire Strippers

Wire strippers are a type of plier used to remove the insulation from electrical wires. The mechanic uses wire strippers to prepare the wires for repair after identifying the broken wires caused by mice.


Soldering is a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and fusing a filler metal into the joint. The mechanic uses soldering to repair the broken wires by connecting them back together after the insulation has been stripped.


A 2012 RAV4 was brought in because another shop claimed it needed a new instrument cluster, but the owner was skeptical.

Upon inspection, every light on the dashboard was on, but the odometer was not working, and only the fuel gauge seemed functional.

The vehicle started and ran, but the diagnostic scan tool did not Auto ID, suggesting a deeper issue with the vehicle's network.

The scan tool showed no response from the ECM and other modules, indicating a potential broken wire in the data link connector.

Visual inspection revealed a mouse nest under the hood, with significant damage to the hood blanket and evidence of mouse activity.

The data network was found to be open-circuited, likely due to mouse damage, affecting the communication between various modules.

The technician decided to perform an old-school visual inspection and discovered the exact location of the broken wire.

By using a multimeter, the open circuit was confirmed, and the decision was made to repair the wire.

The broken wire was repaired by twisting the white wires back together and soldering a new connection.

A piece of wire was soldered onto the broken connection, and heat shrink tubing was used to secure the repair.

The technician used Honda rodent tape, which is infused with a spicy substance to deter mice, to protect the repaired area.

After the repair, the vehicle's instrument cluster functions were restored, and the diagnostic trouble codes were cleared.

The technician emphasized the importance of having a diagnostic plan and an analytical approach to problem-solving in automotive repair.

Access to service information was highlighted as crucial for accurate diagnosis and repair, with options available for DIYers and professionals.

The repair process was documented in a step-by-step manner, showing the logical progression from identification to resolution of the issue.

The technician shared insights on using oscilloscopes and multimeters for diagnosing complex automotive network issues.

The video serves as an educational resource for those interested in automotive diagnostics, demonstrating practical applications of theoretical knowledge.

The successful repair underscores the importance of thorough inspection and the ability to adapt when unexpected issues, such as rodent damage, are discovered.