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BMW E36 Gauge Cluster Light Bulb Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E36 Gauge Cluster Light Bulb Replacement

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$1-$20

Talent:

***

Tools:

13mm wrench, stubby T15 Torx screwdriver, trim plastic pry tool or old credit card, needle nose pliers

Applicable Models:

BMW E36 3-Series (1992-99)

Parts Required:

Gauge cluster light bulbs

Performance Gain:

A gauge cluster that lights up properly and completely

Complementary Modification:

Install custom gauge face colors for your gauge cluster
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

It's inevitable--one day, one of the lamps will burn out in your gauge cluster. Most people just tolerate this because, in their minds, the bulbs are difficult to reach and nobody knows how to get to them anyway. In reality, it's quite easy if you know the procedure for safely pulling out and removing the gauge cluster.

The first step is to write down which bulbs are burned out, and then disconnect the battery (see Project 84). I really can't stress this enough, for reasons I'll explain later in the text. Make sure you have the proper radio code required to reset your radio if you do disconnect the battery. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing your radio is dead and you don't have the code (although it is available from the BMW dealer).

With the battery disconnected, use a small stubby screwdriver to remove the two screws that fasten the gauge clusters to the top of the dashboard. On some later cars, these screws may require a stubby Torx driver--or you might be able to get away with using a small flat-head screwdriver in the top of the Torx head.

With the two screws removed, you should be able to pull the cluster out of its home in the molded dash. This, of course, is easier said than done. There isn't a big grab handle to pull the cluster out with. The best method is to grab the top of the cluster with your fingernails and pull it down. Using a soft plastic wedge, such as an old credit card, can help, and it won't damage the delicate plastic assembly.

With the gauges pulled out from the dash, you now need to reach behind and disconnect the wire harnesses from the rear. For each harness, you need to push a small tab on the rear of the connector, which then allows the white retaining lever to be lifted up. Don't use too much force, as you will break the delicate retaining levers; then the connectors will never be secure. (See Photo 2 for details.)

With the harnesses disconnected, you can now maneuver the gauge cluster out from the car. Be careful not to scratch the front of the gauge cluster on your steering wheel column. The removal process will require you to turn the steering wheel. Insert the key into the ignition and turn it so you can rotate the steering wheel. Verify that your battery is disconnected--if you turn on the ignition with the gauge cluster disconnected, the air bag computer will sense a fault and will trigger the air bag warning lamp. The air bag warning lamp can only be reset by using a special reset tool. If you don't have one, you'll be taking an expensive trip to the dealer.

With the gauge cluster removed, you can use a small screwdriver to replace the bulbs. There are three large green ones; they illuminate the analog gauges (3-watt bulb, part number 07 11 9 978 372). There are two medium-sized white/tan ones that illuminate the odometer display (1.5-watt bulb, part number 62 11 1 391 260). Finally, the small black ones are for illuminating the warning lamps (1.2-watt bulb, part number 62 13 1 383 311). I recommend replacing all three of the large green ones, the two white/tan ones, and the two turn-signal lamps, as they are lit the longest and tend to burn out more than the others.

When you are ready to reinstall the gauge cluster, make sure that the small retaining levers on the wire harnesses are pointed upward. Don't force them, as they are fragile and can break.

So what can go wrong with instrument clusters? Well, there are a lot of strange problems that can be attributed to faulty clusters and/or faulty wiring. The cruise control computer acquires speed information from the cluster, so when the cluster is having problems, the cruise control often shuts off. Radio volume on OEM radios is integrated with the gauge cluster output, so problems with the gauges often cause the radio volume to be lowered as well. Also adding to gauge problems may be a faulty door switch (see Project 67) or faulty wiring in the trunk (Project 82). Sometimes, when you install a short shift kit, the installation may accidentally pinch some wires in the tunnel, so double-check your work if you have recently installed one of these kits.

Also problematic are the harness plugs on the back of the gauges. Previous owners may not have been as careful with them and may have broken the connector-securing brackets. It's possible for these to vibrate loose after many miles.

A neat feature of the gauge cluster is the self-test function. This is used by the BMW dealers to diagnose various problems with the cluster, and also to test the various instrument modules. To activate the diagnostic mode, press and hold the odometer button. Then turn the ignition switch to the radio position, which is the first position on the ignition switch. The display should read something like "tESt 01." Once you see that message, let go of the odometer button. The instrument cluster will then cycle through some test cycles and display some numbers. Here is what they mean:

First display: BMW part number (six digits)

Second display: code number (five digits)--the internal coding plug number

Third display: K number (four digits)

Fourth display: chassis number (five digits)©part of your BMW's VIN number

Fifth display: software version (three digits)

Sixth display: revision index (two digits)--hardware number

After all of the information is displayed, a set of tests of the analog gauges will be performed. You can also use this test/diagnostic mode to reset your odometer. See www.101Projects.com/BMW/95.htm for more details on this procedure.

If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Figure
Figure 1

On the E36, the gauge cluster is secured to the dash by two screws. Remove these screws with a small, stubby screwdriver (lower right). Pulling out the gauges themselves requires some effort, and it helps if you have long fingernails. Using a small pick, you can pull at the gauge cluster tabs that the screws mount into. Once the gauge cluster is pulled out far enough, disconnect the wire harnesses in the rear of the cluster (see Photo 3). With the harnesses disconnected, the cluster can be removed if you pull it all the way out; then rotate the steering wheel to the side (inset photo, upper right).

Figure
Figure 2

Be especially careful with the delicate retaining levers that attach the wire harness to the rear of the gauge cluster. The left photo shows one connector plugged into the rear of the cluster. The green arrow points to the small tab that must be pressed down in order to release the retaining lever. The middle photo shows the retaining lever being pulled back. Finally, in the right photo, the retaining lever has been pulled all the way up to the top, and the connector snaps out of the plug.

Figure
Figure 3

Here is a photo of the rear of the E36 gauge cluster. Each one of the plastic tabs is the back side of an instrument bulb. The black ones indicate individual lamps (like the ABS warning lamp), whereas the green ones are used for backlighting the gauges. The tan ones are used to illuminate the LCD/odometer display. Be sure to make a note of which bulbs are burned out before you pull the gauge cluster. The yellow arrows point to the five screws that must be removed to access the inside of the gauge cluster (see Project 91). 1: Temperature warning. 2: Right turn signal. 3: Left turn signal. 4: Oil pressure warning. 5: High-beam indicator. 6: Battery-charging indicator. 7: Low-fuel-level warning. 8/9/10: Gauge cluster illumination. 11: AST warning. 12/13: LCD/odometer illumination. 14: Air bag warning. 15: Catalytic converter warning. 16: Parking brake indicator. 17: Brake fluid warning. 18: Brake pad wear warning. 19: ABS warning. 20: Seatbelt warning. 21: System check control. 22: Automatic transmission warning. 23: Not enabled. 24: Check-engine warning. 25: Convertible anti-roll warning. 26: Not enabled. 27: Rear fog lamp. 28: Front fog lamp.

Figure
Figure 4

This photo shows the sequence for removing and replacing bulbs. In the upper left, you need to pull out the gauge cluster and disconnect the wire harness prior to removal. The upper right shows the process of removing one of the bulbs. Simply use a small screwdriver to turn the bulb counterclockwise. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to pluck the bulb out of the assembly, as shown in the lower left. Finally, the new bulb is installed and twisted into place by the screwdriver, as shown by the photo on the lower right.

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Comments and Suggestions:
A-@ron Comments: I recently removed my gauge cluster to get rid if a bad bulb. Upon reinstalling it two prongs on the blue male part of the gauge cluster clip bent and touched two others and I noticed this after taking it all bk out due to the smell of burning. I straightened out the male prongs and I hook it all up again bit don't get anything from my speedo, nor from my mpg gauge. I'm guessing I ruined the cluster...btw the kid who owned the car before me installed a fake carbon fiber back ground trim and I'm certain this is the faulty process he used that lead to my accident. Please give me some input...I dk where else to start.
November 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The cluster is likely damaged. You can send it to a electronics repair place or replace it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nick D. Comments: Hi, I have a 1998 M3 with the 3 spoke steering wheel and no tilt adjustment. I was finally able to disconnect the clips on the back, but no matter what I do I can't get the cluster to slide out around the wheel as shown in the book. Nowhere do you mention that this only works on cars with tilt, or on cars with the older 4 spoke steering wheel, but I feel like one of those things might be at play here. Got any suggestions? Thanks!
July 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Last resort, try steering the wheel as you remove the cluster. Be sure the wheel is adjusted all the way down and back. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RB Comments: For some reason, I have this weird random buzz coming from the instrument cluster.

Sometimes, I can drive it and it won't make a sound. Other times, it buzzes on and off during the entire drive. I think it's easier to replicate if the car is driven for a longer period of time.

Do you know what might be the cause? It sounds kind of like the buzz the car makes when you leave your headlights on and take the key out of the ignition.

I've uploaded 3 short videos a minute or less each to YouTube that demonstrate this weird buzzing:

Buzz Airbag Light Flickers: https://youtu.be/IsxvydXzofM
Buzz Brake Light Flickers: https://youtu.be/TFmiSSM9E_o
Buzz Key Turn: https://youtu.be/0R-GYaknkRs

When googling about the brake pad sensor light, I read that you can turn that warning light off by connecting the two wires of the sensor together. I'm not sure if the brake pad light is the reason for the buzz though. My shop tells me that the brake pads are fine.

Have you seen anything like this possessed cluster before?
June 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the sound generator for the turn signal is faulty. This is fairly common, however be sure there isn;t a short. The light flicker has me a bit worried.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
nVz2000 Comments: Hi there - thank you for this great site!

I just bought a '97 318ti. Not 2 days later, the Oil Life/Odometer/Resettable display fades/dies on me. You can see it barely when the car starts, then it goes away.

Any ideas?
May 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can replace the bulbs in the back of the cluster. First remove the cluster, then remove and replace the bulbs.

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
 
Tyler Comments: I have a 1998 323is. My turn signal only works sometimes. I've never had a problem with the left turn signal. When i turn on the hazard lights everything lights up as it should left and right turn signal work fine .

Is my turn signal stalk broken or do i need a new relay?
March 1, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the stalk may be faulty. Check if the turn signal stalk is sending the signal to activate the lights when the problem is present. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
miceeefan Comments: Do these instructions pertain to 2005 X5 as well? the lights on my instrument cluster where it says Key in Ignition, Trunk Lid open went slightly dim and now cannot see anything on the display at all.
trying to determine if this is a fuse issue, need new bulbs or the cluster is bad. Hope the latter is not the case.
February 8, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, they do not apply. X5 article is here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/BMW-X5/110-ELEC-Instrument_Cluster_Replacement/110-ELEC-Instrument_Cluster_Replacement.htm

If the lights are dim, it is likely not a fuse. Maybe a faulty cluster or issue with the interior light dimmer. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
bj Comments: i have a 04 bmw 325i the whole intrument panal not working no gauges or anything wst can be the problem
November 23, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a faulty cluster or fuse. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shanem3 Comments: Hi Nick, i have a 1997 bmw m3, i noticed the online computer reads, check brake circuit, also all the sudden the speedometer and gas gauge are not work either, can you help?
November 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the brake pad sensors are faulty.

Speedo and fuel gauge may be issue with cluster or wiring. Check power and ground to the cluster for starters. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
STEVE Comments: Ihave a 1998 bmw 311i I HAD NO BRAKE LIGHTS SO I REMOVED THE BOTTOM OF THE DASH TO REPLACE THE BRAKE LIGHT SWITCH,REPLACED AND NOW I HAVE NO TURN SIGNAL. OR CLUSNER LIGHTS. ANY IDEAS?
October 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the fuses and the connection at the turn signal switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
E36 Comments: Hi, is there a way to remove the instrument cluster on a 92 325i that has a fixed steering wheel that can't be lowered, without having to remove the steering wheel?

Also, will replacement of the lighting bulbs address the issue with some dark spots near the top of the gauges?
September 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not that i am aware of.

If you have dark spots, there are likely bulbs out. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Cosmin Comments: Sir, what type are green bulbs used for backlight illumination? I need to replace them and I do not know what to buy. Thank you
September 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
I’m not the best with part numbers.

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
 
Spoutnik Comments: Hi I just bought an 1996 328i. Looking to replace all the bulb in the cluster with LED. can you help me with the parts number? Can I put ALL white bulbs there?
Thanks
September 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I am not familiar with LED kits for these clusters. If available, we should be bale to get it for you.


I’m not the best with part numbers.

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
 
saturnx311 Comments: Do you happen to have the retaining clips for the wiring harnesses for this car? I broke the fuel gauge harness clip. Looks like they simply snap into place, so they'd be a cinch to replace. Once I wrestled the binnacle out, that is. What a job!
August 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, Pelican Parts can get them for you.

I’m not the best with part numbers.

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
 
Jchris65 Comments: I have a 1992 bmw 535i that my fuel gauge light went out, how do I replace the bulb and is it possible to change the color of my instrument lights and how do I get bulbs
August 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure about changing the color, but the bulbs can be accessed once the cluster is removed. Remove the socket for the bulb and replace it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dalton Comments: Hi. I have a 2000 323i. I bought a new gauge face for it and put it on. When I hooked it back up, it worked great. Next time I got in, the fuel gauge and temp gauge didn't work. I unplugged it and plugged it back in and it works fine. Next time it was the speedometer. If it sits for long periods of time, a random gauge doesn't work. If you unplug and plug back in its fine till it sits again. I had taken it out several times for different reasons before and never had this problem.
July 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The connections may have been bent or opened up during the original procedure. Check terminal tightness. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Markmc89 Comments: i just bought a 1989 320i and the lights in the cluster board seem to be very dim/borderline not working. the car was off the road for several years before i bought it. Do you think this is bulbs or wiring/fuses?
July 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hard to say. Check power and ground to the bulbs. If good, try replacing he bulbs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ian Comments: i have a 2001 325i wagon. the fourth number of the odometer is showing only half of the number. can it be repaired? checked fuses. they are ok.
March 20, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See this tech article for an option for repair:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/BMW-3-Series-E46/79-BODY-Removing_Your_Instrument_Cluster/79-BODY-Removing_Your_Instrument_Cluster.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Pablo Comments: I have a 2003, BMW, X5 and can't read the writing on the instrument panel because some of the letter either don't appear or only half the letter show. Will I be able to fix this problem by replacing some of the lights or do I need to replace the entire panel?
March 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This tech article shows the serviceable bulbs on X5 models.

http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/BMW-X5/110-ELEC-Instrument_Cluster_Replacement/110-ELEC-Instrument_Cluster_Replacement.htm

Other than the bulbs noted, if more are faulty, cluster replacement is required. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Room335 Comments: Thanks Nick for the reply about the 535i...If I can reach the bulbs for odometer without removing the cluster...Can I just disconnect the battery and leave the connectors plugged in...Also, I am having trouble finding the bulbs for the 1989 535i E34 which I'll need to buy from you for the odometer and gas gauge. Thanks again...
February 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Disconnecting the battery can work as well.

Another caveat, don't put too much stress on the rear connectors. it is best to disconnect them.- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Room335 Comments: I have a 1989 535i and my odometer lights are out as well as the gas gauge. I need to go through inspection next month. Is it necessary to pull the cluster all the way out, I don't have an adjustable steering wheel or can I reach behind the cluster once I pull it forward from the dash and reach the bulbs to change them...If yes, should I disconnect the connectors or leave them be....Thanks...Philip
February 11, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you can reach the bulbs, be sure to work with the connectors disconnected. This will prevent accidental shorting. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Connor Comments: I have a 1996 328i and my fog light and parking brake bulb were burnt out. My temp gauge light also was out. So I took the cluster out and I replaced those three. The fog light and parking light bulbs work perfectly but the temp gauge light is still out. I also tightened all the bulbs and now the fuel gauge light is out and the left side of the speedometer is dim. All gauges still work though. Why are they dim? Do I just need to tighten them a certain amount? Do I need to get all new bulbs?
February 2, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like an issue with the wiring for the cluster. You may need to replace it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
frans Comments: Hi I've started my 1994 bmw 325i and then all the gauges dropped my fuel gauge,temp gauge,reff counter,the neadle underneath the reff couter and my flickers,the small screen in the middle console that shows your fuel consumption and range none off that are working what could be the problem?
December 22, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be as simple as a charging system issue. I would start by performing a starting and charging system test. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nic Comments: Hi, thanks for this great site!
I'm Nic, I've retrofitted cruise control on my european BMW Z3 2.0 M52TU by simply connecting a stalk to the existing interface on the car.
My instrument cluster has a slot for cruise control light, so I've added a bulb in it, but I have no light when the CC is operative.
The bulb can be lighted with the cluster tests, so it works.
I found many people on the web stating that the E36 hasn't a light for Cruise Control, but I believe that if my cluster has a CC lamp, there should be a clean way to activate it.
I hope that with your huge experience, you can tell me something positive about my question.
Thank you in advance
Nic
October 17, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have any experience with this modification. Could be the cluster needs to be coded. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Nathi Comments: on my bmw E46 lights on the dash board, no indicators no hazards lights, immidiately when i turn the engine on a dim light is activated autoumatically no bright. bu gaurges are functioning, what must i do?
October 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the vehicle for fault codes, if there are none, check power and ground to the cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Johnno Comments: Hi Nick
Thanks for the comments.Turns out the actual printed facsia cards are applied to the clear face by adhesive and over time slowly bubble up causing illumination dark spots. I simply used a 3m d/sided clear plate tape product which l use at work, solved the problem perfectly. Thanks to speedline instruments for their efforts. So if anyone has a similar issue with dark spots on their cluster at night, this is one way to fix it!


October 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. Makes sense as you describe it. Did you snap any photos you can share? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Johnno Comments: My tacho side of my e36 instrument cluster has a dark spot between 4 and 5, quite annoying for too long so decided to install 3 new globes green base. didn't fix the problem! Any suggestions to try please
thanks fo the most helpful website ever.
cheers, john from Aus
September 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you confirm the bulbs are not lit in that area? If so, it's possible the cluster is not lighting the bulb, like a bad printed circuit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tipsy Comments: Maybe I'm missing it, but what is the part number for the E36 turn-signal cluster bulbs?
September 23, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not 100% sure. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Ed Comments: Managed to change the 2 odometer bulbs without disconnecting the cable harnesses. Lowering the steering wheel and using a mirror together with the excellent figure 3 was fairly easy. I removed and inserted the new bulbs using a 1/4" socket. BMW 328i convertible 1997.
September 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Suso35 Comments: Hello Pelican,

My 94 325 sedan auto don't have the CHECK ENGINE light and I already change the bulbs needed to be replaced. Read somewhere told that 94 325 dont have the CHECK ENGINE label

I noticed that my cluster didnt have the CHECK ENGINE label. If im not mistaken the CHECK ENGINE sits next left-side if we face the cluster to SIGNAL label bottomside not the upperside.

One more thing is, during the cluster test not all the ignitions turn on and even the main light of the cluster won't appear. Only some ignitions are appeared to turn on during the cluster test.

Thanks in advance.
July 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It should be on the left under the battery light. Not sure why your vehicle wouldn't have one, it seems they did. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dberch Comments: Greetings. David Berchtold here. I have a '98 E36 328is. Shortly after i bought it the top half of the odometer went blank and about a year later the bottom as well. Now the temperature gauge and fuel gauge are also dark. Is this all due to burnt out lights? Seems too good to be true
May 11, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Does sound like bulbs to me. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ben Comments: Hi, I've just bought a 323 coupe and on the dashboard the temp gauge and right hand side of the rev counter are illuminated perfectly but it gets dimmer on the left side and the speedometer is barely visible while fuel gauge is completely dark. Am I right in assumimg replacing bulbs 9 and 10 will resolve this issue?
April 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Likely. Not sure what year your vehicle is, but I would suggest replacing all the bulbs while you are in there. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike NZ Comments: Hi Nick, the cluster in my 94 325i works fine. all the warning lights etc work and the gaugues are good too. When i turn the headlights on the cluster wont light up all the time. sometimes it does sometimes it dosnt. Is there a relay or somthing else i should be checking? Thanks.
April 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not that I can think of. I would lean toward an internal short or fault inside the cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ross Comments: On my 318ti the high beam warning light is blue. When driving on a dark night the glare from this lamp is dazzling. I am working on changing the blue plastic filter to red or orange. Has anyone else had this problem and or tried this?
April 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have not. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Rad Comments: My 1998 328i odometer bulb was busted. All the others work perfectly. Doing the steps mentioned, I was able to replace the bulb. I reinstalled everything and odometer lights up but now the gauge doesnt illuminate when I switch on the headlights, the needles and background dont light up. All the warning lights still works perfectly. Even the buttons in the obc and other switches are up, dimmer also works. What could be the problem here?
April 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Other bulbs may have failed during the procedure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Al Comments: My 1994 325i convertible cluster started going out and back in continuly while driving and has now stopped working except the odomiter and it is 15-20 miles off. the letters pppppp apears where the mile numbers were.
March 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The cluster may have failed. This is a sign on a cluster being un-coded.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
bourne Comments: Hi, I have 1999 328is.
I removed cluster and replaced fuel gauge bulb. I broke the black connector and replaced it.
Now my fuel gauge, speedometer not working.
Fuses seem ok.
Played with connector fuel gauges come back, but goes to zero when I start driving.
Any suggestions?
How can I fix loose connector?
March 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like the electrical connector may be damaged. You can disassemble the connector, then inspect each pin and check that it has spring tension. If they do not, it will result in a poor connection. You can either, try to bend the spring inside the connector back using a pick or replace the terminal. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Larry Comments: 1995 e34 525i sedan. I can not self test my cluster, tried the code button and the odometer button but niether one runs the test. Like to change some bad bulbs but want to make sure I don't have any other problems. Is there a fix for broken test buttons?
March 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure. Do all the gauges function normally? If so, I would replace the bulbs and not worry about the self-test. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Leo Comments: Hi I have 1994 318i and sometimes while I drive all my cluster lights come on then kill out for a few seconds. When still in motion. Checked all my fuses they seemed fine don't know if I need a new cluster. Please help, thank you.
February 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would start by checking the vehicle for fault codes. This could be a loose connection, short or faulty cluster. The fault codes will help to guide you in the right direction. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike Comments: My oil light will not light up at all on e36 m3. What could it be?
January 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a fuse, wire or bad cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
HURK Comments: THIS ARTICLE HAS HELP ME TREMENDOUSLY
December 15, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
lionj Comments: Hi Nick,

I changed my damaged cluster. thanks for the instructions. However, the gas guage light is on and needle on empty when i know i filled vehicle before changing the old cluster which wasn't working at all. Can you help me with this? Do i have to reset or something? Thanks in advance for your tremendous help.
December 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Gain access to the fuel level sender, ground the wire for the cluster and see if the gauge goes to full. If it does, the sending unit is faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
lionj Comments: hey nick,
Happy Thanksgiving, how do i check the power and grounds for the instrument cluster
November 28, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Remove the cluster. Locate the power feeds, test them with a DVOM, once you confirm there is battery voltage load them to see if the voltage holds steady. Then do the same for the grounds. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
99 M3 Comments: What is the bulb and bulb socket I need to order to replace the back light for the clock on a 1999 M3 E36?
November 21, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Call one of our parts specialist at 888 280 7799 and they can help you. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
gtouch Comments: Hi Nick,
I started my 93 325i which used to show 95,000 miles now my mileage light is on but showing a "code"sign while the gas and tachometer needles moves back and forth feverishly. the speedometer needle stays on 60 and temp needle not moving at all, what is wrong with my cluster? all this happen after battery went dead, before everything worked perfect. Please Help, Thanks in advance
November 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: CODE may be displayed when the coding or serial numbers in the cluster are incorrect. I wonder if the malfunction you are experiencing is a faulty cluster. Check the power and grounds to the cluster, if they are good and there are no fault codes, replace it. It may have failed from a voltage spike when you replaced the battery. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
gtouch Comments: My battey went dead, i recharged it, now my instrument cluster is not working, i can't tell miles going, gas in car or temp in my 93 325i. Please help nick, thanks ib advance
November 18, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Start by checking the fuses. In the front power distribution box, fuses, 23, 27, 31 and 46. If they are good, the cluster may have been damaged when charging. Did you remove the battery from the vehicle when you charged it? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
byron_southAFrica Comments: How would I change the colour of my speed rev fuel etc gauge bulbs in my e36 325i? ?
November 14, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The color comes from the plastic in the cluster as the bulbs are clear. You would have to replace that plastic with the color you desire. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Gt Comments: Gauges don't work on my2003 bmwx5 Test prove them ok but not when engine starts
November 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Are there any faults stored in the cluster? Have you checked the power and ground supplies? Did you check the bus line for the cluster?
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Halian Comments: Hi, I have a question concerning two symbols in the instrument cluster on my E46. The first symbol is the one to the right of the airbag symbol. What does it mean?
The second one is to the left of the window cleaner fluid and just above the engine / or check engine in American BMWs. It almost looks like a muffler or something like that, with smoke or something rising from above it. Again I wish know what it means, I have my original manual, but the symbols are not explained or listed in it.
October 22, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Do you have a better picture with the lights lit up?
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
weatherman Comments: My error I had one bad bulb and neither one was twisted in fully. works great now thanks for this awesome article and very helpful pics!
October 14, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Weatherman Comments: replaced the 2 beige bulbs for the odometer still no light?
Used exact bulb parts you suggested. The rest of the cluster works fine??
October 10, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if the bulbs are ok and the lights will not light there is going to be a problem with the cluster itself.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Nish Comments: If you don't feel like trying to wrangle the cluster out of place from only the cluster hole, you can drop the knee kick panel and remove the knee support behind that then you can reach up behind the cluster and push it out from the back. You wont break anything trying to get it out and you can even remove the plugs in the back.
September 4, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Michael Comments: Fairly easy. Do be careful about scratching the glass, turning signal lever will scratch it. Now, to buff out a scratch...
June 27, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional information. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nate Comments: I have a 1989 bmw 325ix. I installed a used cluster only to find the cruise control didn't work. I realized there is a small chip that plugs into the bottom on the speedometer portion and in turn there is a one wire plug that plugs into it. I plugged that wire into the center plug but there is an identical plug to the top and bottom of where i plugged it. Is it suppose to go in the center hole on the chip.
June 13, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I am not sure where it would plug into the new cluster, (if it not the same part that came out). If you get the same cluster that was removed, the the connection would be made in the same place you removed it from. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Homer23 Comments: How come the 3 watt bulbs don't come with the base anymore? I tried to re-use a base with a new bulb from my local auto parts store and it didn't work. I used the tan 1.5 watt bulbs from this site and they worked great.
June 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW must have changed the bulb requirements. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bill Comments: I own a 1997 328i sedan. The numbers on the odometer and trip guage only partially illuminate, making it impossible to discern mileage. Whenever the numbers do light up, only the tops show. At other times, the entire numbers read perfectly clear. Can you tell me what the problem is? Bulbs, guage, connections, other? Can the problem be repaired without replacing the entire instrument cluster?
May 14, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are bulbs behind the odometer. If it is dim, replacing them should rememdy your issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
tab94 Comments: Removed instrument cluster with some difficulty from a 1995 328i coupe, as I noticed several lights weren't functioning after performing the cluster test. Discovered previous owner had simply removed the globes from the 'check engine' and 'airbag' sockets :. When I reconnected my cluster, only the battery a light was illuminated! The rest of the cluster didn't work at all, not even the speedometer. Have I destroyed my cluster????

Tom
April 9, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Recheck your connections at the rear of the cluster. Maybe you left something loose. It is possible the cluster was damaged. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mac Comments: i want to pull out a light bulb on my 2000 323i e46 would it be the same process?
or is mine all electrical.
January 28, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: E46 cluster bulbs cannot be serviced. You can replace the LCD or other parts from a donor cluster. See this tech article: http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/BMW-3-Series-E46/79-BODY-Removing_Your_Instrument_Cluster/79-BODY-Removing_Your_Instrument_Cluster.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
SteveS1013 Comments: How do you separate the beige plastic housing in the back of the instrument cluster from the black part of the instrument cluster that has all the gauges and lights in it.
January 2, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, there two Phillips head screws, then you detach retaining clips and pull the rear cover off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
PK Comments: Great post - Thank you! HELPFUL TIP: Before you do ANYTHING, carefully mask off the lens of the panel with blue masking tape. Don't remove it until you are completely done. That will go a long way in preventing any bruises on the lens while your working on it. I did this, and not a single mark.
November 7, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
carl83911 Comments: Performed on a 1996 e36. This was an experience I don't want to go through again if for the first time. For next time, I know what to expect. I figured out how to remove the whole unit. It was much easier once I had all the connectors in the rear disconnected. Turning the steering wheel worked although I thought I was going to bust the whole unit. It came right out unscathed. I changed the 3 bulbs. It was more difficult trying to put the whole unit back in. I basically broke the eyeholes that hold the unit in place. I had the most difficult time resetting the connectors in the rear. The plexiglas facecover of the unit is a bit scratch from the turnsignal arm and the turn signal unit was furced down. I had to readjust it and the auto signal shut off is not working. I need to get bacak in the steering column to see what happened. So, the lights work but now the odometer lights are not working. I am not about to pull theunit out again. I thing i'll pay somebody to do it. can anyone tell me if these are bulbs or LEDs/LCDs. I did this for my fiancee. Now I have to hidethe broken eyeholes for the 2 screws that hold the unit in. and a little chip on the edge. I will need superglue forthat. Iwill also need black silicone tohide the broken eye holes. I may also need to polish the scuffed plexiglass cover of the unit. Help...I don't think I should have messed with this.

October 18, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are bulbs for the LCD display.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Aca Comments: Thanks for eveerything you put on your web site so usefully!!
September 14, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Ian Comments: I have a 1993 325is. The instrument cluster worked fine but had some of the inside material cuuling up and it looked terrible. I replaced the cluster and the speedometer and fuel gauge do not work. I put the old cluster back in and now the fuel gauage and speedometer do not work in the original one. Any suggestions.
August 19, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Start by checking the fuses in the front power distribution box. Fuses 23, 27, 31 and 46. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Kevin P Comments: I have one bulb out on my cluster on the extreme right I believe it's the RPM. QUESTION: Can I change the color of the bulb or the color of the way it's displayed when looking at it head on? My cluster displays in horrible stock orange and even though I'm not completely "pimping my ride" It's nice to drive something a little customized. I was wondering if I could somehow have the cluster lights be green or white?
March 12, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Painting the bulbs with nail polish will change the color, it will also shorten the life of the bulb. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
AJ Comments: Ive just replaced the 5 main cluster bulbs 3x green case, temp + fuel with new ones and now none of them work, and my mileage now longer shows up either. Even when putting all the old bulbs back they still wont work. Any suggestions?
February 25, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You didn't mention what vehicle you have. But I would start by checking the fuses. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
littlespuddy Comments: how about changing the clock light on a '93 316i touring? i can't get the module out! and what bulb do i need when i do? any help much appreciated!
February 7, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't have your vehicle here in the US. But this comment by Wayne may be some help: The clock is located inside the multi-function unit. You can access the bulbs by removing the storage container underneath (it should just pull out with some coaxing), and then you can pull out the unit above and replace the bulbs, just like in the cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
911-SilverBullet Comments: Have a near mint condition 2002 525i sport / premium. The outside temperture display lights have faded dramatically. Will this manual provide me adequate instruction to repair myself at home in my garage?
January 7, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can service the instrument cluster bulbs in E39 models. This article should help you. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Obm Comments: i got the airbag light on after changing the cluster!had the battery discinected
December 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This might be a coincidence. I would check the airbag module for fault codes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Chuck Comments: Never could've/would've done this without these instructions. Plastic putty knife works to get the cluster out...that's the easy part. Getting the connections loose was a bear. I found that with steady pressure, the bottom of the cluster can be pulled over the hump in the stearing column, giving access to the connections from the bottom. Then I used a long screwdriver to press up on the lever while pushing down on the tab from the top. Eventually they all released. Once free of connections, I was able to slide the cluster to the right, between the wheel and the middle A/C vent. Great pics - never would've figured this out otherwise!
August 22, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
paul Comments: Pull the cluster out using a GPS suction-cup mount.
August 11, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
electrofelix Comments: Your picture for the instrument cluster labels 29 lights, but you only identify 28. 28 is the rear fog light and 29 is the front.
July 21, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Ed Comments: On my '96 328i, it had torx screws instead of philips, and I was able to pull the cluster out using a thin screw driver pried in between the torx screw hole and the cowliong; then I used small needle nose pliers to grip the torx screw flange and pulled without damaging the unit.

However, it was impossible to remove the whole unit, even when turning the steering wheel to the left. I was able to blind remove the electrics ok however great instructions there...three connections, and replace the burned out bulbs with the needle nose pliers, and the odometer bulb with a socket wrench on a swivel connector 6mm with the unit pulled out enough. I really think the steering wheel must be removed on these later model cars to get it out though as I thought the whole thing was going to break into a million pieces as I turned the wheel.

Lastly, even though I had it disconnected and put in the key to turn the wheel, the airbag light did not come on and stay on. It goes off after ignition as normal. I have a reset tool, but did not need to use it.
June 5, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
bird Comments: Your the greatest. This is a perfect detailed fix for my 328ic. You saved me alot of money. Regards
May 6, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
FG Comments: OK, everything in these instructions was true and correct I must be the only person with a 3rd wire connection at the back of the instrument panel, possibly the fuel gauge? Anyway I can't get this connection loose and therefor can't get the panel out. Any suggestions how this 3rd connection comes loose?
April 25, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The connector should unlock and fold open like the others. Are you having trouble reaching it, or is it a different style connector? If it is a different style, try feeling around for the release tabs. Once you find them, squeeze and pull the connector straight off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mickey Comments: How about changing the clock light on a '96 318i convertible? It is on the lower console panel along with the outside air temp gauge. If I can get the panel off...
April 15, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The clock is located inside the multi-function unit. You can access the bulbs by removing the storage container underneath (it should just pull out with some coaxing), and then you can pull out the unit above and replace the bulbs, just like in the cluster. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
DAn Comments: Great writeup! I cannot believe how long I have been driving with burnt out bulbs when the fix was so easy. As far as pulling out the cluster without a tilt wheel, I found that a little gentle force will get it over that hump in the steering column.

Thank you!
December 1, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
jbastos Comments: excellent detail! Also had difficulty pulling the cluster forward, but a kitchen plastic suction cup hook did the job..
November 17, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
porsche4life Comments: Fixing to do this to dads M3. Can the lights in the radio be replaced? The radio displays but there is no back lighting. Thanks wayne!
October 16, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think there are bulbs in the radio. I cannot find anything in parts. But to be sure, give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you figure out if the bulbs exist. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
islandreamer Comments: On my 95 325i sedan, the steering had to be removed due to the upper half of the plastic cowling that wraps the steering column/ignition switch being in the way of the bottom half of the gauge cluster. Other than that, everything went smoothly as described here at PelicanParts.com. Thanks for the great tech info.
August 28, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The answers to your questions lie here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/Mult-Code_Reading/Mult-Code_Reading.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
adelgigs Comments: Great write up. The only difficulty I had was pulling the instrumentation forward, but persisting with 2 credit cards eventually got it out.
Thanks.
July 26, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
King Carrot Comments: I found it impossible to remove the cluster in the way described without causing major damage to my M3, but I found a foolproof way instead. I undid the 2 torx screws as described, but instead of using a credit-card/home-made hook, I just removed the 2 screws on the cowling beneath the steering wheel. With the cowling hanging loose, I stuck both my hands into the dashboard cavity and used my fingers in a "come hither" motion, and out popped the cluster. Due to the clarity of your description/photos I also didn't need to bother with disconnecting the electrics. All done in 10 minutes.
Hope this helps someone else.
July 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
frenchie Comments: i have a 1999 328i and the gauge cluster went out,i located a used one and my mechanic is going to install it i need to find out how to calibrate the new one without going to the dealer
July 7, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not even sure if these can be calibrated for speed, and I'm quite sure that if they can then you definitely need to go to the dealer to use one of their special tools. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Karl Comments: I need to replace my instrument cluster pretty soon fuel and temp guages packed up. My E36 is a compact 1.8ti so I have a limited choice of replacement parts. Does anyone know what the compatible part numbers are?

Cheer
July 1, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Rod Comments: Very useful. Can the bulbs in the air conditioning dash be changed also?
May 31, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe so, but you need to pull out the unit, which is easier said than done. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
clustermike Comments: had to turn steering wheel to the right , would not come out turning to left. Removing the connectors was so much fun I could hardly take it. Just kidding it was a real problem , but I figured it out and am ready to reinstall now , hope this goes better than takeout. I need a set of really small hands for this deal. Everything else was very helpful. Thanks.
May 19, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Klaus Comments: I tried to get the cluster out, but couldn't. I don't have a tilt wheel in my '96 328i. Is there any trick to it? Thanks
January 13, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try rotating the steering wheel and placing the top of the cluster into the wheel opening while removing it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Lenny Comments: Very Helpful , Changed my bulbs in under 30 mins!
November 5, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
ANT GOT 1 Comments: MORE DETAIL THAN A HAYNE MANUAL GREAT PHOTOS
May 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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