In this tech article, I will go over the steps required to replace the light bulbs in the OBC in the center panel in the BMW E30 3 Series. This is a pretty common problem for the E30 3 Series. The good news is that the fix is relatively easy. Keep in mind that this tech article is specific to the E30 3 Series, however it applies to all older BMWs as well.
Have you noticed that the OBC isn't lighting up when you start the car, yet when sunlight hits the display it seems to illuminate perfectly? In this case, the light bulbs that illuminate the display have burned out. What you will need to do is either replaces the complete light board or unsolder the lights and install new bulbs. In this tech article we will just replace the whole board.
The first step in replacing the bulbs is to disconnect the battery. Any time you are working around electricity, disconnect the bulb. Don't risk frying components or portions of your body; disconnect the battery to be safe.
Next, you will want to remove the radio. If you happen to have the stock radio in the car, you do this by opening the small covers on each side of the radio, and using a small Allen key, loosen the screws. This will allow you to remove the stock radio. After removing the radio, unplug the electrical connections from the back and set the radio aside. Keep in mind that the stock radio will not function any time the battery is disconnected unless you have the factory code for it. The code should be listed in your owner's manual, or if you don't have the code, your local BMW dealer can provide this for you if you have lost the code.
If you have an aftermarket radio, consult the owner's manual or installation guide on how to remove it. In most cases the radio is held in place by two clips on either side that release the stereo when pushed in at the same time. Then, as above, remove the wires from the rear and set it aside.
Next, open the glove box and remove the upper panel. It is held in with Phillips head screws. Once removed, take out the panel covering the OBC on to the left of the glove box. You may need to do a bit of wiggling and positioning to get this panel out. Once out, go back to the panel that holds the OBC. Using a small screwdriver, carefully pry the panel out of the dash. Use extreme caution here as you can very easily break this panel. Reach inside the dash from the radio location and from the glove box panel to help push it out. Once you have the panel free, pull it out about 3 inches towards you. Look on the right hand side of the OBC; you will notice a plastic insert. Pull this insert out of the OBC; this is the board that holds the light assembly.
Take the new board assembly, (available from Pelican, of course) and place the insert piece on the new board. It will clip on. Now, re-install the insert into the OBC. Next, push the whole OBC panel back into the dash. It should simply clip back into place. With the panel in, re-install the side panel for the glove box and the upper glove box panel. Re-connect the wires for the radio, and then place the radio back in place.
Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. 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.