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Odometer quit working

Driving to work this morning, I noticed that the odometer is no longer changing on my 1990 325iC (E30). Just yesterday it was fine, and now ...

I am assuming that it is the odometer gears that have failed? If so, how much of a PITA is it to remove the cluster to get to the odometer to change these gears? Is it possible that it is something other than the gears?

Thank you.
Old 04-03-2012, 05:18 AM
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Is it possible to remove the cluster without removing the steering wheel?
Old 04-03-2012, 06:22 AM
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Yes, you have to rotate the steering wheel just right if you don't have tilt steering, but it should come out. I have done it. The tricky part is disconnecting and reconnecting the wires behind the cluster with barely enough room to get your hand in there.
Old 04-03-2012, 07:38 AM
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Is it fairly certain that it's the odometer gears that have failed?
Old 04-03-2012, 08:57 AM
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Oops, I misread the original post. This is an E30 rather than an E36, so please disregard my statement about getting the cluster out without removing the wheel. I have not done an E30.

With regard to the odometer gears, I have no knowledge other than european cars in the late 80s moved away from speedometer cables and went to an electrical pickup with a small motor driving the odometer, so that is what I would expect to find here. There are gears (of sorts) that drive the numbers that can wear out, but my first suspect would be old cracked solder joints in the circuit board in the cluster. If you open the cluster, check for bad solder joints as well as failed mechanical drive for the numbers. You may find instructions on line for 'hotwiring' the odometer motor to see if it is getting a signal or whether it has failed.
Old 04-03-2012, 10:21 AM
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The E30 odometers use gears. And yeah, they usually break. Teeth break off and the odometer stops turning.

We sell the replacement parts, however you will need to remove your cluster and do some examining before ordering.

It's not too difficult to change them out

BMW E30 Gauges & Miscellaneous - Page 1

http://www.odometergears.com/howto/E30_BMW_MotoMeter_and_VDO_Odometer_Gear_Replacemen t.pdf
Old 04-03-2012, 02:12 PM
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Jared,
Is it possible to avoid removing the steering wheel in order to remove the cluster? I have an airbag system and would much prefer not getting into that if at all possible.

I am also considering replacing the SI board batteries while I have the cluster out.

Last edited by Yurick; 04-04-2012 at 07:58 AM..
Old 04-04-2012, 05:59 AM
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Yes, you can get the cluster out with the wheel in place, but it's much easier to remove the wheel/airbag.
Old 04-04-2012, 07:42 AM
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The wheel is not that hard to take off. Although I have removed e30 clusters numerous times taken them apart replaced gauges and put back together in less than 30 minutes without removing the steering wheel. Be carful to use the correct screws in the correct place or you can end up piercing the SI board just like I did once.
Old 04-04-2012, 10:38 PM
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I've done both e30 and e36 without removing the wheel. You have to hold your mouth just right on both, but very do-able. Be careful on e30 not to crack the clear plastic on the front of the cluster. I never broke it but I bought a car with it pre- broke.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:18 PM
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Just an update:

Removed the cluster over the weekend to get to the odometer. Sure enough, the odometer motor's gear head had two missing teeth. Now waiting for the parts to come ...
Old 04-16-2012, 07:25 AM
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