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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 04-24-2014, 06:04 PM
QuercusE36 QuercusE36 is offline
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Mein Auto: E36, E53
No radio lights! Otherwise, works fine

So I've had my E36 for nearly 9 years now and the radio display, or button lights have never worked. Sound and function of buttons have always been fine, but now I'm finally deciding to fix it if at all possible without having to buy a new stereo.

I've checked the fuses and they are still good. However I have NOT yet removed the stereo since it requires a special tool that I don't have. Is this typical for older models with original stereos? Could I be lucky enough to simply have to remove some wires and/or wiggle them around?

Thanks for any advice!

Tmh
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  #2  
Old 04-24-2014, 06:49 PM
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71_340 71_340 is offline
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Your radio, as all of them, has a small bulb(s) on the inside somewhere behind the display. Remove the radio and carefully take it apart. Sometimes the bulb socket is soldered in, I have fixed quite a few of them on several MBs I owned. You can get replacement bulbs at RadioShack. It sounds more complicated then it is.
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Old 04-24-2014, 06:55 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is offline
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If ALL of his radio lights are out, I doubt it's the bulbs. When I bought my E36, the display backlighting was out, and I fixed it by taking the radio apart and reflowing a cracked resistor connection with a soldering iron. Very easy job. But like I said, that was only for the display backlight - my buttons were illuminated. I don't know exactly what would cause all the lights to be out, but my guess is that it's a bad connection somewhere, and probably not bulb related.

Also, you don't need a special tool to remove the stereo, unless you consider a hex key to be a special tool.
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:12 PM
QuercusE36 QuercusE36 is offline
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[QUOTE=ZeGerman;8298872]If ALL of his radio lights are out, I doubt it's the bulbs. When I bought my E36, the display backlighting was out, and I fixed it by taking the radio apart and reflowing a cracked resistor connection with a soldering iron. Very easy job. But like I said, that was only for the display backlight - my buttons were illuminated. I don't know exactly what would cause all the lights to be out, but my guess is that it's a bad connection somewhere, and probably not bulb related.

Also, you don't need a special tool to remove the stereo, unless you consider a hex key to be a special tool.[/Q

Could be both display backlight and bulbs? When your backlight was out could you still faintly see the numbers, especially if light was shining on it? Basically they just don't glow.
As for the buttons, twice they have flickered on for a brief moment, then shut off again for another 3 years.

As for the hex key, it sounds like a not so special tool that I should probably invest in
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:21 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuercusE36 View Post
Could be both display backlight and bulbs? When your backlight was out could you still faintly see the numbers, especially if light was shining on it? Basically they just don't glow. As for the buttons, twice they have flickered on for a brief moment, then shut off again for another 3 years.

As for the hex key, it sounds like a not so special tool that I should probably invest in
It could be both the display backlight and the bulbs, although it strikes me as unlikely that they all failed independently of one another rather than being out as the result of a single cause. But crazier things have happened...

Yes, when my display backlight was out, you could still faintly see the numbers (especially if it was in the sun or when using a flashlight).
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:31 PM
QuercusE36 QuercusE36 is offline
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I'm definitely going to look into both. I appreciate you guys' help.
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  #7  
Old 04-24-2014, 07:38 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuercusE36 View Post
I'm definitely going to look into both. I appreciate you guys' help.
No problem. You should be able to find a diy tutorial online by searching, but I'll post the one I used when I get home later tonight.

EDIT: This is not the DIY I used, but it covers the process adequately. One thing which really needs to be stressed is that you MUST use the smallest tip on your soldering iron that you can possibly find. The resistors are tiny, and having a standard tip on your soldering iron will make life very frustrating.

http://forums.pelicanparts.com/101-p...o-display.html
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1966 Pontiac GTO
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View my photos: Caught in the Wild
For sale: E30/E36 front sway links
For sale: OEM E36 328 catback

Last edited by ZeGerman; 04-24-2014 at 09:32 PM.
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