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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 12-04-2008, 09:41 PM
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HyphE36 HyphE36 is offline
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Help Please! Gauge/Dash Light Problem

Hello all,
I have some illumination problems for my gauge cluster as well as other parts of the dash, here they are in order I want/need to fix the most;

1. My main gauge's do not light up (fuel, tach., rpm, temp). I have pulled out the gauge cluster and replaced the bulbs (I pulled it out figuring the bulbs had blown/worn out since all the fuses are fine((22,26,37)), however the bulbs seemed to be fine, I replaced them anyways to be 100%sure). It isn't the bulbs, and its not fuses... I'm thinking there may be a switch to check, but I'm not sure if there is or where it is (are these gauges lit in tandem with a certain position of the headlamps, or with the dimmer? I need help, it sucks not being able to see speed/rpm at night

2. I have no illumination behind my heater controls, and in my headlamp/fog lamp area (not gauge cluster, to the lower left side under the vent). A much smaller deal to me, but something I definitely want to fix soon.

If you know anything that can help I'd be very appreciative, thanks!
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2008, 08:54 AM
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HyphE36 HyphE36 is offline
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Desperate bump

Oh, for those of you who like to say search the forums, I have done this, lots of information in the general ballpark of the problem, but I have not been able to find anything that quite coincides with my situation. If you know of a thread that discusses this problem please link it...
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  #3  
Old 12-05-2008, 01:52 PM
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HyphE36 HyphE36 is offline
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I just went to the dealership and asked a service guy what he thought, with what I told him and his not actually lookin at the car he told me it was likely a problem with a module and that its a hard fix. he wasn't sure though and told me to bring the car in and have it diagnosed, which would be 200 dollars, and upon finding out what the actual problem is they could fix it for whatever the cost comes out to... my guess is another couple hundred dollars... i'm really hoping this isn't my only option, let me know what you all think... thanks
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  #4  
Old 12-06-2008, 10:48 AM
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beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeump i need information like an encyclopedia!
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  #5  
Old 12-08-2008, 06:33 AM
himelsphere himelsphere is offline
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start lookin for one on e bay
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  #6  
Old 12-08-2008, 11:56 PM
ThatGuy20 ThatGuy20 is offline
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HyphE36

You should check the switch behind your headlight switch... IE what you actually use to turn on your headlights. That also controls turning on the headlights themselves. This could be a possible source of your problem. If not there start tracking your wires from the bulbs to the fuse to the switch. Make sure there are no split wires.
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  #7  
Old 12-12-2008, 10:49 PM
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doggee doggee is offline
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Go here to fix the bulb behind the light switch

http://www.bimmerdiy.com/diy/e36lightswitchrem/

To fix the light behind the heater control panel, remove the large rotary knobs and take out the small screws behind them.
Pull the panel face off and you should see 1 or 2 very small bulbs which you can maybe get out with your fingers or pliers with something in the jaws.
Don't break them because you will have trouble getting the remains out.
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  #8  
Old 12-13-2008, 02:05 PM
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David Mc David Mc is offline
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Check fuses 37 & 33. Power to the dash lights, cluster etc. is sourced through the dimmer switch, which is the next place to look if the fuses are good.
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  #9  
Old 12-13-2008, 03:16 PM
Bluebarron Bluebarron is offline
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Consider your actions before it happened...

I have a rather embarrassing story to tell:

I had a very similar problem happen to me a few months back, with a plethora of random electrical problems through out my car (dash lights going out, radio flickering, light bulbs bursting, top automatically going back, etc).

I am an aircraft mechanic and can handle myself pretty well with machines... but this one was defying me (doesn't help it was my first BMW and I had just bought it a week prior).

So I took it into the dealer...

To make this part of the story short: Many hours of labor - 900 dollars.

What did they find? A damn razor blade (from a box cutter I had bought the day this started happening) that was lodged into the floor board on the drivers side. It must have been hitting a wiring harness and shorting everything out. What was the fix? Remove the damn razor blade, and voila, it all worked again...

This is far fetched and I'm sure there may be other reasons for your problems... but consider your actions before this all started... The random electrical problems seems to point to a short somewhere in a harness that has all those systems wiring in it.

Perhaps you could save yourself from a 900 dollar sharp object removal?

Cheers!


(My door lock button still doesn't work from this fiasco, is it just a matter of buying a new switch? Anyone know? Thanks!)
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  #10  
Old 12-13-2008, 04:36 PM
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HyphE36 HyphE36 is offline
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Thanks to everyone's thoughts and inputs, I will be back around my car later this evening and tomorrow and will check out the suggestions. I was very intrigued by the razor blade solution lol, that sucks man but as i was reading it an image flashed into my mind, i'm pretty sure i have several coins jammed in between my flooring and seat rails, I will try to dislodge all of that junk and really hope thats it. I have a feeling it has something to do with the dimmer or headlight switch (more likely the dimmer switch tho, the headlight switch still turns my headlights on... the dimmer just sits there and looks pretty -_- ) or a bad circuit path on the circuit board of my instrument cluster. Hopefully i will be able to look into this tonight and give an update, if not that soon, then by tomorrow. Thanks to everyone again for your thoughts, I'm very grateful and appreciative
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  #11  
Old 12-14-2008, 04:54 PM
himelsphere himelsphere is offline
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you guys are on the right path bmw are ground hogs .i had a 92 corvett and it and the bmw remind me of each other always ground issues
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  #12  
Old 12-15-2008, 07:40 PM
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HyphE36 HyphE36 is offline
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Still haven't had time to check into these things, weather turned for the worst and I don't have a covered area to work in, not about to work on my car in the rain in the rain... I really want to check into this though and give feedback in hopes of this being helpful to someone else down the road. Will post outcomes of inquiries as soon as possible. Thanks again to everyone!
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  #13  
Old 12-18-2008, 08:01 PM
motorwerks motorwerks is offline
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It really sounds like the dimmer switch is bad. Pop the dimmer switch out, and see if you have power in to it.
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  #14  
Old 12-18-2008, 08:26 PM
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HyphE36 HyphE36 is offline
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well its finally my friday, and thank god, I've never had a longer, colder work week -_-... sooooo tomorrow I will check out these numbers of things and hope to fix it and let you all know how it goes as soon as I know myself
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  #15  
Old 06-03-2009, 02:32 AM
PaulSoleil PaulSoleil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doggee View Post
Go here to fix the bulb behind the light switch

http://www.bimmerdiy.com/diy/e36lightswitchrem/

To fix the light behind the heater control panel, remove the large rotary knobs and take out the small screws behind them.
Pull the panel face off and you should see 1 or 2 very small bulbs which you can maybe get out with your fingers or pliers with something in the jaws.
Don't break them because you will have trouble getting the remains out.
this is a great link, but once the vent unit is out, ho do you get to the bulb? (i took mine out and couldn't figure how to get to the bulb to replace it...)
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  #16  
Old 06-11-2012, 03:13 PM
lintu440 lintu440 is offline
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Unhappy help please....

hi every1. i am driving an e36 1995. i am having a peculiar problem. my speedo clock is not working. others are fine. i tried changed the dashboard but still the same. rev, fuel and heat is working. only the speedo is not working. can anybody help me please.
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  #17  
Old 06-11-2012, 05:02 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Welcome to the fest!

The speedometer is (electronically) driven by a sensor located in the differential. Check the connections to that sensor.
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1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira"; 1985 635CSi "Katja"; 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"; 1987 325is "Odette"

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  #18  
Old 01-18-2015, 01:56 PM
aiguofer aiguofer is offline
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In all seriousness though... My gauge lights aren't working (check engine, brakes, etc are all working) and neither are my climate control lights. I checked fuses, cables to the trunk, and cables behind the dash. The dimmer switch is getting voltage, and there is resistance in the switch itself. Did you ever figure it out?
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  #19  
Old 01-18-2015, 05:50 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Trace the wiring from the dimmer to the cluster. If you have voltage there, you should have voltage at the instrument cluster lights. If you have voltage going to the cluster on that wire, either the bulbs are all blown, or the cluster lighting circuit is bad.
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Quotes to live by:
guessing gets expensive...drivinfaster
nothing is more expensive than a cheap BMW...c4harpe13
buying a ratty example (of a BMW) is a parasitic relationship.(and you ain't the mosquito) 7pilot
Ken Kanne, Silverhill, AL, E36 & New Member Intro Forum Mod/Bimmerfest Misplaced-Posting Tow Truck
BMW-CCA #441426 My E30 makes me do stupid things.

1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira"; 1985 635CSi "Katja"; 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"; 1987 325is "Odette"

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  #20  
Old 11-18-2015, 07:51 PM
mhamoui mhamoui is offline
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I just had an issue where all electrical system on the car is not working. It started off with my radio and then my cluster, windows and sunroof. Lights work outside but when signalling inside I couldn't see it on the dash. I tried several tests such as disconnecting battery and reconnecting it, chraged the battery, checked my fuses but nothing fixed it. In the end I had to take it to my mechanic and agter diagnosis it was the radio. Apprently, if the radio dies the k-bus stops communicating with the rest of the system. Looking back, the radio was the first thing that died so it made sense.
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