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Old 11-13-2007   #1
JeremyT
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U52 Digital Dash Question

Looking at the figures for the 1988 GTAs equipped with the U52 RPO option (digital dash), this website shows:
U52 -- Instrument Cluster, Electronic -- 5,102

That's slightly over half of the 1988 GTAs had came with the digital dash.

This brings up a question out of curiosity. If the U52 digital dash was such a common option on the 1988 GTAs, what happened to them in 1989, and for them to be discontinued after 1989?

Would appear to me that if slightly over half of the 1988 GTAs came equipped with the option, that it was sort of a popular option. Therefore, I'm curious what happened.
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Old 11-16-2007   #2
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

I think one big influence was Knight Rider and this show was getting 'old' in 1989 and so people were less interested in the digital option perhaps.

Or maybe they just didn't find a way to make it as reliable and easy to read as the analogue setup?
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Old 11-16-2007   #3
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyT
Looking at the figures for the 1988 GTAs equipped with the U52 RPO option (digital dash), this website shows:
U52 -- Instrument Cluster, Electronic -- 5,102

That's slightly over half of the 1988 GTAs had came with the digital dash.

This brings up a question out of curiosity. If the U52 digital dash was such a common option on the 1988 GTAs, what happened to them in 1989, and for them to be discontinued after 1989?

Would appear to me that if slightly over half of the 1988 GTAs came equipped with the option, that it was sort of a popular option. Therefore, I'm curious what happened.
Maybe it took GM 2 or 3 years to figure out that it was a POS. My 87 has it and its the one thing I wish I could change. Give me analog anyday.
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Old 11-16-2007   #4
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

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Originally Posted by Wes
Maybe it took GM 2 or 3 years to figure out that it was a POS. My 87 has it and its the one thing I wish I could change. Give me analog anyday.
I think I'm going to have to agree with Wes. It does look cool at night, but during the day depending on where the sun is it becomes very difficult to see and read at times...at least that's what I notice (yes...all of the bulbs work). I do wish that I had an analog set of gages and before it's all said and done, I just might since my odometer no longer functions.

Looks cool, but that's about it...
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Old 11-16-2007   #5
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

But the fact is, according to the 1988 figures here, slightly over half of the GTAs came with the digital dash option in 1988. That's not even counting the Trans AMs, which could get that option (I have one in my 1988 T/A). I don't understand how that could have suddenly died off so soon after a strong year for that option.

As far as reliability, overall, I have not had many issues with them, and I have 4 of them. Lets also not forget that the Corvette came with a digital dash, although I do believe it was problematic.

But when you look past 1989, you still see that such advanced electronics are still in use. I don't think the digital dash was that unreliable. You see the car manufactures have been pushing cars towards being loaded with electronics and controlled by computers. I don't see the digital dash as being any less reliable.

I'm just curious why the option dropped off from about 51% in 1988 to the figures it did in 1989. It would appear to me that GM just dropped the option, which asks me, why, after such a strong year for that option. I don't see where the sales started to slip, causing them to revoke the option.

Only think I can think of is that the digital dash was not equipped to handle the addition of another warning lamp without being slightly redesigned. The ones above the temp/oil/fuel/volt display were used (Brake, Fasten Belts, Service Engine Soon, Security), and with the added air bag option in 1990 and the airbag warning lamp, I wonder if that is why the digital dash was dropped.
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Last edited by JeremyT; 11-16-2007 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 11-16-2007   #6
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

They could have easily made that a warning message in the display above the odometer if need be. Like I said...mine...I have issues with and I'd just as soon be done with it if it wouldn't be such a PITA to make the switch over to the analog gaged dash.
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Old 11-16-2007   #7
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by strc09
They could have easily made that a warning message in the display above the odometer if need be. Like I said...mine...I have issues with and I'd just as soon be done with it if it wouldn't be such a PITA to make the switch over to the analog gaged dash.
That still would require some redesign of the cluster itself, as well as an additional circuit as none of the existing warning lamps could be replaced. With the analog, an existing lamp was simply replaced for the airbag lamp.

By the way, perhaps it's because I'm fairly good with electronics, but converting your digital dash to analog really isn't that difficult. Yes, the sensors are different, but it's easier to go the direction of your desire, rather than the opposite (analog to digital).
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Old 11-17-2007   #8
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Whats funny, is that if you wanted to, you could incorporate all of the PCBs that are in that digital dash into a few small ICs.

Maybe it was cost to produce that GM opted not to continue with the design?
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Old 11-17-2007   #9
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

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Originally Posted by merc3065
Whats funny, is that if you wanted to, you could incorporate all of the PCBs that are in that digital dash into a few small ICs.

Maybe it was cost to produce that GM opted not to continue with the design?
I know the wiring, instrument cluster and HVAC were all different from the standard cluster, but the dealer invoice/window sticker shown the U52 (that of course included the push button HVAC), was about $275.00 per unit. I'm not experienced to know the figures behind it.
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Old 11-18-2007   #10
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

The HVAC units apparantly also have a lot of issues with the resistor packs burning out and causing the fans to only work at certain speeds or not at all.

Maybe it was just not up to par for technology. The new Honda civics have a LCD display in them that looks really nice with the cool blue.

But I think you might have just touched on something there with the different wiring.

The engine harness is the same, but theres the sensor harness, the interior harness and the HVAC harness that are all different in the digital cars. They also had different wire harnesses.

There would have to be batches of digital dashes that run through the plant during assembly and that might have costed more overall to build and incorporate into the car?

I'm thinking to stream line production, they kept it simple and stuck with the analog system, which in reality is still 100% digital as they used stepper motors instead of cable driven gauges.
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Old 11-18-2007   #11
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

i love the digital dash,except on sunny days when you cant read it..
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Old 11-19-2007   #12
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

JT, I'm no expert but I would not be the least bit surprised to find that it involved $$$ saved on production by dropping the option. Regardless of the number of installations, I imagine that the bottom line cost would determine the option's viability.

Surely you remember the old ad...."nobody sweats the details like GM"....?
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Old 11-19-2007   #13
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Frankie, your theory is what I initially thought of to be the likely reason. Just thinking about the strong sales in 1988, and it looks like records are incomplete on that option for 1989, I just was wondering if that was the reason, or if there was more.

Funny thing about this is when I was shopping for a Trans AM, and having known about the digital dash, one of my very few requirements was that I wanted the analog cluster. I did not want the digital dash. I like the at-a-glance accuracy of digital, but don't care of the lag and other inherent issues.

Then I found my future Trans AM. It had everything I wanted, but it had the digital dash. That was the only "flaw". I decided to accept it and "settle".

Now, having owned a few, I sort of prefer the digital dash, which is a 180 from my initial stance. I think the look is unique, and because it was offered for a limited amount of years, I thought having the option would be good.
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Old 11-25-2007   #14
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

I have converted my 89 completely to the 91-92 style.From the body style to the digital dash out,analog dash in.I am wanting to keep one and only one aspect of the digital dash option in my car.The a/c heater controls!Under hood,all appears to be the same,under dash is totally different.I really like the touch button effect on the digital dash equipped cars,so I'm going to figure out how to keep it with my dash swap.I personnally think its a cool idea,how many GTA's have you seen with analog gauges and push button ac/heat controls?
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Old 11-25-2007   #15
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMMYS89GTA
how many GTA's have you seen with analog gauges and push button ac/heat controls?
None, because the two options were not available separately. One required the other....
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Old 11-27-2007   #16
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Unfortunately, the digital dashes are prone to many problems. If you have read posts for a long time you would see that most of the problems center on the Odometer unit going out.Think about all of the hard suspension vibration going through the dash and it is amazing that more digital dash cars don't have problems. Here we are talking about 20 year old technology and wondering why it isn't so reliable. How many 20 year old products do we have with digital interfaces that work properly - probably few to none if we had kept them that long.

How many currently produced cars do you know about that have a complete digital dash (tach, speedo, oil, battery, water, driver info center, odometer) as a customer selected option? I don't know of one example. My point is that this digital option is rare and will only become harder to find parts to fix in the future.
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Old 11-28-2007   #17
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourthkid
How many currently produced cars do you know about that have a complete digital dash (tach, speedo, oil, battery, water, driver info center, odometer) as a customer selected option? I don't know of one example. My point is that this digital option is rare and will only become harder to find parts to fix in the future.
It doesn't have to be a digital dash. You know how many computers that are in today's cars? I don't see a big difference between those computers and the technology a digital dash uses. There's still lots of circuits and electronic components that are subject to that same shock/vibration. Computer technology in cars, and their components, are only growing - not going away.
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Old 11-28-2007   #18
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

I have to agree with both of you on the points you made above. Jeremy is right in that computer tech is certainly not going away and will continue to play a huge role in automotive design. Today's cars are better off for having it; they are certainly more efficient.

But I also think that as technology advances, the older versions such as was used in our car's U52 cluster will become more difficult and more expensive to repair. I look for that to go the route of OEM radio repair.... I've sent a couple stereos off in recent years that GM's repair center in Texas wouldn't even offer to fix because of the age and technology being out-dated.

I hope I'm wrong on this, but....
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Old 11-29-2007   #19
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Re: U52 Digital Dash Question

Does anyone know of any place to get them fixed? I think it's come up before but I can't remember. It'd be nice to have my odometer and the message center working right again. Luckily the rest of my dash is working.
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