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Any "best" way to remove instrument cluster?

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  • Any "best" way to remove instrument cluster?

    The odometer quit on my '90, and I'm having to take out the instrument cluster (I'll send the speedo to Continental Imports in Gainesville, FL for the repair -- they fixed the speedo out of my 325 and it's worked perfectly every since).

    Once again, while removing the cluster I got to thinking I must be doing it wrong. It's just so dang hard to get out! The horizontal plastic piece between the steering column and instrument cluster is a bear to get out of the way, then the cluster itself is a major PITA. It just barely fits in its space. I ended up pivoting the cluster so that the left side was "in" and the right side was "out" so that I could disconnect the 3 large and 1 small electrical connections at the back of the cluster. Then I was finally able to slide the cluster out towards the passenger side seat (this is on a LHD car, of course).

    It looks as though it'd be easier to take out by removing the steering wheel first.

    Is that how you do it? Man, that thing is in there snugly! Only good 'ol BMW would make removing the instrument cluster a hour long job!
    The day ain't over yet....

  • #2
    *raises hand*
    um...
    remove the steering wheel
    that helped me pull my 325iS cluster out in like 10 minutes
    and Im fuckin retarded.
    1995 //S6

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    • #3
      cluster

      I have R/Red my e30 cluster with and without removing wheel. Just work at it and be gentle.

      FWIW, e36 clusters will come out without removing airbag wheel. Same advise as before.

      Eric
      87 325is
      97 328i

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      • #4
        I remove my steering wheel - course with a non-airbag MOMO this is no sweat
        2000 Porsche Boxster S - Daily Driver
        1995 Porsche 993
        2001 BMW 530iA Sport (hers)
        2004 Ford F-150 FX4
        2005 KTM 450EXC (More fun than all of the above)

        Gone:

        1988 BMW M3 2.5 EVOIII Replica
        1985 BMW M635CSI
        2001 BMW M3
        1988 BMW 325is (E30 M3 springs, steering, Konis, etc) - my favorite BMW - missed.

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        • #5
          :iamright: can be done without removing a non-airbag stearing wheel, just takes some more time

          Karl Kraus --Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove that
          they are not idiots.

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          • #6
            oh, I know it can be done
            but it takes all of 1 minute to gank the steering wheel
            1995 //S6

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            • #7
              really? I never tried, I always thought you needed a puller so I never bothered. maybe tonight I'll take off my wheel just to do it

              Karl Kraus --Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove that
              they are not idiots.

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              • #8
                its a big bolt
                its like a 26mm or 32mm hex
                you just remove the bolt
                then gank on the wheel straight at you
                comes off like the shift knob... sudden and violent
                1995 //S6

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                • #9
                  Get the cluster out enough to unplug the connectors. With a towel on the column just lay it face down and slide out the left side over the turn signal. Mine comes right out, no problem.

                  Tony

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                  • #10
                    Don't forget to put your key in the ignition to unlock the steering wheel lock, or all of that pulling will be for naught.

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                    • #11
                      Your lucky if the steering wheel just popped right off because they hardly ever just pop off if you yank hard enough and also not every one has a 32m socket laying around to get the nut off. You also take a chance of bending the steering wheel slightly. If it is a 90 then it probably has an air bag which makes it a major job not a one minute. I have a non air bag and it takes 3 minutes to take the cluster out with out removing the steering wheel and actually I really don't see how removing the steering wheel would help anyway because it is not in the way. The column is. I bought a 92 325i convertible recently and tried to take it out and ran into the same problem's. The air bag steering wheel must alter the column a little and the piece on the bottom of the cluster that unscrew's from the back is a bear to get out. The middle of it get's wedged in there and you have to just take your time and pry it out carefully with out braking it. It goes in a lot easier then it comes out. Once you get that removed the best way is to pull the two tab's on top of the cluster out towards your body enough to disconect the cable's. Then you lay it the rest of the way down on the clear part being careful not to scratch it and you take it out from the passenger side. Unless I miss my guess you have an air bag and your biggest problem was getting the small trim piece out once you get to that point though it goes pretty easy.
                      I think when BMW started using air bags they changed the design of the steering wheel and the column piece and over looked the small trim piece that is why it is so hard to get out because I have taken numerous non air bag one's out and it is about a 5 minute job and there is no reason to take the steering wheel off.

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                      • #12
                        "The air bag steering wheel must alter the column a little and the piece on the bottom of the cluster that unscrew's from the back is a bear to get out. The middle of it get's wedged in there and you have to just take your time and pry it out carefully with out braking it."

                        That's EXACTLY the problem I encountered! The middle of the plastic trim piece is tightly wedged behind the steering column's top cover. I got the knurled nuts out no problem, but couldn't get the trim piece between the cluster and the steering column out. I bent the hell out of it pulling and tugging before it finally came loose.

                        There are 2 screws securing the bottom of the cluster hidden under the trim piece. The trim piece simply must be removed before you can get at the screws holding the cluster into the dash.

                        Nothing like this when I took the cluster out of my '87 325. That trim piece simply lifted out of the way.

                        Fortunately it was a warm day down here (mid 70s) so the plastic had some flexiblity. On a cold day up north I'm sure the plastic trim piece would have snapped rather than let go.

                        I'm almost convinced to "modify" the trim piece before I put it back in. It's clearly an oversight, or BMW chose to use the pre-air bag part even though they modified the steering wheel cover.

                        It'd be a lot easier if the top cover of the steering column surround would come off easily. If I could have gotten the cover out of the way, the trim piece would have been a snap.

                        Thanks kmicinski -- I thought I had overlooked something!
                        The day ain't over yet....

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                        • #13
                          I must say thanks also because I wasn't sure if it was just a mistake on my car or if they had really designed it that way. I guess even the best cars have to have a few quirks and mistakes. I am just glad my M3 does not have an air bag since I have already had to take the cluster out a few times and it went pretty easy.

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                          • #14
                            Can someone tell me exactly what I need to remove?

                            There are two screws at the top of the cluster. I'm not sure what else is holding it in.
                            www.ubertechnik.com

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                            • #15
                              Here you go...


                              http://e30m3performance.com/maintenance/SI_Board/SI_Board.htm

                              Cheers,
                              Jim

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