BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > DIY Guides > DIY - Repair Instrument Cluster Needles

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      10-18-2013, 01:29 PM   #1
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DIY - Repair Instrument Cluster Needles

This is a DIY to repair or at a minimum provide insight into a malfunctioning instrument cluster. When I was attempting to fix mine, there was very little information and pictures to help me with, so here I am! If you would like to know the exact story of what happened and how I was led to create this DIY, read below. Otherwise you can directly skip to the DIY.

If you have decided to upgrade the look of your instrument panel by replacing your bland white needles with sportier “M3” needles (such as these: http://www.bimmian.com/M-Style-Red-N...r-E93-3-Series), then I would recommend not to do it. It is more of a pain than it’s worth, the risk too great.

My buddy got mine for me as a birthday gift and I followed these instructions:

However, when I did the last one (the tachometer), the needle was “free flowing,” while the others were relatively stuck in place (you want this). When I turned the car on, the tach didn’t work. Something was amiss!

After digging through the limited information that was on the internet, I stumbled across this thread: http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=551804. Essentially, when you push down on the new needle to install, there is a worm gear that pops out of place, which allows the needle to flow freely. After discovering this, I noticed I needed to open up the entire unit to move the gear back into place.

And here is the reason for this DIY. If you find yourself stuck after upgrading your needles, this DIY is for you.

What you will need:
- Set of precision flat head screw drivers.
- Patience
- A beer or Mountain Dew, whichever you prefer.
- More patience.

I am no professional mechanic, electrician, or BMW expert. I am a simple guy trying to save myself $700 from buying an entirely new instrument cluster. That being said, there may be terms that are incorrect or a small step that was missed. Finally, this is a very tedious process. Think of playing “Operation” when you’re drunk. Let’s begin!

Let’s start with the unit out of the car. There are six clips you need to unclip to remove the panel from the housing:

After that you have the panel separated from the housing. You need to remove the white panel from the black casing by also pressing in on the clips and pulling apart gently but firmly. There are two on the top plus another on the backside.

Once you have separated the white from the black casing, you should be left with only the circuit board and the four motor housings on the backside of the unit (below). I placed mine on a towel to look at with a lamp on the desk for extra light.

Here is the tricky part. You need to lift the top of the white motor housing off of the bottom but be careful! There is a metal spring plate and worm gear inside that you could lose if you attempt to take it off with too much force or too quickly.

While performing work on the unit, I would recommend raising the entire unit to avoid damaging your panel. I placed mine on a stack of CDs (below).

On these motor housings, there are four more clips. I found it easiest to stick the small flat head screwdriver and pry the clips back while taking a second flat head and pulling upwards. I don’t know if this is the “official way to do it” but it worked for me!

After prying the top off, you will see the inside of the motor housing. In the picture I have included below, I opened up the one above it (oil temperature) to see what I was missing. When I originally opened up the tachometer assembly, a small metal plate sprung out at me and I wasn’t sure what to do with it; hence, me opening up the top one.

The most common issue when attempting to install needles is the worm gear slipping out of place (picture below - circled).

You have to position this back into both “grooves.” On the larger circular gear, there is a physical piece of plastic that acts as a barrier so the needle cannot move any further. The red arrow indicates the approximate area – it is underneath the actual gear. This is the stopping point for when the needle is AT REST. Test this by lifting the entire unit above you and attempting to move the needle. It should be at “0” and with the worm gear in place, should have very little play and should not move freely. Be careful when you are doing this – with the top of the motor housing off, it’s very easy to pop that worm gear out of place again!

After the worm gear is in place, the spring plate is on top of the circular gear, and the physical stop is aligned correctly, you must now put the top of the motor housing back on.

This can also prove to be tricky. What I found that works best is using the small screwdriver to hold the worm gear in place while I placed the top of the housing on. The worm gear has a tendency to pop out of place as soon as you position the top of the housing on and this helps prevent that.

After the top of the motor housing is back in place, put the black casing back on but leave the larger housing off and plug it into the car. The needles may position themselves out of alignment (see picture below). Don’t panic! We can adjust them.

Simply unplug the unit, adjust the needles the required distance, and plug it back in.

At this point, finish putting everything back together once you have verified the needles are working and you are good to go!

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      04-12-2014, 04:02 AM   #2

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I have a strange issue with mine, I had to split the servo and sort the shaft, now when i plug in, i get it all working perfect, but if i unplug and reconnect the needle stops working, i find if i pull apart, put main gear high, reconnect it winds itself down to zero, then all works fine until i unplug?

Everything worked fine for 1 week, now it stopped again.

Any suggestions?
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      07-01-2015, 09:08 PM   #3
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Thank you. This was very helpful. Almost thought my gauges were toast
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      11-27-2015, 04:38 AM   #4
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Drives: BMW 320d 163HP
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Location: Brasov, Romania

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I have s strange problem with my gauges. The spedometer and rpm needle are bouncing about half a mm up and down. It doesn`t matter at what rpm or speed the needles ar bouncing a bit. What can I do? I have tried with another instrument cluster and it was ok, but the swapping instrumet was not coded for my car. So i returned back to the old one(with problems) Thank you!
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