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BMW Intermittent Or Missing Pixels On Digital Display – E39 E38 X5

June 18, 2010

This answer is applicable for many BMWs in addition to the one listed below.

car year: 2000
car model: 740iL
My dashboard display..time;distance;door ajar; etc. displays in broken format. Sometimes it displays where you can read the whole thing…miles and everything, but then most of the time you can barely make out what it is reading. Is this an electrical problem or a fuse or what? How can I fix this?

On the E39 5-series, E38 7-series and the X5, the intermittent or non-functional display pixels, in the instrument cluster display, are quite common. There is a ribbon cable (a multi-wire flat cable) that connects the display to the cluster’s circuit board. The contacts on the ends of the ribbon cable become oxidized and no longer make reliable contact. This causes the various pixels to go out. You can remove the cluster (as outlined in the Bentley repair manual) and disassemble it to access the ribbon cable. Apply DeoxIT to the contacts on the ends of the cable and in the receiver sockets. The DeoxIT will clean the oxidation and leave a protective barrier to prevent further trouble.

Click below for Bentley repair manuals:

Click below for DeoxIT:

  1. herman pardo permalink

    Can you tell me how to disassemble my instrument cluster? I’m trying to fix my display pixels, The Bentley manual doesn’t tell you.

    • The Bentley manual does not cover the disassembly of the instrument cluster as this is an unserviceable assembly, according to BMW. We do not have a DIY on the cluster disassembly. However, they typically have a number of screws through the rear cover, that must be removed and then the cover can be removed. Once you are in, you should be able to determine where to go, to access the ribbon cable.

  2. Gayle permalink

    I am having this same problem. have a 2000 323i. where is the instrument cluster??

    • The instrument cluster is the complete set of instruments in the pod in front of the steering wheel. This whole assembly is the instrument cluster.

  3. Phil permalink


    Will making this repair to the ribbon cable restore the pixels on the radio/BC display also?



    • We’re not sure about the radio/auxiliary display. This may have a similar issue, but we have not seen a similar repair for this.

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