E36 328 Instrument Cluster Dials Go to Zero Sometimes
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  1. #1
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    Instrument Cluster Dials Go to Zero Sometimes

    I have a 1996 328i I've only had a few months and occasionally all the dials go to zero, and mileage readouts etc. go black. Instrument Cluster is still lit (headlamps on). Seems to mostly happen after high-speed driving. Usually comes back to life within a few minutes or after shutting the car off for a short while, but last night they remained at zero for the 50 mile drive home and didn't come back on until this morning when I went and checked. Very occasionally they will glitch out very briefly, lights going haywire, then everything is fine after a few seconds.

    I looked in a repair manual because I wanted to check and clean the connectors to the cluster (I used to work in computer repair) but it said you have to remove the steering wheel, which means disengaging the air bag system which sounds like quite a long and tricky project I'm not up to. Is this correct or is there some wiring I can check that easy to get to?

    What are my options? I know I could buy a used cluster off eBay but if the whole air bag steering wheel etc, system has to be taken apart to replace it it's going to be expensive.

    I'm thinking of installing a third-party temperture gauge since that's the most critical readout one needs. I can get range from the computer and MPH from Waze. Then repair the cluster when I have more funds (need some dental work - priority).


  2. #2
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    e36coupe-328's Avatar
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    1995 / 2001
    E36 / White Elephant
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    It's semi typical and eventually will need a new cluster
    You will be lucky if it is a loose wire BUT if warning lights such as indicators main beam etc still work then the cluster is at least still earthed

    My 1995 has a black case (on the back ) and the temp gauge started working intermittently. I tightened up the connectors and sweated the soldered joints and it cured it for about 4 years.
    The. It packed up.
    Replaced with one the same and a year later the temp gauge starts playing up.

    There is a retrofit doc where you add a wire to fit later coding plug dashes. Don't know if they are any better (maybe you have one already)
    You will also need one coded with the same parameters or an ADS interface to do it
    Ideally you will code your chassis no in too
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