List of all possible BMW E39 instrument cluster text warnings & text messages by bluebee

By diyauto
( 3 )

37 minute read

List of all possible BMW E39 instrument cluster text warnings & text messages 

Compliments of bluebee @


EDIT: Clarified MID confusion as per JimLev.
EDIT: Added TRANS FAILSAFE PROG (& description) as per Fudman.
EDIT: Clarified this is the high cluster alphanumeric display as per QSilver7.
EDIT: Added all known descriptions mostly based on this post and this pdf.

This is an attempt at compiling a comprehensive list of all BMW E39 high instrument cluster 20-character alphanumeric display messages.

Why? Two good reasons:
1. It's nice to know and add (eventually) to the BMW E39 technical glossary (1)
2. People with pixelated messages often ask "what is this message"

What got me thinking about this was the question today about (what might or might not be) a pixelated cluster message:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > cluster read out


Originally Posted by jr5446 View Post
my cluster lost some of its pixels,i am getting a "stop----------sec" does anyone what is missing

EDIT: As per JimLev, this message may be for the stopwatch; but the goal of a comprehensive list of CLUSTER messages is still valid no matter what this particular message turns out to be.

Looking up that message, I realized we might not have (yet) a definitive list of all possible BMW E39 instrument cluster messages to search from.

Googling, I found this similar attempt with a series of partial listings & descriptions:

- Cluster Messages

So, since that's in another forum and that thread is also apparently dead, we can improve upon that initial attempt by bringing over that information here and improving upon it.

Here's a first pass (potential updates can be to "explain" each, & to separate into high/low cluster messages & priority 1/2 messages):

BMW ASSIST INACTIVE = reputedly a message from the BMW Phone system wired to the SOS system (1)



- BRAKE LAMP CIRCUIT = P2 = (see QSilver7 reference #10)

CHECK BACK UP LIGHTS = P2 = Defective bulb or circuit. Refer to page 124 to page 132 of the attached pdf

CHECK BRAKE FLUID = P1 = fluid level has dropped nearly to the minimum. Refer to page 118 of the attached pdf

CHECK BRAKE LIGHTS = P2 = A lamp has failed or the electrical circuit has a fault. Refer to pages 126 and 132 of the attached pdf

CHECK BRAKE LININGS = P2 = Brake wear sensor open circuit; refer to page 108 of the attached pdf

CHECK CONTROL OK = message that appears upon pressing the right cluster button with no errors found (1)

CHECK COOLANT LEVEL = P2 = coolant level is too low; refer to page 118 of the attached pdf

CHECK ENGINE OIL = P2 = oil level is at a minimum (see QSilver7 reference #10)

CHECK ENGINE OIL LEVEL = P2 = oil level is at the absolute minimum; refer to page 115 of the attached pdf

CHECK FILLER CAP = P2 = Check to see whether the fuel filler cap has been properly closed. Refer to page 21 of the attached pdf

CHECK FRONT FOGLAMPS = P2 = Defective bulb or circuit. Refer to page 124 to page 132 of the attached pdf


CHECK HIGHBEAM LIGHT = P2 = Defective bulb or circuit. Refer to page 124 to page 132 of the attached pdf

CHECK LICPLATE LIGHT = P2 = Defective bulb or circuit. Refer to page 124 to page 132 of the attached pdf


CHECK LOWBEAM LIGHTS = P2 = Defective bulb or circuit. Refer to page 124 to page 132 of the attached pdf

- CHECK LOWBEAMS = P2 = (see QSilver7 reference #10)


CHECK REAR LIGHTS = P2 = Defective bulb or circuit. Refer to page 124 to page 132 of the attached pdf


CHECK SIDE LIGHTS = P2 = Defective bulb or circuit. Refer to page 124 to page 132 of the attached pdf

CHECK TIRE PRESSURE = P2 = tire pressure is too low or high (see QSilver7 reference #10)

COOLANT TEMPERATURE = P1 = The coolant is overheated. Stop the vehicle and switch off the engine immediately. Refer to page 117 of the attached pdf

DOOR OPEN = P2 = a door is open; this message appears after a defined road speed has been exceeded (1) (see QSilver7 reference #10)


ENGINE FAILSAFE PROG = P2 = a malfunction in the electronic engine-management system, which then reverts to an emergency default program allowing continued operation at reduced power and lower engine speeds (1)

EXTERNAL TEMPERATURE 3.5 °C = external temperature warning at +3.0 °C but if its lower, it'll tell you what the exact temp (1)

EXTERNAL TEMPERATURE 37 °F = external temperature warning at +27.0 °F but if its lower, it'll tell you what the exact temp (1)

FAILSAFE PROG ACTIVE = apparently when the engine enters Limp Mode (1)

FASTEN SEATBELTS = P2 = seat belts unbuckled, an indicator lamp with the safety belt icon also appears and an acoustic signal is sounded (1)

FASTEN SEAT BELTS = P2 = person detected sans seat belts buckled (see QSilver7 reference #10)

FLAT TIRE = P1 = tire pressure is too low (see QSilver7 reference #10)




LEVEL CONTROL INACTIVE = P1 = ? (see QSilver7 reference #10)

LIGHTS ON = P2 = This display appears when you open the driver's door after removing the keys (1)

LIMIT = P1 = This is displayed if the programmed speed limit has been exceeded. Refer to page 73 of the attached pdf.

OUTSIDE TEMPERATURE 3.0 °C = P2 = The current temperature is displayed at outside temperatures of 37.5 °F (+3 °C) and below (see QSilver7 reference #10)

OUTSIDE TEMPERATURE 37.5 °F = P2 = The current temperature is displayed at outside temperatures of 37.5 °F (+3 °C) and below. Refer to page 63 of the attached pdf

RELEASE PARKINGBRAKE = P1 = if you begin to drive with the parking brake on (see QSilver7 reference #10)

SET TIRE PRESSURE = message that appears when initialising the TPC system (1)

SPEED LIMIT 95 = P1 = displayed when the programmed speed is exceeded (see QSilver7 reference #10)

STOP!ENGINE OILPRESS = P1 = The oil pressure is too low. Stop the vehicle and switch off the engine immediately. Refer to pages 16, 115 of the attached pdf

- TIRE CHECK INACTIVE = P2 = (see QSilver7 reference #10)


TIRECONTROL INACTIVE = P2 = Transient malfunctions and system errors in the Flat Tire Monitor. Refer to page 83 of the attached pdf

TIRE DEFECT = P1 = a tire defect has been sensed. Refer to page 83 of the attached pdf

TIRE PRESSURE SET = P2 = The Flat Tire Monitor has adopted the  tires' current inflation pressures as its reference levels. Refer to page 82 of the attached pdf

TRANS PROG FAILSAFE = problem with the automatic transmission, transmission goes into limp mode, i.e., 3rd gear

TRUNK LID OPEN = P2 = trunk is open; appears only when initially starting off (see QSilver7 reference #10)

TRUNKLID OPEN = P2 = trunk is open; this message appears only when you initially begin a trip (1)



WASHER FLUID LOW = P2 = washer fluid is low; refer to page 115 of the attached pdf (see also QSilver7 reference #10)

Audio system information listings (TRACK# CD#, PRESET#/RADIO STATION, ETC.)

Voice-activated nav commands (various)

Here, for example, is the elusive CHECK FILLER CAP message on my very own bimmer (it's hard to get)!


BTW, a single comprehensive list of all possible cluster message 'may' already exist (I did do a search with QSilver7 in the terms!), but the search terms are highly generic so I didn't find an existing comprehensive list. In the off chance a searchable complete list of cluster messages does NOT exist on the net, in the interest of adding value, we can start one here & add to it over time until it 'is' a complete list.

Note: Later on, we can sort by "priority 1" and "priority 2" messages.

P1: ?

P2: Priority 2 messages display for 20 seconds with the ignition key in position 2. The warning symbols remain after the message disappears. The messages can be recalled again with CHECK button 3.

Note: All of the malfunctions registered during the trip appear consecutively when the key is turned to position 0 (1




Originally Posted by Fudman

Perfect! I just added it to the original post.

There was already a "ENGINE FAILSAFE PROG" and "FAILSAFE PROG ACTIVE" in the original lists; but those lists I compiled this from didn't have the trans failsafe message (which I momentarily saw myself when my alternator died in the middle of the road but I lament I didn't have the opportunity to snap a picture while I was wrestling the steering-wheel-dead bimmer to the shoulder of the road in traffic).


Originally Posted by JimLev
That is the Stop Watch timer function, not sure if it's on the low cluster displays, hi display has it.

Interesting. This is perfect information! Know why?

Because in that thread, people said it was not a cluster message (even though the OP in that case said it was); people said it was a MID message - but - even so - the point is that it behooves us to have a comprehensive list for all E39 instrument clusters (later on we can break it down into high and low and high priority and low priority & we can give explanations of each line). 

Thanks for the update.


Originally Posted by bobdmac View Post
there's a story behind it, which I'll let her tell.

Yea, long sordid story!

Since it's OT other than to mention it's for the 'gasoline' filler cap, you can bask in the trials and tribulations over here:

- When will "CHECK FILLER CAP" EVAP fault codes go away on their own (1

PS: I lost the thing somehow in the elapsed time of the experiments & I've been holding off for a month buying a new one 'cuz I'm hoping it fell off or behind the shelf somewhere near the round tuit (under the bed, perhaps)?


Dear QSilver7:
Might there be a way to force the cluster to reveal its secrets, one by one, of all the possible BMW E39 instrument cluster messages?

Auuurggghhh! You would have to provide all the message meanings exactly at the same time I was laboriously typing them up, one by one!

Oh well, my text type-up is probably searchable, so, maybe it wasn't a wasted effort.

We knew you'd come through for us though, once we put out the bat signal!

I noticed there are some on your list (e.g., FLAT TIRE) that are not on the original list, so, I'll type "them" up and add them in manually so that we have a sortable searchable text listing of the high cluster messages.

I also clarified in the original post, as per your observation, that these are the 20-space alphanumeric messages of the high cluster.

Thanks for coming through for us. You don't work for BMW do you?


BMW Washer fluid low


BMW check brake light


I have a question about WHY this message below, from QSilver7 today in another thread, doesn't show up on our list above?


Is it that we only listed the cluster messages for the NEWEST HIGH E39 cluster (and not the older or low clusters)?

Else, how did we miss this one?


Originally Posted by QSilver7 - I think the key battery warning (which is a  priority 2 warning) is found on BMWs with the old style remote keys that have a replaceable battery. And obviously the car needs to have the  HIGH instrument cluster to get the low key battery warning:

BMW remote key battery


I'm not sure whether we should expand this thread to cover E39 cluster icons ... but these two threads today prompted me to try:

- What's this light mean?

- Dashboard light

So, I'll start an ad hoc collection of cluster display icons, which should "tell a story" to the user.


Originally Posted by QSilver7
The ACC option was nevere offered on e39 BMWs imported to the USA on the E39

(ACC sensor location in front bumper area, from QSilver7's thread.)

ACC sensor location in front bumper area


Originally Posted by Joe-BMW - What's this light mean?


Originally Posted by bkgreene39 - Brake pad with brake sensors time.

Brake pad with brake sensors time

I guess we could just point people to the owners manual ... but people do ask so this thread can be a one-stop shopping for what an indicator really means on the cluster.
- Where do I find for my BMW E39 an online owner's manual or a PDF owners manual (1)

For example, here's the common abs trifecta, which is NOT adequately explained in the owners manual:

BMW common abs trifecta

See also:
- How to diagnose a cluster check engine light CEL LED removed by the PO or SES service engine soon light disabled by black tape on the  instrument cluster circuit board (1


Please read the suggested threads and add value, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need


For the record, apparently some E39 clusters show test #9 voltage with the decimal place and the units abbreviation; while others don't, according to information in this thread today:


Originally Posted by nalaleah53
I'm also attempting to show a "OBC test #9 alternator and a battery voltage display. Does anyone else's display look like this without the word "volts" and a number like 13.5 with a decimal point showing? Am I really not doing a voltage test even though I drop it into test #9?


Originally Posted by rdl
Regards test #9 - you have the "low" or Kombi  instrument cluster; same as mine. The test 9 display is exactly like mine. Your pictures are indicating a voltage of 11.5 volts.



BMW low voltage


For cross reference, this question came up today:


Originally Posted by rcshott View Post
After detailed searching several forums I'm stumped for actual pics of dash (& explanation of all displays, as I expect there is?) as in an owners manual. 10 days ago I bought an E39 535i with 'M' pack & M62 engine, including the dreaded E39 pixel prob in OBC of course which is very difficult to read although I can make out that there's a 'Light' problem with stop & tail lights (including tone sounding, fixed! I think. No owner manual with the car although I have one on order. In the meantime, can someone answer the following -:

On main dash display I have 2 YELLOW warning lights displayed continuously during operation... BOTH have come on in the last couple days, one is for "check anti-brake system" at the lower right of main dash, self-explainatory although the ABS seems working after testing several times, fluid reservoir is full & brake linings OK

Other warning is bottom centre between the speedo & tacho, round yellow display with a (!) What do both of these actually mean? Appreciate any help I can get. Cheers, Jim.


Another cluster quiz came up today ... 


Originally Posted by bigjaggs - Guys, need a little help on this one, any guesses?

BMW dead pixel dash


This cluster quiz came up today:

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > E39 instrument cluster


Originally Posted by benjahmen2564 - can anybody help me read this please...

BMW dead pixel dash


Originally Posted by JimLev - Check Engine Oil Level


A particularly tough cluster quiz was posted today ... 

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Dead pixels question


Originally Posted by bmw530ii
Hey guys, so I have many dead pixels and their is a message shown but I can't read . Is their any other way to read it , for example can I take it to my mechanic and have plug in something in my car that tells them what it says? I have no service engine soon light on, but It's been their since I've had my car and it's starting to bug me.

BMW dead pixel dash



Originally Posted by bobdmac
You also need an OBDII code reader, which costs as little as about $20 on line or from Autozone or the like.

As Bobdmac suggested, a code reader is de rigueur. Many of us use this tried and true cheapie!

- Cheapest CAN OBDII scanner on the net that reads DTCs, pending codes, & clears codes

autel maxiscan ms300 can diagnostic


Another pixelated cluster message was interpreted today:

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Cant figure this out! pls help


Originally Posted by DrNuBreed View Post
Hi everyone, just wanted to introduce myself and hoped to get some help as well.
I have not been able to figure out what my in car obd 2 screen is reading, I just purchased the car and the check engine light came on. It has not even been 2 weeks since I bought the car. I hope it's nothing major.
Any help would be much appreciated.

BMW check control with dead pixels


Originally Posted by tmvE39/E53/Z32 View Post
The message in the picture says "Check Control OK"


In this thread today, it seems that the question of how to do a proper cluster test came up:
> No power from alternator + no red light battery

Most said just to put the ignition key in position 1 to test all the bulbs.
The OP of that thread said it didn't work that way.

So we should define a proper cluster test.

I'm not sure WHERE it should go, but, here seems like a likely place that others will look for it.
BMW high and low instrument cluster

See also:
- E39 540i Instrument cluster pixels fixed, bymmeredme (on YouTube)



Originally Posted by pudl
OP's conclusion: must be something other than the light.

I was confused by that thread, but you put it succinctly!

It appears the OP is looking for this light, but the light itself is not working.

indicator and warning lamps BMW


Originally Posted by pudl
I will just leave this here...

At first, I thought I was responding to QSilver, simply because your response was perfectly on the mark, clear, and detailed.

Thank you very much for pitching in to help others, in this case, to help others to properly test their cluster bulbs.

It seems that cluster test 02 is the one the OP of that thread needs.

(I have run all of these in the past, but it isn't something we remember offlhand, so I'll add this to the printouts that should be in the glovebox:

- Glovebox printouts for emergency use (1) and how to save $ money to qualify for free shipping on UPS/DHL/USPS/FedEx by stocking  O-rings & gaskets & bulbs & vacuum hoses & fuses & wiper blade inserts & belts & bearings & oil filters & cabin air filters & engine air filters & fluids in your garage whenever ordering from the recommended parts suppliers.


Those are gorgeous pictures of the cluster while being tested.

I just realized the unlocking procedure wasn't here, so I add it now, for reference:


Originally Posted by bluebee View Post

Here's the simplest I can make the high cluster unlock procedure for telephone instructions to someone stranded on the road:

  1. Hold down the right button (about 10 seconds) until test 01 shows
  2. Press the left button to get the results of test 1 (your VIN)
  3. Add up the last five VIN digits, e.g., GZ12345 = 1+2+3+4+5=15
  4. Press the right button to go to any LOCK=ON display
    • Note: This is different than the instructions which say to go to test #19, IIRC
  5. Press the left button until it displays that number (15 in this example)
  6. With that number displayed (e.g., 15), now press the right button (this should unlock the display)
  7. To see alternator output, press the right button to get to test #09
  8. Press the left button to view the results (e.g., 13.7 volts at idle)

The only two tests I find useful on the display are test #7 (KTMP) and #9 (UB).

high cluster unlock procedure for telephone instructions to someone stranded on the road


Originally Posted by QSilver7 View Post
Just an FYI to explain "going to TEST #19

When the OBC is LOCKED...the only TESTs that can be accessed are TEST 1, TEST 2, and TEST 19. So, for your convenience...BMW designed it so that if you try to access any of the other TESTs (when the OBC is LOCKED) you're automatically taken to TEST 19 so that you can UNLOCK the OBC.

Thus, TEST 19 is where you go to LOCK or UNLOCK the OBC. If the OBC is LOCKED, if you try to access one of the 18 "locked" TESTs (let's say TEST #7) are automatically taken to TEST 19 so that you can unlock the OBC...which is accomplished by entering the SUM of the last 5 digits of the car's VIN by pressing the LEFT button on the HIGH  instrument cluster.

For written confirmation of the explanation above...see the FIRST bullet under the heading UNLOCKING TEST FUNCTIONS:

E38 BC test functions

Here is a description of the tests (I'm not sure why it's two descriptions):

- Subject: Here is all the info


  1. Display Car's identification number, HW/SW version, construction date
  2. A very beautiful instrument test
  3. Current consumption (liters/hour)
  4. Average consumption (liters/100 km)
  5. Current range
  6. I think this is remaining fuel in tank. Three sets of numbers: A/B/C. And I've noticed A+B=C.
  7. Engine RPM / Coolant Temp (C)
  8. Current Speed (kph)
  9. System voltage at Term. "R" (Battery Voltage)
  10. Country/Language (US, Spa, Ger, Jap, etc.)
  11. Units am/pm
  12. Average Speed
  13. ETA
  14. Date of Software Mask
  15. Production Diagnosis
  16. ""
  17. Display Vehicle Specific Data
  18. Alarm Changeover (cont. vs. intermittent OBC chime)
  19. Lock/Unlock
  20. Correction factor for fuel consumption (nicht ändern!)
  21. Reset all defect codes
  22. Several numbers and data
  23. [Dispay Test]
  24. VBR: x,x (liters/hr)
  25. RW-VBR: x,x (liters/100 km)
  26. RW: x (km)
  27. T:liters)
  28. TMTL: x,x (liters) / KTMP C
  29. V: x (kph)
  30. UB: xx,xx (V)
  31. LAND: 2=USA, 3=I, 4=E, 5=J, 6=F, 7=CDN, 8=AUS/GOLF, 0=D, 1=GB
  32. EINHEIT 1: B3, B4, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9, BA, BB, BC, BD, BE, BF, B0, B1 EINHEIT 2: [similar to above, I didn't want to mess with it]
  33. VANK: xx,x (kph)
  34. ANK:x:x
  35. ROM:
  36. DIAG: 01 01 000 E3
  37. PORT: 01 101010000, 02 101010000, 03...etc
  38. PROM: 00 12, 01 37, 02 18, 03 E6, 04 02, 05 B3, 06 FF, 07 7E
  39. HORN: DTON or [DTON flashing]
  40. LOCK: ON
  41. KVBR: 1000
  42. RESET?

See also:

Originally Posted by reveiler -Found it!

This one explained it alright, as long as you have the codes and explanations as well which goes

01: Car ID, Hardware and Software Version Number, Production Date of Car
02: Instrument Cluster Test (All Digits, LED's, Lamps and Needles)
03: The actual fuel consumption (while riding) in Litre/100km or Litre per hour
04: Average fuel consumption in Litre
05: Range
06: unused
07: The actual amount of fuel in the fuel tank (in litre)
08: (My favorite! You can see that in many of my movies!) The actual speed in Km/h
09: Battery Power in Volts
10: Language (US, Spa, Ger, Jap, GB, Fra etc)
11: change am/pm
12: Average Speed
13: ETA
14: ROM Code of your Software
15: Diagnosis Information
16: unused
17: Car specific Data
18: Alarmtype
19: Lock/Unlock (Used to unlock the OBD menu from 3-21)
20: Fuel Consumption Correction Factor (Don't mess with that!)
21: Reset of Boardcomputer (ATTENTION:Will clear all stored Data!(Time,Date,Radio...)

Exploring the E39 OBC

Exploring the E39 OBC

Exploring the E39 OBC

Exploring the E39 OBC

Exploring the E39 OBC

Exploring the E39 OBC



I'm not sure if I'm circumventing the original purpose of this thread, but QSilver7 posted some nice information today about some indicators on the cluster....

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Inspection and clock symbol on dash


Originally Posted by Joshuar
I have an indicator light saying inspection and the other one is an orange clock in a square.
They show up when i make the first key turn, but go away whenever i start the engine (after about 5-10 seconds)


Originally Posted by mjalloul11
The clock thing is normal, it tells you it is time for service and oil change. you can reset that light, how?- it depends on the year


Originally Posted by QSilver7
The "clock" symbol is reminding you that it's time to change your Brake fluid (this option is NOT turned on for those in the USA since the early 90s). BMW recommends a biennial (2 yr) brake fluid change...and that's what the clock symbol in the SI (service interval) display is for. You can see the info below from my 1991 735iL's owners other SI information for your e39 generation of BMWs:

BMW clock symbol

BMW maintenance system


We may be missing an alphanumeric message, if these threads today are any indication ... 

BMW Slow Catalytic converter overheat

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Possible Catalytic Converter


Originally Posted by EthanMervyn
Every time I start my '97 525i, I get the message "SLOW! CAT. OVERHEAT". Can anyone tell me what this is about and whether its going to cost me a fortune to repair!

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > SLOW! CAT. Overheat message


Originally Posted by mac_zila
Hi to all!
This message is always appearing in the panel before I start the engine on my 528i . It never failed to start the engine though, and run smooth. The check engine light never shows up when running...Is this a critical fault? Or this needs immidiate attention?


Originally Posted by bobdmac
I think this is supposed to mean your catalytic converter is overheated, creating a fire danger, among other things. There may be a malfunctioning temperature sensor on or around your  exhaust.


Originally Posted by bobdmac
It looks like a Japanese market thing. Here's another quote:

"hey. i noticed you are in bc too. im pretty new at the e38 but just a thought. is your car from japan? if it is, j-spec cars all have exhaust gas temp warnings on them required by some japanese laws. its really just a sensor that usually doesn't affect anything. if it is indeed from japan, maybe your new exhaust is not j-spec and doesnt have the bung for the sensor."


Originally Posted by bobdmac
mac-zila, the more I think about it, the notice written on the driver's visor confirms to me that it's a standard warning for the Japanese market. In addition, because it goes out immediately, I think that's consistent with other warning lights that come on when you first turn on the ignition, like the seat belt light and so forth, that also go out after the engine starts.


Originally Posted by Euro E39
Confirmed...I'm in Japan...and my RHD 97 E39 M52 97k kms gives this light on start up each and every time...and I have the visor warning sticker...unfortunately I can not read wife can...and it says to pull over if the light comes on.

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Check Control - "Slow! Cat. Overheat"


Originally Posted by nzle39 View Post

I have recently purchased a 1997 E39 525i and the check control message:


Comes up when I start the car. Does anyone know what this message means and what I can do to fix it?


Originally Posted by nzle39
The error was present when I got the car...since I have owned (a month now :-) ) it the check engine light has never come on and I don't think it has ever misfired on me.

PO had covered the SES light LED with black gunk


In this thread today, the OP found that the PO had covered the SES light LED with black gunk:
E39 (1997 - 2003) > How to diagnose if an SES CEL light has been disabled by the previous owner

So, the natural question arises of which LEDs are "supposed" to be there in our instrument cluster.
Do we have a good resource for which LEDs are normally there, and which were never there in the first place?

PO had covered the SES light LED with black gunk



Originally Posted by pudl
Best to pair that picture with the picture of the symbols:

That's a very nice shot, which I paired just now with an equivalent LED waffle shot from Gvelco and the relevant diagrams from QSilver ... 

(The collage below had been shrunk to 800 pixels wide; the thumbnail below is full size.)

BMW low and high instrument cluster

Notice the high instrument cluster seems to have fewer LEDs...

Here's a composite of what I think the situation is, with respect to the number of waffle cells in the low and high E39 cluster (someone correct me if the composite below is incorrect) ... 

Note: This composite is 800 pixels wide (a larger composite is attached as a thumbnail below).

BMW low and high instrument cluster

See also:

- Quickie telephone verbal instructions for unlocking the high instrument cluster on the E39 (1) & how to tell whether you have the high or low on board computer cluster (1) & a video showing how to unlock the low OBC (1) or the high OBC cluster for diagnostics (1) & how to retrofit an E39 from the low obc to the high obc (pdf) & a list of all possible BMW E39 instrument cluster 20-digit alphanumeric display warning/information messages (1) & how to identify all BMW computer-specific OBDII DTC diagnostic fault codes (1) & how to remove and replace the five incandescent bulbs in the instrument cluster (1) & how to diagnose a disabled cluster CEL check engine light LED removed by the PO or SES service engine soon light covered by black tape on the  instrument cluster circuit board (1) & what does a blinking SES light mean and is it safe to drive the car with the CEL flashing (1) & what to tell newbies who ask why their SES/CEL light is on but who don't have DTC scan codes or why they have a misfire or stumbling, hesitation, rough idle, etc., but who don't post codes from an OBD scanner with their question (1) & how to better understand the key EPA federal test procedure (FTP) concept of the BMW SES "drive cycle" (1) & where to get the cheapest reasonable OBDII scanner & a template of what to tell people from the Republik of Kalifornia who need to do an OBC diagnostic scan (1) & how to read the KTMP cooling system temperature on the cluster (1) & how to change the OBC MID IHKA KTMP temperature from degrees Celcius to Fahrenheit & vice versa (1) & how to change the cluster odometer to display in miles or kilometers and to change the MID digital fuel consumption readout to display in L/KM liters/kilometer or MPG miles/gallon (1) & how the fuel economy mpg gauge works (1) & one user's experience debugging a half-dead instrument cluster (1) & what are 'all' options when your instrument cluster or MID pixels slowly die due to a press-fit pink electrical-connection tape lifting off its contacts over time (1) & how to remove the E39 instrument cluster (1) & a summary of the BMW NA cluster-repair goodwill policy (1) & how to fix the MID pixels yourself (1) & how to test (1) and remove the MID (1) & how to read the mileage from the key if you can't read the cluster display (1) & how to diagnose a typical BMW E39 engine misfire (1) or a sporadic-temperature-change cold-engine intermittent misfire (1) & what you can expect for E39 smog emissions test results (1)


For cross reference, another cluster message question today ...
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 2003 BMW E39 525i - What are these warning lights?


There are so many good graphics from QSilver7 that I don't know where to put them, so, I'll add the ones from this thread today so that others can more easily find them:

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 1997 low cluster


Originally Posted by QSilver7 The instructions for resetting the OBC is in the very last paragraph...after the text that is underlined in blue:
BMW resetting the OBC


Here are some more good tidbits, from the team today:

> E39 (1997 - 2003)> Unlocking hi-cluster


Originally Posted by crobmw
I have unlocked my cluster to get information about engine temperature and charging while driving...but not intentionally i changed one number in test No 18 (KVBR 1000 to KVBR 0992) Did i something screwed ? I dont notice any changes..but i dont know what this number and test meaning..Can somebody help my to to reset original value...?


Originally Posted by 16valex
I wouldn't worry about it.

The KVBR is just a scale factor of your fuel consumption calculation, no performance has been hindered.


Originally Posted by edjack
If you're going to be screwing around with these numbers, be aware of the importance of each:


Originally Posted by JimLev
Sure that wasn't test 20?
Lowering that number will make the displayed MPG in the MID show you an even higher MPG than the erroneous number it now displays.
At 1000 mine was showing 2 MPG more than I was actually getting.
I had to change mine to 1047 to get it within a few tenths of my true MPG's.

The reset test won't mess up anything, it tests out the cluster.
At one point while driving the car I inadvertently hit reset, the cluster lit up and the gauges all moved, that was about it.


Originally Posted by QSilver7
Interesting...because we don't have TEST 18 here in the states. In fact, we don't have TEST 15-18.

BMW E38 BC test functions

BMW E38 BC test functions

BMW E38 BC test functions

BMW E38 BC test functions

BMW E38 BC test functions



Originally Posted by pudl
Check number plate light?

Sounds reasonable, but, I don't see that specific message in the list of all messages though.

In fact, in the existing list, nothing starts with 'CHECK N'. 

So, that first letter after CHECK might not be an "N" (or our list is missing something).

BMW dead pixel dash


Originally Posted by pudl
I think the third mangled letter could be nothing other than an 'M' yet there is no message matching that criteria in the list.

I agree with you that there is no "CHECK M" on our list.


Originally Posted by pudl
The list might not be exhaustive

We can't assume the list is correct.

I googled a bit, and found nothing yet, but, the search terms are iffy (e.g., 'CHECK M').

BMW check control

So, we may have to wait for QSilver7 to come to the rescue... 


Originally Posted by pudl
(it says ALPINA which is a bit suspicious).

What does Alpina even mean?

And, why does the OP list the vehicle as a 544?

Googling for 'bmw alpina', I find this site.

Are they custom bimmers?

BMW deciphering instrument cluster message


This is one of the harder ones, posted today ... 

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Decipher Instrument Cluster Message


Originally Posted by woodc85
I am having a difficult time figuring out what message I just got on my dash. I have a bunch of blown pixels so it is difficult to read.

I found the list of possible messages, but I have so many pixels gone I can't decipher what it's supposed to mean. If anyone could help me I would greatly appreciate it. Picture here:



It's either CHECK ENGINE OIL LEVEL or CHECK COOLANT LEVEL, so we asked the OP of that thread to post a picture of the dipstick and expansion tank with the cap off and engine cold.


Apparently someone has an exclamation point warning on their cluster and they needed to know what it means today:

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Red warning light (brake fluid)


Originally Posted by Phoenix39
The red warning light for brakes is constantly on. It looks like this: ((!))

I've done some research and it seems like there's a difference between American and European cars, and the year. Some people mention yellow lights and additional messages.
My car is a '97 and European (Norwegian). The light has always been red and not yellow.
According to my owners manual, it is related to brake fluid.

I just had my car at the auto shop for the periodic EU inspection, and there were no other faults - the mechanic told me my brake pads still had some mileage left, brake fluid level was fine, no leaks were found, brake disks a bit rusty but fine.

To which it was cross referenced:


Originally Posted by RLJett
Check this thread out.

> E39 (1997 - 2003) > e39 ( ! ) warning light on!! Please help me!!



Love the E39!

Posted by Diggymart on 2/1/21 @ 6:26:35 PM