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I ordered a salvage IPC (instrument panel cluster) from a 2008 LTZ to replace my 2011 standard version. Here's what I discovered.

Differences:
LTZ has aqua lines for each 5 and 10, white lines and numbers for each 20; standard has gaps in the aqua to mark each 5, white lines for each 10, and white lines and numbers for each 20
LTZ center has chrome rings and a "screen" look; standard is basically black
LTZ faces are dished; standard is all flat
Bezels and faceplates have 2 different sets of alignment holes/pins

Similarities:
Exact same needle colors, sizes, and styles
Clear cover is the same
Rear cover is the same
ALL of the warning icons (idiot lights) are in the same locations

The only real issue I discovered when swapping the faces was to make sure the Fuel and Coolant needles weren't pressed all the way down. The first couple of times I was trying to figure out why the Fuel needle was only going as far as ½ when I had ¾ of a tank. I finally noticed that the underside of the needle was hanging up on the chrome ring where it has a notch. I pulled both needles off and repositioned them so they weren't pressed down as far and that was all I needed.

A minor issue was that the 2 faces have their alignment pins in different places, which meant I had to use the donor's black bezel. I swapped my clear cover onto it since it's in better shape than the donor's.

With my red lighting (modified previously) the aqua color does not show up at all, so that's the same issue as before, only now the 10's don't have a white line that turns red like it did with my original faceplate. Instead the 10's are aqua and don't show up at all unless there's a strong light (sunlight) shining on the face. I might be tempted to swap out the red LEDs that I installed and go with another color, either for the numbers, the needles, or both.

Here's a video of me turning the key to ACC, killing the Door Ajar and Trunk Ajar messages, then starting the engine. (The noises you hear are the HVAC blower and then a strange sound, which is my dash cam.)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t4q836qyejxsbro/20171021_161904.mp4?dl=0
 

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Fantastic write up! I started doing this myself just before you posted this. It's actually quite easy as long as you have the patience for it. The only part you truly have to be careful on is removing the needles so they don't break. But it indeed works! I still have the cool glowy gauges and a working odometer! Since it's from my original cluster, no other modifications were needed except a faceplate swap. So screw the dealership, screw sending it in...as long as your cluster works and if you want the glowy gauges, just find a cheap one on eBay, swap the faceplates out yourself, and reinstall, then enjoy! :D

And I'm playing mythbusters once again just to once and for all prove a question that people have been asking, and why I think GM is a bit foolish on this move. The mileage is indeed stored on the BCM, NOT 100% the cluster. I drove over 1700 miles on the new cluster that the odometer didn't work on, as soon as I plugged in my original cluster and started the car, the mileage updated itself to the correct mileage. So that leads me to honestly ask....

GM, why did you do this? If the mileage is just soft stored in the cluster...why not have all clusters just show the correct mileage from the BCM right from the start? I'm aware that not all vehicles are like this, but I've confirmed the Malibu is. Odometer fraud is definitely a big issue...but why not just allow the cluster to automatically show whatever mileage is stored in the BCM and eliminate whatever is in there from another vehicle? Even the dealer couldn't reprogram the mileage and I wasted $70 just for them to tell me it didn't work and I had to pay that to drive my car out of the garage the same way I brought it in.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A pair of spoons at 180º across from each other.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I wanted to upgrade.

Unfortunately, with the red LEDs, the "glowy" part isn't nearly as obvious as it is with the stock colors (white).
 
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