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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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Old 12-24-2010, 01:09 PM
jim_barnette jim_barnette is offline
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Location: Austin, TX
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 15
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i
Nav and instrument cluster blank

I have a 2002 BMW 530i that about a month ago one of the lamps that is a backlight for the MID in the instrument cluster went out. I searched online and ordered a small handful of lamps and about 3 weeks ago, I removed the cluster and installed them. Unfortunately, I found some broken plastic in 2 of the 3 connectors and the latch no longer worked. While I was waiting for the 2 replacement connector covers, I used the car a few times, but gradually lights, then MID display started to go out so I parked it and disconnected the battery. Whne the 2 replacement connector covers came in, I installed them and reassembled everything only to find that the instrument cluster was blank and the nav screen went blank after maybe 45 seconds where it said BMW.

Suspecting that I had damaged the nav computer flash, I downloaded this morning and reprogrammed the NAV firmware to v21.1. The firmware install proceded to complete the install, but I had to press the clock icon button to see the display light up. When it completed, I was unable to acknowledge it with OK as the car had turned the input off with the display. During the early part of firmware update, everything displayed beautifully until some timeout occurred. After the update, I see "BMW" when I turn on the car, but then the screen goes black after a while.

I've checked all of the instrument cluster and NAV-related fuses and none of them are blown. The car starts and runs fine; headlights and turn signals work, but don't indicate on the dash. I used an AutoEnginuity OBD2 code reader to try to read out any diagnostic codes hoping to see what may be the problem, but it indicated there ware no diagnostic trouble codes stored. Any ideas on anything else to check before I take it to a local independent BMW mechanic?
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Old 12-24-2010, 07:04 PM
QSilver7's Avatar
QSilver7 QSilver7 is online now
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Location: Northeast Indiana
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 9,042
Mein Auto: 1997 740iL / 2006 X5 4.4
Jim, Jim, Jim... you're a 7 year forum member...that's a long time. But you must be either one of the "silent majority" (read only & visits often)...or a forum member that checks in approx 1 time a year (based only on your post count of six).

Okay...I'm ribbing you (please don't be angry or offended)...but over the years...you've seemed to miss some "key" or "base" knowledge...which made your post kind of confusing. For instance...you mentioned your "NAV", "MID", and "instrument cluster"...most e39s (unless modified) only has 2 of those 3 things.

And another thing you may want to remember is...the OBD II code system (fault codes, code readers & scanners etc) are only associated with the various EMISSIONS systems on the car...and are a federal mandate so that all cars meet specific emissions standards. The system also has to notify the owner when a fault has been registered the 2nd time. Obvioulsy this means that the audio/nav system & components don't leave DTC (diagnostic trouble codes) for any OBD II scanner/reader because they aren't part of any of the car's emissions systems.

See the info below to see the difference between Nav, MID, & instrument cluster so that those that may have information that can actually help you sort out your issues...can be on the same page with you.

This is a NAV screen...which you will have in place of a MID (multi-informational display):

This is a MID (which you will have in place of a NAV screen):

And this is the HIGH instrument cluster that has the 20 digit alpha/numeric display:

I hope the info above helps to make things clearer for you.
Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

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Old 12-24-2010, 08:51 PM
jim_barnette jim_barnette is offline
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Location: Austin, TX
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 15
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i
Thanks QSilver7...I deserved that. Long-time occasional reader who rarely posts. Where I referred to MID in my post, replace with alphanumeric display including odometer/trip meter/temperature display.

The mystery to me is that my nav computer works well enough to take a firmware update, but it's as if the car doesn't get a necessary watchdog timer signal from nav to keep the display and DSP amplifier turned on. The radio will play initially and I can change stations using steering wheel or nav-unit buttons before the nav display turns off.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:50 PM
jim_barnette jim_barnette is offline
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Location: Austin, TX
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 15
Mein Auto: 2002 BMW 530i
Just to let anyone know who happens upon my earlier post; on Dec. 27, I took it to Terry Sayther Automotive in Austin, TX and their excellent technician found that I had failed to properly seat one or more of the 3 connectors on the back of the instrument cluster. Once the connectors were properly connected, everything worked!
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