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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 12-22-2007, 07:46 PM
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David Mc David Mc is offline
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Location: Sunshine Coast, Queensland
 
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Mein Auto: E36 328i
Successful E36 Odometer repair

My Instrument cluster surgery was a success! The odometer and trip meter of my 328i now display fully - and reliably. Work carefully, don't rush and the best part is that it was FREE! My repair guide is attached.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Instrument cluster repair.pdf (450.5 KB, 15377 views)
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  #2  
Old 12-22-2007, 07:56 PM
emanuelme emanuelme is offline
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Mein Auto: 95 BMW 318i
Thanks!

My LCD doesnt work on my in dash computer (well, 7 button reader...) and I'm going to try a similar technique on it.. Thanks for posting and sharing!
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  #3  
Old 12-23-2007, 02:05 PM
JasonI JasonI is offline
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Thank you!
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  #4  
Old 01-22-2008, 11:52 AM
Rockabye74 Rockabye74 is offline
1995 318ic
Location: Virginia
 
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Mein Auto: 1995 318ic
I just completed this procedure on my 318ic this weekend and voila no more odometer issues. Problem is that the previous owner had the title marked "Odometer Reading not Valid" so from a titling perspective I am already screwed, but that's okay. I don't intend to sell the car anyway.
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  #5  
Old 01-22-2008, 11:54 AM
Rockabye74 Rockabye74 is offline
1995 318ic
Location: Virginia
 
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Mein Auto: 1995 318ic
Quick note, on the areas of cutting where it came close to the circuit board, I slid a very thin piece of brass under the plastic to protect the circuit board. I am glad I did. There were some decent scratches in the brass and I am sure it would have wiped out some traces.
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  #6  
Old 01-22-2008, 12:10 PM
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Mary99 Mary99 is offline
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Mein Auto: 318 Vert, Murano, SL500
Quote:
Originally Posted by emanuelme View Post
My LCD doesnt work on my in dash computer (well, 7 button reader...) and I'm going to try a similar technique on it.. Thanks for posting and sharing!
turn the car on or put the key into ign. spot. Take a flashlight and shine it at the display of the OBC. If you can see the display, there's nothing wrong with it, just the 2 bulbs in behind the display is burnt out and needs replacement.

If you can't read the display with a flashlight shining on it, then the display is bad or the unit is malfunctioning and requires replacement.
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2008, 11:08 PM
plezops plezops is offline
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Mein Auto: 1998 328i Sedan
Thank you so much for this write-up; I can finally see all my entire odometer!
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  #8  
Old 08-20-2008, 10:15 PM
gutnick gutnick is offline
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Mein Auto: 328i 1997 Sedan
Problem: Flickering Pixel in Odometer

Hello,
I have a 328i with an odometer that had one segment that flickers. If you hit the top of the dash it corrects it. So for 100000.8 miles... the 8 appears as
xxxxxx
x x
x x
xxxxxx
x x
x x
-------- <-- Flickers

Any idea what might be loose?
I'd appreciate any ideas.

PS. Is there a trick to removing the cluster. Removing the two screws is easy. Is there a technique to pull it out? Does the steering wheel have to be removed for the above procedures?

Thank you.
Bernard Gutnick
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  #9  
Old 08-21-2008, 02:05 AM
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David Mc David Mc is offline
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Mein Auto: E36 328i
After removing the 2 screws you can slide a couple of pieces of credit card between the cluster and dash on both sides and wiggle the cluster out. You will need to undo the 3 locking connectors and disconnect them from the back of the cluster as soon as it is clear of the dash and you should be able to just squeeze the cluster out sideways without removing the steering wheel. My odometer problems started just as you have described, but another possibility is that the SI board needs to be dismantled and cleaned (which you also may as well do whilst you have the cluster out). You can access and dismantle the front of the SI board by carefully removing the metal retaining bezel by undoing the sprung retainers. You will see that power is transmitted to the LCD segments in the glass face of the panel via a small rubberised contact strip which is sandwiched between the glass and the body of the SI unit. Carefully clean both sides of the rubberised strip and the housing against which it mounts with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton tip before reassembly.
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  #10  
Old 10-05-2008, 09:29 PM
58rocker 58rocker is offline
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Mein Auto: 97 328i convertible
My first post. I have the same issue with my recently bought 97 328i convertible. I will attempt repair, but would like to request clarification on the points that were resoldiered.

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  #11  
Old 02-09-2009, 10:55 AM
superone1973 superone1973 is offline
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Mein Auto: bmw328is cabrio e36 1998
Your the man!

Thanks you, works like a dream for you km or mileage reading now I can see all the numbers and not half of them all of the time rather than some of the time.

I would say though its easier to just remove your steering wheel rather than fiddling about trying to get your tacho out behind the steering wheel. The clips are a pain in the ass if you can not see them to get the catches off. Push wire connector in and catch clip up! (otherwise you could spend a frustrating hour or more! )

MAKE SURE your front wheels and steering wheel are straight before removing steering wheel.

Easy way is to heat up a stanley knife blade up to cut through tacho. I put a spare blade under so when cutting down THE SIDE you do not cut through any thing you shouldn't.

Just get someone to resolder ALL OF THE TWO ROWS OF SOLDERS SPOTS. PICTURED IN THE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE THREAD.

Rather than glueing back the plastic I just run the soldering iron along it and it melted the flashing caused by cutting it out.

Then Replace everything. Takes you a hour if steering wheel is removed.


A really big THANK YOU to the first writer of this thread. YOUR a star
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  #12  
Old 02-09-2009, 11:25 AM
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BMR_LVR BMR_LVR is offline
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Mein Auto: 1992 525i
Thanks for this post OP.

Superone - you obviuosly know how to use the search function - BRAVO . Thanks to you and the OP, I now can attack this problem as well.
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It's Deja Poo - as in, I've heard this **** before.
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1991 735i - Sold
1992 525i - Sold
1995 325is - Sold
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  #13  
Old 03-02-2009, 01:14 PM
JephyM3 JephyM3 is offline
99 M3 Cabrio/Estoril/5spd
Location: Tampa Florida
 
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Mein Auto: 99 M3 cabrio/Estoril/5spd
Confirmaton, please

So what IS the problem when the backlight does not work? The explanation seems to imply that a cold solder joint is the culprit.....no? And that reflowing the solder joints is the only fix that is needed....yes?

My car is a '99 M3 with what sounds like a most similar issue: the odometer LEDs have just dimmed down to almost nothing.

By the way, it would be helpful to define SI before using that abbreviation (I am not aware of its meaning, but understand your explanation).
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  #14  
Old 01-12-2010, 09:00 PM
unbastardoloco unbastardoloco is offline
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I'm having this problem too. Where the pdf talks about reflowing the board pins, is this referring to the row of twenty or so pins with the small vertical leads?
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  #15  
Old 09-18-2010, 10:03 AM
FrankieT03 FrankieT03 is offline
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Location: Decatur, AL
 
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Mein Auto: 1995 325ic
Smile

I would like to thank the person who put this post up originally! Thank you!!!! I peformed the 'surgery' earlier this year, and my odometer has been working like new. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Now I need to find some posts on replacing shock absorbers.....
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  #16  
Old 11-04-2010, 01:01 PM
Marcus-Germany Marcus-Germany is offline
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Mein Auto: 1998 318i
Smile Success - Thank you!

Thank you David MC!!!!!

Before I found this post my German BMW service centre advised me the instrument cluster was not repairable and only their expensive option to replace and re-code was. Ha!

Today I followed your instructions and a couple of hours later, a full working display

I have some additional points to add to assist others taking on this operation.

1. To remove all the screws (well at least on my 318i) within the instructions you need a "hex" screwdriver (the hex size is different on the housing and the cluster), not a phillips or flat head. (although a flat head the exact size of the gap did work for me on the smaller torx screws).
2. The cluster on my car was pretty tight into the dash, the credit card i used did not do much to loosen it. However, I took a small long nose plier and grabbed hold of the metal bracket (where the two screws are removed from).
The Bracket is actually attached to the cluster. A quick pull and the cluster falls forward.
3. Removing the 3 electrical connectors can be tricky if you have big fingers. It requires a small edge to be pushed back into the plug to allow the retainer (that locks the plug to the cluster) to slide and release the plug. A bit fiddly but all three plugs operate with the same mechanism.
4. With a bit of wriggling you can remove the cluster without the need to remove the steering wheel. I did it without damaging anything.
5. I used a thin knife blade heated with a cigarette lighter flame to cut and melt through the plastic, a bit barbaric but worked fine. I would recommend gently sliding a credit card or two underneath to protect the circuit board.
6. With regard to soldering the row of 20 pins or "reflowing" them. I bought a cheap 30watt soldering iron with a fine tip. All I did was (and it takes a very steady hand) simply touch the small amount of solder at the base of each pin, the contact should only be for a second, the solder will "shimmer", this means it has gone liquid and "reflowed" on the contact points. Do this for each pin. DO NOT ADD EXTRA SOLDER it could spill onto the circuit board.
7. Before glueing the cover back in, i sat the cluster back behind the steering wheel and quickly put the plugs back in to test first, reconnected the battery and turned the ignition on and it worked, I then glued the cover back on and re-installed.
Hope these additional comments have been of assistance.

A great post to resolve an annoying and what appears to be a common problem. I read somewhere else that the possible cause of this issue was years of pressing the reset button on the odometer, creating flex pressure and cracking on the solder joints.

Last edited by Marcus-Germany; 11-10-2010 at 11:39 AM.
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  #17  
Old 12-18-2010, 08:05 AM
hataiwo hataiwo is offline
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Location: New York City
 
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Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 2003 330xi
I have this same problem with my 2003 330xi E46, will this repair work for my car as well or do I need different instructions
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  #18  
Old 06-29-2011, 08:52 PM
abldo96 abldo96 is offline
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Location: San Antonio
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 2
Mein Auto: 1998 BMW 323I Convertable
Cool Worked like a charm!!!

Thanks for all the info on this forum. I found this today searching the internet for the same problem. Followed both instructions and perfection, worked like a charm. We just bought our 1998 323I Convertible yesterday and only the top half of the Odom was working. Got a great deal on the car, and they also knocked off $1K for the bad Odom LCD since they said the dealer would charge about that to fix it!: Boy would they be surprised if they saw this thread!

I did not have to pull the steering wheel, just finessed it out to the right at steering wheel center, and no problems. My 16 yr. old disconnected and reconnected it. All in all a great father son (and wife supervising) project.

I also used my soldering iron to seal the cut panel back to the main panel once completed. Looks good and is solid.


Thanks again!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus-Germany View Post
Thank you David MC!!!!!

Before I found this post my German BMW service centre advised me the instrument cluster was not repairable and only their expensive option to replace and re-code was. Ha!

Today I followed your instructions and a couple of hours later, a full working display

I have some additional points to add to assist others taking on this operation.

1. To remove all the screws (well at least on my 318i) within the instructions you need a "hex" screwdriver (the hex size is different on the housing and the cluster), not a phillips or flat head. (although a flat head the exact size of the gap did work for me on the smaller torx screws).
2. The cluster on my car was pretty tight into the dash, the credit card i used did not do much to loosen it. However, I took a small long nose plier and grabbed hold of the metal bracket (where the two screws are removed from).
The Bracket is actually attached to the cluster. A quick pull and the cluster falls forward.
3. Removing the 3 electrical connectors can be tricky if you have big fingers. It requires a small edge to be pushed back into the plug to allow the retainer (that locks the plug to the cluster) to slide and release the plug. A bit fiddly but all three plugs operate with the same mechanism.
4. With a bit of wriggling you can remove the cluster without the need to remove the steering wheel. I did it without damaging anything.
5. I used a thin knife blade heated with a cigarette lighter flame to cut and melt through the plastic, a bit barbaric but worked fine. I would recommend gently sliding a credit card or two underneath to protect the circuit board.
6. With regard to soldering the row of 20 pins or "reflowing" them. I bought a cheap 30watt soldering iron with a fine tip. All I did was (and it takes a very steady hand) simply touch the small amount of solder at the base of each pin, the contact should only be for a second, the solder will "shimmer", this means it has gone liquid and "reflowed" on the contact points. Do this for each pin. DO NOT ADD EXTRA SOLDER it could spill onto the circuit board.
7. Before glueing the cover back in, i sat the cluster back behind the steering wheel and quickly put the plugs back in to test first, reconnected the battery and turned the ignition on and it worked, I then glued the cover back on and re-installed.
Hope these additional comments have been of assistance.

A great post to resolve an annoying and what appears to be a common problem. I read somewhere else that the possible cause of this issue was years of pressing the reset button on the odometer, creating flex pressure and cracking on the solder joints.
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  #19  
Old 08-09-2011, 12:44 PM
jerigene jerigene is offline
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Mein Auto: 98 323IS
98 323is cluster code eep-2

After recharging a low battery all my gauges went blank and the above code appeared. Tried disconnecting battery, touching disconnected battery cables no result. Can this code be read by BMW (nit OBD) scanner? Any suggestions?? THX
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  #20  
Old 08-09-2011, 03:37 PM
e36speeder e36speeder is offline
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Location: philippines
 
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Mein Auto: E36 318i
i think i have the same problem on my e36. there are days that all the number come up but there are other days were only the top half appears. Could there be a problem with the LED lights as well?
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  #21  
Old 08-09-2011, 04:24 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Location: In the Grumpy Chair
 
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Mein Auto: 1995 318is / 1993 325is
Not likely. Pretty sure it's connections/solder joints as outlined above.
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1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira" 1985 635CSi "Katja" 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"
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  #22  
Old 08-09-2011, 04:42 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
D'oh, You kids!
Location: In the Grumpy Chair
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerigene View Post
After recharging a low battery all my gauges went blank and the above code appeared. Tried disconnecting battery, touching disconnected battery cables no result. Can this code be read by BMW (nit OBD) scanner? Any suggestions?? THX
BMW stealership will just tell you it's an instrument cluster failure warning (duh!ya, we kinda figured that out when the gauges quit!) and you need a new cluster. If you have a junkyard nearby that has an E36, you can usually get them cheap, or look on eBay/Craigslist/for sale forum here or on BF.com
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Quotes to live by:
guessing gets expensive...drivinfaster
nothing is more expensive than a cheap BMW...c4harpe13

Ken Kanne, Silverhill, AL, E36 Forum Mod/Craigslist addict/Hoarder of all sorts of stuff
BMW-CCA #441426
1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira" 1985 635CSi "Katja" 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"
HAVE I HAD MY MEDS YET?

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  #23  
Old 08-09-2011, 05:23 PM
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drive by72 drive by72 is offline
I feed trolls
Location: Snowy Wisconsin
 
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Mein Auto: 3 series
Orrrrrrrrrrr try this repair. I'ma try it on my spare cluster to make sure I can do it.
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Please, call me Chadley

1997 328iS... HR coilovers, Brembo F40 calipers, camber plates, it needs a CUMMINS!!

1990-somethin Chevy K3500... Cummins, cab swap, 5 speed, and lots of motor work. 20 MPG, 40 PSI, 507 ft/lbs torque
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  #24  
Old 08-24-2011, 11:55 AM
kstadden kstadden is offline
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Mein Auto: 1998 328i, 1998 318ti
Talking A godsend

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Mc View Post
My Instrument cluster surgery was a success! The odometer and trip meter of my 328i now display fully - and reliably. Work carefully, don't rush and the best part is that it was FREE! My repair guide is attached.
This EXACT half-digit problem just cropped up in my '98 328i. I was doing a desultory search on "odometer repair BMW 328i," not getting anywhere, when I found your excellent post.

Thank you thank you thank you! I can hardly wait to get started. I THOUGHT it was probably just some solder points getting loose.

Ken
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  #25  
Old 08-24-2011, 10:39 PM
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drive by72 drive by72 is offline
I feed trolls
Location: Snowy Wisconsin
 
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Mein Auto: 3 series
thats 3 kens in E36!
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RIP Ben "Jever" Doebele, we wont forget you

Please, call me Chadley

1997 328iS... HR coilovers, Brembo F40 calipers, camber plates, it needs a CUMMINS!!

1990-somethin Chevy K3500... Cummins, cab swap, 5 speed, and lots of motor work. 20 MPG, 40 PSI, 507 ft/lbs torque
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