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Audi Center Display Repair
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Audi Center Display Repair

Peter Bodensteiner

Time:

20 minutes20 mins

Tab:

$175 to $275

Talent:

**

Tools:

10mm wrench, Torx driver, small flat-blade screwdriver

Applicable Models:

 
Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi A4 Quattro (1997-01)
Audi TT (2000-04)
Audi TT Quattro (2000-04)
VW Beetle (1999-02)
VW Golf (2000-02)
VW Jetta (2000-02)
VW Passat (1996-00)

Hot Tip:

Line up a repair provider before removing your dash

Performance Gain:

Central display is more readable

Complementary Modification:

Install custom gauge faces

Audi engineers thought it would be cool to fit the driver's gauge panel with a useful central display that could display a wide variety of information, in a large and easy-to-read display right in the driver's line of sight. And it is a good idea; the display gives the driver mileage information from the trip computer, displays the temperature, displays warning lights, information from the stereo, and more. The problem is that these displays are extremely prone to a partial failure that makes the display hard to read. Compounding this is the fact that, because the display is so visible, it's hard to put this broken component out of your mind when driving the car--it doesn't reinforce the idea that you're driving an over-engineered German automobile (or maybe it does, depending on your viewpoint).

Fixing this problem could be a matter of simply replacing the offending part. Unfortunately, it costs upwards of $500 to replace the gauge cluster in your car, with the additional complication that the new cluster needs to be paired up with your VIN and your specific engine computer, a complication that exists in order to prevent odometer tampering.

Could you fix the display on your own? This is possible, but quite difficult. The display is made up of some 52 individual lines, each of which is connected to one pin of a long ribbon connector hidden behind the face of the gauge. When one of these connections goes bad, it causes the corresponding display line to fail. One can disassemble the whole display and re-solder the connections, but they are quite small, and only someone with a good deal of experience and talent with a soldering gun would be likely to find success with this method.

Fortunately, the problems with the displays in the B5 A4 and many other cars, particularly European cars, have fueled a cottage industry dedicated to repairing them. Remove your gauge cluster, mail it away, and the brown Santa will bring you a fully repaired cluster a few days later. It's still not cheap--the repair costs several hundred dollars minimum--but it's the best option for most people. One provider I found was a Canadian company at http://www.pixelfix.info. A handful of other companies that offer this service and it is possible that by the time you read this there will be more, fewer, or different companies doing it. Do your homework and select one that other Audi enthusiasts recommend.

As with any job involving the car's electrical system it's best to disconnect the battery before starting. Loosen the clamp on the battery's negative terminal with a 10mm wrench and remove the battery cable from the post.

From this photo of the center display, it's easy to see that individual lines of the display have failed, making the display hard to read and, frankly, a bit unsightly.
Figure 1

From this photo of the center display, it's easy to see that individual lines of the display have failed, making the display hard to read and, frankly, a bit unsightly.

Release the tilt lever on the bottom of the steering column and move the wheel as low and as close to you as possible.
Figure 2

Release the tilt lever on the bottom of the steering column and move the wheel as low and as close to you as possible. This will give you more room to work as you remove the gauge cluster.

Remove this plastic arch above the steering column by prying it loose by hand.
Figure 3

Remove this plastic arch above the steering column by prying it loose by hand.

Underneath the plastic cover is a corrugated plastic piece that is reminiscent of a roll-top desk.
Figure 4

Underneath the plastic cover is a corrugated plastic piece that is reminiscent of a roll-top desk. It's a bit fragile, so be careful with it. Fold the top of it back toward yourself to reveal the two Torx fasteners that hold the cluster in place (green arrows).

Use a Torx driver to remove the two fasteners.
Figure 5

Use a Torx driver to remove the two fasteners.

Grab the odometer and clock reset buttons to get a grip on the cluster and wiggle it lose within the confines of the gauge hood.
Figure 6

Grab the odometer and clock reset buttons to get a grip on the cluster and wiggle it lose within the confines of the gauge hood.

This is about as far as you can remove the cluster before you must detach the three color-coded electrical connectors on the back.
Figure 7

This is about as far as you can remove the cluster before you must detach the three color-coded electrical connectors on the back.

The connector furthest to the left is this blue one.
Figure 8

The connector furthest to the left is this blue one. All you must do is lift the pink lever up and the connector will pop right out of the back of the gauge cluster. You may need the assistance of a small screwdriver to release the lever.

As the lever moves into the upward position, the lever itself pushes the connector out and away from the cluster.
Figure 9

As the lever moves into the upward position, the lever itself pushes the connector out and away from the cluster.

Repeat the process for the gray and green connectors, which operate in the same fashion, and then simply pull the cluster out from the dash hood.
Figure 10

Repeat the process for the gray and green connectors, which operate in the same fashion, and then simply pull the cluster out from the dash hood. This is the back side of the display cluster.

Looking back into the empty gauge hood of the dash, you can see the three color-coded connectors and their wiring.
Figure 11

Looking back into the empty gauge hood of the dash, you can see the three color-coded connectors and their wiring. Now mail off your old cluster, and then reverse these steps to install your new cluster when it arrives. Attach the battery after you get the wiring hooked up so that you can test the new display before you button everything up.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Tori Comments: Can the car be operated with the instrument cluster removed-2001 Audi A4
July 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jlt Comments: What about the immobilizer? On VWs and Audis, will removing the cluster for the several days a repair takes trigger the immobilizer?
July 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: it should not. as long as the battery is disconnected. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Darrell Comments: I bought an OEM replacement display from German Audiotech. Am I correct that there is NO soldering to replace the display??
Thanks Darrell Gregory
May 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I wouldn't know. Check with the seller. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Darrell Comments: 2006 VW Jetta TDI; My diplay worked when cold, and then often would fade or go out when things warmed up. In the past 30 days, I've had eratic lines and pixels flashing randomly, now there's no numbers diplayed at all though the display glows red. Would a replacement display fix my problem?? Thanks in advance, Darrell
April 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It does sound to me like the display is faulty. 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
 
Greg Comments: I have a 2001 Jetta GLX, the display is completely out. It was blinking on and off, now it does not come on at all. When its on, it looks good.
What powers this display? Still a bad connection?
October 28, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: More than likely you have a faulty diplay and need a new unit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
capt. JIM Comments: To Nick, have the same issue as Cory. Center led dims after warm up. Please elaborate on repair. Thanks Jim
September 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the center of the cluster is an issue, it has to be replaced or repaired by an electronic repair facility. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: The gear display works normally.

The display, EXCEPT for the gear display goes off when putting it in gear.
May 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Likely a faulty display. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: Thanks for getting back to me.

I tried playing with the dimmer switch, as well as every other electrical switch, and nothing changes.

The display is on when I start the car 01 a4 then goes off when I put it in gear, put the gear indicator at the bottom always works.

Every single pixel works, when the display works.

Any suggestions?
May 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like it could be an internal short. Once the gear display changes, it goes out. You can try a system test using a scan tool. That can confirm if the display fails when under test mode. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: Sorry,

The below is for my '01 A4
May 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ok, got it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: My display works only when I start the car either in Park or Neutral. It goes out as soon as I shift into a gear, but the gear indicator at the bottom works.

Obviously the display works.

What's going on?
May 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: is it dim or totally off? Check if adjusting the interior lights with the dimmer knob helps. Let me know what you find. I will see if I can help further. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Cory Comments: 01 Jetta. Mine works when it's cold out, like early in the morning. But when the car warms up & all the display fades away. Any ideas?
April 29, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be overheating. If it is just the display and all functions work, you may be able to get it repaired by an automotive electronics repair shop. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Audiwan Kenobi Comments: The way you all do a diy write up is unmatched!...I have experienced much success as well as saved a ton of money because of your easy to follow write ups...thanks!
March 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
adi Comments: i have problem with Mk5 1.6, no milleage display, may i know what the problem
November 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The instrument cluster may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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