How Do I Remove an E36 Instrument Cluster?

1.

Disconnect the cable that goes to the negative battery terminal. Let the battery discharge for about five minutes to deactivate the air bag.

2.

Remove the two air bag retaining screws located on the back of the steering wheel with a T30 Torx bit. Clearance is limited, but it is possible to get to the screws. You may need to press the bit hard to get into the recess in the wheel.

3.

Lift the air bag off the steering wheel. Disconnect the wires that go to the horn and to the air bag. Set the air bag aside.

4.

Remove the large steering wheel retaining nut located on the middle of the wheel with a 16 mm socket. Note where the marks on the bottom of the wheel where it mounts on the steering shaft and the steering shaft itself are. The wheel will need to be reinstalled this way. You can also mark the wheel and the shaft with a marking pen.

5.

Pull the wheel straight off the shaft. You can leave the wires connected to the wheel while you remove the instrument console; just be sure to support it so the weight of the wheel is not on the wires.

6.

Remove the two Torx screws located at the top of the instrument cluster with a Torx screwdriver or a Torx bit mounted on a socket.

7.

Pry the top of the instrument cluster toward you (away from the dash) and down. Do this very carefully, so that you don't scratch the instrument cluster or the trim around the instruments.

8.

Move the instrument toward you as far it will go, sliding it gently back and forth as you pull it. It is mounted in the dash rather tightly.

9.

Slide your hands behind the cluster when there is enough clearance to do so and unlock the three plastic connectors that hold the cluster in place. The connectors have a small, plastic tab that is depressed. When the tab is depressed, there is a hinged plastic clip that you then swing up past the tab that was depressed.

10.

Slide the instrument cluster the rest of the way out of the dash. Slide the cluster towards the right (the passenger side) and past the center dash vent.

The E36 is the third generation of the popular BMW 3 Series, replacing the E30 and itself later being replaced by the E46 3 Series. The E36 is a very good value on the used market, particularly if the owner is willing to do some of the upkeep that these cars requires as they age. The instrument cluster on the E36 will need to be removed if there is something wrong with it, but this is not that hard of a job.