LED Lighting Upgrade - Mercedes Benz

Instrument cluster backlighting can be greatly improved by upgrading from an incandescent lighting to an LED based architecture. LEDs are brighter, last longer, and consume less power than standard incandescent bulbs, making them an ideal choice for the automotive application. A unique added bonus, colour upgrading puts a splash of vivid colour in places where it was never before possible!

The following models have upgrade options :

Classic Mercedes - R107, W116, W126, W201, W124

The lighting design of the classics is fairly simple, and consists of a pair of incandescent bulbs driven by an adjustable rheostat. Since the rheostat bears the brunt of sinking the entire current supply, it becomes prone to corrosion and weathering. Rheostats are ceramic, wire-wound, variable, high current resistors that dim interior and instrument lighting. If this item is damaged, then it needs to be replaced. A damaged or burned out rheostats provides little to no instrument lighting.

Newer Mercedes instrument gauges are translucent, and can be lit from the rear. Older Mercedes instrument gauges are opaque, and cannot be lit from the rear. Instead they redirect the light from bulbs inserted in the rear, travel through plexiglas channels on top of the cluster, and diffuse the light over the gauges. This method of illuminating provides a trickle of light which degrades as the plexiglas yellow with age. The two incandescent bulbs are located in the rear, and the plexiglas channel with the housing cover removed, can be seen on top.

LED Upgrade

The LED modification for the classics involve replacing the light redirection system with 6 mini-LEDs that point downwards, and directly light the gauges from the top. They are wired into the dimmer with the correct proprietary circuit that will give superior brightness, and yet still retain the ability to dim. Available colours are shown below.


White backlights on white LCD, OEM orange needle paint

Blue backlights on blue LCD, fluorescent needle paint

Needle Paint

MBCluster can add a light coat of paint to freshen up the usually faded appearance of gauge needles. Over the years, as needles become weathered, the OEM orange turns from an orange colour to a dull yellow colour. A variety of colours are available to choose from, as can be seen below :

Old weathered needles
Painted needles, OEM orange
Painted needles, flourescent orange

OEM Orange
Fluorescent Orange
Fluorescent Yellow

LCD Lighting LED Upgrade

If the bulb inside the temperature LCD is burned out, this bulb can be replaced. The old incandescent can be renewed with a new bulb, or upgraded to use LEDs.

W124 Temperature LCD
dual white mini-LEDs
W126 Temperature LCD
dual blue mini-LEDs


Classic Lighting upgrade:

Includes tach./clock repair, capacitor replacement, needle paint


Classic LCD LED lighting upgrade, any colour


Pricing is in Canadian Dollars (CAD).

Note: All Canadian residents must add their province's applicable taxes (HST or GST).

United States and other foreign countries do not add taxes.


Beginning in 2000, the new S-Class revamped its older bulkier design to a more compact multi CAN based design and introduced a fluorescent tube architecture to produce lighting for the gauges. Internally, cascading transformers boost the voltage up to an incredible 4000V to provide the required stimulation to activate the fluorescent tubes. As it was the first model to attempt this type of architecture, issues were encountered, and there were some revisions after the first model was introduced.

Gen I

This first generation design (Gen I), contained 5 fluorescent tubes to produce the lighting. A smaller main transformer was used, which was made OEM by VOGT, part #428 016. Heat strips were installed behind the tubes to give it a warm boost in colder temperatures. A daughter board was mounted above the main circuit board which can be seen from the rear, and can be used to denote this type of instruments.

Gen II

In mid 2001 the design was reworked (Gen II), and reduced the tube count to 3. A larger main transformer was used, which was made OEM by VOGT, part #428 025. The heat strips were abandoned in place of a longer electronic warm up period. All the circuitry was then consolidated onto the main motherboard. The lack of a rear daughter board denotes this type of instruments.

The fluorescent tubes produced an enormous amount of light, however, problems with the new architecture soon started appearing, which spurred a manufacturer recall. Those owners who have not replaced their sets after the allocated warranty period have few options. If the main transformer can be replaced successfully, it will extend the life of the instruments a while longer. If the fluorescent tubes have gone bad, there is no further repair option, as these parts are not sold separately.

LED Upgrade

Innovative thinking and engineering work at MBCluster has produced the world's first LED upgrade solution, custom designed for the W220. We have developed a fully integrated electrical modification to convert a fluorescent tube architecture into an LED driver architecture. Custom made PCBs replace old tired fluorescent tubes, producing brighter lighting, consuming less power, and a long life expectancy renown by LEDs.

Ultra Violet

A varied selection of colours allows you to tailor your instrument cluster lighting. The upper LEDs provide lighting for the gauges, and the lower LEDs provide lighting for the LCDs. Thus any combination of colours can be selected to customize your driving experience. The OEM look is obtained by selecting white gauges on white LCDs. Another great combination is white on blue, or blue on white.

W220 Gen II LED Upgrade - White backlights on white LCDs

W220 Gen II LED Upgrade - White backlights on blue LCDs

W220 Gen II LED Upgrade (Carlsson) - Blue backlights on white LCDs, white speedometer ring

W220 Gen II LED Upgrade - White backlights on white LCDs, white KPH ring

Repair Options

If the fluorescent tubes are still in good condition, and the issue is elsewhere, then a standard lighting repair can be performed keeping your original setup intact. If the tubes are bad, or simply a colour upgrade is desired, an LED upgrade is the way to go. This upgrade is an intensive process modifying many different circuits to support the LED graft. Thus this service is only available in-house from MBCluster.

The very first MBCluster W220 LED lighting upgrade video can be seen below, Part I, as broadcast in YouTube in 2012. All LEDs were hand-placed, a long process, but worked well.

Follow up videos, Part II and Part III.

Sending In Your Unit

  1. Fill out the online Repair Form, and include it with your unit :
  2. International customers, ex. United states, Europe, must fill out the customs documented, and follow the shipping instructions available here.
  3. Bundle the unit up in ample padding and place it in a sturdy box. Address is located at the bottom of the Repair Form. Please note : Only USPS may be used for American shipping! Canadian shipments may use private couriers such as UPS, FedEx, etc., all other countries must use their federal postal services.
  4. Once we have received the unit and diagnosed the fault, we will e-mail an update. If you are satisfied with the diagnosis, we will begin repair accordingly. Final payment is done using the easy PayPal system, with Invoice sent in the email exchange. If for whatever reason, you have decided to decline service, or service is not possible for your unit, a shipping charge is required to send it back.


W220 Lighting repair, repairing OEM circuit (if possible)

$325 - Standard repair rate


$60 - Transformer, FETs, Capacitors

W220 LED lighting upgrade, any colour combination


Pricing is in Canadian Dollars (CAD).

Note: All Canadian residents must add their province's applicable taxes (HST or GST).

United States and other foreign countries do not add taxes.

Email : Info@MBCluster.com

MBCluster | 8 Blacktoft Drive | Scarborough, Ontario, Canada | M1B 2M6 | (416)724-2149 | Email : Info@MBCluster.com

Website best viewed with Firefox or Internet Explorer