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By YOUCANIC on May 24, 2019

Troubleshoot BMW Instrument Cluster Problems

BMW instrument clusters are known to have a number of issues ranging from dead pixels problem to gauge not working or the instrument cluster display losing power. These problems can be experienced while jump-starting a dead battery but can also be due to extreme weather or the age of the vehicle.

In this guide, we take a look at issues that can cause your BMW cluster to not work and what you can do to fix a BMW cluster yourself. Learn how to troubleshoot a BMW cluster yourself using an OBD-II diagnostic scanner.

Learn what KOMBI module does, common BMW instrument cluster problems, how to read/clear codes from KOMBI module yourself.

What is BMW KOMBI module? 

BMW KOMBI control unit is the module that controls the instrument cluster.

Symptoms 

Things that you may notice if your BMW instrument cluster fails. 

  • Information display failure, cluster power loss.
  • Instrument cluster not working after a jump start
  • Speedometer, rev counter, trip computer, fuel or temp gauge not working
  • None of the gauges work or light up
  • No interior sound (beep), no radio/clock, no backup camera.
  • Fuel and temp gauges give out false readings
  • Turn signals do not flash on cluster
  • High beam not displayed in the cluster
  • The odometer is hard to read
  • Intermittent or non-working gauges
  • Fuel, temperature, MPG, speedometer, tachometer needles stuck
  • Lights are faded, dim or not working
  • Missing display pixels and can’t read data
  • Problems communicating with the unit
  • The diagnostic scanner will not talk to the KOMBI module
  • The cluster loses power intermittently

Common Problems

In this section, we will take a look at common BMW cluster problems. BMW cluster issues can range from complete or partial loss of LCD, fading Information display, back Light burning out and even gauge (stepper motor) failures. 

  • bmw dead pixel issue lcd dimDead Pixel Problem - BMW pixel problem is known to be a common issue on many 2001 - 2006 BMW E53 X5, 1996 - 2003 E39 5-Series, 1995 - 2001 E38 7-Series. Instead of replacing the cluster which can be expensive use a repair service that will change the LCD and the ribbon cable on your existing cluster. A BMW repair service is much cheaper than replacing the cluster. You will have to remove your cluster and send it in for repair. The mileage and other settings on your cluster remain the same, no need to program your cluster. Check out these BMW Instrument Cluster Repair Service listings. 
  • Stuck Gagues - When the fuel, temperature, MPG, speedometer, tachometer needles get stuck or barely move the problem can be the stepper motors that move the needle. To fix this problem you will either have to replace your BMW cluster or fix your existing cluster. Check out these listing on BMW Stepper Motor Repair Service. You will have to remove and ship your existing BMW cluster to get it repaired. 
  • Dim cluster issue - You may notice that during the day it is difficult to see the lights on your BMW cluster. Increasing the cluster light intensity using the dimmer button does not fix the problem. First, check that the dimmer switch is not the problem. The dimmer switch itself can fail. Also, a common problem is the backlight cluster bulbs burning out. Some models such as the M2 are known to have visibility issues. Part of the problem is that the M2 has low contrast silver letters. Manually switching on the lights or programming the dashboard lights to always be on helps slightly but does not solve this problem. 
  • Instrument cluster not working after a jump start - Many BMW owners report that the instrument cluster stops working after the car is jump started. Functions such as fuel gauge, tachometer, digital display, odometer and speedometer stop working. This problem can sometimes be fixed by resetting the instrument cluster for at least 10minutes. You can reset your BMW cluster either by removing the cluster fuses, using a diagnostic scanner or unplugging the cluster itself for a few minutes. Note that there can be up to three fuses related to the IC. Note that this problem can also be caused by a bad capacitor on the PCB. Follow these instructions to jump start BMW properly
  • bmw cluster issue due to bad capacitorElectrolytic capacitor -  On BMW that are 10 years or older capacitors inside the instrument cluster can fail. Replacing the failed capacitor will bring your BMW instrument cluster back to life. 
  • Bad Printed Circuit Board (PCD) - Solder joints on the PCD can crack causing intermittent issues where one or more instrument cluster function such as odometer stops working. The instrument cluster can be removed and the joints including the connector pins should be inspected and resoldered if they have any cracks. 
  • Light Control Module - LCM and instrument cluster share information such as data for mileage, VIN, etc.  LCM is located in the front passenger footwell. It can get wet causing issues and instrument cluster malfunctions.  
  • Other problems - blown fuse, defective instrument cluster, issue with the voltage regulator, gauge motor, wiring, instrument cluster circuit board, blown LED lights, 

Troubleshooting 

BMW instrument clusters are becoming more complicated and difficult to repair. The next generation BMW  dynamic digital instrument cluster is a good example.

Check Instrument Cluster Fuses

check bmw fuses

The first step is to check the fuse for the instrument cluster. If the fuse has not blown, disconnecting the battery for a few minutes can sometimes bring your BMW instrument cluster back to life. Also, check the age of the battery. An old battery that doesn't hold the required charge can cause malfunctions on a BMW cluster. Determine the fuses that control the IC by looking at the fuse chart. Check fuses 1, 10, 17, 34, 43, 55 depending on model. 

Reset BMW Cluster

Resetting the cluster will often fix a BMW instrument cluster problem. Don't worry, resetting the cluster does not clear your odometer (mileage) reading. There are a few ways that you can reset the cluster. 

  1. Remove fuse for the instrument cluster. There may be more than one fuse that you need to disconnect. Typically fuse 43 is the one that needs to be removed but check your fuse chart. Keep fuse removed overnight. 
  2. Remove the instrument cluster and keep it disconnected for at least 12 hours. 
  3. Use a diagnostic scanner to reset the instrument cluster. 
Note: Perform BMW cluster reset with the key removed from the ignition (ignition off).

Diagnosing BMW KOMBI Module

The good news is that BMW instrument cluster KOMBI modules can be diagnosed with a BMW scanner. If you are experiencing problems and have a BMW scanner a good starting point is to read fault codes from the BMW KOMBI module. If any code is showing PRESENT status the problem needs to be fixed before the code can be cleared. 

What you will need

A diagnostic scanner that is capable of reading, clearing and performing bi-directional tests on BMW KOMBI module. You must verify that the scanner that you use supports your BMW model and year. Full system scanners that are known to work on BMW vehicles can range in price from $150 to $800 USD.  

List of scanners that read and clear BMW KOMBI module fault codes.

These are only a few examples. Many diagnostic scanners allow you to read and clear BMW cluster codes. To learn about OBD2 scanners that work on BMWs check the article on Choosing the best OBD2 scanner for BMW. 

Instructions

  1. Plug in the OBD-II scanner into the diagnostic port under the dashboard. diagnose bmw Instrument Cluster fault code via obd2 port

     

  2. Turn on the ignition, don't start the engine. turn on bmw ignition to read Instrument Cluster fault codes

     

  3. Turn on the scanner and select your BMW chassis.  Next, Select Control Units menu. bmw Instrument Cluster control unit module reading codes

     

  4. Select Instrument Cluster Module.read clear bmw instrument cluster fault codes dtc

     

  5. Once you enter the Instrument Cluster module, you will be able to do the following. 
    • Read Codes from Instrument Cluster Module
    • Clear Codes from Instrument Cluster Module
    • Perform Adaptations, Activations, Tests

Instrument Cluster Repair

Before you decide to replace your BMW cluster consider getting the existing unit repaired. If you are able to remove your cluster you can send it to a service center that repairs old BMW clusters.

Almost all BMW cluster problem can be repaired including dead pixels, cluster completely dead, no backlight, stuck gauges and even no communication with the cluster. 

Most BMW cluster repair services range from $150 to $300 depending on the issue while a new BMW cluster at the dealer costs over $1000.

Installing a BMW cluster

If your BMW cluster has failed and can not be repaired the only option is to replace it. You have two options: install a new BMW cluster by the dealer which typically costs over $1000 or install a used BMW cluster and get it programmed to match the miles on your car. 

New cluster

A new BMW cluster has mileage set to 0. It must be coded for various items including the correct mileage and options that are specific to your car. At the dealer, a new cluster and programming can cost anywhere from $850 to $1500. 

Used cluster

It is possible to install a used BMW instrument cluster. The main issue when installing a used BMW cluster is that the milage of the used cluster will not match the mileage on your car. While your BMW dealer will not program a used BMW cluster, you can use a third party to perform mileage correction so that the miles on the used cluster match with the mileage of your car.

You will need to send the used cluster to the service center. Make sure to provide mileage from your car and VIN number. 

Adaptations

This is a list of test and sensor activations that you can perform via the Instrument Cluster module. 

  • Reset Instrument Cluster
  • Self test instrument panel
  • Check speed reading
TIP! Your scanner must be able to perform bi-directional tests to carry out these adaptations. 

Live Instrument Cluster Data

In the Instrument Cluster Module, you can display live data and test various instrument cluster functions.  

  • Check operation of ODO reset button
  • Check the coolant level
  • Engine speed
  • On board computer button
  • Outside temperature display
  • Outside temperature
  • Parking brake operation
  • Fuel tank level sensors 1 and 2
  • Washer fluid level 

KOMBI Fault Codes 

There are many fault codes that can be saved in BMW KOMBI module. Below are a few examples of codes stored in the BMW Instrument Cluster module.

  • 931D KOMBI Undervoltage or Overvoltage
  • E114A6 - No message (status, ambient brightness), receiver KOMBI, transmitter JBE
  • E11420 - KOMBI: ServiceCall cannot be executed

Additional Resources

  1. BMW DIY Instrument Cluster Swap
  2. Instrument cluster problems - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums
  3. BMW Dash Cluster Repair by Shane Burrel on Youtube
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