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#1 (permalink) Old 08-11-2013, 08:44 PM
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Screeching from Instrument cluster

Long time lurker, first post because I can't find the answer to this...

'94 E36 325i, purchased 12 months ago.

I was getting a chirping sound from the dash when doing hard braking. Even though my mechanic said the brakes had another 10,000 miles on them, I told him to go ahead and replace the brakes. After all, I figured, I haven't had this car long enough to know the history of the brakes.

I get the car back, $600 poorer, and driving on the highway at about 65mph when I get this horrible screeching noise, like a metal chair scraping along a linoleum floor. You can't turn the radio up enough to be able to ignore it. It sounds to me like it is coming from the instrument cluster. I don't always get it, and it goes away when I slow down.

Now, I've had a speedometer go on me in other cars, and the sound is not all that different. But, I'm scatching my head because this started immediately after the brake work. And everything appears to be working on the car.

Is there some kind of chirping warning sound on these cars, and is it possible for that warning system to go on steroids and completely flip out if, say, the brake wear sensors are not hooked up properly, or something?

I don't want to start replacing stuff just to find out... an expensive way to diagnose problems. My mechanic, who I completely trust but isn't a BMW expert, doesn't believe there's a connection between the brake work and this God-awful noise.

Guidance, please? Thank you!!
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#2 (permalink) Old 08-12-2013, 03:31 AM
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It's somewhat possible that you've got something loose between the rotor and the brake backing plate. It could be a bit of a rock, or road debris. This wouldn't sound like it was in the dash, but noises can surprise you sometimes.

Hard to tell without actually hearing it.

$600 bucks should be quite a bit of brake work, I'd guess four new rotors, pads front and rear, plus a brake fluid flush and bleed. Although this area is mission critical, it's not tough for a person with basic mechanical skills and tools to do it themselves, preferably with an experienced person looking over their shoulder.
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#3 (permalink) Old 08-12-2013, 05:20 PM
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I highly doubt this is coming from the cluster. I have completely removed the dashboard in an E36 before, and theirs nothing mechanical in the cluster. The noise could be coming from the suspension but is being transferred into the cab through the hole where the steering column feeds or similiar. You should have had a full front end inspection completed before replacing the brakes IMO. If the noise is still persisting you still need to get it inspected. Try to find a shop that will do the inspection for free if money is an issue.

If you want though, you can remove the cluster by removing the two torx bolts that hold the airbag in on the back of the steering wheel. Once the airbag is removed you will see a 16mm nut that holds the steering wheel on. Remove that and the wheel will come off. From their their is two screws that hold the cluster in.


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#4 (permalink) Old 08-12-2013, 09:56 PM
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Sounds like a front end inspection is in order. I appreciate your comments, and for the time being I'm going to leave the instrument cluster alone.

Yes, $600 seemed steep to me, but I think I've earned the right to ask for a free inspection! As for DIY-ing it, I'm brave enough to try stuff, and love going to one of the local U-Pull-It yards around here. But a torn rotator cuff has made my right arm prtetty useless for the time being.

Thank you again for your help!
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#5 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 05:33 PM
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When I had my pads and four rotors replaced it cost me $740 with labour, but prices in Canada are usually higher, so to me $600 seems about right. If its a good shop they should have no issues doing an insepction for you (for hopefully free).


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#6 (permalink) Old 08-14-2013, 07:43 PM
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I've been going there for almost 20 years, because they're good, honest and fair. Can't beat that. They're doing the inspection tomorrow, so we'll see what turns up.

To reinforce your thoughts about the front end, I remember the day after the brake work. I made a left turn from a stop light, and heard a bang in the front right rear wheel well. I honestly thought I'd just kicked up a rock. I stopped and looked, didn't see anything unusual. I proceeded, but still paid careful attention to the car's feel for any sign of change.
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#7 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 01:36 PM
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Here's the tentative diagnosis:

1) There's a crack in the air intake boot. That happens to be directly in front of the driver, so my sense of where the sound was coming from is consistent with that. And, of course, air can make a LOT of noise.

2) The front struts are all leaked out and dry. That would explain the bang I heard on a hard left turn.

I'll work on these and post results. Thanks!
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#8 (permalink) Old 08-17-2013, 08:46 PM
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Not the air intake boot. But, I'm very excited that my MPG just shot up.
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#9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2013, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwguts View Post
Here's the tentative diagnosis:

1) There's a crack in the air intake boot. That happens to be directly in front of the driver, so my sense of where the sound was coming from is consistent with that. And, of course, air can make a LOT of noise.

2) The front struts are all leaked out and dry. That would explain the bang I heard on a hard left turn.

I'll work on these and post results. Thanks!
Excellent. The OEM shocks usually only last 150,000 miles. I would check the rear as well because they may be shot too. I know mine were at least. I replaced all four with the Koni Sport Kit (struts & springs) for $980CDN. I recommend it as the adjustable dampening is an excellent feature.

OEM Shocks are made by Sachs and can be found for about $100~ or so each if your on a budget.


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#10 (permalink) Old 08-20-2013, 11:31 AM
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You're gonna love this... I'm riding along the interstate with my cruise control on. I find that when the noise starts, I can get rid of it by slowing down even just a little bit.

The noise starts, and I reach for the cruise control to bring the speed down a little.

This time, though, I accidentallty hit my washer fluid/wipers button. AND THE NOISE QUICKLY FADES AND STOPS!!!

>>>>>>>>>>>?????????????<<<<<<<<<<<<

Okay, repeated it several times, and got the same result. Tried the wipers with NO fluid, and that did NOT stop the noise.

That's when it comes to me... about the same time I got my brakes done, I had a new windshield installed. There's got to be a leak in the seal!!

I got a long piece of duct tape from the trunk, split it in half, and laid it down across the top edge of the windshield. Sure enough, 80% of the noise was gone.
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#11 (permalink) Old 08-21-2013, 09:34 AM
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Wow thats kinda odd and interesting at the same time. Take it back to the place that did it and ask them to fix it. I wouldnt want that duct tape on their long as it will eat the clear coat.


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#12 (permalink) Old 10-29-2013, 09:10 AM
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Bringing this to a conclusion...

I noticed a gap between the cowl and the windshield. I looked at other Bimmers in parking lots, and no one else had this gap.

Went back to windshield installer, and they agreed that was likely the source of the noise. Still, they sealed the window again just to be sure.

I bought the cowls (there are two, driver side and passenger side), installed them, and went on a 2,000 mile trip.

Not a peep out of the windshield. So, mystery solved. Thanks to all for your thoughts and input!

I did hit a deer on this trip, put dents along my left fender and door, and knocked off my side view mirror. Hmmm, I wonder if a screeching windshield might have saved me from all this damage? <g>
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