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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a 1996 328i I've only had a few months and occasionally all the dials go to zero, and mileage readouts etc. go black. Instrument Cluster is still lit (headlamps on). Seems to mostly happen after high-speed driving. Usually comes back to life within a few minutes or after shutting the car off for a short while, but last night they remained at zero for the 50 mile drive home and didn't come back on until this morning when I went and checked. Very occasionally they will glitch out very briefly, lights going haywire, then everything is fine after a few seconds.

I looked in a repair manual because I wanted to check and clean the connectors to the cluster (I used to work in computer repair) but it said you have to remove the steering wheel, which means disengaging the air bag system which sounds like quite a long and tricky project I'm not up to. Is this correct or is there some wiring I can check that easy to get to?

What are my options? I know I could buy a used cluster off eBay but if the whole air bag steering wheel etc, system has to be taken apart to replace it it's going to be expensive.

I'm thinking of installing a third-party temperture gauge since that's the most critical readout one needs. I can get range from the computer and MPH from Waze. Then repair the cluster when I have more funds.

Thanks!
 

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BMWCCA HPDE Instructor
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You probably just need to disconnect and reconnect the plugs in the rear of the instrument cluster. Also FYI, you do not need to remove the steering wheel to extract the cluster. All you have to do is carefully turn the steering wheel to the right as you snake out the cluster. And even if you did want to remove the steering wheel, doing so only takes a minute or two. Just disconnect the battery, loosen the two torx bolts on the back of the steering wheel which hold the airbag, then disconnect the two airbag plugs from steering wheel and that's all there is to it. But like I said, you don't even need to remove the wheel if you don't want to.

But ultimately, you do not need to even fully extract the cluster to reset the plugs. Just remove the two bolts which hold the cluster in, then slide it forward toward the steering wheel, and reach around behind it and disconnect/reconnect the plugs, then push the cluster back in and you're done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's good to hear. I'll give is a try when I have a chance.
"...carefully turn the steering wheel to the right" is so that the cluster can fit partially through the hole in the wheel or something?

Thanks
 
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