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'89 535i Instrument CLuster FIXED for $5 in parts! (archive)

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Posted by Ed on January 09, 2000 at 19:15:45:

To all concerned: I've been living with the infamous instrument cluster electrical problem for a while now. I finally broke down and I tried the fix referenced in the link below, which was replace the capacitors on the circuit board. I had a "spare" instrument cluster with the same problem around so no real risk involved.

Well, after desoldering and soldering in new capacitors, I am happy to report that I have a fully functional dash again. So instead of spending literally hundreds of dollars, I wound up spending only about $5 in parts and an hour or two in labor to do the work and replace the board.

For those interested, To get the circuit board out of the instrument cluster you have to remove the back of the cluster first. Then unscrew the screws (6) on the circuit board and you also have to pop off the connector holders on the back (a small screwdriver is required, you have to work from the front of the board and you have to be careful you don't break the pins holding them in). Once the board is out it is just a matter of locating the capacitors, desoldering them, (took me a little while since it's been about 20 years since I last had to soldering anything electronic) and then solder the new capacitors in place (remember to note which hole in negative, which is the lower one facing away from the edge of the board). Once completed you reassemble everything and pop the cluster back into place and you should be all set.
(ps. I unbolted the bracket holding the steering wheel in place and lowered the wheel to get the cluster out, rather than try to remove the airbag...worked like a charm).

This $5 fix saved me easliy $500-$700 dollars..

Email me if you have any specific questions, also refer to the link for the details on the capacitors. (I wound up using all 220 microfarad, 16 volt capacitors, since I could not find 10 volts ones, and I upgrade the 22 microfarad 40 volts capacitors to 22 microfarads 63 volts 105 C ones, since I could not find 40 volts ones).

Good Luck

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