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'84 528e dead dash

Discussion in 'E28 (1982-1988)' started by quincyhall, May 20, 2008.

    quincyhall guest

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    I just bought an '84 528e. It's great except the odometer, speedometer, and fuel gauges don't work at all. It appears as if the RPM gauge works fine. I have two questions:

    1) Is this a common problem and easy to fix, perhaps by not going to a repair shop?

    2) If I do take it to a repair shop, how much can I expect to pay?

    Thanks. It's good to know there are a lot of passionate 80s bmw owners out there. Glad to join the club.:cool:


    Autohaus guest

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    The E28 is a good solid car. Your problem could be either the circuit board acting up, the batteries behind the board needing replacement or maybe a fuse. My 87 528e needs a new circuit board because my green lights stay on and the tach hardly ever works. I had your problem a few times, and it was a fuse causing my odometer/speedometer and fuel gauges not working. I don't remember what fuse it was though. Just check your fuse box, that would be the first step. The steering wheel may have to come out, though I have heard some leave the steering wheel on while they worked around getting the cluster off. To answer your second question, it all depends on the problem. If you do need a circuit board, then get one from bmwengine.com I THINK. They also have used and referbished electrical parts as well. They will offer you a lifetime warranty. I am not sure that is the place, or this other place in Cali.
    • Member


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    I previously had an issue where the fuel gauge would work but it wouldn't. It would register as full all of the time, even when it was empty. (Imagine seeing the 'low gas' light and the gauge showing full at the same time :D). My tach would occasionally cut out, spasms between two RPM ranges, or not work at all, though most of the time it worked fine. My SI lights were constantly on as well, when the lights were green. I replaced the SI board AND batteries with brand new counterparts and almost all of the gauges have worked perfectly since, with the exception of the fuel gauge, which showed half when the tank was empty, 3/4 when the tank was 1/2, etc. I replaced the fuel gauge (physically) and it works perfectly now.

    I would check your batteries for the SI board before all regarding the tach and fuel gauge. I think the voltage should be 3.3v. These are soldered in batteries, so if they need replacing, it's gonna be a hell of a time replacing them. It's more time than work involved, but it's a pain when you can't just pop them out and put the new ones in and be done in a few minutes.

    To my knowledge, the speedometer isn't controlled by the SI batteries and such. I would say check your fuses on this one.

    I don't know about the physical clearances for the E28, but my E30's cluster could be taken out no problem without taking the steering wheel off.

    quincyhall guest

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    Thanks guys!
    • Member


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    Probably the SI Board

    This is a common problem in the E28s as they age. My Noss
    (1986 528e) has the same issue. You can get a new service interval printed circuit board from Bavarian Autosport for around $300. They also published instructions on how to change it yourself awhile back (search for the Fall 2005 issue of their newsletter). If you can't change it yourself, make sure to take your baby to a good independent shop-- I like the BIMRS members (www.bimrs.org). Also, I can recommend seeking out Carl Nelson for help. He is one of our Club Technical Service Advisors, and one of the very few humans I allow near Noss.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor


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    Botond, the boards are a little different on the E28, the batteries are not on the SI board, they are integral to the motherboard.

    If you have a 3 spoke wheel, you can pull the cluster without removing the wheel. First off, if you feel like pulling the cluster and pulling it apart, you can see if the batteries have leaked onto the board. If they have and have damaged the board, you need another board. If they have not leaked but are just dead, no problem, just replace them. Carefully inspect every solder joint as well. It is common for them to crack and I have been able to repair several boards by doing nothing more than touching up all the bad joints. If you find that there are only a few bad traces on the board you can always jump them out with jumper wires. I think one of my cars has jumpers on the back of the board, but I don't remember.

    Greer, you in San Diego?
    • Member


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    Second that!

    Pull the column all the way toward you (the release lever is under the column) and you should have plenty of room. Take out the two small phillips screws at the top of the panel, driven upward into the dash. Carefully pry it down with a small flat screwdriver (careful not to crack the clear plastic cover) until you can get fingers on there. Then rotate the thing toward you and pull it out far enough to disconnect all the electrics. It can then be slid out and removed to the left.

    Much more E28-specific reference material, advice, expertise, and occasional unwarranted good-natured abuse can be found at MyE28.com.
    • Member


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    If you don't have the $$ to fix it, I might have an old one. As I recall, the service lights won't reset on it, but other then that I *think* its ok. Been many years since I replaced it.

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