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Removing Your Instrument Cluster
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Removing Your Instrument Cluster

Nick Czerula

Time:

1.5 hours

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Plastic prying tool, nut driver (8mm), T-15 & T-10 Torx drivers

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

LCD panel

Hot Tip:

Work in a well-lit area and on a clean surface. Clean the cluster plastic before reinstalling.

Performance Gain:

-

Complementary Modification:

-

When the instrument cluster on BMW E46 models fails, it is usually replaced as a whole unit. The illumination and warning lights in the cluster are soldered LED bulbs. When a bulb or gauge fails in the cluster you have two options: remove the instrument and replace it with a new one, or send it out to a repair service. If you decide to replace the instrument cluster with a new one, you will need to have it coded and programmed using an advanced BMW scan tool. The instrument cluster is one of the locations that vehicle data (odometer reading, service needs and other data) is redundantly stored. This means that a replacement cluster has to be synched to other modules.

The LCD display at the bottom of the cluster can fail, leaving the message displayed impossible to read. The LCD display loses pixels or the pixels remain lit. An instrument cluster is an expensive part to replace for just the LCD display, and a new cluster needs to be programmed and coded to your vehicle. You cannot install a used cluster in an E46 since it is coded to a specific, unique vehicle. But using a donor LCD display out of a known good cluster can repair the failed LCD; for example, you can pull the LCD out of a used cluster. 

In this technical article, I will go over the steps involved with removing the cluster and replacing the LCD display.

To avoid marring the trim if you need to pry anything, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out trim panels, switches or electrical accessories.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Working at the top of cluster, remove the two T-20 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 1

Working at the top of cluster, remove the two T-20 Torx fasteners (green arrows).

Working at the top of cluster, remove the two T-20 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 2

Slide the cluster far enough out of the dashboard to access the electrical connectors.

Release the connector locking lever by pressing the locking tab (green arrow) and rotating it up.
Figure 3

Release the connector locking lever by pressing the locking tab (green arrow) and rotating it up. Then pull the connector out of the cluster now remove the cluster from the vehicle.

Next, pull the function button off the cluster.
Figure 4

Next, pull the function button off the cluster. Grasp firmly and pull it straight off. Remove both (green arrows).

Working at rear of the cluster, remove the four T-10 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 5

Working at rear of the cluster, remove the four T-10 Torx fasteners (green arrows).

Slide the plastic cover off the cluster.
Figure 6

Slide the plastic cover off the cluster. Now pull the electrical portion of the cluster out of the bezel.

Next you will have to remove the metal retaining bracket from the LCD display panel (green arrow).
Figure 7

Next you will have to remove the metal retaining bracket from the LCD display panel (green arrow).

To remove, detach clips at the bottom of the display retainer by pressing the lock away from the cluster circuit board (green arrows).
Figure 8

To remove, detach clips at the bottom of the display retainer by pressing the lock away from the cluster circuit board (green arrows).

Then working at rear of cluster, detach the bracket clips by pressing the lock away from the cluster circuit board (green arrows).
Figure 9

Then working at rear of cluster, detach the bracket clips by pressing the lock away from the cluster circuit board (green arrows).

Lift the mounting bracket off the cluster.
Figure 10

Lift the mounting bracket off the cluster.

Lift the LCD display up and off the cluster.
Figure 11

Lift the LCD display up and off the cluster. If the display feels stuck, lever off an edge using your finger nail. It will pop off once connection is broken. The display rests on top of the instrument cluster circuit board held in only by the bracket you previously removed.

Place the new LCD display onto the cluster and install the mounting bracket.
Figure 12

Place the new LCD display onto the cluster and install the mounting bracket. Be sure the mounting bracket is properly seated.

Reassemble the cluster and tighten the fasteners. Then install the cluster into the dashboard in reverse order of removal. Check the operation of LCD display instrument cluster.
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Comments and Suggestions:
Greg Comments: What about replacing the LEDs to a different color? Perhaps where or blue? Something other that that orange glow
November 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have no experience with that. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
DWH Comments: My battery died in my 2001 325i, and after running it off its got manual transmission to get it started I noticed that the instrument cluster was not working and neither was my AC. I installed a new battery and my local BMW garage attempted to 'register' the battery stating that this has to be done after installing a new battery and this should bring the instrument cluster back up, however that didn't work and now they are suggesting a complete cluster replacement. Has anyone experienced the cluster dying after the battery dies? Thoughts, anyone?
September 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: E46 models do not require a battery registration. There may have been a current spike during the battery discharge that damaged the cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ron_O Comments: My mileage LED on my '97 Z3 just bought it has some weird traits. When you first start the motor it displays the service indicator which seems to be working OK. But then it disappears and it's lights out, nothing left is lit up. But I can see the mileage still working if the ambient light hits it correctly, just not lit up.

Do I need a new LED or is there something else going on with the circuit? No fuse problems, checked them all out.

Thanks in advance.
April 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can try removing the cluster and replacing the bulb for the odometer. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Fedir Comments: Hi ! Do you rapier instrument cluster for BMW 330ci 2004 with a manual transsmetion ? Not working at all , only air bags on & ABS. If you can fix , what it's gonna cost me?
December 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pelican does not repair electrical parts. We can get you a new cluster. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Rui Comments: the bmw e46 lcd display in wich stores is avaliable?
July 29, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It needs to come from a used donor cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ray Comments: In removing taking apart my cluster for a 2004 325xi to put a color face in it, I managed to break the trip meter push button, broke the small plastic piece off that hits the cluster that resets the mileage. is this button available? or do i need to find a broken used cluster?
May 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will need to find a used cluster, for parts. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
canno Comments: I have a 2003 325i and the lights for the analog gauges don't work fuel, speed, tach, and temp. The cluster had been replaced in the past. I'm the new owner and I'm not sure if those lights worked after the replacement. I removed the cluster and didn't notice any bent pins or anything. Can the lights be repaired or replaced?
March 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are no serviceable bulbs in your cluster. The cluster may need to be repaired or replaced. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
marlan Comments: Cluster not working on E46 BMW,can it be repaired and is there a circuit diagram.whats the possible causes on the cluster
January 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: To have it repaired, you can send it out. There are a few places on the web that repair them. I am not aware of a diagram or how to repair one. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
henryc Comments: Hello,

I was wondering if there's a way to get a used instrument cluster to work with my 2001 BMW 325i.

Thanks!
November 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I do not believe so. The VIN is stored in the cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chauncey Comments: Do you have instructions for removing a 1988 bmw 325i instrument cluster and replacing parts?
September 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: All of our E30 articles are here:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/tech_main_e30.htm

Including what we have on the instrument cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
jayla Comments: GREEN; 2005,Bmw 325xi.
May 13, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Did you have a question? - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:20:16 AM