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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 06-04-2004, 07:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I noticed that '98 328is has a pretty dim radio display (where it displays the radio frequency, etc. It was not very bright, much worse than the A/C display right below it.. it is sometimes even hard to see the digits during daytime.. but once I don't know what I did, but it was realy bright, just like the A/C below...

Did I press anything not knowing it or is this just a malfunction? Is this a common problem, or is this just a setting? My dashboard light dimmer is turned up to the brightest setting (everywhere else but the radio the digits are bright)..

HELP!
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Old 06-04-2004, 09:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Mine was that way as well, only, on longer trips, it would end up being fine. I took the whole thing apart and put it back together again, and it works now! I must have had a bad connection in there somewhere. You'll need a soldering iron, but it's not too tough. There are 3 or 4 circuit boards that snap apart and back together. It might work, and then again.......

An audio repair shop could change the bulb, if that's the problem.
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Old 06-04-2004, 11:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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How much would it be to change the bulb there? I don't really want to take the thing apart myself..
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Old 06-04-2004, 02:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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its not cost effective to change the bulb. Doing so requires removal of the HU and the HU to be taken apart. It wil be cheaper to buy an aftermarket HU than replace the bulb.
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Old 06-04-2004, 03:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I guess "HU" stands for Head Unit? How can be replacing the whole head unit cheaper than changing a bulb?
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Old 06-04-2004, 03:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Prez is basically saying that if you are not capable of taking the oem deck apart yourself in order to change the bulb, you could change the deck out cheaper.

Bottom line, the oem deck is not very good, and for an investment of under $200, you could vastly improve the sound system in your car. Heck, for $79.99 you can get a new CD player that will blow away your oem deck and for twice that you can buy a CD Player that will be very high quality and allow your system to grow....
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Old 06-04-2004, 03:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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the bulb is not easily accessable. Most shops will not reapair it for you (at least any I have come into contact with) so thats means the dealer would have to do it. It would easily be an hours labor plus parts, so thats $80-100 right there. For another 50, you can buy and install yourself a decent HU with much better performance over the stock one.
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Old 06-04-2004, 03:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hmm, I have sort of the same problem... but not really. My radio unit displays brightly as far as the radio frequency part, but the buttons that I press to change Cd's or bands or radio frequencies... they're all not lit up, (so that in the dark you can't see which button you're pressing cause the text isn't lit up), but the display works fine. This started to happen gradually... sometimes the buttons would light up and then go off but now they're completely off. Any suggestions?
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Old 06-04-2004, 04:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have the same problem with the radio frequency display diming itself.

It sometimes comes back full force...but I figure it's just a bad connection like they said.

Your posts also gave me and idea of maybe changing the whole thing. Though if I do that....can I still use the OEM 6 cd changer? Or will that just not work with the new head unit?

Also...how can a simple head unit enhance the sound in my car? Isn't that more related to the amp, speakers and subs?? I'm not really an electronics wiz...
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Old 06-04-2004, 06:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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No you will be able to use your changer {And just so I dont get a bunch of "yes you cans"--there is a way to be able to use it, but it is not really worth the hassle, you'd be surprised how with an indash cd player you dont miss your changer)

You are right, kinda. Every component in the system caters to sound quality. Using your oem amp, the head unit acts as a preamp. As such, the oem is not great. Even the cheapest Panasonic, Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine, etc. aftermarket HU will dramatically improve sound quality. If you bypass the oem amp, and have a good mosfet amp built into the aftermarket HU, this will improve things all the more.
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Old 06-04-2004, 10:30 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well crap ghead i am having the same problem with mine but i just want to replace the HU with a factory one because aftermarket is ghetto and cheap not fit for a bmw. So any of you guys who put one of those aftermarket ones in let me know if you have one that works right.
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Old 06-04-2004, 11:23 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Done properly, aftermarket is far from ghetto. Adding aftermarket components improves sound quality and build quality and is the only way to truely inhance the audio package in our cars.

As far as head units go, if you want something that doesnt dramatically alter the look of the dash you might go with what I did. Nakamichi is a very high quality audio manufacturer, and the look is almost designed to match the interior of BMW cars. Illumination and button labels blend seamlessly, and the sound quality is vastly superior to anything BMW has ever thought of using....

NAKAMICHI CD-45-z
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