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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 12-02-2004, 09:14 PM
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Cabriolet Cabriolet is offline
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Angry Dash pixels have been repaired

I sent my gauge pod off to VDO Repair, parked my car and waited. It took 2 weeks to get it back. VDO did the repair quickly, in one day and out the next. Most of the time delay was shipping and Canada Customs as it came across the border. Stupid me, doing this just before the busy Christmas rush of parcels through Customs. The dash pixels look great now but when I installed it and started up the car, the tach needle and speedometer needle were hanging straight down. This scared me but I took the car out on the road anyway. The economy needle or whatever it's called just below the tach, would hit the tach needle at the high end. This caused the tach to move and then it started working. The speedometer needle hung down until I hit the highway and finally kicked into action at 140 km per hour. Now the speedometer needle moves in a jerky, sticky motion instead of the smooth normal motion. For example, when I am doing 50 and slow down to about 40, it still says 50. As I slow down more, it finally moves. It really ticks me off that I have cured one problem and now have another. VDO says they don't know what the problem might be but I can send it back for them to look at. I guess I'll just have to live with an inaccurate speedometer or have my car sit for another couple of weeks while I ship it off again. Better yet I may sell both of my BMW's and buy a newer 540 with a warranty.
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  #2  
Old 12-03-2004, 08:10 AM
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dagoo98 dagoo98 is offline
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Possible problems like this one is the reason why I didn't send it to VDO repair. I called BMWNA yesterday and they are replacing the cluster for me and covering 100% of parts and all I have to cover is an hour of labor which is approximately $110 plus tax (about $120) so I just made my appointment. This will get me a new cluster which will probably last about another 4-5 years which is longer than I anticipate keeping the car anyway so it works perfectly for me. Sorry to hear about your problem and I hope you can find an economical solution.
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  #3  
Old 12-03-2004, 01:38 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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I just started noticing a few pixels out on my cluster in the last couple of days. I sent an email to Leonora.Vlaovich@bmwna.com and got a reply in like 15 minutes. I replied with the info she asked. I do fully expect to get the same deal that dagoo98 above got.
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  #4  
Old 12-03-2004, 01:41 PM
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M.Wong M.Wong is offline
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I was under the impression BMWNA was not as helpful for our Canadian neighbors with the pixel problem?
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  #5  
Old 12-03-2004, 02:20 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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That seems to be the trend unfortunately but, hey, Canada can get a lot more options on their BMWs than we can so I'm not feeling too bad....
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  #6  
Old 12-04-2004, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dagoo98
Possible problems like this one is the reason why I didn't send it to VDO repair. I called BMWNA yesterday and they are replacing the cluster for me and covering 100% of parts and all I have to cover is an hour of labor which is approximately $110 plus tax (about $120) so I just made my appointment. This will get me a new cluster which will probably last about another 4-5 years which is longer than I anticipate keeping the car anyway so it works perfectly for me. Sorry to hear about your problem and I hope you can find an economical solution.
Check carefully, and ask questions...typically with radios and dash clusters you get a "refurbished" unit in exchange for your old one....but either way, just paying labor is a great deal. You are probably saving $700 or so.
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  #7  
Old 12-05-2004, 06:30 PM
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Cabriolet Cabriolet is offline
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When it comes to dash clusters, you don't want to be messing around and using another unit with different mileage than your original. VDO Repair fixes your unit and returns the same unit to you so your mileage is not changed.
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  #8  
Old 12-06-2004, 06:55 AM
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dagoo98 dagoo98 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabriolet
When it comes to dash clusters, you don't want to be messing around and using another unit with different mileage than your original. VDO Repair fixes your unit and returns the same unit to you so your mileage is not changed.

This not an issue if the work is done and documented at a BMW dealership. Not quite sure why you think otherwise. Especially with a car that is known to give problems with the cluster.
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  #9  
Old 12-06-2004, 11:34 AM
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1Dreamer 1Dreamer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dagoo98
This not an issue if the work is done and documented at a BMW dealership. Not quite sure why you think otherwise. Especially with a car that is known to give problems with the cluster.
I believe that's true . . . . the mileage is recorded and stored in the OBC on a chip or coding plug - not in the actual cluster. The cluster displays what's in the computer. Think of it as being similar to plugging your monitor into your computer. Info is stored on a drive in or connected to the computer, not the monitor.
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  #10  
Old 12-06-2004, 12:23 PM
Lscman Lscman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Dreamer
I believe that's true . . . . the mileage is recorded and stored in the OBC on a chip or coding plug - not in the actual cluster. The cluster displays what's in the computer. Think of it as being similar to plugging your monitor into your computer. Info is stored on a drive in or connected to the computer, not the monitor.
Not true. Odometer and VIN info is most definitely stored inside the E39 speedo cluster assembly in an anti-tamper chip. This is why the ebay clusters are totally useless. And yes, odometer and VIN info is also stored in various computers throughout the car, plus the key remote. This strategy prevents anyone from swapping a single module or part to turn back an odometer.

This theft/odometer anti-tamper strategy thwarts backyard mechanics & independent service shops who want to swap salvage yard modules & speedo assemblies to do repairs, electrical diagnosis or troubleshooting. This issue really plays into the hands of factory-authorized service centers that have the proper diagnostic tools, making parts swapping unnecessary. Once the individual memories get out of sync by a certain # of miles/KM's (short test drive), this situation illuminates an antitamper light on the dash and you're screwed for resale. It's my understanding that there's no feasible way to correct this situation. This applies to most all cars built since the mid-'90's.

Sadly, crooked used car lots willing to invest in "cheater tools" are hardly thwarted by this technology. Handheld programming devices are sold worldwide that readily manipulate odometers of all makes, without a leaving a trace. This situation is rampant & even legal in parts of Canada & Europe.
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  #11  
Old 12-06-2004, 12:42 PM
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1Dreamer 1Dreamer is offline
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That's why I said to think of it as "similar." I believe the is still relayed from the OBC to the cluster - rather than the cluster keeping track of the mileage completely independently without anything relaying the info to it. But yes, the mileage has to be reset after the cluster goes out because the info is no longer being relayed - which is why it isn't "exactly" the same as my computer/monitor analogy. Everything else you said regarding hand held devices, the light going off if it is not reset properly, etc. is all true and I agree. If it's not done right (and legally), you're screwed, but I was trying to get a simple concept across that the cluster is a display unit and not a computer.
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  #12  
Old 12-06-2004, 01:54 PM
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dagoo98 dagoo98 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lscman
Not true. Odometer and VIN info is most definitely stored inside the E39 speedo cluster assembly in an anti-tamper chip. This is why the ebay clusters are totally useless. And yes, odometer and VIN info is also stored in various computers throughout the car, plus the key remote. This strategy prevents anyone from swapping a single module or part to turn back an odometer.

This theft/odometer anti-tamper strategy thwarts backyard mechanics & independent service shops who want to swap salvage yard modules & speedo assemblies to do repairs, electrical diagnosis or troubleshooting. This issue really plays into the hands of factory-authorized service centers that have the proper diagnostic tools, making parts swapping unnecessary. Once the individual memories get out of sync by a certain # of miles/KM's (short test drive), this situation illuminates an antitamper light on the dash and you're screwed for resale. It's my understanding that there's no feasible way to correct this situation. This applies to most all cars built since the mid-'90's.

Sadly, crooked used car lots willing to invest in "cheater tools" are hardly thwarted by this technology. Handheld programming devices are sold worldwide that readily manipulate odometers of all makes, without a leaving a trace. This situation is rampant & even legal in parts of Canada & Europe.
All of this is true but nevertheless not an issue when it comes to the dealer replacing the cluster because they have the proper tools to recode your cluster so that the same mileage exists on the cluster. This procedure is also documented in the BMW history of the car and of course that tamper light will appear. All of this proof will put any potential buyers mind at ease.

Last edited by dagoo98; 12-06-2004 at 01:56 PM.
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  #13  
Old 12-07-2004, 03:59 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabriolet
When it comes to dash clusters, you don't want to be messing around and using another unit with different mileage than your original. VDO Repair fixes your unit and returns the same unit to you so your mileage is not changed.
BMW dealers (where this individual is getting his repair) are fully capable of entering and documenting the correct mileage. When I had the BMW Store in Vancouver, BC swap out the Kilometers Per Hour speedo for a USA spec MPH cluster, they converted the kilometers over to miles, programmed it, and noted it on the service order. No problem. For the dealer to do any different would be a crime.

Dave
Seattle, WA USA
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  #14  
Old 12-07-2004, 06:26 PM
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Cabriolet Cabriolet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport
Check carefully, and ask questions...typically with radios and dash clusters you get a "refurbished" unit in exchange for your old one....but either way, just paying labor is a great deal. You are probably saving $700 or so.

My response was in regard to the above quote. I was referring to getting a dash cluster as a "refurbished" unit from some unauthorized vendor. I'm sure if it was done through a dealer there would not be an issue.
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  #15  
Old 12-07-2004, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabriolet
My response was in regard to the above quote. I was referring to getting a dash cluster as a "refurbished" unit from some unauthorized vendor. I'm sure if it was done through a dealer there would not be an issue.
Gotcha, no problem my friend.
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  #16  
Old 12-16-2004, 08:54 AM
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dagoo98 dagoo98 is offline
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I received a brand new cluster from BMW yesterday and all my pixels are back. BMWNA paid for 100% of the parts but I had to pay $120 labor. I am so glad that I can actually read my MID now. The new cluster works great.
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2004, 01:00 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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The 'R' in 'Range' on my cluster had 3 LEDs out for a good two weeks...now they are back and working again. However, I have the "go ahead" from BMWNA to have the cluster replaced but now it is working fine...sigh...German gremlins...
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  #18  
Old 12-20-2004, 01:30 PM
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Salvator Salvator is offline
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Originally Posted by Ågent99
...sigh...German gremlins...
Here's a picture of one, getting ready to head out and do some damage with his pixel rake...

[img]http://www.deutscheshaus*****images/gnomes/garden_gnome_1013.jpg[/img]
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  #19  
Old 12-20-2004, 09:35 PM
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Pretty frustrating that here in Canada it's "too bad buddy, you're on your own" from BMW Canada. I can't see why there is such a difference on custmer service for the same car.
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  #20  
Old 12-21-2004, 07:35 AM
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That stinks maybe you guys should get together and present a case on the behalf on a group of people. Maybe that will push them to do something because it is a larger group of owners.

Agent99, replace the cluster because they will fade again this I promise you. The same thing used to happen to mine and then eventually they never came back. Save yourself the frustration and just replace it since you have already gotten the OK.
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  #21  
Old 12-21-2004, 04:04 PM
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With my luck, they will work fine when I finally make an appointment to take the car in. As of now, they have been flickering on and off again. Maybe I'll take a pic of the cluster when they are off again to show the dealer so they don't cop-out on me...yeah...that's it!
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  #22  
Old 09-06-2005, 04:05 PM
Under90 Under90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dagoo98
I received a brand new cluster from BMW yesterday and all my pixels are back. BMWNA paid for 100% of the parts but I had to pay $120 labor. I am so glad that I can actually read my MID now. The new cluster works great.
Dagoo-

Can you tell me what the reasoning was behid BMWNA's willingness to change the cluster. I have same problem currently ('99, 540/6speed, 41k). The dealer just said they wanted almost a grand to replace....as well as $3200 of other items.

<90
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  #23  
Old 09-21-2005, 09:22 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Look in the E39 section near the top of the board...there is a stuck thread regarding pixel issues. The reasoning is that BMW is being cool about this and helping us out!
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  #24  
Old 09-22-2005, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Under90
Dagoo-

Can you tell me what the reasoning was behid BMWNA's willingness to change the cluster. I have same problem currently ('99, 540/6speed, 41k). The dealer just said they wanted almost a grand to replace....as well as $3200 of other items.

<90
This is a common problem with E39's and BMW has recognized it. As a result, BMWNA is willing to pay for the cost of the cluster and you only have to pay the labor fee for installation. All I did was contact a lady at BMWNA, her name is Leonora, you should be able to get her contact info somewhere on the board. She responded to my E-mail saying she pass it on. A representative called me about a week later and I setup an appointment with my neighborhood BMW dealer. They had the car for about 2 days meanwhile they waited for the cluster to arrive. Total cost $120.
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  #25  
Old 09-22-2005, 06:17 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Under90
Dagoo-

Can you tell me what the reasoning was behid BMWNA's willingness to change the cluster. I have same problem currently ('99, 540/6speed, 41k). The dealer just said they wanted almost a grand to replace....as well as $3200 of other items.

<90
Why question it? It is just good customer service. The key is you need to work this through BMWNA to initiate the process....not the dealer.
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