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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi,
New to the forums. I have owned many BMW's over the years (26 to be exact), but I am on my first classic and it has been a couple of years since I have had a project car.

I am looking for advice as to where to start on getting my instruments for my 1987 E30 convertable working properly. Right now the gas and temperature gages are working just fine.

The odometer and tachometer do not function at all and the speedometer runs about 10 mph fast. Before I just start tearing into things I want to get some good advice as to where to start. I am aware that the odometer gears breaking on these cars is a fairly common occurrence, but before I just pull the instrument cluster I want a strategy for everything that needs to be fixed.

Given that I see alot of folks online saying the gears for the odometer break I am going to order the replacement gears just to have them on hand. Are they all pretty much the same? I assume there may be US version versus places the run on kilometers, but other than that are parts pretty equal?

I don't know where to even begin on the tach and speedometer however as they are out of my experience range. Some people say take out the instrument cluster and clean and tighten contacts and others jump to the ECU as a source of problems.
 

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Hello to a fellow SC resident,

I can't help you much with the speedo and tach, but I would say go ahead and take out the whole instrument cluster. It only takes 5-10 minutes and if you have to replace the odometer gears, might as well, Plus the problem might lie in a bad connection or something stupid like that. Garagistic makes a good little gear kit to replace everything you need, it runs about $20 depending on what brand your cluster is. There is a good video on YouTube how to replace the gears as well.

Good luck!
 

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You mentioned you had an E30 but never got specific as to what model (325e or 325i). Next, always start with the simplest solution. For the tach. Have you checked the fuses? Is the clock and interior lights also not working? Is all three instrument cluster connector plugs inserted correctly. Now, carefully remove the cluster and look at the back. Is the coding plug installed? Remove the Bach cover of the cluster. Is there any damage to the circuit board. Remove the tach. Any broken solder connections.
For the speedo... Do you have the right size tires on the car? 195-65-14, 205-55-15 were the OEM tire sizes. Has the gauges been modified?... White Gauge Faces etc... This mod requires the removal of the gauge needle. Remove the speedo from the cluster. The needle should align to a dot about one half inch below the 5 mph mark. If it doesn't adjust it. Now Look at the back, you will see the manufacturer sticker... Either Motometer or VDO. You will need this to order the correct odometer gears. Steps to replace them can be found in the web.
Before you button up everything, make sure you tighten the ground studs for the fuel and temp gauges.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey thanks for the replies. The car is a 1987 325ic.

Sorry for not having much on details. I bought the car and have immediately gone on a road trip. Posted in my spare moments.

Everything works except for what I listed in my original post. The only other issue I see is that the engine light is on and the engine is running a little rough. Thinking perhaps the choke is sticking. Maybe all of it is related (instruments not working and rough engine) maybe not. If it is is is likely the ECU. I have heard the ECU's are somewhat prone to getting moisture in them and corroding until electronically controlled items start getting gremlins in them. I think this might be the last thing I check and not the first though.

So I get the the best 1st step is to take the kick panel out and reach up and just make sure all the plugs are tight. The next step will be to take the cluster out, clean contacts, tighten the grounds, find out which version of the odometer gears I have and then order the replacements. After I do this I will post back. getting home this weekend and will give it a whirl.

How about the slow speedometer? I know there is a screw that can be turned to adjust it, but to get it right you need an oscilloscope. Maybe it too is just not plugged tight or well grounded?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You mentioned you had an E30 but never got specific as to what model (325e or 325i). Next, always start with the simplest solution. For the tach. Have you checked the fuses? Is the clock and interior lights also not working? Is all three instrument cluster connector plugs inserted correctly. Now, carefully remove the cluster and look at the back. Is the coding plug installed? Remove the Bach cover of the cluster. Is there any damage to the circuit board. Remove the tach. Any broken solder connections.
For the speedo... Do you have the right size tires on the car? 195-65-14, 205-55-15 were the OEM tire sizes. Has the gauges been modified?... White Gauge Faces etc... This mod requires the removal of the gauge needle. Remove the speedo from the cluster. The needle should align to a dot about one half inch below the 5 mph mark. If it doesn't adjust it. Now Look at the back, you will see the manufacturer sticker... Either Motometer or VDO. You will need this to order the correct odometer gears. Steps to replace them can be found in the web.
Before you button up everything, make sure you tighten the ground studs for the fuel and temp gauges.
Reread your post.....need to check that tire size. Instrument cluster is original. The guy I bought it from was taking it to the local Eurocar car shows as an all original. Although since then he has done some "custom" work that is not very cosmetically pleasing, but that is beside the point. I bought this car to drive and not to show so it does not really matter to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Got the gage out

I got the instrument cluster out. To my dismay it looks as thought the Odometer gears are intact. All the gears look to be in good shape everything turns and operates the odometer. I say dismay because finding something obvious wrong makes for something being fixed. Now I am facing electronic gremlins...not a fan.

I guess I will clean the contacts and grounds and put it all back in.

Where to go from here? I noticed when I had it running yesterday the the engine is running even more rough and that the temperature gauge fluctuates and twitches Might be the issue with the ECU I read about on another forum.

We will see when I put it all back.
 
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