If you simply are looking to replace the cable, this can be done from the top, and the cable can be removed by removing the instrument cluster. The release clip on the rear of the cluster can sometimes be accessed from under the dash, but in most cases, you must remove the cluster and reach behind the cluster to release the cable housing where it attaches to the speedo head.
If you disconnect the attachment at the transmission, it makes it easier to pull the cable from the housing. Still needs to come out the top.
If you intend to replace the cable and cable housing, the process involves some steps such as clamps that may be securing the housing along the frame, and removal of the housing and rubber grommet where the cable passes through the firewall.
Here's some information I found.
The following material covers only that service on speedometers which can be performed by the average service man. Repairs on the units themselves are not included as they require special tools and extreme care when making repairs and adjustments and only an experienced speedometer mechanic should attempt such servicing.
The speedometer has two main parts: the indicator head and the speedometer drive cable. When the speedometer fails to indicate speed or mileage, the cable or housing is probably broken.
Most cables are broken due to lack of lubrication or a sharp bend or kink in the housing.
A cable might break because the speedometer head mechanism binds. If such is the case, the speedometer head should be repaired or replaced before a new cable or housing is installed.
A jumpy pointer condition, together with a sort of scraping noise, is due, in most instances, to a dry or kinked speedometer cable. The kinked cable rubs on the housing and winds up, slowing down the pointer. The cable then unwinds and the pointer jumps.
To check for kinks, remove the cable, lay it on a flat surface and twist one end with the fingers. If it turns over smoothly the cable is not kinked. But if part of the cable flops over as it is twisted, the cable is kinked and should be replaced.
The speedometer cable should be lubricated with special cable lubricant every 10,000 miles.
Fill the ferrule on the upper end of the housing with the cable lubricant. Insert the cable in the housing, starting at the upper end. Turn the cable around carefully while feeding it into the housing. Repeat filling the ferrule except for the last six inches of cable. Too much lubricant at this point may cause the lubricant to work into the indicating hand.
During installation, if the cable sticks when inserted in the housing and will not go through, the housing is damaged inside or kinked. Be sure to check the housing from one end to the other. Straighten any sharp bends by relocating clamps or elbows. Replace housing if it is badly kinked or broken. Position the cable and housing so that they lead into the head as straight as possible.
Check the new cable for kinks before installing it. Use wide, sweeping, gradual curves when the cable comes out of the transmission and connects to the head so the cable will not be damaged during its installation.
If inspection indicates that the cable and housing are in good condition, yet pointer action is erratic, check the speedometer head for possible binding.
The speedometer drive pinion should also be checked. If the pinion is dry or its teeth are stripped, the speedometer may not register properly.
The transmission mainshaft nut must be tight or the speedometer drive gear may slip on the mainshaft and cause slow speed readings.
MONTE CARLO & 1982---83 MALIBU
- Disconnect battery ground cable.
- Remove radio knobs and clock set stem knob.
- Remove instrument bezel retaining screws, Fig. 11.
- Pull bezel rearward slightly and disconnect the rear defogger switch and remote control mirror control, if equipped.
- Remove bezel, Fig. 11.
- Remove speedometer retaining screws, pull speedometer from cluster slightly, disconnect speedometer cable and remove speedometer.
- Remove fuel gauge or tachometer retaining screws, disconnect electrical connectors and remove fuel gauge or tachometer.
- Remove clock or voltmeter retaining screws, disconnect electrical connectors and remove clock or voltmeter.
- Disconnect transmission shift indicator cable from steering column.
- Disconnect all wiring connectors and remove cluster case, Fig. 12.
- Reverse procedure to install.
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