BMW E36 Blog

Fixing your BMW OBC (On Board Computer) lights . . . DIY!

19th August 2007

Fixing your BMW OBC (On Board Computer) lights . . . DIY!

posted in Do It Yourself, Interior, Technical Info, Tips & Tricks |

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If you have a BMW with OBC (On Board Computer). It’s most likely that you will face a problem in its back lights sooner or later. Luckily I didn’t face this problem with my car yet, but my brothers car has this problem and his car’s OBC looks really disgusting. The problem begins when one of the back lights of the OBC decides to die and your OBC which you love to play with from time to time starts to look like a guy with black eye. At that time, you know that you have to do something about it and I know. You will be thinking … man, I shouldn’t mess with this OBC because it looks really complicated and I may end up breaking something. Guess what? you are wrong! Fixing the OBC back lights is a very simple task and it’s the subject of today’s post. I hope you enjoy this post and find it useful for your car. By the way, I want to thank Eduardo Cesconetto the original author of this great post.


For those of you who like to fix their BMW car(s) by themselves, I recommend you to get the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual which is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I got it and recommend you to get one for you as it will save you too much time and effort while fixing your car.


Disclaimer: Use this info at your own risk!! I’m not responsible if this didn’t work for you.

My OBC had only one light working, the one in the left corner, and so it was a pain to look at it, and it looked like the LCD was burned, but it comes out is just a matter of replacing some light bulbs. You can get the bulbs at the dealership for $2.50 each, and just ask for the light bulb for the OBC of your year/model car.


Here is my OBC:



The first thing to do is to carefully place a flat head screwdriver in one of the sides in the crack between the OBC and the bezel, carefully to not scratch anything, then apply a mild pressure pushing the handle of the screw driver outwards, the OBC will pop out a little bit.



Repeat the same procedure in the other side.



Under the OBC and in the top of the sunglass compartment (or whatever you want to call it) there is a hole as shown on this picture:



Put your middle finger in that hole and find the back of the OBC, then push it out slowly but firmly



That will give you enough space to pull the OBC out, slowly so you don’t pull the harness of the OBC



On the top side of the OBC, you will see the 4 light bulbs:



A bit closer…



Using the same flat head screwdriver, rotate the bulb counter-clockwise 1/4 turn to release the bulb



Install the new bulbs and follow the guide backwards to put the OBC back in place.



I suggest you replace all the 4 bulbs at once, otherwise you can end up with uneven light across the display



Are you looking for more do it yourself procedures (DIY) ? I recommend the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual for you. I got it and I think it’s a gold mine for us -BMW E36 Owners-. If you didn’t grab your copy yet, get it right now! I’m sure you’ll find this book worth every penny you’ve paid for. Get the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual


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There are currently 14 responses to “Fixing your BMW OBC (On Board Computer) lights . . . DIY!”

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  1. 1 On September 5th, 2007, Robert said:

    Thanks for the post on fixing the OBC lights, but I had a problem when I tried the described procedure on my ’99 323i convertible– I could not get the OBC to come loose despite exerting a great deal of pressure with a variety of flat-bladed screwdrivers. I gave up when I heard cracking noises, but luckily the thing still works (but still has a spotty display). Has anyone else tried this? Or do you have any other suggestions?


  2. 2 On September 5th, 2007, Tony Sticks said:

    Robert, If this method fails, just try to stick your finger in the hole in top of the sunglass holder, push up and pull out. Don’t use a screwdriver. see if this works.

    see this:

  3. 3 On September 16th, 2007, giani said:

    anyone know how to fix the pixel issue on the obc, i am trying to find out how it can be done, since i did find some company actualy refurbish these units, i want to get some info on how it can be done, can anyone help me in this matter please email me at i have the 11 button obc on a 97 m3

  4. 4 On September 18th, 2007, Ben said:

    I have a 98 323is and the obc is going out. I was wondering if i have the same backlit system as you do or if i have the pixeled version. Thanks.

  5. 5 On September 19th, 2007, Tony Sticks said:

    I think the E36 1998 has the pixeled version. Check this:

    I think it may have some useful information.

  6. 6 On May 26th, 2008, shari said:

    Can anyone tell me if the clock/date screen to the right of the main screen on the obc is one of the 4 bulbs described above?

  7. 7 On May 26th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    @shari: Yes it is. Take a look at picture #7

  8. 8 On March 19th, 2009, Emery said:

    Uh.. what if I can’t so good? 🙂

    Cool! Thanks for the DYI. Mine have been broken for a while and tired of not seeing the clock.

  9. 9 On January 4th, 2012, Randy said:

    Anyone know the part number for this bulbs? i need to replace all 4 of them but can’t find which ones they are. thanks in advanced.

  10. 10 On January 10th, 2012, Richard said:

    From pelican parts I think this is the part #: 62-11-1-391-260-M97 I just ordered 4

  11. 11 On February 4th, 2012, Serena said:

    I have a 95 530i and the OBC display is basically nonexistent. It’s SO dim. I want to replace the bulbs but since mine is a 5 series it looks different that your pictures. But I want to know if replacing the bulbs in my car is still possible the way you have described above?
    And if so, do you know what bulbs I need to purchase? Link?

  12. 12 On February 22nd, 2012, Maark24 said:

    the circuit for the clock bulb and the other three are separate. First my clock bulb the the immediate adjacent were out. I checked voltage on both metal strip circuits- was good. Switched the bulbs around- yep it’s the bulbs. Put them back and now there’s no voltage for the three bulb circuit! Is there a fuse on the pcb? in the obc? The clock bulb still works, has voltage on the strips, but there’s no voltage for the others. Anybody?

  13. 13 On March 30th, 2013, jon said:

    10 On January 10th, 2012, Richard said:

    From pelican parts I think this is the part #: 62-11-1-391-260-M97 I just ordered 4

    Did those light bulbs work? They are not cheap at the dealer.

  14. 14 On April 10th, 2013, Richard said:

    @jon – yes the pelican parts bulbs worked just fine.