Over the years of working on VW’s I have encountered enough instrument cluster failures that I would consider it a common problem. There are a few things you should be aware of before attempting to repair this unit.
Don’t Buy Used VW Cluster
I have tried this route already and have been burned multiple times. The bad part about it is you may start to second guess your diagnosis and re-check your troubleshoot path to make sure your not over looking something stupid after replacing the cluster with a used one that has the same problem. I have learned from experience that if you suspect the cluster just make sure it has good power (switched ignition and constant B+) and ground. If those are good you probably have a failed cluster. Anyways, there are so many failed ones that if you buy used you’ll probably get one with the same problem(s).
Common VW Instrument Cluster Failures
There are two common things I see fail with these clusters, the first one you could attempt to repair yourself if you confident in your soldering skills. Take a look at this picture below, which shows the back side of the instrument cluster circuit board.
If you look closely at the burnt pin terminal you’ll see where it is cracked. This is a common problem that I see in circuit boards and will cause high resistance and thats why the point looks burnt. Also may cause intermittent problems if not a constant failure.
The second more common failure that I see is the processors fail causing the cluster to go crazy. Yes, Volkswagen was ahead of there time in 1995 which is the year of the cluster I’m referencing too. The internal processor for the instrument cluster controlled everything and also communicates with the powertrain control module via BUS line. This is most likely beyond your repair abilities but I found a good company that repairs these electronic clusters. Tacoma Speedometer
I have had good experience with these guys and they back there work up with a warranty which is great when your dealing with electronics like this, hope this may help.