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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 08-23-2010, 07:55 AM
Matman44 Matman44 is offline
Matman
Location: brisbane australia
 
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Mein Auto: e39, e46
dash pixels revisited 2002 e39 530i

There's been a few discussions about pixels of late. I need to get mine done, the speedo / mileage / on board computer readings ....
sometimes they are as bright as Las Vegas Lights, sometimes as dim as my brain is right now.
My question is basically about the `ribbons` that are on offer from various suppliers.
has anyone tried the `ribbon fix`? Or is the problem actually in the led circuit board.
Any advice gratefully received
Anyone used this place?
http://www.pixelfix.net/eng/

Just by the way the abs module on mine has a mind of its own, I have checked and replaced a couple of the wheels sensors, Although I have never had any problems with speedo / cruise / not working. just that the lamps come on at their own will. I drove from Sunshine Coast to Gold Coast (OZ) this morning with two pit stops for coffee etc.. no lamps. Tonight lamps on all the way home from start up..
go figure.
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  #2  
Old 08-23-2010, 09:35 PM
Luftpost Luftpost is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 540/6spd, 95 525iA
I have read to great lengths on this and other boards. What I have learned is that the ribbon fix is a major gamble. Unless you are very proficient with fine electronics and have a good understanding, I would stay away from a DIY.

I have been in contact with BMWUSA. Last week they offered me 50% off parts, plus labor. Others have gotten 100% off parts, but have had to pay for one hour labor (repaired through dealership). BMW tells me they are no longer offering 100% for parts. Sad thing is that the previous owner had the pixels fixed by the dealer in 03, and they are bad again. So that tells me if you send it to the dealer, it will probably happen again as they have NOT fixed the real problem. BMW offers a 2 year warranty.

http://vdorepair.com/ on the other hand will repair the pixels and offer a lifetime warranty all for around $300. For an additional $45 they will install the chrome rings offered on the M5. To me, this sounds like the way to go. They are located in California. Ship out your instrument cluster overnight, and you will get it returned 3-4 days later.

Just noticed you live in OZ, .......shipping may vary.

L.

Last edited by Luftpost; 08-23-2010 at 09:38 PM. Reason: Update
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  #3  
Old 08-23-2010, 11:58 PM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luftpost View Post
they offered me 50% off parts, plus labor. Others have gotten 100% off parts, but have had to pay for one hour labor
My instrument cluster pixels were fixed 100%, including labor, under warranty a few years ago. At that time, I was told by the service department that I did not have to be under warranty (I only had a couple of miles left before it ran out).

What is the current situation?

Do they no longer replace the instrument cluster free of charge (labor & parts)?

BTW, look at this thread today... the cluster was replaced for $250.

Last edited by bluebee; 08-24-2010 at 12:03 AM.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2010, 12:03 AM
Matman44 Matman44 is offline
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Location: brisbane australia
 
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yep I am `down under` thanks for that I may look into contacting Bmw OZ..........i`LL SAY HAHA NOW.!

quick question does the `new`pixel cluster need to be recoded when its returned?
If not why I wonder don`t Vdo or others offer an exchange unit......... you could buy the new unit at a fee plus premium which is returned when you send old unit back.
just a thought
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  #5  
Old 08-24-2010, 05:40 AM
Luftpost Luftpost is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matman44 View Post
quick question does the `new`pixel cluster need to be recoded when its returned?
If not why I wonder don`t Vdo or others offer an exchange unit......... you could buy the new unit at a fee plus premium which is returned when you send old unit back.
just a thought
Not sure about that, but I am sure you could drop them an email.

L.
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2010, 05:44 AM
Luftpost Luftpost is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
What is the current situation?

Do they no longer replace the instrument cluster free of charge (labor & parts)?
Never heard or read of any out of warranty work being done for better than 100% parts.

In fact, when I contacted the dealer two weeks ago before pursuing this whole thing, he said BMW had abandoned the entire program. BMWUSA is offering me 50% on parts, plus labor.

L.
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  #7  
Old 08-24-2010, 07:06 AM
simt simt is offline
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I did the job myself. I think I got the ribbon from the place you mentioned. It was the place that operates from Hungary.
I took my display apart twice, 2nd time was far quicker than the first, as I knew what I was doing.
1st time I'd just intended to put in extra padding to press the contacts down more firmly. But I accidentally pulled the ribbon off and that was the end of that. Half the gold contacts came away from the ribbon and stuck on the board! So put everything back together and ordered the ribbon and did the job again two weeks later.
It was a bitch of a job. Admittedly though I'd never done anything like it before. It's not a nice feeling when you start drilling holes into your display. (Though you can't at all see the surgery when it's all back together.) Far and a away the hardest part is perfectly aligning the ribbon back up and then somehow sticking it down and clamping it all back up together whilst maintaining that alignment.
After a few days of perfect pixels I lost some again anyway. After a few months I'm at about 70%. In my case, I believe the reason for this is that there's three plastic tabs that hold down the metal plate that holds the ribbon down. First time I did the job, I broke one of those tabs and now there's not enough anchorage to hold the plate down properly.

My parting advice would be - if you do the job be really careful. I found that over the last nine years the plastic in the vdo has become more brittle with age.

Sim.
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  #8  
Old 09-06-2010, 05:19 PM
Tracker5950 Tracker5950 is offline
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I have an '02 530i. I bought the ribbon from Bulgaria and tried repairing the pixel problem myself. I drilled the holes (my torx head screws were 9's, not 10's like Edmund's, but I found a Torx head 8 would work too). I got partial pixels and ultimately after taking it apart c. 40 times (bought machine screws and nuts from Radio Shack as I stripped out leftmost threads in the cluster), I sent it to VDOrepair in California.

Biggest problem was getting new ribbon to conform to an S-shape. VDOrepair says they use a better ribbon. Another big problem is the fuel gauge and the Temp gauge don't have stops and it is easy to knock the calibration/alignment off. I also mashed the fuel gauge pointer when I put the lens housing back on. VDOrepair fixed everything (except Temp gauge does not go exactly to middle when car is warmed up) for $275 (well worth it). I also paid $31 USPS shipping with $1K insurance. They charge $35 for first gauge they replace, $25 for additional gauges (also got new dial face plate for $2 as I had bent mine). VDOrepair pays the return shipping. It has been over a month now (c. 2K miles) and the pixels read fine. Send off & return was about 1 week. Communciation was excellent.

Tracker5950

Last edited by Tracker5950; 09-06-2010 at 06:09 PM. Reason: misspelling; additional Info
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  #9  
Old 10-25-2015, 07:19 PM
bamasadero bamasadero is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 530i
question about instrument panel pixels

Our mileage, KM, or outside temperature does not light up at ALL, but the fasten seat belt and key in ignition light up with just a few pixels missing, Would a new ribbon take care of this or is there light bulbs that would need to be replaced. Needless to say we only want to take this apart once...any assistance you could give us would be much appreciated. Thanks.
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  #10  
Old 10-25-2015, 10:29 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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There are five light bulbs across the bottom of the cluster. There are special bulbs, available from the dealer, or online at a much lower cost.
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  #11  
Old 10-26-2015, 07:32 AM
poolman poolman is offline
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I bought the bulbs that wer similar to the ones in our cars from Auto Zone and they worked fine. I only replaced 2 of them when I went in, wished I had replaced them all at once now. I seem to have one getting dim again. Been about 2 years since the work was done. Hope that helps
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  #12  
Old 10-26-2015, 08:34 AM
blacksquid blacksquid is offline
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I replaced the LCD and ribbon in my 540i but it did require some modification so don't do it if you're not comfortable taking a Dremel or drill to your console! I need to replace a couple of bulbs but that's easy compared to the LCD replacement.

Here's the link to the company:

http://www.pixelfix.net/eng/

Instructions are pretty good but do read them carefully.
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  #13  
Old 10-26-2015, 01:12 PM
jetsam jetsam is offline
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The records show my cluster was replaced long ago.
Why do the new clusters not have the pixel problem?
Do they not use the pink tape?
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  #14  
Old 10-27-2015, 04:15 PM
vetaldj vetaldj is offline
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I'm on same boat - doing this replacement now. So far I took everything apart until drilling point. Later today, after dad's duty I will come back to this. Scary to death but will try.

I was always telling that I will never ever will touch fuel system - but after few quotes I did fuel pump and filter in the parking garage. So, I will try. I already located few junk yard's donors though, in case I fail

Will report back my progress. Hopefully it will be success. I have nothing to loose, I can't see anything at all, except in which gear car is in.
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SOLD - 2003 525i Green M Susp/M St Wheel, 202K
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  #15  
Old 10-28-2015, 06:08 AM
blacksquid blacksquid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vetaldj View Post
I'm on same boat - doing this replacement now. So far I took everything apart until drilling point. Later today, after dad's duty I will come back to this. Scary to death but will try.

I was always telling that I will never ever will touch fuel system - but after few quotes I did fuel pump and filter in the parking garage. So, I will try. I already located few junk yard's donors though, in case I fail

Will report back my progress. Hopefully it will be success. I have nothing to loose, I can't see anything at all, except in which gear car is in.
You'll be just fine! Just double check the location of the screws behind the console face so you drill in the right place. And go slow.

If I can do this, anyone can.


John
p.s. It'll be nice to get your pixels back.
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  #16  
Old 10-28-2015, 07:01 AM
RobinW RobinW is offline
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Using strips of paper under the rubber strips didn't work for me. I had to do it again and used strips from a cereal box instead of paper. That did the trick. Also be very careful of the meter dials when doing this. They are easily damaged.
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  #17  
Old 10-28-2015, 07:05 AM
540nj 540nj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetsam View Post
The records show my cluster was replaced long ago.
Why do the new clusters not have the pixel problem?
Do they not use the pink tape?
I have the same question. My MID was replaced under warranty for failing pixels, 10 years ago. I paid for the dashboard pixel fix (labor only) at 60K miles. The replaced units have never had a pixel problem.

dave
03 540i6
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  #18  
Old 10-28-2015, 07:13 AM
RobinW RobinW is offline
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When I did mine the ribbon was obviously bonded to the PCB with something.
Using a cotton bud and acetone to clean the contacts, it was brown junk.
Maybe they didn't put the brown junk back when it was fixed?
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  #19  
Old 10-28-2015, 07:50 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 740iL / 2006 X5 4.4
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetsam View Post
The records show my cluster was replaced long ago.
Why do the new clusters not have the pixel problem?
Do they not use the pink tape?
Don't count your chix before they hatch.

I had the cluster replaced in my 97 e38 back in Nov/2003 with a "goodwill" replacement cluster...as well as the MID. The mfg date of the new cluster was 16/03 (16th week of 2003)...and gave me the added bonus of being able to reset the SI display using the cluster buttons just like the newer e38s/e39s with build dates from 9/00-up.

The pixels were excellent in the new cluster and MID until last year. The pixel degradation wasn't severe enough were you couldn't read the 20 digit alpha/numeric display...pixels were only missing in a few locations...mostly on the right side of letters on the right side of the display.

There was a forum member that was offering a good price on pixel repair...so I sent it to him back in April...and the week after installing the repaired "goodwill cluster" that had worked perfectly for 11 years...the MID started dropping a few pixels. So far, I'm living with the MID...but wish it had failed a few weeks earlier and it would have been sent in with the cluster.

So again, don't count your chix before they hatch. If you have a BMW "goodwill" replacement cluster...it will probably fail in the future if it's like the one I had. But if the work was performed by an aftermarket company like VDO or other independent cluster repairer...perhaps the fix will be good for life.
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2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg
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  #20  
Old 10-28-2015, 11:35 AM
vetaldj vetaldj is offline
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Ok, I'm back with fail results... So, in my case first of all I've got cheap ribbon, carbon, it has wider contacts, just a bit, but enough to screw alignment, if you match perfectly one side, another is off and overlapping. This is not that bad, bigger problem that with all that goof pretty much half of contacts on LCD are gone, so I have like broken line for each contact on LCD side. Still was able to get most of pixels back, in compare of what I had but I'm not satisfied. Looks like I need to have new LCD. Will go to junk yard to dig around.

Will I do it again - well, that not the easy one but doable. Yes, it's hard to align it but if contacts on the ribbon right width it's not that hard (btw, I did use hair dryer to melt that ribbon a bit to stay in the place), just do LCD first as those contacts are very hard to see and then board.
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  #21  
Old 10-28-2015, 11:45 AM
blacksquid blacksquid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vetaldj View Post
Ok, I'm back with fail results... So, in my case first of all I've got cheap ribbon, carbon, it has wider contacts, just a bit, but enough to screw alignment, if you match perfectly one side, another is off and overlapping. This is not that bad, bigger problem that with all that goof pretty much half of contacts on LCD are gone, so I have like broken line for each contact on LCD side. Still was able to get most of pixels back, in compare of what I had but I'm not satisfied. Looks like I need to have new LCD. Will go to junk yard to dig around.

Will I do it again - well, that not the easy one but doable. Yes, it's hard to align it but if contacts on the ribbon right width it's not that hard (btw, I did use hair dryer to melt that ribbon a bit to stay in the place), just do LCD first as those contacts are very hard to see and then board.
I ordered the LCD with the ribbon cable already attached. It made the install pretty painless.

http://www.pixelfix.net/eng/bmw.html

They sent an extra silver ribbon that you're welcome to have. PM me and I can send it out.


John
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  #22  
Old 10-28-2015, 12:51 PM
vetaldj vetaldj is offline
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Yea, I saw that site but decided to go cheap way... Did not work, as always, if you take cheap part you will buy good one eventually...

PM sent.
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Pleasure: 2016 X1 xDrive Tech/Driver Assist/Cold Weather, 6k
Pleasure: 2010 X5 35d Monaco Blue/Saddle Brown with Premium/Technology/Sport/Climat, 80K
SOLD - 2003 525i Green M Susp/M St Wheel, 202K
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  #23  
Old 05-26-2016, 04:06 PM
528iAut 528iAut is offline
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I might need a little help here.
I ordered from Pixelfix the repair kit, it comes with a silver ribbon to be installed instead of the one in the pixel housing, a shaft grapping tool and a few other items.
I have begun with the temperature gauge but cant get the needle off. I must be doing something wrong.
The manual says to grap the stem from behind, between the board and the spring, I did that and then with a screwdriver tried to pry off the needle but it sits incredibly tight and I am not sure this is going to work. If The needle comes off now, when sitting this tight, how on earth will I be able to put it back then....
I saw another manual written by someone from the M5Board and there is a text I dont understand, it reads:
"You will need a very thin pair of pliers to be able to remove the metal pivot of the motor, be careful not to ruin the spring on the electromagnetic drive.
ATTENTION!!! DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE THE HAND/ARM WITHOUT FIRST REMOVING THE PIVOT OF THE MOTOR, YOU WILL END UP THROWING OUT THE HAND/ARM WITH EVERYTHING ELSE CAUSING DAMAGE TO THE PIVOT.
Once done put down the pliers and proceed by hand to firmly hold the circuit board and proceed to unthreading the motor from the stem."
In the manual from Pixelfix nothing is mentioned about removing the pivot of the motor and I am not sure I understand what the M5Board member means with removing the pivot...
My temp. gauge looks like this now, spring is still there but needle doesnt seem to have moved..., picture is probably upside down...
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