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Instrument Cluster woes

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by Autohaus, Aug 8, 2009.

    Autohaus guest

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    Lets see, where do I begin? One night in late June I got in my E39 and had to move it around my driveway when I noticed:

    No interior gong
    No Radio/clock
    No A/C
    No heated seats
    No reverse lights
    Steering wheel took a while to lower into position
    No blinkers on dash
    No fog light symbol on dash
    Key fob functions weren't working

    Then all of a sudden the gong came back and everything started working again. Then the very next morning I start the car but the problems came back. My mechanic informed me that the ignition switch was fine so that I would need another instrument cluster. I get one from him the following week. Everything was fine except for a things:

    1) Automatic transmission failure light was illuminated (I have a 5-speed M/T)
    2) DSC light illuminates before shifting into 2nd gear and stays on afterwards
    3) No back-up lights as I assumed the cluster came from a E39 automatic

    I figured I would get another used cluster that came from a 5-speed E39 as I needed the car to take to FL within the following week. However, we decided to bring the E46 instead so I leave the E39 in the garage. After getting back from Disney, I drive my E39 for a few days and I noticed at times the blinkers on the used cluster wouldn't show up on the dash but then it would come back on. Low and behold, the used cluster failed, only this time some more features weren't working:

    No tach
    No Speedometer
    Fuel and temp gauges giving out false readings
    No license plate lights and the headlights/taillights stay on until the car is turned off
    No interior amber lights
    EML light is on
    Airbag light is on

    Fortunately I had a 30-day warranty so I had my mechanic return the used cluster and order a cluster from Bavarian Auto Recycling out in Cali with a 6-month warranty and with the options that my car had (xenon, 5-speed, no nav, etc...). However, after installing the new (used) cluster from Cali, it didn't cure a thing :mad:. My shop told me to have the cluster coded to the car so I called various dealerships to see if it can be done. Unfortunately a used cluster cannot be re-coded so I was given a quote of $860 for a new cluster to be coded to my car with labor. However, I think I have more than the cluster problem because if the first used cluster worked for a bit and then failed with yet more problems, the 2nd cluster from Cali should have worked fine. Before I spend over $900 with tax at the stealer my mechanic will look over the car soon to see what he can find. Moosehead told me that the ignition switch goes bad on the E39 but I was told that the switch was fine. What else besides the cluster could be the problem :confused:.
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    TeamStowell We love driving!

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    Love/Hate realationships

    I just dropped off the 540 snow tires to the new owner of the Black Pearl and I really started to miss that car... until I read your post. Can't help you with the tech part, but boy I sympathize with you. Stuff like that drove me crazy and into the E30. Contact Mike Miller.

    Autohaus guest

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    Mike Miller told me that it could be the ignition switch but again, it is fine.
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    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    You ever resolve this?
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    az3579

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    Nope. He's still suffering.
    Darn modern electronic cars. :p

    Autohaus guest

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    My mechanic is going to look at the car this Monday. We both think another problem is causing this.
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    102929

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    Some of those failed items may relate to the instrument cluster, but others like the AC, seats, steering wheel do not.

    Regarding the cluster and your using a used replacement - did you have it recoded to "your" car?

    A replacement cluster has to be set to 0 mileage and then must be coded for various items that are specific to your individual car. Otherwise it does not know what other features and systems it is communicating with.

    Your light signal problems are likely related to incorrect communicatin with the LCM module - and that is all digital.

    There is a possibility that the original fault could be simply electrical feed related, or a communication fault on one of the digital buss networks (some of which pass through, or are controlled by, the instrument cluster).

    Cheers
    Jim Cash

    Autohaus guest

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    A used cluster cannot be recoded as I learned out the hard way. A dealer quoted me at $860 with parts/labor/recode for a refurbished cluster and they told me that my problems will go away. Even if I do need a new cluster, I know I have other issues like you mentioned (LCM Module). I predict at least $2000 to get my car back on the road. Unfortunately, I just have a E28 and a E46 to play with until I save that extra amount :D

    ViolinARC guest

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    Wow and I thought I had problems with my memory settings changing all the time. It's too bad that you don't have the original cluster since they're replacing with used/refurbished units anyway. You just could've had your original cluster overhauled...

    It seems to me that you have another issue prior to the cluster since the problem is occuring even with the "new" units. Just my $0.02...

    Keep us posted...

    Autohaus guest

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    I still have the original cluster as its sitting on my passenger seat. A instrument cluster repair shop that is out in Cali (Mike Miller told me about them) mentioned that they only repair pixel problems :(. The 2nd used cluster is installed on the car now. I drove over to my mechanics shop a few hours ago and left it so he can look at it more this week. I do miss driving my E39 as it has been about 2 months with this problem. Today I washed the E28, E46 and as a bonus my father dropped off his E34 and I washed/waxed her up just now to keep me busy. BMWNA was silent when I mentioned if they could goodwill the repair since it is instrument cluster related but they were quick to the gun in saying that I didn't have pixel problems, therefore, no goodwill was granted :mad:

    ViolinARC guest

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    There is a DIY cable replacement procedure over in the bimmerforums.com e39 DIY section and he solved the problem with a clever "upgrade" to the original mounting of the cable to the board. As you know, most of the cluster related issues are due to failing connections between the ribbon cable and the pin connections behind the board...right? By replacing the cable, you don't have to disassemble the entire cluster, which saves you a major headache when repairing your own cluster. Since you still have the original, maybe you should try replacing the cable (a very cheap fix compared to what you're currently lookin at)...what could it hurt? GL...

    Peace...:D

    Autohaus guest

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    Thanks for the tip as I'll give my mechanic the heads up. I'm not too mechanically inclined, just ask AZ and Moosehead!
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    az3579

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    Boy, the stories I could tell ya about his non-mechanically-inclined-edness... :rolleyes:

    drummerfc guest

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    Sounds like a real "cluster-f**k" to me...LOL :cool:

    Sorry...the door was open and I couldn't resist a walk-thru! :rolleyes:

    Autohaus guest

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    Can I haz your cluster :).

    Another dealer quoted me at $600 for the refurbished cluster and they would take 10% off since I am a CCA member.

    ViolinARC guest

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    Too bad we're on opposite coasts cause I'd offer to change the cable on your old cluster in a quick afternoon. From my understanding, it really is a fairly simple procedure and the most complex part is drilling the two mounting holes for the mod to the OEM setup. It helps to stabilize the connection between the ribbon cable and board connector. It appears the contacts corrode over time, which causes the connection to fail. Oh well, I'll keep checking up on your progress with this issue...

    GL...

    Autohaus guest

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    Update:

    I got a call from my mechanic. He told me that he got the cluster working, however, the radio is not working since a fuse keeps blowing. He will have to figure out whats going on, so for now things look somewhat decent. I have read that with used clusters that the DSC light will remain on (it did with the two used clusters) so whenever it snows here in NY, I have to keep her in the garage/driveway.

    Off topic - my neighbor is selling his 92 Jeep Cherokee for $400 as a beater. I may just buy it to use as a winter beater/DD.
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    az3579

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    How'd he do that? What was the problem?


    Why? If the light is on the DSC definitely isn't working?
    Who needs traction control anyways? Jeez, just use your right foot. :rolleyes:



    I shall forever shun you...

    Autohaus guest

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    Quiet B! I cannot say how he fixed it because you all will flame me till the next ice-age. However, only the speedo/tach/fuel/temp gauges were fixed. I still have the original problems like no radio, no A/C, no gong, no key functions, lights stay on until the car is off, etc... However, they found out that a 30-amp fuse in the trunk keeps blowing and it controls the functions that aren't working. He has to find out why it keeps blowing (ground or maybe a bad relay somewhere).

    Autohaus guest

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    Well my mechanic has the car in the shop finally after two weeks of just sitting on his lot. I should get it back this week. Hopefully I can haz E39 once again :)

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