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Old 10-15-2016, 04:40 PM   #1
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Instrument cluster digital dilemma

I don't really know how to explain this but, sometimes when I open my door the digital part of my Dash does not light up. And sometimes driving down the road the digital odometer and the clock both go out. The clock is continually losing time or shuts off. I have no idea where to start looking. I have scanned and searched everything I can find on several forums and have found nothing. Should I start looking in the rear trunk compartment at the computer stuff and maybe just maybe it's a loose connection? Or have I a bigger problem going on? Any information will help, thank you.
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Old 10-15-2016, 04:44 PM   #2
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To your knowledge, has the cluster ever been pulled out?

I've seen some crazy behavior fixed by simply pulling and re-seating the 3 connectors on the back of the cluster. Pelican has a good write-up for removing the cluster and it's really simple. I'd start there, then replace the ignition switch.
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Old 10-15-2016, 04:55 PM   #3
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I don't really know how to explain this but, sometimes when I open my door the digital part of my Dash does not light up. And sometimes driving down the road the digital odometer and the clock both go out. The clock is continually losing time or shuts off. I have no idea where to start looking. I have scanned and searched everything I can find on several forms and have found nothing. Should I start looking in the rear trunk compartment at the computer stuff and maybe just maybe it's a loose connection? Or have I a bigger problem going on? Any information will help, thank you.


Likely ignition switch problem. A plastic part on back of ignition goes bad and wreaks all manner of havoc. It has happened on both 986s Ive had and my 996


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Old 10-15-2016, 05:55 PM   #4
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Smile

Thank you particlewave and ymkmkrz for the information. At least now I have a place to start. I don't know about gauges being pulled but, I will go to Pelican and look.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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Old 10-20-2016, 09:39 AM   #5
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I have a new Switch on the way, thanks guys
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:14 AM   #6
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Fixed the problem w/switch.
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:41 AM   #7
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Thats great. Just the plastic part on back of switch or the whole ignition switch? Just curious


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Old 11-11-2016, 09:01 AM   #8
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Just the plastic part in the back. Pretty cheap, but aching neck.:
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Old 11-14-2016, 05:25 AM   #9
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Well, the switch wasn't the main culprit...the intermittent flashing and shut down for the gauges returned. Thanks to Particlewave, I pulled the instrument cluster, reseated the connectors and so far all is good. Shoulda done that first! Let's see what happens. THANKS!
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Old 03-04-2017, 06:05 AM   #10
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I hate to bring this back up BUT, after replacing the ignition switch and pulling the gauge panel out and re-inserting the connectors...My gauges are once again going on and off. All I can think of is there must be a ground somewhere for the gauges that is loose. Anybody have an idea where to look? I can tap the right corner of the gauge assy and the gauges will work for a short period of time. I don't think dialectric grease is the answer. Any ideas would be appreciated.
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Old 03-07-2017, 05:53 AM   #11
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I think you will need a new cluster. I had a similar situation and the replacement cluster fixed it. If no other work was done and this just started then I'm 99% a replacement will fix it.

Get with Woody on here. itsnotanova is his screen name. He breaks cars and can hook you up. He got us an S cluster which is a visual improvement.
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:18 AM   #12
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All I can think of is there must be a ground somewhere for the gauges that is loose. Anybody have an idea where to look? I can tap the right corner of the gauge assy and the gauges will work for a short period of time. I don't think dialectric grease is the answer. Any ideas would be appreciated.
The cluster itself most likely has an internal intermittent connection. If you have experience with trouble-shooting 20 year old electronics boards and connections, you can pull apart the cluster and try to track down the source of the problem. If not, then the advice from jcslocum is correct; you'll need to find a replacement cluster.

It is questionable whether a shop will be willing to put labor into this task since the hours that they would have to charge for the troubleshooting and repair are likely to be greater than the cost of a replacement cluster ($150-$300) that you can easily swap in yourself.
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Old 03-07-2017, 06:37 AM   #13
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Is it true that you cannot update the mileage on a used cluster? I have heard that but never confirmed. I know it can be changed on a new one as I had to change mine at one point and was able to match the actual mileage. Before getting a new one I bought one off ebay. It worked but couldn't change mileage and e the dealer told me it couldn't be. I never quite believed it. Any cluster from same family will work although it won't match VIN numbers without the dealer making change with PIwis or whatever the new system is


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Old 03-07-2017, 09:20 AM   #14
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FWIW, I have been designing, building and repairing automotive electronics for 20+ years. I have done everything from designing systems that were line fit on major auto manufacturers' vehicles to working with pro racing teams on electronics integration. It is my business and sometimes hobby.

I would first verify that you have the connectors fully engaged in the cluster. It is very possible and very common to only get the connector partially connected if you do not have the engagement lever fully flipped to the open position when you insert the harness side connector into the cluster connector housing. That can lead to issues like what you are experiencing.

If the problem is with the cluster, it is almost certainly repairable. This issue sounds very consistent and repeatable, so it shouldn't be hard to find.

As to programming, anything is technically possible, but the issue is the legality.
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:58 AM   #15
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I believe there is a company in FL that can set your new cluster to match the mileage on your old one (legally). Search the forums and you should find it...

Ok, I was wrong, they're in Colorado:

http://www.odo-pro.com/index.html

Hope this helps.

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Old 03-07-2017, 12:26 PM   #16
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I believe there is a company in FL that can set your new cluster to match the mileage on your old one (legally). Search the forums and you should find it...

Ok, I was wrong, they're in Colorado:

ODO-PRO.COM - Odo-Pro.com - The Digital Odometer Professionals

Hope this helps.

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Or you can contact me. I don't advertise to the public, as 90%+ of my business is to other businesses and shops, but I do take care of individuals if needed. The 986/996 clusters are a specialty of mine, and I have worked on everything from early 986 clusters to '05 911 Turbo S and 996 911 Cup car clusters. I have done a lot of 986/996 stuff lately, mostly repairs (like oil level reading problems) but also some custom things like enabling the boost display on a late 986 cluster for turbo Boxster S. I have most all the components in stock, especially for late clusters, but I also have LCD displays for the early clusters.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:34 PM   #17
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A common problem with old electronics are cracked circuit boards. They can be very frustrating to diagnose for exactly the reasons you describe. Has your car ever been in an accident?
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:54 PM   #18
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Thanks for the info and guidance guys. As far as I know it is a clean Carfax with no accidents. I pulled the instrument panel before, Put it back in and it worked for about 3 - 4 weeks and now it's doing the same thing. If I hit the right hand side with my fist. (Not really hard) it will come back for a while. I guess what I should do is pull it one more time and try to see if that will fix the problem . If not I'll have to contact somebody for replacement and or checking it out. I have your responses....Thanks.
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:28 AM   #19
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Or you can contact me. .....
Class act. Qmulus' reputation on the board is stellar. Use (& abuse) him without worry!
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:59 AM   #20
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Thanks ChuckW. I have heard that about qmulus. And others mentioned. I will get the BMW off the lift and put the boxster in the 'barn - shop ' probably Sunday if the NASCAR race doesn't get in the way and pull the instrument cluster again..
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