Is your E36 climate control display dark? Do
buttons lighten up and darken randomly, with button illumination apparently
unrelated to what the heater and A/C are actually doing at the moment? Does
it turn off and reset itself randomly?
You could spend hundreds of dollars on a
new or used unit. You could send it out and have somebody repair it. Or fix
it yourself in about an hour for just a few dollars! I made this repair on
my E36 more than 5 years ago and it is still working fine.
Parts and tools needed:
- Capacitor. The original capacitor is
0.47 uF. However, because It is being used as a filter, people who seem to
know a lot more than me say that the size does not really matter, and it
doesn't even matter if you put a polar capacitor in backwards. I used a
1.0 uF capacitor in both my E36s because that was what the local Radio
Shack had on hand. The first one was ceramic. The second one was tantalum.
Both were polar. From what I read, tantalum capacitors are better. The
first repair is still working fine 5 years later.
- Desoldering braid. It is important to
soak up all the solder that is holding in the current capacitor. If you
don't, the molten solder will go down into the hole in the circuit board
as you pull the old capacitor off, and you will have a heck of a time
clearing that hole so you can insert the new wire.
- Soldering pencil (no more than 30W).
- Small flat blade screwdriver.
- Exacto knife or razor blade.
Locate your climate control unit in the dash. If you drive an E36, it
should look exactly like this. If you have the manual control type with the
knobs, and it does not look like this, these instructions will not help you.
(Pelican Note: When
working on your car's electronics, it is a wise idea to first disconnect the
If your car has a multifunction display,
remove all the junk from the storage compartment beneath it. Now stick your
fingers up through the hole in the top of that compartment and pull out your
There are bumps on the sides, top, and
bottom of the multifunction display that keep it in place. You may find it
easier to remove if you insert a flat blade to help them snap out of their
Also, the flat blade keeps the edge of the
vinyl dash cover from catching on the display and tearing loose from the
dash as you pull the display out.
Just let the
multifunction display hang by its wires. If any of those four bulbs across
the top that illuminate the display and clock are burned out, now would be a
good time to replace them. Find
here in the Pelican catalog.
The climate control
unit snaps out just like the multifunction display did.
Release the latch on
the main plug. The smaller (black) plug just pulls straight out.
Remove the two screws
that secure the fan. Either a phillips or straight blade screwdriver works
on these screws, but a small straight blade works better. A little canned
air cleaned out all the accumulated dust.
As with the screws that
secure the fan, the four screws that secure the face plate are most easily
removed with a small straight blade screwdriver.
Remove the face plate.
This side unsnaps with a little help from the small screwdriver.
Squeeze the release on
the other side with needle-nosed pliers.
With the face plate
off, the front circuit board snaps out easily. Let it dangle by its wires.
(Pelican Note: when handling circuit boards, it's always a good idea to
ground yourself to prevent static electricity from damaging the board)
Pull out the circuit
board. The circuit board is held in place by a tabs on each end of the
board that sticks out from the circuit board and fits into rectangular holes
in the plastic case. How you get it free is up to you. Just be careful not
to bend the circuit board, as it might crack.
Once the tabs are free
from their holes, you can pull the board, or push it from the rear using the
holes in the back of the case.
The red arrow points to
the 0.47 uF
capacitor that has failed and must be replaced.
Scrape off the varnish.
There is varnish on both sides of the board. The capacitor will be easier
to break loose if you scrape the varnish from this side, and you MUST scrape
the varnish from the contacts on the back side so you can desolder them.
This picture shows the
old blue 0.47 uF capacitor and new gold 1 uF tantalum capacitor. On the
board, the two holes that look silver, just to the left of that tiny surface
mount resistor, are the solder contacts for the cap. I did not desolder
these as cleanly I should have.
This tantalum cap
appears to use the same convention as an LED (long lead is positive).
If you are using a
polar capacitor like this one, I have read that the positive side is the
side closest to the edge of the board.
Push the leads from the
new capacitor through the holes and solder them neatly. Then trim off the
the finished product - my brand new tantalum capacitor soldered in where the
original capacitor used to be.
Now put everything back where you found it. This is one of
the few jobs where things go back together a lot easier than they came
apart. I hope that your heater and air conditioner work now. Mine do.
Well, there you have it - it's
really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see
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