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Need to Change and Re-Set my Odometer

7264 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  uberwasser
hey all, i'm in need of some assistance and advice regarding my odometer.

i was recently informed that my euro 280E has the wrong odometer for the year and model. i assume it was lost during it's (very poor) federalization process in 1984. it also reads the incorrect mileage as it was driven briefly in germany with the original KPH speedometer before being imported. i have this mileage written down and intend to correct the mileage showing on my new set up.

i found the correct 120 mph gauge on ebay and now have it in my possession. which leads me to my questions.

what is the easiest and best course of action to get my new gauge in with the corrected mileage? i can either:

A) freshen up and install the new gauge i got from ebay in it's entirety. this would mean i would need to roll back the mileage showing by about 20,000 miles. paint the needles, and pop it in.

B) replace just the faceplate of the gauge that is currently in the car and roll the mileage forward by about 10,000 miles or so.

what are your recommendations? how best to roll mileage forward and/or backward? anyone have a write up about this or know of a link to a procedure for tackling the odometer? can you just pop the needles off and change out the faceplate? is that even an option?

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I have never attempted to change the number wheels. However, I have repaired a slipping shaft on three odometers and changed out a parted speedometer cable. For troubleshooting purposes I kept the portion of the old cable with the knurled nut that screws onto the back of the speedo along with a portion of the cable spring. Using a drill motor I was able to operate the speedo at 50 to 55 MPH. I chucked the speedo in a vice, attached the knurled nut to the speedo and chucked the other end of the cable into my drill motor. At that rate it would take a little over a week to spin 10,000 miles. Drill motors are only 1,200 to 1,500 RPMs. Perhaps you could use a higher RPM motor like a heavy duty dremel tool to cut down the time. They have variable speed models that go to 10,000 RPMs.

Maybe others have actually fiddled with number wheel settings, if so I'd like to hear about that.

Good luck,


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here is the best known writeup about fixing the odo, not for changing the mileage specifically, but some of it will be relevant: How to Repair Your Broken Odometer

though reassembly of the number wheels is very tricky (i have tried this on a VW) i would be inclined to do that before leaving a motor turning it for a week straight on the workbench. alternately, i have a few spare odos here, perhaps one of them is set to a number closer to what you are seeking?!
I used the repair method outlined in the link above to help repair my odometer last month. I ended up replacing some of the number wheels on my odometer shaft. It is mechanically a very easy task except for getting all the wheels to show the correct odometer reading and be correctly aligned. It just takes a great deal of "fiddling" and repeated attempts with great patience. It took me about 1.5 hours of "fiddling" before I had everything come out aligned and showing the correct mileage.

I was finally successful by getting the number wheels where I wanted them and then putting a piece scotch tape across them on the front of the speedometer. I then very, very carefully re-engaged the grey cogs on the shaft behind the odometer shaft:

It is that step that causes the number wheels to move. It takes a steady hand.

Good luck.
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Take it to a speedometer repair business, come back the next day with money! install fixed speedo with a receipt and a warranty. Or send it away to a shop, send money, wait a week then install repaired speedo. Or....... attempt to do it yourself, maybe 3 or 4 times. Get another speedo after you screw up yours! Bottom line, this is a job for an expert with the proper tools and experience. IMO
The odometers on these cars are very simple devices. I wouldn't send it out.
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The odometers on these cars are very simple devices. I wouldn't send it out.
Agreed, this is a well documented procedure on two different sites, and is a good project for someone with a little patience. I recomend the iFixit guide, it uses a different procedure that appears to be easier than the DieselGiant one, but both have the same results.

Having a mechanic should always be a last resort on these cars, they are simple vehicles made of simple, well designed, parts. Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment found in fixing your own vehicle. Also, saving money is always good :)
Drive another 20K miles, then swap.
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Drive another 20K miles, then swap.
if it were that simple, i'd choose this option! however, i'm only putting approx 1,200 miles on this car per year. she's only out in the summer, i baby her, i've got a growing family and there's no way the babyseat is going in this car so i end up driving the other cars more often it seems.

to and from work, some errand running, and the very rare weekend cruise. it's a shame but it'll get better once my kid gets older i think...

thanks for the help and feedback everyone!
While in the process of swapping out the 85 MPH head in my '81 I found a way to spin the odometer pretty fast. The replacement unit had a bad odometer, which I fixed with the IFixIt guide.

To set the odometer to the correct mileage I disassembled the speedo so that the nylon gear was not connected as per the Diesel Giant guide. Then I drilled a small hole in the end of a pencil eraser, mounted the pencil in a drill and used it to spin the brass gear. At 1200 rpm the odo was advancing at about 1,000 miles per minute (60,000 miles per hour).

Holding the release for the trip meter seemed like a good idea. It was fun to see the numbers spin like the dates on a time machine.

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Great idea.
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