BMW E36 Blog

Installing Silver Gauge Cluster Rings for your BMW . . . DIY!

7th August 2007

Installing Silver Gauge Cluster Rings for your BMW . . . DIY!

posted in Do It Yourself, Interior, Technical Info |

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Let me start this post by welcoming our new friend Denise Wright. As you may know I’ve been trying to make a group of BMW E36 enthusiasts from the readers of this blog. I have posted a previous topic Welcome BMW E36 blog readers! in which I asked everyone who reads this blog to write a little bit about him/her self. So if you didn’t read this post yet please do and lets hear from you. I feel really happy when I hear from you guys.


OK, now for the post of today that I know most of you will like very much. This is a DIY (do it yourself) post which will teach you how to install those cute silver gauge cluster rings on your BMW. I really love the way the gauges look after the installation. I also love this DIY as it’s very simple and can be done by almost anyone who doesn’t have any experience in cars. Let not forget to thank Komodo who wrote this great DIY.


Enjoy the post and lets see how things go with you.



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

This is a DIY for installing those silver gauge rings you can find all the time on
eBay for about $30-35. Here is an after stock photo of how this mod changes your car. It’s a simple mod, but makes a big difference.



Tools needed:

– T10 Torque Screwdriver with a long thin handle (one screw is pretty deep inside)

– Phillips head screw driver


1) Unscrew the gauge cluster. There are two screws and some friction holding your cluster in. One screw is on each side of the top, as shown in this picture:



Unscrew those screws and push on the bottom of the glass to loosen the unit. Mine was stuck in there pretty good, so it took a good amount of pressure and jiggling to break it free.


2) It should now slide forward and up to the steering wheel.



IMPORTANT: At this point you’re about to begin messing with electrical parts, so please stop and disconnect your battery before continuing. Leaving it plugged in might make you physically unable to finish this DIY.


When you reach behind the unit, you’ll feel three wire bundles connecting it to the car. Two are on the right (one big vertical one, and one small horizontal one just below it), and one big vertical plug is on the left.



This is probably the trickiest part of the whole installation. You must reach behind the unit (probably blindly) and unplug them, however they are not a normal plug. There’s a little button you must push in the middle of the latch, then slide the clip up until the connection comes lose. Here’s a picture to try and explain it better:



Then after it’s free just slide it out beside the wheel (again, might require a bit of creative shaking and squeezing, but it’s easily possible.



3) Now you should have the unit out of the car. Bring it inside or somewhere with good light and go get your T10 torque screw driver. There’s 5 screws, as shown by this image of the back of the cluster. Two up top, one on each side, and one deep screw in the very middle.



Unscrew them all, pull gently, and the unit should split open:



4) Now look at the faceplate half of the unit (the top half in the picture above). There are three unique, German engineered, “finger screws” holding the faceplate against the glass. It’s the round black circle knobs on each side, and one in the top middle. To unscrew these, simple twist the white part the direction they will move to free the face plate. Here’s a close up of one of the finger screws:



5) After all of them are turned to the unlocked/open position, gently pull the faceplate up and it should separate:



Now simply take your rings and pop them on to the left part of the above picture. Mine were very tight and clipped on, the friction plenty to hold them on through anything, however I know some of the rings are a lot looser and might require some creative glueing to get them to stay.


Here’s a picture of the rings on just that piece. Notice the Bugatti Veyron Top Gear on the projector in the background. This is a must for this DIY. If you don’t watch Top Gear while installing the rings, they won’t work.



6) Now the reverse install. Put the faceplate back in the glass (re-screwing the three thumb screws all the way to ensure nothing moves), then using the torque screws, reattach the back half of the gauge cluster.



Take it back to your car then, slide it beside the steering wheel, push it firmly into it’s hole, and screw the top two screws in.



Congratulations, you now have silver gauge rings installed in your car.



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 8 responses to “Installing Silver Gauge Cluster Rings for your BMW . . . DIY!”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On April 15th, 2008, Jon said:

    Hi there,
    when i tried to install the rings I couldn’t get them to snap to the gauge cluster. how did you make them fit? is there a trick to it? thanks!
    ps love the website! it’s great

  2. 2 On April 15th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    Hi Jon,

    Is it possible that the size of your rings is not correct? Maybe they’re larger that what they’re supposed to be?

  3. 3 On April 15th, 2008, Jon said:

    The diameter of the rings is correct, I think. It’s the lip that snaps the rings into place that is the problem. No matter how hard I press they won’t snap in. I’m worried that I’ll break my cluster case.

  4. 4 On April 15th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    Can’t you bend the internal lip a little bit so that you can push it easily? You have to pay special attention not to break the cluster and remember, you can always buy new rings, but you can’t “easily” replace your cluster, so try to be gentle with it.

  5. 5 On April 15th, 2008, Jon said:

    I agree.. I can’t seem to bend the lip because it is so small and made out of plastic. Maybe I bought a cheap set of rings. How much pressure did you need to pop in the rings?
    On another note, I noticed from your pictures that you have a flip-out screen. Did you have to make a modification to get the wires to fit behind it? I had the same kind of screen in my car but the wires held it out of the din slot about an inch.

  6. 6 On April 16th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    Hi Jon,

    This is not my car. It’s Komodo’s who originally wrote the post.

    About your rings, can you take a photo of them and send it to me?

  7. 7 On May 27th, 2008, Derek D said:

    Hey Tony,

    Did the gauge cluster ring install this weekend. Went exactly as described, and was educational too. Those buggers do take some fiddling to get in, but are well worth the effort. The look is fantastic, and a huge upgrade over the plain black. I also took the time to change the backlight bulbs for the gauges and odometer/service light, while I was in there, and cleaned both sides of the “glass”. I recommend this to anyone attempting this. Five extra bucks and 5 minutes pays big dividends. A bright and shiny cluster is a beautiful thing. One of the coolest little projects I’ve found for an e36. Thanks again.

    Derek D

  8. 8 On May 27th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    @Derek D: Cool! Congrat Derek. I’m sure you’re very happy with it now 😉