A quick update, just to put this out on the internet! A lot of UK Avantime owners have asked in various forums and mailing lists how to replace the bulbs on the small rev counter display just above the steering wheel. Yes, if you’ve got an old Avantime, that thing that looks like a small oddment tray (as it is on the passenger side) is another backlit orange LCD panel. If the light catches it at the right angle you’ll be able to see the display.
The official guide essentially talks through stripping down the entire dash, and these are 13+ year old Renault/Matra plastics, so such a process is intimidating. Chances of a 100% perfect repair, with no broken clips or screw guides, are slim. Fortunately that guide is really talking about replacing the entire panel.
It is possible, if you have sufficiently long forearms and skinny-to-average wrists and hands, to reach up from the footwell roughly aligned with the space between throttle and brake pedal. You need to lie on your back in the footwell to get your shoulder directly under the steering column to have enough reach, and be aware of the modules and wiring in the space, don’t push or lean on bits, just find the natural path straight up to the back of the display. You’ll feel a rectangular shape with three circular holes and in the holes, the bases of the wedge-style bulbs. These are Osram 38754/2351MFX6, 12V 1.2W with a socket on the base and black holder; Ring R509TMBK looks to be the right replacement and easily found in the UK for around 89p each.
To remove the bulbs, clearance is tight – I wrapped a 6mm socket in bluetack to provide enough grip. They only need a little counter-clockwise turn to release. Refitting is the reverse; I put a very small bit of bluetack in the socket to hold the bulb in place whilst feeding it up to the display.
Once you have the knack it takes just a few minutes to restore brightness. Regrettably the centre LCD of the main display does need all the dismantling of the top panel, but at least it is just the top.