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How to tell if your E39 has the high or low instrument cluster

52057 Views 26 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  QSilver7
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I didn't know this little tidbit until yesterday (many thanks to QSilver7!) so I post his diagrams to help others.

If you need to know whether your E39 has the high or low instrument cluster, look for one of the (at least) three telltale indications:

HIGH instrument cluster:
- Two stalk buttons, one on each side
- 20-digit alphanumeric display at the bottom center
- Oil-service interval light to the left of center

LOW instrument cluster:
- One stalk button (to the left of center)
- No 20-digit alphanumeric display at the bottom center
- Oil-service interval light to the right of center

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And, if you need QSilver's instructions on how to unlock your instrument cluster, go to his web site here.

To help others, I combined QSilver's separate OBC cluster-unlocking JPGs into single PDFs (compressed to less than 1Kb each).

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Nice work again Bluebee...hopefully those who need the instructions to UNLOCK their OBC will take advantage of your efforts in turning the instructions into a downloadable PDF.

Here's something else you may want to add...the HIGH clulster & LOW clusters also come with different MIDs (multi-informational displays). The LOW cluster comes with the LOW MID (no BC button)...and the HIGH cluster comes with the HIGH MID (or the Nav screen/monitor):


And nice additional "red ink" on my High/Low Instrument Cluster images, too. :D

:thumbup: :thumbup:
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The high MID is what I miss the most about the high system.
To help others searching for information once they unlock their OBC ... I was searching for a description of how the fuel injectors (really) worked when I found this additional site for diagnostic information once you unlock your OBC.

Exploring the E39 OBC

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For the crosslink record, for those with the low cluster, here is a video posted today for unlocking it:
E39 (1997 - 2003) > Low cluster - Access your engine temperature

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Just ran into this retrofit PDF while looking for low to high obc cluster retrofit information.

It seems that PN 65900308455 allows you to retrofit a low cluster to a high cluster.

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For the record, apparently some E39 clusters show test #9 voltage with the decimal place and the units abbreviation; while others don't, according to information in this thread today:

I'm also attempting to show a "OBC test #9 alternator and a battery voltage display. Does anyone else's display look like this without the word "volts" and a number like 13.5 with a decimal point showing? Am I really not doing a voltage test even though I drop it into test #9?
Regards test #9 - you have the "low" or Kombi instrument cluster; same as mine. The test 9 display is exactly like mine. Your pictures are indicating a voltage of 11.5 volts.

versus

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This information about the low cluster today is too good to not reference in this canonical thread ...
When you press that BC button, your low cluster's OBC should reveal the other 3 features:

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There are so many good graphics from QSilver7 that I don't know where to put them, so, I'll add the ones from this thread today so that others can more easily find them:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 1997 low cluster
The instructions for resetting the (low) OBC is in the very last paragraph...after the text that is underlined in blue:
Hi all! i am trying to retrofit the HIGH instrument cluster ... the problem is that BMW no longer supplies the wiring (65900308455) ... what can i do?
Hi all! i am trying to retrofit the HIGH instrument cluster ... the problem is that BMW no longer supplies the wiring (65900308455) ... what can i do?
Junkyard?

Posted through Tapatalk downloaded to my neural implant
Make your own with the wiring diagram and plugs from a high cluster. It's what I did.
Looks like there's barely any difference.
Why are people switching from low to high?
And I've seen people switch from high to low.
Why would you care either way?
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Looks like there's barely any difference.
Why are people switching from low to high?
And I've seen people switch from high to low.
Why would you care either way?
If it looks like there’s barely any difference...then in this case...looks are deceiving.

As mentioned, the high cluster comes with the high MID (or Nav screen)..which increased the OBC from the basic 4 features (posted above)...to a programmable display of the expanded OBC features to appear in the 20-digit display located along the bottom of the high cluster. You can scroll through them using the BC button on the turn indicator stalk...again which is way more than just the basic 4 features.

You also get check control warnings in text form in the 20-digit alpha/numeric display instead of simple warning lights. The high cluster/high MID/NAV extended OBC features include a stop watch, programmable venting, speed limit warning, a codeable vehicle anti-theft feature that can stop someone with an actual valid key from being able to start the car, and more things that don’t readily come to mind.

Here’s a pic of the expanded OBC features the high cluster/high MID/NAV has...again, you can select/program any of these you desire to not only appear in the high mid or nav...but in the 20 digit alpha numeric display:

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You can see some of the high cluster/high MID’s timer/venting features in the pic below of the high MID that the low cluster/low MID doesn’t have:

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The pic below shows the extended BC features of the high cluster/high MID that the low cluster/low MID doesn’t have:

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And instead of the little Graphic Display on the low cluster that shows where a bulb is burnt out or if a door is open...the high cluster/high MID/NAV will give you two types of textual warnings...Priority 1 & Priority 2:

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Thanks QSilver7

I guess it's good if you have stock navigation screen but won't search much purpose if you completely replace your audio system and head unit.
And how often will you really need to change this stuff?
You can just program it with ncs expert and call it a day
Thanks QSilver7

I guess it's good if you have stock navigation screen but won't search much purpose if you completely replace your audio system and head unit.
And how often will you really need to change this stuff?
You can just program it with ncs expert and call it a day
Yep...if you replace the high MID or original Nav screen with something aftermarket...then you’re correct...you loose all of those features mentioned above. :)
And with the 20 digit alpha numeric display you can’t help missing the Engine/Tranny FailSafe Program!
Is it the same thing as flashing check engine light? For the engine that is.

For the transmission, transmission failsafe reading is not very useful, you'll know the tranny is in a limp mode
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Is it the same thing as flashing check engine light? For the engine that is.

For the transmission, transmission failsafe reading is not very useful, you'll know the tranny is in a limp mode
No...the CEL/SES (check engine light or service engine soon light) is for the OBD II federal mandate which illuminates when something related to the car’s emissions system sets a fault code. The CEL or flashing CEL light means that your engine has an issue with fuel/spark/ignition/catalyst that is causing the car to pollute.

The engine and transmission failsafe programs come onboard to allow the car to continue to run when something engine or tranny related happens. “Failsafe" programs are a running mode which allow something to keep going when the normal operating mode is not available. As you wrote...a tranny fail safe issue puts the car into “limp-home“ mode...the same occurs with the engine.

For example, the high cluster will give a textual warning in the 20 digit alpha/numeric display that says TRANS. FAILSAFE PROG (see 1st pic below)...where as the low cluster will show a warning light for the same issue (see 4th warning if far right column for auto transmission in 2nd pic below):

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The CEL light appears for both the high and low cluster which indicates an issue with the car’s emissions system. See the 3rd bullet (in 2nd pic below) for explanation of the 1996 federal mandated OBD II regulation and meaning of the CEL warning light:

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