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From Sun May 4 23:08:22 1997
From: (Dave Schultz)
Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 02:07:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: E36 Gauge panel instructions

E36 GAUGE PANEL INSTALL INSTRUCTIONS (Note:This is somewhat of a technical operation, so do not attempt if you are not sure of your abilities.)
(Note: Type of car I installed the package in was a 1996 E36 M3 with a 5 speed trans., your car might be different.)

Parts you will need not included in package:

  • 2- 20ft. rolls of 14 gage wire of different color for sending units (I used blue & green)
  • 5ft. of red 14 gage wire for power hookup
  • 5ft. of brown 14 gage wire for ground hookup
  • 5ft. of any color 18 gage wire for power to gauge lights
  • 5ft. of brown 18 gage wire for gauge lights ground
  • 7 spade type terminal ends (1/4 inch)
  • 3 round type terminal ends(the type a screw goes thru)
  • At least 20 ft. of black spiral wrap (to wrap sending unit wire near engine)
  • Lots of black nylon zip ties large & small (for securing wires)
  • At least 5 blue 3M wire splices (for tapping into power wires)
  • 2 oil drain plug rings from the dealer
    Note: Most of this stuff is available thru North Hollywood Speedometer in the Roundel at 1-818-761-5139.


    1. Remove center console over emergency brake. -First remove rear ashtray by removing 2 black plastic screws. Remove 1 metal screw under that which holds console. Gain access to front screw by squeezing shift boot on left and right side and lifting. Push out emergency flasher button from behind and front console screw is under there. Squeeze emergency brake handle boot in the same way to remove it. Put car in first gear and emer. brake on to remove console and feed emerg. brake boot thru its hole. Cup holder just pulls out( held in with velcro) and if you have a center arm rest that must come out also. Remove rear ashtray housing by lifting from the rear. Remove plastic cover over armrest pivot then move armrest to up & down position. Push in on retaining clips on each side with small screwdriver to remove armrest retainers. You need to look inside the retainers with a light to see where you have to push with the screwdriver to remove the retainers and they just pull out. Set whole assy. aside.
    2. Remove glove box assy.. First pry out glove box light and remove large 10mm bolt from under light assy. Remove 2 screws in air vents, 2 screws under plastic covers at door top edge, 2 screws at door hinge point (must use offset phillips screwdriver here) and 2 screws mounted straight up at bottom of glove box assy. in footwell. Pull whole assy. out and squeeze clips on both sides of flashlight plug and pull that out towards the engine. Set whole assy. aside.
    3. Remove trip computer and sunglass holder. To remove the trip computer takes three hands. You can do it yourself but it's hard. First, find the hole in the top middle of the sunglass holder. There is a small metal clip there, and this is the bottom holder for the trip computer. Push up hard just a little bit behind the metal clip while pulling out on the right & left side of the trip computer. DO NOT DISCONNECT THE WIRES ! Pull the sunglass holder up and out at the same time. Disconnect all the switches there. Don't worry, they are color coded and "Murphy Proof". Disconnect the power and ground wire from the cigarette lighter and also pull out the light assy for the lighter. Take all the switches out by squeezing the clips on the back and pulling the switch out. Replace them in the new gauge panel. Next mount the gauges according to the instructions provided. The cigarette lighter assy is much harder. Squeeze in on the two clips on the metal insert and push out to remove that FIRST. Then remove the colored light ring the same way. Replace that whole assy. in the new gauge panel. Set whole assy. aside.
    4. Loosen center console. No need to remove this part but just make sure it can be moved about a little bit. First, remove the plastic 10mm nut just aft of the emergency flasher button. Next remove the two screws at the top of the console where it meets the dash. (At the top of the trip computer mounting location). Remove the 10mm bolt inside the console on the right side. This is mounted to the support bracket. There is also a small metal screw there too. Remove that also. The console SHOULD? be free to move about now.
    5. Run wires for gauges. Open the hood and find the large black rubber grommet on the right side of the firewall. It will have the wiring harness running into it. Around it are spare holes that no wires are running in. This is where you run the gauge sending unit wires. Strip about 1/2" to 1" of the end of one of the 14 gage colored wire rolls. Solder the end to form a sharp point. Use a long needle nose pliers to stab the soldered wire end into one of the unused holes in the grommet. Keep feeding the wire in until you can grab it from the other side and pull about 8 foot of wire into the car. The grommet is located at the edge of the carpet just next to the DME. Solder the other 14 gage colored wire and feed it the same way. Leave the excess under the hood. Use the black nylon small tie wraps and tie the two colored wires together to form a nice wiring harness. Run these wires behind the console to come out the gauge panel hole. Tie them up to the exsisting wires to make a neat job. You may have to run the wire behind the console support bracket. Cut the soldered end off and throw away.
    6. Hook up oil pressure sending unit. First unhook the wire to the air flow meter just behind the air cleaner assy. Remove the clamps and set the air flow meter aside. Also remove the air cooling duct to the alternator. (1 clamp and pull off). You should now have just about enough room to remove the original oil pressure sender. It is the one behind the oil filter housing and is the only wire running to this area. Push down on the metal lock on the oil pressure sender while pulling wire off. Clearance is tight here so use a small 6 inch adjustable cresent wrench to remove the sender.(Note: no oil should come out, so this a clean job). Put the new oil drain plug ring on the new sender supplied and install the new sender. It is next to impossible to get a torque wrench in here so tighten the new sender about 3/4 of a turn after finger tight. Lay one of the 14 gage colored wires along the back of the engine and around the fusebox leaving extra wire when you reach the sender. Cover that wire with the black spiral wrap and be sure to mark it PRESSURE. Begin securing that wire to the original wiring harness on the firewall and around the fusebox. Cut the wire to the right length to hook to the "S" terminal on the new sender and be sure to leave extra wire for engine movement. Crimp on one of the round type terminal ends on that wire and hook it to the "S" terminal and tighten it with a pliers. (Do not over tighten, you might break the connection). Make another 1 foot length of the left over wire and put another round type terminal end on it. Connect it to the "+" terminal on the sender. Use a 3M wire splice and splice onto the original sender wire. This makes your warning light work just like original. Use tie wraps to tie this wire down securely and out of the way of the power steering fluid container. Put a spade terminal end on the other end of the wire and hook it to the "S" terminal on the oil pressure gauge.
    7. Hook up oil temp. sending unit. Lay the other 14 gage colored wire along the right side of the inner fender near the original wires there. Run it down near the washer fluid container and back to the oil pan drain plug to get a rough estimate of the length. Cut this wire and leave a few extra feet. Cover the wire with the black spiral wrap and begin securing it to the original wires. Get under the car and secure it to the frame members out of the way of the steering system and the exhaust headers. Crimp a spade type terminal end on and leave extra wire for engine movement. Now you can either drain the oil, or put the oil drain ring on the new sender, take out the oil drain plug, plug it up with your finger, then put the new supplied temp. sender in.(Very little lost oil if you do this right !). Put a spade terminal on the other end and hook it to the "S" terminal on the oil temp. gauge.
    8. Hook up power and ground wire to the gauges. You can "daisy chain" the power and ground wires to the gauges with the 3M wire splices. YOU MUST USE A SWITCHED POWER SOURCE. (On only when key is on). Find the ground wire terminal block in the glove box area and either 3M wire splice the 5 foot section of 14 gage brown wire on one of the original ground wires, or crimp a round type terminal end on and mount it to one of the spare holes there with a metric bolt. Run the ground wire thru the glovebox and to behind the console and secure it to the already bundled colored sending unit wires. Crimp a spade terminal end on and hook it to the "-" terminal on the voltmeter. Use 3M splices to "daisy chain" the other 2 ground wires and hook them to the other 2 "-" terminals on the other 2 gauges. The power wire is done in the same manner, except 3M splice it to either the radio power wire(switched), or the cigarette power wire(use caution, some E36 cigarette lighters are HOT all the time), or splice it to the power wire to the headlight switch. * It is best to use a test light or ohmmeter to find a SWITCHED power wire first.* Crimp on a spade end and hook it to the "+" terminal on the voltmeter. "Daisy chain" the other power wires to the other 2 gauges in the same manner as the ground wire using the 3M wire splices. Tie wrap the wires together at the new gauge panel behind the console to make a neat installation. * Be sure and leave enough extra wire here to be able to remove the gauge package. You can bundle them behind the panel and trip computer when you install the panel.* ----- The gauge package will work now. Turn the key to the #1 position and watch for battery voltage readings on the voltmeter and that the oil pressure gauge reads "0".--------
    9. Hook up gauge lights. Carefully push the RED light cover over all 3 of the gauge lights and reinstall them in the back of the gauges. Use just enough of the 18 gage brown wire and 18 gage colored wire to make a "daisy chain" to each one of the 3 gauge lights in the same manner as the gauge power wires. Use 2 3M wire splices and splice into the cigarette lighter light bulb wires. * Do not worry about polarity here because lights do not matter, but 1 of the wires is brown and one is colored, you just match them*.------- Turn on the parking lights and check the gauge lights. Use the dash light dimmer switch and check for its operation at the gauges. The red colored gauge lights are close to the original red color, but they just are'nt right. I found if you cut a 1/16" by 1/16" square hole in all 3 of the RED gauge light covers with a modeling knife, it let's in just enough white light to make the color a little bit better.
    10. Reinstall. Be sure and remove the little clip on the old sunglass holder that held in the trip computer and put it on the new gauge package. It won't go back in the middle like original, so put it off to the left or right in between 2 of the gauges. Hook back up the cigarette lighter wires and the color coded switch wires and test their operation. Put the console back in its original position and reinstall the screws. Don't forget the 2 screws above the trip computer where the console meets the dash. Bundle the gauge wires neatly behind the gauge package and reinstall the the new panel. Reinstall the trip computer by just pushing it in until its flush.-----* Reinstall the console BEFORE putting the trip computer back in.*-----
    11. Test drive. On start up my ///M3 reads 70psi of oil pressure, some E36's might be a lot higher. Double check the voltmeter for battery voltage. The oil temp. gauge will not begin to read until after about 10 min. of driving. It should then climb to about 200 deg. or more. If it all works, reinstall the glovebox and other center console.


    Disclaimers: If you don't know enough to put the oil back in your engine before test driving it, DO NOT DO THIS JOB ! If you do not know enough to put a jack stand under your car when you are working under it, DO NOT DO THIS JOB !
    If you can install a car stereo or a alarm system, YOU CAN DO THIS JOB ! I took about 10 hours total to do this job. I took my time and had no scratches or broken parts and it all worked the first time and I did it with out the manuals. I feel it was WELL worth it due to the lack of gauges in the modern BMW's.

    GOOD LUCK !!!

    Dave Schultz

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